Archive for January, 2014

A Sad Week For MSNBC

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2014 by thebluebros

I love MSNBC. I try to catch a little bit of Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow every day. These two shows, and other parts of the cable network (including The Cycle), do some of the best investigative journalism on television, and have some of the most interesting political analysis one can find. MSNBC’s content is, I believe, largely thoughtful, fair, and accurate. In the very few times I have heard Ms. Maddow say something that was untrue, she was on the air within 24 hours correcting her own mistake. There is real integrity there. When people try to tell me MSNBC is the left-wing equivalent of Fox News, I go slightly berserk (perhaps a topic for a future article). For these reasons, it is difficult for me to say the following: MSNBC is embarrassing itself in how it is covering the Chris Christie scandal.

Last week, Governor Christie’s office released a statement that read in part, “MSNBC is…almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him.” I think Governor Christie is being way too nice. Almost gleeful? Any observer of MSNBC knows there is no “almost” about it. Much of the MSNBC staff is openly and enthusiastically gleeful over Governor Christie’s current scandals.

Lawrence O’Donnell is the biggest offender. I want to first say that Mr. O’Donnell is a national treasure. His political analysis is reliably interesting and accurate; he is an accomplished writer (won an Emmy for his writing on The West Wing and wrote for the too-easily forgotten show, “Mr. Sterling”); and his humanitarian work is inspiring. With that said, his on-air antics in the past couple weeks leave a bad taste in my mouth. Each recent show is a celebration of Chris Christie’s demise. In researching this article, I was not able to unearth most of his shows, but was able to find a brief clip that demonstrates a sample of what I am talking about. The first eight seconds of this clip show an undeniably gleeful O’Donnell telling his viewers the great news of the New Jersey legislature starting to issue subpoenas and the fact that Christie had now lawyered up (although if you have watched much of the show recently, you will know this is pretty tame). In one recent episode, Mr. O’Donnell even went so far as creating and airing a political ad that Governor Christie’s political opponents could use against him. After Mr. O’Donnell aired the ad, he provided other sound bites of Governor Christie and advised his audience how they could make their own anti-Christie commercials.

While O’Donnell is the worst offender, he is not alone. Rachel Maddow took a little more care in not celebrating these terrible events and the implications on Governor Christie’s career, but she essentially spent an entire week of her show covering nothing other than Governor Christie.

Ed Schultz is Ed Schultz. What this means (as anyone who watches his show will know) is that his show is completely unchanged. Virtually every episode of The Ed Schultz Show is nothing more than Mr. Schultz telling you why various Republican leaders are liars, charlatans, and cheats. This past week he just happened to choose Governor Christie as the target of his unending scorn.

Putting aside for a minute that this type of wall-to-wall Christie coverage is not very interesting, it does a real disservice to MSNBC. Everyone knows MSNBC is run predominantly by liberals. That fact, however, does not mean the analysis and news can’t be done fairly and accurately. In fact, it typically is done fairly and accurately. But when we see MSNBC’s on-air staff behave gleefully over a state’s governor abusing his power and punishing the state’s citizens to settle political scores, we know something is rotten. It makes it that much easier for people to compare MSNBC to Fox News, and makes it harder for people like me to defend MSNBC. For crying out loud, there were points while watching MSNBC this past week where I actually felt sympathy for New Jersey’s Bully-In-Chief. If a news network makes me feel sorry for Governor Christie, you know it’s getting something terribly wrong.

– Dylan


Meet the New Chris Christie…Same as the Old

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2014 by thebluebros

The litany of revelations coming out against Chris Christie these past couple weeks has been astonishing. One gets the sense that we never would have learned these things had the first few stories about Christie’s bullying not come out. Once the first few whistleblowers came out, others followed. People seemed fearful to share their stories, but there is safety in numbers.

The recent stories on Christie are all bad. We all are of course aware of the now infamous four-day partial closure of the George Washington bridge, but we also have recently learned of the scandal of Governor Christie allegedly withholding federal disaster funds from Hurricane-Sandy communities unless the mayors of said communities made political promises to Christie. And there is now a federal investigation into Governor Christie’s office choosing to spend an extra $2.2 million of tax-payer money for commercials to be made because the company giving the higher bid agreed to include Governor Christie and his family in the Christie for Governor political ads state’s tourism commercials. The recent story I find most intriguing is Governor Christie’s alleged threats against Olympic gold-medalist Carl Lewis that the governor would cut funding for a program dear to Mr. Lewis unless Mr. Lewis (a Democrat) agreed not to run for the New Jersey State Senate. I will end the list there, but it should be noted that one diligent journalist took the time to list 14 other Christie scandals that should not be forgotten.

None of these many stories cast Governor Christie in a particularly favorable light, but none of these scandals do a thing to change my opinion of the man. For me, the character of Governor Christie got baked in the cake on June 4, 2013. This was the date Governor Christie announced the date of a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. This would normally appear to be a fairly benign event, but it was not. For those who do not recall the backstory, let me provide it.

In 2009, Governor Christie was asked what he would do in the event of elderly Senator Lautenberg dying in office. Governor Christie responded, “I don’t think any responsible governor at this point would call for a special election that would cost $10 million.” Then this past June, the exact scenario came up, except in real life, the special election made even less sense than in Christie’s hypothetical because Senator Lautenberg’s death occurred so close to a general election. The special election set by Governor Christie would occur just three weeks before the already scheduled general election. What should have been a no-brainer ended up being an inexplicable and expensive flip-flop. Governor Christie, Mr. Straight-shooter and self-proclaimed protector of the tax payer, did exactly what he called irresponsible—he scheduled a special election three weeks before a general election. The decision cost the state of New Jersey $12 million, which is $2 million more than what Governor Christie earlier stated would be “irresponsible” to spend on a special election. Governor Christie’s only explanation for this decision was that it was important for New Jersey to have an elected representative during this three-week period. A couple of important points Governor Christie did not mention when he announced the special election: (1) there were only 10 days of which the Senate was actually in session in the three-week period between Christie’s special election and the general election, and (2) New Jersey would not be without representation during these 10 days because Governor Christie had already appointed an interim senator until an election could be held. Jon Stewart did a great job recounting this in humorous fashion.

The only reason anyone, including Republicans, could surmise for Governor Christie’s decision was that it kept Cory Booker, a popular Democrat who was running to fill the vacant Senate seat, off the November ballot where Chris Christie was running for reelection. Most speculated that Governor Christie was concerned that a popular Democrat like Mr. Booker could bring Democrats to the polls and result in Chris Christie winning reelection by a smaller margin. This was a potential problem for Governor Christie as he was looking for a large margin of victory to catapult him into front-runner status for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee (which, coincidentally, is exactly what happened). At the time Governor Christie made this decision, Governor Christie was leading his challenger by 30 points. This $12 million waste of money wasn’t even to get Governor Christie elected. It was simply to pad his all but guaranteed margin of victory.

Up until June 4, 2013, I kept an open mind about Governor Christie. While I didn’t approve of how he treated political adversaries, he did portray himself as a man of character, and someone who could be trusted to reach reasoned, well-considered conclusions. This single act, however, demonstrated the man is willing to sacrifice his principles and take money from tax payers for personal gain and occupational advancement. What greater indictment can there be of a public servant?

So while people want to make hay of recent events, it is all fairly meaningless to me. Governor Christie showed his true colors months ago. These recent stories do little more than confirm that the conclusion I reached about Governor Christie on June 4, 2013 was correct.

 – Dylan