CORRUPTION SPREADS: How bad is New Jersey?


Part 1—Our propaganda, our selves: How bad is corruption in New Jersey?

Any corruption is bad, of course, including that which continues to spread through our corporate “news” channels.

But how bad is corruption in New Jersey? If you’ve watched Rachel Maddow in recent weeks, you have been repeatedly told that it’s extremely bad.

But alas! You’ve seen no real attempt to examine this claim in a journalistic fashion.

In fairness, references to the Sopranos have largely ended at MSNBC. Routinely, though, Maddow pushes the idea that corruption in New Jersey is extremely bad—“astonishing.”

For a sense of Maddow’s portrait of Jersey, consider just a few of the things she said on last Thursday night’s program. She started with the former mayor of Trenton, focusing on his strange and suspicious name.

“In the indictment, they show his real name, Tony Mack,” Maddow said, right at the start of her program. “Tony Mack! Which is an awesome New Jersey politics name in its own right, right?”

Is “Tony Mack” an awesome New Jersey politics name? That peculiar judgment didn’t seem especially “right” to us. Beyond that, we didn’t know why a former Rhodes Scholar would say such an odd thing.

Which part of his name was awesome? Did his name amuse her? To watch the full segment, click here.

That said, Maddow’s viewers were off to the races with that opening statement, which struck us as somewhat peculiar.

As a result of his conviction on a set of corruption charges, Mack is no longer mayor of Trenton. As Maddow recited these familiar facts yet again, she helped us see how typical this sort of thing is in the state of New Jersey, which even she wouldn’t call great:
MADDOW (2/27/14): In February, this month, [Mack] was convicted of all charges. He is due to be sentenced in May and could get decades in federal prison, based on these charges and these convictions.

On the day he was convicted, on February 7th, the Associated Press provided some helpful context for understanding how big of a deal it is for the mayor of this New Jersey city to be going to jail on federal corruption charges. And the short answer is, it is not that big a deal at all, not for New Jersey.

Since 2000, the mayors of Newark, New Jersey, Camden, New Jersey, Patterson, New Jersey, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Hoboken, Passaic, Asbury Park, Orange and Hamilton, New Jersey, those mayors have all been convicted of corruption or pled guilty in corruption cases just since the year 2000, all of them. And now, you can add Trenton to the list.
Plainly, we were expected to gasp at the long list of cities, a list which now numbers ten. Through her familiar histrionics, Maddow helped us understand the main point—the list of corrupt New Jersey mayors is very long indeed.

The list was supposed to make us see that public corruption of this type “is not that big a deal at all,” not for a state like New Jersey! At the Maddow Blog, staff linked to this AP report, direct from the Washington Times.

At this point, we’ll be honest. Histrionics to the side, the list didn’t seem enormously long to us, especially since it covered cases dating back fifteen years.

New Jersey has an unusually large number of municipalities, we thought we’d heard somewhere. Tony Mack’s Jersey-style name to the side, was ten cases in fifteen years really a gobsmacking number?

We didn’t share our doubts with the analysts, who were already shaking their fists at New Jersey’s appalling corruption. Then, something slightly stranger occurred. Continuing directly, Maddow emitted this:
MADDOW (continuing directly): You know Cory Booker as a United States senator right now. But before becoming a United States senator, Cory Booker was not just the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, the state’s largest city. Cory Booker was the first mayor of Newark, New Jersey, since 1962 to not be convicted of corruption charges and to go prison.
“Yes, New Jersey is just astonishing,” Maddow said next. “New Jersey is a sewer of public corruption.”

Any and all corruption is bad, including that found at our cable “news” channels. That said, here’s why Maddow’s highlighted statement seemed strange:

Employing impassioned histrionics, Maddow said Booker was the first Newark mayor since 1962 “to not be convicted of corruption charges and to go prison.”

But that isn’t what it said behind Maddow, right up there on the screen! Rather plainly, the screen behind Maddow said something different and milder.

When we fact-checked Maddow’s source, we learned that her statement was false. Even the accurate fact, which she had embellished, was a bit misleading, for a reason we’ll cite tomorrow.

As we watched Maddow make that statement, we found ourselves wondering:

Did Maddow’s viewers really not see that her impassioned statement was different from the statement right there on the screen? But then, we’ve asked similar questions in recent weeks as we’ve watched Maddow misstate perfectly obvious matters—matters which were visible and apparent, right there on the screen.

Do her viewers really not notice?

Mainly, we marveled last Thursday night at the steady stream of propaganda concerning recent events in New Jersey. We marveled at the absence of journalistic behavior on Maddow’s cable show.

As the evening proceeded, so did Maddow’s denunciations of the degree of corruption in New Jersey. “New Jersey is just a toxic mire of public corruption, and it has been for years,” she convincingly said.

Other such statements were offered.

All corruption is bad, including corruption at cable news channels. But does New Jersey really stand out from the other states? Is its degree of corruption “astonishing?”

At this point, we still weren’t convinced.

In our view, almost every part of Maddow’s long presentation bore the stink of propaganda last Thursday. But we continued to think of that troubling list, a list which includes ten cities.

Ten different mayors in fifteen years? Was that really such a large number?

We wondered if Maddow’s claims and insinuations about New Jersey were accurate or reasonable. But alas! Answering that question requires reporting, something that almost never occurs when Maddow, a scandal propagandist, discusses the sewer of public corruption in this astonishing state.

Tomorrow: Concerning propaganda, what Gabe Sherman said


  1. A mack is slang for a seducer who's not above using force to get what he wants. A mack daddy is a pimp.

  2. I don't think any state's politics are more corrupt that New York State's. So many high level politicians have gone to jail, been indicted, been convicted, etc. Awful cronyism is everywhere and money rules everything. It is a depressing state of affairs.

  3. OMB (Just 10 in 15 years? Nothing! Could be 10 to Life!)

    "Ten different mayors in fifteen years? Was that really such a large number?" asked BOB. "(T)he list didn’t seem enormously long to us," he had warned us, "especially since......"

    We shall skip the rest of BOB's apology for New Jersey and finish that sentence with what seems to be the real point: "especially since" BOB's goal is not to deal with corruption in New Jersey, but to try and run a fact sting on the evil Rachel Maddow and her Mack Daddies at MSNBC. That is where the "stink of propaganda" rivals the stink of public malfeasance and is corruption somehow equal (in blogging sentence structure) to "that found at our cable “news” channels."

    Unfortunately, when BOB did his fact check of Maddow's fact source to derive the "paltry" 10 in 15 years permeating this post, he overlooked something which we choose to highlight:

    "Since 2000, mayors of Newark, Camden, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Hoboken, Passaic, Asbury Park, Orange and Hamilton, among others, have been convicted or pleaded guilty in corruption cases."

    Among others. Perhaps more than 10? Now, like BOB, we can ask : Do BOB's readers, in following his link, not see that BOB's definitive count on mayoral crooks in NJ may be understating? Who are the "among others?"

    Well, ABC, with one stroke after plugging "New Jersey municipal corruption" into a search engine delivered this:

    "The arrest of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack this week made him the 17th New Jersey mayor to be arrested in the past decade for corruption, adding to a legacy of unethical political behavior that has plagued the reputation of the Garden State."
    Six city mayors were arrested in the round-up, adding to the 10 mayors who had been arrested in independent stings during the previous five years. The heads of major New Jersey cities including Atlantic City, Newark, Hoboken and Paterson have all been nabbed for alleged illegal behavior."

    "But wait," thinks the Troll Patrol. "What about Maddow's lie?" We just knew you will ask. We haven't fact checked BOB's claim that Maddow is embellishing the fate of all Newark mayors since 1962 prior to Cory Booker. Yet. We will, but since BOB is postponing that issue, along with Maddow's long teased stint on the Doctor BOB's shrinking cap couch, we'll wait. If Maddow embellished something, it won't be the first time, nor the last.

    In the meantime, look at the length BOB needed to indict Maddow in this post for one claimed error of fact. New Jersey? Corrupt? Fuggetaboutdit! Bad? Yeah. But, take it from me, BOB, who's learning something from my trolls. What stinks worse, corruption in public office, or an error about it on cable TV?

    Next we'll put on our nose cap to look at the stink of propaganda.

    KZ (Keeping Score When Keeping Count Fails)

  4. Here is a list:

    There seem to be a disproportionate number from Rhode Island, given its small size.

    1. Yes, RI is a notably corrupt state.

  5. This is what the New Republic article said:"James’s successor, Cory Booker, is the first mayor of Newark not to be indicted since 1962."

    So, yes, that source said "indicted" and Maddow said "convicted." But in fact, all three mayors between 1962 and Cory Booker were convicted of crimes. In the case of Kenneth Gibson, it was a plea bargain to tax evasion, but that still means a conviction for a crime. However, the plea let him avoid going to prison, so that statement looks to be incorrect.

    So let's see how this goes. We are not told what the screen said behind her. Not sure where possible staff error fits in or should fit in.

    1. The screen graphic only said "indicted"


  6. OMB (We're Fierce, We're Anti-Feminist, We're in the Mirror)

    Our Propaganda All by Our Ownselves

    "corruption ...continues to spread through our corporate “news” channels." (Mild considering we called it a cancer before)

    "no real attempt" (even if real, just an attempt)
    "pushes the idea" ( I said Goddam the pusher man)
    "That peculiar judgment" (More than odd)
    "such an odd thing" (don't want to repeat ourselves)
    "viewers were off to the races" (hasty buffoons)
    "somewhat peculiar" (modified repetitiveness for emphasis)
    "we were expected to gasp" (we don't shock easily)
    "Through her familiar histrionics" (which still need description)
    "Histrionics to the side" (which we repeat as we forget momentarily)
    "Maddow emitted" (just like a smokestack)
    "Employing impassioned histrionics" (intentional, emotional, repeat)
    "her impassioned statement" (emotional but not excretional)
    "Maddow’s denunciations" (stronger than mere condemnation)
    "corruption at cable news channels" (in case you missed it earlier)
    "long presentation bore the stink of propaganda" (unlike us)
    "claims and insinuations" (mere charges left to imagination)
    "a scandal propagandist" (don't forget the smell)

    KZ (How About "Whole Propaganda Catalogue" Boomer Boy?)

  7. Conservatives claim that media bias is such that a corrupt politician's party is mentioned more prominently if he's a Republican than if he's a Dem. The cited article seems to follow that pattern. Chances are all of these corrupt NJ mayors were Dems, but their party is no where mentioned. If they'd all been Republicans, I think their party would have been shown more prominently.

    1. Operaton Bid Rig caught both Democrats and Republicans. Many of the indicted were appointed apparatchiks, so they didn't have party affiliations.

      Why not just continue to watch Faux News? When a Republican gets caught in a scandal, they put a (D) after his name. It'll balance things out for you.

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