New York Times, Wildstein aim at Christie, miss

Be the ham sandwich.

You’d think they’d try a little harder than this.

But then, when you’ve got nothing, it’s obvious.  It’s hard to think of a more sweatily tendentious but content-free headline:

Christie Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

We could experiment with some analogous headlines: headlines that would be just as technically accurate about people’s “links” to “knowledge of” the infamous lane closures now referred to as “Bridgegate.”

Smith Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

Jones Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

Hernandez Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

Huang Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

We could go through the Jersey phone books and do a couple million more of these.

I’ve never been a big fan of Chris Christie, and I’ve been basically neutral up to now on whether he wink-nudge knew about a political motive for the lane closures; i.e., even if he didn’t know know.  He’s a scrappy Jersey pol, he’s pugnacious and brash, he’s definitely not a conservative Republican, yada yada.  I figured, maybe.

But read the Times’s own article: there’s nothing in it to indicate that Christie had prior knowledge of a political motive for the lane closures.  All it says is that Christie knew about the lane closures.  That’s all David Wildstein has got.

There is obviously nothing nefarious in a public official knowing about lane closures on a major traffic artery.  (If there is, the mayor of Los Angeles should be locked up for the rest of his life.)

There is something nefarious – transparently, laughably, off-puttingly, reputation-sinkingly nefarious – about the New York Times going out of its way to present manifestly non-nefarious information as if it’s nefarious.

Far from signaling the end for Christie, this latest salvo may be the best thing that’s happened to him – if the consciences of the people are still sensitive and discerning.  Talk about your naked intentions.  NYT and Wildstein have expended a weak round in a bad move: exposed their firing position and their tactical objective, without hitting the target.  Whatever happens from here on out, their credibility is sunk.  The momentum is gone.  The media will pretend, loudly and persistently, that that’s not the case.  But it is.  They’re flogging a dead horse.

So I suspect Christie is making the right move by coming back swinging at Wildstein and the Times.  He may not be a conservative, but neither is he a fool; I doubt he’d go on the attack if he knew his own position was weak.

Image credit: AP
Image credit: AP


But aside from that, the New York Times has done what Christie could not: it has turned the tables on itself.  Try to overplay some joker’s weak hand out of political spite, and you forego the ex cathedra halo.  You end up as mere background noise; your audience ends up jaded and restless.

I have a better sense today than I did a week ago about Christie weathering this.  I hope only for the truth, whatever it may be, to win the battle.  If Christie has it on his side, he should stand his ground.  The media can arrange images and a narrative to make a ham sandwich look like Jack the Ripper, but it’s still a ham sandwich.  Be the ham sandwich, Chris.  Stay the course.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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4 thoughts on “New York Times, Wildstein aim at Christie, miss”

  1. Let’s not overplay our hand here, either. Thinking that a New Jersey pol might exact retribution for some political slight does not require a high degree of credulity. Neither does it strain credibility to think that the NYT has a political motive.

    Because nobody has come forward with the evidence, we don’t know if Christie had knowledge or if that knowledge reveals some nefarious action. It is highly unlikely that there is any unambiguous evidence on Christie’s state of mind. So the NYT will be able to maintain at least the pretense of objective journalism while they go after Christie.

    Yes, in most cases you don’t double down with a flat-out denial if you aren’t certain of your case. But that’s not the New York/New Jersey way. Don’t forget what Alex Rodriguez’s lawyers have been saying.

  2. I doubt that Christie is as pure as the driven snow, Vin. But it’s not his purity or innocence I need to be convinced of; it’s the actual approach to the truth on the part of the self-appointed narrative brokers.

    NYT has sold itself out on this one. It has no magisterial standing to enforce a false narrative. The only thing it has going for it is fear on the part of those whom it can smear with drive-by implications, or those who think such implications are too hard to fight. Christie’s task is to not be fearful — and frankly, that’s our task as well (or at least mine).

    We don’t need to fear either the truth or the NYT. At some point, Republicans and conservatives are finally going to figure that out.

  3. Anything that sinks Christie out of reach of being the next McRomney candidate suits me fine. Who says the liberal media can’t do anything worthwhile?

  4. Certain background, highly factual, verifiable, incontrovertible, Prima facie evidence has been presented that shows without a doubt that Gov. Christie was, at some point, aware of the lane closures.
    We here at The Times have changed our headline as the “changing facts” are being revealed. Our quickly changing headlines are proof we are presenting the news in an evenhanded way. It is a very fast moving story. Our headline may have to be improved again in the near future. So in conclusion, all Americans and the Gov. knew about the lane closures, at some point.
    Reporter Kirkpatrick is working on a blockbuster story on this topic that will appear in 2016.

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