For one curious reason, followers of local media did not have to play “Guess the party” when reading about the fate of Kansas House candidate Brandon Woodard.
The Kansas City Star stepped up to the plate with, “Democrat running for Kansas House seat cited for drunken driving not once, but twice.”
KAKE headlined its Associated Press article on Woodard, “Dem state House candidate arrested twice for drunken driving.”
KSN headlined that same article, “Dem state House candidate cited twice for drunken driving.”
Kudos all around here, especially to the Star’s Mike Hendricks for his investigative reporting. That said, the media pull their punches on Woodard in one conspicuous way, but more on that in a moment.
As Hendricks suggests, the real problem for the 28-year-old Woodard is not he has two DUIs on his record, but that he concealed the second one when the Star did a flattering piece on him in February.
“It taught me a lot about myself and about the justice system,” Woodard told The Star in February about his publicly acknowledged 2012 bust while a senior at KU. “And I’ve been positively impacting the community ever since.”
In 2014, Woodard took a break from positively impacting the community to score a second DUI. Reports the Star, “Lawrence police pulled Woodard over again in May 2014, citing him for operating under the influence and an improper lane change.” Woodard did not volunteer this information during his February 2018 Star interview. In fact, his comments suggest he purposely deceived the Star.
The reader might be asking at this point why would the Star do a profile on an obscure candidate for a Kansas House seat that covers parts of Lenexa and Olathe. The answer can be found in the February 12 headline, “Democrats set for primary to send first openly gay member to the Kansas Legislature.” In the August primary, the openly gay Woodard of Lenexa handily bested the openly gay Matthew Calcara of Olathe.
In June, before that August victory, the Star acknowledged Woodard’s gayness once again in the headline, “GOP lawmaker drops re-election bid in district where two openly gay Dems are running.” The headline suggests conservative Randy Powell feared the battle.
In the 16-paragraph Star article on Woodard’s twin DUIs, however, his gayness totally disappears. One could argue that being gay was not a relevant factor in his DUIs, but then again his being gay was not a relevant factor in Randy Powell’s withdrawal from the race. It’s just that the Star made it one.
Some editor may have thought the “Democrat” mention in the headline of the DUI story compensated for the failure to mention “gay” anywhere in the story, and so “Guess the party” yielded to “Guess the orientation.”