Becoming the thing we oppose: Yesterday morning, a fascinating report appeared on the front page of the New York Times.
The report concerns an impending review of the Fort Lee lane closings—a review of events from Team Christie itself!
As he started, Michael Barbaro offered the basics:
BARBARO (3/24/14): With his office suddenly engulfed in scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey two months ago summoned a pair of top defense lawyers from an elite law firm to the State House and asked them to undertake an extensive review of what had gone wrong.According to Barbaro, this review “will be viewed with intense skepticism,” for a perfectly obvious reason—it was commissioned by Christie himself!
Now, after 70 interviews and at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by state taxpayers, that review is set to be released, and according to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings.
The review is the first of multiple inquiries into a scandal that has jeopardized Mr. Christie’s political future. It will be viewed with intense skepticism, not only because it was commissioned by the governor but also because the firm conducting it, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has close ties to the Christie administration and the firm’s lawyers were unable to interview three principal players in the shutdowns, including Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor’s former deputy chief of staff.
The review was commissioned by Christie himself. But as he continued, Barbaro listed a fascinating set of claims about what the review will include.
These claims may turn out to be oversold or bogus. But if its authors can be believed, it sounds like the impending review could contain real information, based upon new sources:
BARBARO: Much about the review remains secret, and Mr. Mastro declined to describe any specific content before its release. But it is expected to lay out a detailed narrative of the events, motivations and communications leading up to the closing of the lanes, which snarled traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., for thousands of commuters last September.Wow! Will this review include real information about the “motivations leading up to the closing of the lanes?”
According to those familiar with the report, it will also address what and when Mr. Christie and his aides knew about the lane closings; analyze the structure, practices and culture of the Christie administration that contributed to the scandal; and issue pointed recommendations to prevent such conduct.
Among the issues covered, according to people familiar with the report, is the widespread use by Mr. Christie’s aides of private email accounts to conduct government business. The report is also expected to offer a tough assessment of the intergovernmental affairs unit inside the governor’s office, where Ms. Kelly worked.
Over the past two months, a dozen lawyers from Gibson Dunn questioned more than 70 people, including the governor and the lieutenant governor, every current member of Mr. Christie’s senior staff and top New Jersey officials at the Port Authority. The lawyers also gained access to government and private email accounts of key current and former administration officials and obtained records of their incoming and outgoing phone calls and text messages.
The investigation’s most significant obstacle was the lack of access to the three figures at the center of the lane closings—Ms. Kelly, the author of the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email; Bill Stepien, the governor’s former aide and campaign manager; and David Wildstein, a Christie ally at the Port Authority—who all declined to be interviewed.
But the lawyers had access to a wide range of documents, including thousands of emails left on government servers by current and former employees like Ms. Kelly, whom Mr. Christie fired in January, and Mr. Stepien, who left the administration in 2013.
Obviously, we don’t know the answer to that. But it sounds like that could be possible, given the materials to which the authors say they had access.
That could all be piddle, of course. The review could be a big dud.
But based on what we read in the Times, we felt eager to see this forthcoming review. Then, we got ourselves thoroughly brainwashed by Rachel Maddow last night.
Maddow’s segment on this topic was pure propaganda. It’s a great example of the way people sometimes turn into the thing they so bravely oppose.
Maddow’s segment included an interview with Steve Kornacki. In effect, the pair cited alternate paragraphs from the Times, picking and choosing what we the rubes could be trusted to hear.
Viewers were being preconditioned to reject whatever the review may contain.
First, Maddow snarked by herself for a while (excerpt below). As always, she managed to mention the daughter of one of the evildoers.
This was the start of the interview. To watch the whole segment, click here:
MADDOW (3/24/14): Nobody expected Governor Christie’s internal review to do anything other than exonerate him, I think.Truly, that was pathetic. (Just for the record, the troubling word “soon” didn’t appear in the Times.)
MADDOW: Is there anything that we have learned about this review, about its importance or its relevant context, that we didn’t know before?
KORNACKI: I don’t think so. We didn’t even learn when exactly it’s coming out, which would be a useful piece of information. But they’ve been saying for a while now “soon.” And the new report today says “soon.” So we didn’t even learn that.
That was pretty pitiful. But as Kornacki and Maddow continued, the agitprop only got worse:
KORNACKI (continuing directly): I think the two relevant things to look for here—and there’s no indication of what’s in the report about this—is, does this report offer some kind of, like, unified theory of, “OK, here was the motive, here’s how it was carried out, why it was carried out, who exactly knew?” And does the report implicate anybody who’s not previously come up in all this? Is there a new scapegoat? Is there someone else for Christie to point to and say, “This person failed in their job and I’m going to disassociate myself from this person?”Just a guess. The authors didn’t want the Times saying, in paragraph 3, that the report “will be viewed with intense skepticism.”
So those are the two things to look for in this report when it comes out. But there’s no indication that the New York Times even saw the report.
KORNACKI: So they don’t know what’s in it. There’s no indication that they got any real explicit description of the contents of the report. There’s broad assertions here in the story. So I don’t think we really learned anything new today. We’re just going to have to wait until we see the report.
MADDOW: So what the New York Times front paged is what somebody wants them to print about the report without seeing the report themselves.
Rachel basically made it sound like the Times didn’t say that. According to her, the Times front paged what somebody wanted them to print.
Obviously, “we’re going to have to wait until we see the report,” as Kornacki said. Obviously, the New York Times hasn’t seen the report.
But according to the Times, the report’s authors explicitly said that the report will be able to explain “motivations,” based on the documents to which they say they had access.
As Maddow and Kornacki snarked and complained, they failed to mention any of that. Kornacki didn’t just skip the claim about motivation—he made it sound like motivation wasn’t mentioned in the Times report.
Pitifully, Kornacki went on to report “the suspicion” around Trenton that “there’s an effort here by the Christie camp to sort of roll this out in two phases,” with a preferred headline preceding the actual report.
Duh! Everything gets rolled out that way! And everybody knows it.
Go ahead—watch the tape of that segment. You’re watching an attempt at preconditioning, an act of propaganda.
Team Christie’s report may turn out to be an useless, oversold dud; we’ll have to wait to see what it contains. Last night, though, Maddow convinced us that she has become the type of con artist she always pretends to oppose.
Go ahead—give it a look. You’re being propagandized. Truly, you could have watched Sean!
You may be getting propagandized if: You may be getting propagandized if your favorite cable star hands you piddle like this:
MADDOW: The Gibson, Dunn partner heading the investigation calls it a “comprehensive and exhaustive” look at the scandal.Good grief! They didn’t even talk to Mayor Sokolich!
For the record, he may call it “comprehensive and exhaustive,” but I should tell you, it did not include the investigators for that review speaking with Bridget Kelly, the Christie deputy chief of staff who apparently ordered the lane closures; David Wildstein, who apparently carried out the lane closures; Bill Baroni, appears to have led the cover-up effort about the lane closures; or even Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who reportedly was the target of the lane closure scheme in the first place.
They didn’t talk to any of those folks. But still, it’s being described as “comprehensive and exhaustive.”
“They didn’t talk to any of those folks,” the grumbling multimillionaire said. She forgot to note what the Times reported—all four people she named had refused to be interviewed.
Guess what? If they continue to plead the Fifth, it may be that no one will ever interview Wildstein, Kelly or Stepien. Will the failure to “talk to any of those folks” be listed as an objection to future reports from other entities?
Rachel was trying to get in your head! By now, we’d say that she has become the person she bravely opposes.
The report may turn out to be a dud. But Rachel wants you thinking that before you get to peruse it.