Some journalists seem self-convinced: Did Bridget Kelly tell the truth during her "Bridgegate" trial?
We don't know if she did! But at New York Magazine, Andrew Rice says her story "had a convincing ring."
That's a rather fuzzy affirmation. At any rate, this is Rice's summary, in which he affirms "the petite mother of four" and seeks to hang vile Christie:
RICE (10/27/16): The consensus among courtroom observers seems to be that Kelly, the petite mother of four who allegedly ordered the closures, came off sympathetically, while Baroni, the square-jawed politico who was reputedly nicknamed “Phony Baroni” by colleagues when he served in the State Senate, didn’t appear as credible. No one needed to argue, though, about who came off looking the worst. “Mr. Christie remained the offstage villain, the Mephistopheles of Trenton,” the Times wrote in a sulfurous editorial this morning, “but it was impossible for even casual trial observers not to discern, from witness after witness, the evident viciousness and grubbiness of the governor and his administration.”Does Kelly's story "have a convincing ring?" Her story could even be true, but it certainly doesn't seem "convincing." Except, perhaps, to the type of observer who is self-convinced.
Three years ago, when the bridge-closing conspiracy first came to light, investigators asked the time-honored question: What did Governor Christie know, and when did he know it? More than a month of testimony in the case has offered ample evidence that the most plausible answers to those questions are: everything and early. Under oath, some of Christie’s closest advisers were forced to admit that the governor lied about what he knew—baldly, and repeatedly. But it was Kelly, the defendant, who offered perhaps the most damning account. Over several days of sometimes teary testimony, she claimed that the governor—a boss she said “petrified” her and even once hurled a water bottle at her in fury—was fully aware of Wildstein’s activities, until he had what Kelly delicately called a “memory issue.” While Christie has denied the allegations, and Kelly is trying to save herself from prison, her story had a convincing ring.
Kelly's story could always be true, but on its face, it certainly isn't "convincing." For starters, Kelly claims she had no idea that there was a political motive behind the lane closings.
She says she believed that David Wildstein was proposing a legitimate traffic study. That claim could always be true, of course. But given the tone of the various emails she proceeded to send, it certainly isn't convincing.
Kelly's story should seem especially shaky to Rice, who wants to hang Christie high. This is why we say that:
According to Kelly, she didn't even know that anyone in Christie's orbit was angry at Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich. Indeed, according to Kelly's story, even vile Governor Christie himself didn't seem to know that!
According to Kelly's story, Kelly told Christie that Wildstein wanted to run a traffic study, but that it would cause congestion in Fort Lee. According to Kelly, Christie only asked her how relations were with the mayor; she had to admit she didn't know. According to Kelly's convincing story, even Christie himself didn't seem to know that people were angry with Sokolich!
Kelly's story could always be true, but on its face, it doesn't seem super-convincing. Much later in his piece, Rice acknowledges this fact.
"Now, there are some less-than-believable elements to this account, chief among them Kelly’s contention that she didn’t know the true motives behind the 'traffic study,' ” Rice eventually writes. We agree—but, for better or worse, that claim lies at the heart of Kelly's "convincing" story!
Can we talk? Andrew Rice doesn't seem to believe that Kelly was telling the truth at her trial. Most of all, though, he deeply wants to disbelieve Christie. For that reason, he thrashes about, pretending that Kelly's story is "convincing."
Sorry—that it "had a convincing ring." Within the mainstream press, there was a time when feathered distinctions like that would be scorned as "Clintonesque."
For ourselves, we've always found it hard to believe that Christie would be dumb enough to affirm a plan which seemed to carry so much obvious risk. Clearly, Wildstein was dumb (and crazy) enough. Was Christie that stupid too?
Of one thing you can be certain. Absent external evidence, there's zero reason to believe anything these people say. And by the way, the prosecutors don't believe Kelly's convincing story. The prosecutors don't believe "it had a convincing ring."
In Wednesday's New York Times, Kate Zernike described the way the prosecutors pounded Kelly when they got to question her on the stand. They could be wrong in what they think, of course. But plainly, the prosecutors think Kelly is lying about key parts of her tale.
We thought of Rachel Maddow when we read that news report. Last Friday, she handed viewers a gong-show account of what Kelly had said on the stand that day. She didn't even tell her viewers that Kelly was the defendant in the trial, was charged with a serious crime. Maddow was trying to hang Christie too, perhaps like Andrew Rice.
When prosecutors pounded Kelly this week, Rachel didn't discuss it. A certain cable star understands what we the viewers want.