Friday, March 28, 2014

Dear Chris Christie and New Jersey Reporters: A Traffic Study Is Not a Fairy or an Elf

Cartoon designed by Juan Navarro
There were far more problems with Chris Christie's Friday afternoon presser than I have time to go into on the last day of my staycation, like why none of these reporters thought to ask Christie why his interview transcripts weren't included in the Mastro report, or if he would be willing to release them, or why no one asked about the many other material deficiencies in the report.

Instead, I'll just focus on two of the most glaring problems, which illustrate the importance of holding the press accountable. First, and of slightly lesser significance, is the assembled press' utter failure, in an hour-plus press conference, to ask any questions on this briefly-mentioned topic:

In case you couldn't hear it (because New Jersey won't ban the .50 cal., but apparently will ban shotgun mics), the reporter is asking Christie why Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno wasn't at the presser with him to answer questions about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allegations. That was the only question to reference the Hoboken scandal. Christie's terse response was, apparently, all the warning shot reporters needed to know that they would get no good tape out of him on that subject. As little as Christie has been asked about Bridgegate in the past two months, he has answered no questions about the Hoboken allegations since that story broke.

Worse than that, though, was the press' continued failure to ask Christie why, if he were really concerned with this matter when he asked his staff about it, did he never ask to see the traffic study that he accepted as an explanation for the disastrous lane closings. That failure reached epic proportions during this exchange, in which Christie says he still thinks there was a traffic study:

"The report seems to indicate that there was a traffic study of some kind."

"You said that was in the report, you didn't say if you believe that."

"I believe what the report told me."

With the presser not even half, neither that reporter, nor any other reporter, asked the obvious followup question (say it with me): Then where the fuck is the traffic report?

He's not being asked to produce the human soul, or Santa Claus, or a non-virgin at a comic book store, he's being asked about an actual real tangible thing. That the reporter would even ask if Christie "believes" it exists is absurd. That Christie, as questions about the lane closings persisted, never asked his flunkies to produce the study, or any documentation about it, is beyond absurd.

Christie won today's presser, without a doubt, but those persistent questions, and many others, will be back around before he knows it.

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