Who says filmmaking is not the best in Louisiana? Our state now presents new episodes of “The Office,” Jeff Landry style.
Like the fictional office of dysfunction, there is real-life stupidity and cynicism in the criminal division of the Louisiana Department of Justice.
Hollywood couldn’t come up with anything more creatively ugly.
When Landry put a longtime crony in charge, Pat Magee’s demeaning and belittling remarks about women developed into a series of complaints and ultimately a determined crusade by the attorney general to suppress the truth. That continued Tuesday, when Landry appeared in a news conference photo-op flanked by four women from the department, to blame the whistleblower.
Completely absent was any acknowledgment of the failures of the state’s elected attorney general, who has managed to make LSU look like a model of personnel management.
That is the important point, and one that should not get lost in the to-and-fro over Landry’s aide denouncing the whistleblower for failing to report the offenses in a timely manner. The public doesn’t know how to evaluate fully the details, in large part because of Landry’s stonewalling about the release of the documents involved.
For example, much was made in the news conference about an office rule only assigning offices with windows to attorneys, something Landry’s aide alleged the whistleblower violated in one case. That is “The Office” pettiness in full bureaucratic Technicolor.
Ultimately, many details will come out in court: Assistant Attorney General Matthew Derbes resigned in protest over what he called retaliation for reporting Magee’s infractions. Landry has never portrayed himself as a legal scholar, but it doesn’t take great insight to expect an eventual collision over these details in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.
In our minds, the larger question remains less about Magee, or even Derbes’ apparently very shabby treatment in what was formerly thought to be a professional division of the Justice Department.
It is about Landry’s judgment in appointing a clumsy crony to such a highly sensitive post.
It is about the reaction to bad news, which can be difficult in real-life offices. Leaders don’t allow the stresses and strains in an organization to fester; they don’t wrestle with internal problems, they solve them. They don’t let last century’s attitudes toward professional women — maybe “Mad Men” is the right show for Magee’s actions — run rampant in the 2020s.
But if you want to run an organization of professionals, it is particularly vital that the leader is not a petty and vindictive political tyrant.