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Another chance to blame the media for Kilpatrick's predicament

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Kwame Kilpatrick (Credit: MyFox Detroit) Kwame Kilpatrick (Credit: MyFox Detroit)
DETROIT (MyFox Detroit) -

The defense attorneys in the Kilpatrick & Co. trial got up to speak on Friday.

And since their mouths were open, that could mean only one thing: Another chance to blame the media for Hizzoner's predicament.

Let's forget for a moment that Kwame Kilpatrick was forced from office in 2008 after admitting that he lied under oath, part of the plea deal he reached when he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the 2008 text message scandal. It's also of little consequence that Kilpatrick pleaded no contest -- which is essentially a guilty plea -- to shoving a sheriff's deputy who tried to serve a subpoena at his sister's house during those legal proceedings.

There's also no point in dwelling on the fact that Kilpatrick used $8.4 million of taxpayer money to cover up his affair with Chief of Staff Christine Beatty. Or that, after resigning in disgrace, he hid assets that could have been used to pay down his $1 million restitution tab. That only cost him a great job after a judge sent him to prison for violating the terms of his probation for, you guessed it, hiding assets.

Instead, let's be sure to spread the blame among the media members who deserve it most.

Many folks believe my former Free Press partner Jim Schaefer and I are responsible for Kilpatrick's ouster because of the many exposes we wrote of his misuse of city funds and other abuses of the public trust.

But as the text messages prosecutors cited in their opening statement Friday reminded us, we were not the first to question Kilpatrick's integrity.

Darci McConnell, a dogged Detroit News reporter and one of the best journalists I've ever known, was the first to probe into Kilpatrick's problems.

Robert (Bob to those of us lucky enough to call him friend) Ankeny, a veteran Detroit reporter who spent the last part of his distinguished career at Crain's, also questioned Kilpatrick's ties to Bobby Ferguson. Ferguson was a city contractor and one of Kilpatrick's best friends who, these days, is also his co-defendant.

But the REAL culprits here are Free Press reporter Patty Montemurri and former Free Press reporter and editor David Zeman who, during Kilpatrick's first mayoral campaign in 2001, revealed that the putative non-profit Kilpatrick Civic Fund had received a $50,000 contribution from a homeless shelter operator whom Kilpatrick had recommended for a contract with Wayne County. Where, coincidentally, his father (and current co-defendant) Bernard Kilpatrick worked as a top aide to then-Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara.

IRS records related to the prosecution of that homeless shelter owner state quite plainly that the Montemurri-Zeman report was the impetus for the federal investigation that mushroomed and, eventually, led to Kilpatrick & Co. being on trial today.

Sure, many of the stories Schaefer and I wrote together and, at times, in collaboration with Jennifer Dixon and Dawson Bell of the Free Press, led to additional counts against Kilpatrick.

But since the lawyers have made such a big deal of creating a record in this case of everything they thing has gone wrong, I just wanted to be sure then when they're laying blame, they don't forget that there's plenty to go around.

Right, Darci?
 
Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on Fox 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter or Facebook.

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