“Echo Chambers” – An Alternative To The BBC Feature #2

The first installment with my own mission statement is here. Zurcher’s next topic was inevitable, so here goes. Again, I’m doing this without having read any of it other than the title and the first sentence.

Chris Christie’s Bridge-sized Headache

Somebody has leaked or stolen some emails by the popular and prominent New Jersey Governor detailing and gloating about deliberately blocking traffic on a vital commuter conduit in order to retaliate against a local politician who didn’t endorse Christie in the last election. The deputy chief of staff – whom Christie has now fired – seems to have made no bones about what they were doing, and even expressed pleasure in doing so in emails between her and the the Port Authority official in charge of running the George Washington Bridge, who’s a high school friend of the Governor and was appointed by him. It does have all the appearances of being very cozy.

It’s ugly business, not because it’s a national incident but because it’s a clear case of using government power to harm a political opponent, which is a major issue on its own thanks to the IRS scandal, never mind the negative affect it had on ordinary citizens, apparently simply because most of them voted the wrong way. As this editorial from Investor’s Business Daily says, “What’s infuriating is how this kind of politics is becoming the norm.”

This is a major national story also because Christie has a national profile not only because of his public image as a straight talker and a caring, competent administrator after the devastation of parts of his State from Hurricane Sandy, but because he’s been considered by many in the media and political wonk class to be the front runner for the Republican candidacy for President in 2016. Anything that calls his integrity into question is going to be big. It’s especially going to gain legs regardless of the facts because at the moment he’s the number one obstacle to President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton. So Christie now has the biggest target on his back of anyone in the country.

He’s going to get the vetting that the media never did for the Junior Senator from Illinois in 2008, or even during Obama’s first term as President. It’s no secret that the mainstream media knows they didn’t do their job properly, and that they really did use the power of the press to support him and attack enemies. There’s been a little pushback in the last couple of months, and it was probably always going to be inevitable that they were going to overreact in order to reestablish public trust and prove that they really do want to hold politicians accountable and speak truth to power.

As Paul Bedard points out in the Washington Times:

The Big Three networks, in a frenzy over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s traffic headache dubbed “Bridgegate,” have devoted a whopping 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage to the affair in just the last 24 hours.

By comparison, that’s 17 times the two minutes, eight seconds devoted to President Obama’s IRS scandal in the last six months, according to an analysis by the Media Research Center.

“While routinely burying new stories on the IRS scandal, the media practically fell over themselves to start taking shots at the potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee,” said the conservative media watchdog.

It’s important to keep this background in mind when considering the media coverage now, regardless of the facts as they come out. Opinion on the validity of the IRS scandal can be viewed as a metric. So, naturally there’s noise in both the Left and Right echo chambers. Christie says he didn’t know the truth and was misled by his staff about the whole thing. Naturally, some won’t trust him and are asking “What did he know and when did he know it?”, while others are taking him at his word. While it’s impossible to prove a negative, many are pointing to his known brusk, tough-talking, and at times aggressive behavior as evidence that this attitude was endemic in his administration, and thus he shares blame.

A good example of this comes from the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Just his blog title says it all:

Chris Christie: ‘I am not a bully’ – LOL

During his 107-minute me-me-mea culpa over the traffic fiasco that plunged his national political fortunes into chaos, Gov. Chris Christie said something that was LOL funny. It came in response to a question from NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell: “Your critics say this reveals that you are a political bully, that your style is payback,” she asked the New Jersey Republican known for his love of rhetorical fisticuffs and penchant for retribution. “Are you? And does this compromise your ability to serve?

Capehart then cites a couple of instances of Christie making snarky retorts at people asking him challenging questions. Those responses are part of what made independents and people on the Right like him, while it tended to anger those on the Left. To Capehart and those in his echo chamber, it’s proof that Christie is a bully, and proof that he either knew or his style encouraged the corrupt behavior.

At the top of that echo chamber is this editorial from the New York Times:

There are plenty of questions that Mr. Christie and his aides, current and former, need to answer.

First, is it plausible that officials as high up as Ms. Kelly and Mr. Christie’s top appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, would decide to seek revenge and create this traffic chaos on their own?

Did Mr. Christie know in December, when Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein resigned, that these two members of his inner circle had taken part in the scheme? Did he ever ask them what happened?

Piers Morgan says it’s as big a scandal as Watergate.

The echo chamber from the other side is obviously more willing to give Christie the benefit of the doubt. But they’re certainly not just accepting his side of the story and drawing a line under the incident. Charles Krauthammer is taking a wait-and-see attitude. He even suggests that if Christie’s toughness image comes across after this as “a petty toughness”, he’s “toast”.  That and the IBD sentiment I mentioned above are echoed by Red State’s Eric Erickson (writing for Fox News here):

I’m ambivalent on his run for the presidency . But I don’t see him getting that far for the very reasons underlying this issue — he and his staff operate as divas.I have had congressmen, governors, and the staffers of congressmen and governors tell me horror stories about dealing with Christie’s people.

All of them seem to dread it.

It seems that even if Christie comes out of this with clean(ish) hands, the bully label is going to stick. Of course, nobody in either echo chamber is comparing that to Hillary Clinton’s own horror stories about how she treats people, but it’s only a matter of time if Christie does eventually declare.

So is it going to doom Christie’s presidential hopes? It’s too soon to tell, of course, but there are plenty of guesses out there. Lisa Schiffren in the National Review Online’s “The Corner”, thinks this too shall pass and Christie the (eventual) candidate might even come out of this the better for it. The other echo chamber, here in the form of Jason Linkins of the HuffingtonPost, thinks there’s always the possibility of a “Comeback Kid” story, as the media likes to create these Narratives.

There’s one other facet to this story – particularly the coverage and the opinion-mongering – which goes back to what I said about how opinion of the IRS scandal can be a kind of metric. The same people on the Left who defended the President on that saying he couldn’t possibly have known, and his behavior had no influence on the IRS going after his political enemies, are now certain that Christie’s behavior influenced and led to everything, and of course he probably knew.

Before closing, we must also consider the other, other echo chamber: Twitter.



It’s too early to know how this will turn out, but the various opinions have been far more revealing of the attitudes and politics of the people making them than about anything in the story itself.

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14 Responses to “Echo Chambers” – An Alternative To The BBC Feature #2

  1. john in cheshire says:

    David, given that Ms Clinton is complicit in the Benghazi murders; and given that the killing of an Ambassador is, as I understand it, regarded as an act of war, since that post is the representative of the sovereign state which they represent; how is is that the US media aren’t daily proclaiming her culpability and demanding she is brought before a court to face these allegations?

    As for Mr Christie, if he’s as good at his job as he appears to be, this current situation will be grist to the mill. I just hope he’s got a list of those who deserve his attention should he become President. Or would that be confirmation of the allegations against him? Democrats seem to be allowed to damage their enemies but when a Republican even thinks of such a thing, it’s decried from the rooftops.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Because the US mainstream media doesn’t care about Benghazi or the murdered ambassador as much as they care about keeping Republicans out of office and paving the way towards the Progressive future they dream of. Candy Crowley lied on air and took sides on one element of that issue during the infamous debate between the President and Romney.

      If Benghazi interests the wrong sort of people, they will see it as a license to ignore and dismiss. Just ask Mark Mardell.

      Hillary is not only the Corporatist, Statist dream candidate, but ticks the next identity politics box as well. They were supposed to elect her in 2008 until that rara avis (according to Joe Biden), a clean-looking, articulate black man came into the picture. We will be expected to support her without question in 2016, because vaginas. According to at least one BBC journalist, she’s an inspiration to millions.


      • Dysgwr_Cymraeg says:

        I have to say here, that if the folk of the US of A accept her, it’s their own stupid fault.
        That may sound harsh from someone in the UK, but I ( not being a follower of us politics) had tipped her for the presidency years ago. I just never saw bath-house barry on the horizon.
        Just why ARE folk there so accepting of political dynasties?
        There, time will tell, I just hope she gets put into sone trashcan.


    • ROBERT BROWN says:

      Let’s hope some, nay, very many people, who as a result of the mayhem lost money, missed deals, anything, sue the arse off of the guilty parties, bang to rights.


  2. stuart says:

    the trouble with chris christie is he is to much of a nice guy that wants to please everybody with his wishy washy fiscal liberalism,he reminds me a bit of david cameron,they are not true conservatives,but i have heard little rumours on the wing that the billionaire magnet and businessman donald trump is thinking about standing as president in 2016,people might laugh and say he has no chance,they said the same thing about obama and he got elected,what america needs somebody in the white house who knows a bit about how to run a successfull business and has the knowledge in how to sort out the economy.i think donald trump is that man.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Trump is too much of a buffoon and undisciplined public persona. Never gonna happen.


  3. Bill Wright says:

    Is this anything to do with BBC bias?


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Yes, Bill. Please read the very first sentence of the post. Then click through the link if you can be bothered.


  4. therealguyfaux says:

    The BBC page has the fact that the New Jersey Legislature, controlled by the other party (Democrats), has been investigating this for months, as they suspected something was afoot.

    Of course, this bit of intelligence was in the final paragraph, well after it had been reported that a class-action lawsuit (aka a “nuisance suit,” which used to be called “barratry,” and was a crime at common law) was filed against the officials involved, one of whom invoked his right not to self-incriminate when hauled before a Legislature committee hearing (*audible “gasp!”*pearls being clutched*a case of the vapours ensuing*).

    About the only national significance this has, aside from the obvious one of the Presidential Sweepstakes horse race, is that the bridge to which access was blocked carries a cross-continental interstate highway between two states, and in theory could be seen as somehow hindering interstate commerce– a most specious makeweight. It hasn’t a national/international significance otherwise in any way justifying its coverage.

    As opposed to those scandals of the Obama Administration which do.


  5. samsung says:


    I presume it must be very cold in your trailer so you couldn’t sleep. Since most of the replies are from you, maybe the utter lack of interest in anything you ever post should give you a hint.

    Doubt it. BTW the white dirty vest look doesn’t suit. Wear a shirt.


  6. Span Ows says:

    Comments are closed on the echochamber Echochamber thread; a pity as some are soul-destroyingly devoid of even a smidgen of intelligence and knowledge of the situation:

    “And we wonder why (sic)? Could it be the tireless obstruction of the goon like opposition in the Republican party, who like Christie’s goons do not give a fig for the American public and their welfare in their quest to put-down the first black president!


  7. Huck says:

    I thought this was hilarious;

    ‘We will be expected to support her without question in 2016, because vaginas’.