Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Bit About the Bridge-gate Ballyhoo

Bridge-gate burst into the public eye last week as emails from high level staffer of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) were exposed indicating that four days worth of lane closures which snarled the George Washington Bridge were intentional.  Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly sent a snarky text message intimating:  "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee". It has been speculated that the four days of lane closures which snarled the world's busiest suspension bridge was intended as a as punishment to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D-Fort Lee), a Democrat who did not make a cross party endorsement of Christie in is wildly successful 2013 re-election effort.  

For his part, Governor Christie conducted a grueling 102 minute press conference in which he insisted that he did not know about the intentional nature of the traffic jam.  Moreover he fired Kelly along with his longtime friend and political aide Bill Stepien because of their involvement. 

Despite Christie's unequivocal denial of prior knowledge and his swift action at disciplining wrongdoers, the Bridge-gate ballyhoo dominated the headlines for over a week, and inspired comedians to do funny satires such as Jimmy Fallons filique with Bruce Springsteen of  the unoffical New Jersey anthem "Born to Run".

While there is no doubt that the story was newsworthy, as credible accusations of the use of public office for personal revenge is a serious charge, it seems like Bridge-gate is overblown as well as overwrought.

Firstly, consider the coverage.   As Newsbusters reported, in less than 24 hours, the big three broadcast networks devoted 34 minutes 28 seconds to "Bridge-gate".  This is 17 times more coverage than the Lamestream Media broadcast about  the Obama Administration's alleged use of the IRS targeting Tea Party groups for excessive scrutiny over eight months.   The coverage may also have been intensified because of its proximity to New York.  Journalists often become much more  interested when it is affecting their home turf rather than in  "flyover" country.

Secondly, consider the target.  Governor Christie has been generally considered an early front-running for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.   Pre-Bridge-gate polls showed Christie leading presumed Democrat front-runner former First Lady/Senator (D-NY)/ and Obama Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Low information voters may be lured into believing where there is smoke there is fire, even if it is blue smoke and mirrors.   Governor Christie's emphatic denials about involvement leave no wiggle room-- if he knew, then the fat lady sings ending his hopes for higher office.  But those who take time to keep informed on current events should see the trend in law-fare, smearing front-runners and the actual use of public offices for partisan pursuits.


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