Journalism v. hackery

Is there anyone now saying that Christie might be innocent who wasn’t predicting a Romney win in Oct. 2012?

Steve Kornacki is a reporter.

Jennifer Rubin is a partisan hack. So is Stuart Rothenberg. So is Ruben Navarette. And of course Rich Lowry.

Query: Is there anyone telling us now that Christie is, or might be, innocent who wasn’t telling us in October 2012 that Mitt Romney was going to win or that the election was “too close to call”?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

27 thoughts on “Journalism v. hackery”

  1. MSNBC reports that Hoboken got only $342,000 in hurricane relief whereas Jenifer Rubin reports that Christie’s office claims that the city has been approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid. Clearly, something doesn’t add up. I can’t believe that anyone would be stupid enough to lie so outrageously, so they must have rationales about what they are counting.

    1.) Has Hoboken been guaranteed a huge chunk of money that it hasn’t got yet? Even though they are very clear that they are referring only to what has already been received in the MSNBC article, not reporting guaranteed funds in the pipeline would be really dishonest. Moreover, the mayor said that part of the reason she is coming out now is that the next round of payments is her last chance to get more money. This is not the sort of lapse I would expect to find on MSNBC in general.
    2.) Could the Christie administration be defining federal aid much more broadly, for example counting payments to private people with federally guaranteed flood insurance; or non-Sandy related federal aid? I’d consider those inclusions really dishonest too, because, the former really isn’t aid to the city proper; and the latter isn’t Sandy aid. However, since they just said “federal aid”, either inclusion could be defended.

    1. I agree that the $69,700,000 dollar discrepancy should be explained. I think you may not be appreciating how shaky “guaranteed funds in the pipeline” can be. One time when that fine Christie defender, Rudy Giuliani, got mad at the City Council, he refused to issue checks that had been approved. I was a Board member of an institution that had started a major overhaul of our century old building. When the City Council asked us to sue the mayor since his action was clearly illegal, we decided that the possibility of retribution was too high and that cowardice was the responsible response. We, instead, borrowed the money and paid $60K interest in the time before Giuliani softened.

      I remember that my very first thought was wondering whether Giuliani could cancel my daughter’s admission to Stuyvesant High School. I decided that this was probably crazy but then again maybe not. I am mentioning that not as a fact about the times but as a description of the mental state of the citizens.

      1. Sure they’re shaky – but they should be mentioned (although this now doesn’t appear to be the explanation – see below)

      2. History shows that, when it comes to dealing with Republicans in positions of power paranoia is a rational response. A clear line runs through McCarthy, Nixon, GW Bush, Tom Delay to name a few most prominent examples. Fortunately most of the worst over reach and get busted but the damage is done to individuals and society as a whole.
        Fostering fear is the ‘why’ of all this crap the Christie admin. has been involved in. The only surprise is how stupid they have been in leaving an e-mail trail. If they had just kept their obvious comments to phone calls there would be nothing to nail them with. Hubris.
        Now the question is if Christie has been slick enough to skate?

    2. “I can’t believe that anyone would be stupid enough to lie so outrageously, so they must have rationales about what they are counting.”

      Or are just lying. As Mark sorta implied in the original post, these currently-employed journalists were 100% full of sh@t,and didn’t suffer for it. You are making an implicit assumption that neither Christie or his crew would utter bald-faced lies.

    3. @Kate, yes, according to Kornacki on MSNBC this morning, the $70 million is from the feds, mostly for assistance to individual property owners, and not anything the Christie administration could withhold. The funding request Zimmer is talking about is for state funds controlled by the Christie administration for the city of Hoboken, to make infrastructure improvements designed to protect the city from flooding in big storms. Yes, it’s extremely dishonest for them to cite the former as if it somehow refuted the latter.

  2. Here’s a serious answer to what I presume is a rhetorical question. Ron Kuby, a New York area lawyer, former consigliere of William Kunstler, defense counsel for Long Island Railroad shooter Colin Ferguson, former Air America radio host, is now back on the air with WABC.

    He makes his case this way: As a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be insane to make such an flat-out denial when he knows what kind of power prosecutors have (subpoenas, etc.)

    1. Try this: “As a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be delusional to make such an flat-out denial when he knows what kind of power prosecutors have (subpoenas, etc.)”

      Delusional, eh? Yeah, that fits.

    2. As a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be insane to make such an flat-out denial when he knows what kind of power prosecutors have (subpoenas, etc.)

      Also, as a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be insane to naively and uncritically accept the denials of his underlings when first questioned about their participation in the scandal, only to be blindsided when so many of them were later implicated and resigned or had to be fired/asked to resign.

      Conclusion: Christie is insane. Also grossly incompetent. Clearly Presidential material…

      1. I’ll never forgive him for effectively telling patients suffering and slowly dying from MS, cancer, AIDS, Dravet’s Syndrome that they have to wait indefinitely to get their medicine because he’s busy playing partisan politics.

        What he said to Bryan Wilson about his 3-year-old daughter is unforgiveable.

    3. An alternate viewpoint is that as a former federal prosecutor Christie knows how great his peril is and how insane it would be to make any admission of guilt thereby shattering his veil of invincibility which is the only thing protecting him from detailed criminal investigation and prosecution for his actions.

      Cranky

    4. As a former federal prosecutor, Christie knows exactly how to indicate his desires to subordinates while maintaining deniability about their actions.

      There aren’t going to be any “Watergate tapes” coming out of Trenton– but the pattern of corruption will be enough to sink him, perhaps to the point of impeachment

    5. I have a lot of respect for Ron Kuby but I think he’s asking the wrong question. What’s important isn’t Christie’s awareness of the prosecutors powerful weapons but rather his assessment of how likely his friends and potential future supplicants are to train those weapons on him. At this point, he’s clearly within the Magic Circle—it doesn’t matter now much he lies because nobody within the criminal justice system is going to go after him unless the pressure from the press and do-gooder groups becomes unbearable.

      On the other hand, if the political pressure on law enforcement should ever become strong enough to overcome both the inertia of careerism and the markers from law enforcement officials that Christie’s probably holding, he’s probably screwed no matter how carefully he phrases his statements to the press.

    6. He makes his case this way: As a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be insane to make such an flat-out denial when he knows what kind of power prosecutors have (subpoenas, etc.)

      To my mind, that claim is incomplete. It should read, “As a former federal prosecutor, unless Christie is innocent of the allegations people are making against him, Christie would be insane to make such a flat-out denial when knows what kind of power prosecutors have (subpoenas, etc.). Insane, or smart enough to realize that the walls are closing in on him, and a flat-out denial ultimately won’t make things worse whether or not he is indicted for crimes arising from his alleged wrongdoings.

      1. “Insane, or smart enough to realize that the walls are closing in on him, and a flat-out denial ultimately won’t make things worse whether or not he is indicted for crimes arising from his alleged wrongdoings.”

        That’s the key – if prosecutors do go after him, and some of his inner circle flip, he’s politically screwed, and probably legally screwed. Being a flat-out liar on top of that wouldn’t hurt any more.

    7. I’m not sure that Chris Christie is a former federal prosecutor. This assumes that he was once a prosecutor. I know that he was George Bush’s loyal US Attorney for 7 or 8 years. But I’m not sure he ever prosecuted a case in his life. His previous legal background was as a municipal bond attorney: a politicized specimen of attorney that never shows up in court. I’m not sure what his experience was as US Attorney, or whether he paid any attention to the ostensible requirements of the job. He may have entrusted that to the little people. I do know that, as US Attorney, he went after Democrats almost exclusively, except for the Treffinger case that had already been prepped by the Clinton-era prosecutor and couldn’t be buried. He kept touting Treffinger as an example of his bipartisan cred.

  3. Steve Kornacki is a reporter.

    Jennifer Rubin is a partisan hack. So is Stuart Rothenberg. So is Ruben Navarette. And of course Rich Lowry.

    I wouldn’t deny any of that, but it seems perhaps an unfair apples-to-oranges comparison to link to an investigative news story on the one hand and a handful of clearly-identified opinion pieces, some of which are posted on unabashedly partisan blogs, on the other, whilst describing the former in a positive way and marginalizing the latter.

    Partisanship seems to be an accepted norm among bloggers and opinion columnists. Narrow partisan viewpoints can lead to hastily assumed, opinionated conclusions that appear like surprisingly misguided partisan hackery to those who don’t share that particular view (and vice-versa, I’m sure).

    On the other hand, perhaps the comparison isn’t so unfair in this day and age. Most of those opinion pieces took potshots at MSNBC for what is perceived as partisan slant in their news reporting, and who here would describe their perception of FOX’s reporting as “fair and balanced”? From either of these two perspectives, the other seems a long way off, and it all seems to have devolved into “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi” vs. “Bridgegate Bridgegate Bridgegate”.

    1. it all seems to have devolved into “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi” vs. “Bridgegate Bridgegate Bridgegate”.

      Bridgegate will only last as long as new revelations keep coming; Benghazi will go on forever, with or without any actual information of any sort. Because equivalence.

    2. Steve Kornacki is a reporter.

      Add this: He is also a top shelf educator.
      His video piece demonstrates how to artfully present complicated material.
      He’s got an intuitive knack for knowing when to cycle back and reiterate a connection.
      And he ties a nice package at the end with the loaded word: “expedite”.

      It is all brilliantly done.

      1. @Special k–total agreement. My sister turned me on to him just last week, and I’ve been watching him with my mouth open at how well he does what he does. Nobody else on television does it like that that I’ve ever seen. It’s an art form of sorts.

    3. This attitude makes me burn with fury. Partisanship is NOT an acceptable norm to me, and to anyone else who cares about accuracy, honesty, and reality. Why else is the title of this community RBC?

      Truth is like the channel of a river: usually it runs down the center, but sometimes it’s close to one of the riverbanks. Anyone who tries to follow the truth by always staying ‘in the middle’ is bound to run aground. Which boat runs aground more often: MSNBC or FOX?

      The source is not the story: the accuracy and importance of the information and conclusion is what counts.

      What *possible* fair comparison can you make between “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi” (at worst, tragic short-sighted incompetence,) and “Bridgegate Bridgegate Bridgegate,” (an illegal corrupt criminal conspiracy?)

  4. Navarette:

    What do you suppose is more annoying? Being stuck in traffic for hours on a bridge — or watching the media get stuck for days on a story about a juvenile stunt that might, or might not, bloom into a full-blown scandal?

    I’d have to go with the latter, especially when you consider that the media seem addicted to the story in hopes that it could somehow derail the plans of a Republican presidential hopeful.

    Really?

  5. To answer the question “Is there anyone…who wasn’t…” I nominate Bob Somerby, of Daily Howler.

    In his case it’s not any regard for Christie: he thinks the special election for Senator to keep out Democratic overlap in his own reelection is or ought to be a scandal. He just deplores the kind of coverage a story like this gets, how a narrative establishes itself despite the emergence of facts which contradict it.

    Somerby’s line is something like “it may all be true, but with the kind of “journalistic” culture we have now, how could we know?

    By the way, he’s already singled out Kornacki for praise as a reporter who actually knows the subject–in this case NJ politics–and not just the narrative.

  6. The headline (along with statements about Rubin et al) strikes me as vitriolic.
    But what do I know, I’m only a commenter.

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