WORLD WITHOUT FACTS, AMEN: Outrage ratcheted by Pareene!


Part 2—Nuzzi cribs from Zernike: When Bridget Kelly sent that email, did she do so at the direction of her superiors within the Christie camp?

We can’t answer that question. To all intents and purposes, the Mastro report doesn’t ask.

Kelly’s famous email to David Wildstein said this: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wildstein proceeded to plan, then execute, the now-famous access lane closings.

What did Kelly think she was doing when she sent that email to Wildstein? And did she check with her superiors before she sent it?

The Mastro report sheds little light on these basic questions. In one brief section (see page 120), the report says this:

“We interviewed dozens of witnesses inside and outside the Governor’s Office, and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents...After thorough investigation, we have not found any evidence that anyone in the Governor’s Office, besides Kelly, approved of or had any other advance knowledge of the lane realignment before it was implemented on the morning of September 9, 2013.”

In interviews and in old emails, the investigators “found no evidence” that anyone other than Kelly had advance knowledge of Wildstein’s plan.

Kelly’s direct superior was Christie chief of staff Kevin O’Dowd. Did Kelly discuss the plan with O’Dowd? It’s a blindingly obvious question.

O’Dowd was interviewed for the Mastro report. What did he say when he was asked that question?

Presumably, O’Dowd said he didn’t discuss the plan with Kelly, and that may well be the truth. But the Mastro report pays almost no direct attention to O’Dowd.

Meanwhile, the report suggests that Kelly wouldn’t have run the Wildstein plan by Christie political chief Bill Stepien, who does receive direct attention in the report. She and Stepien had recently broken off a romance, the report says. For that reason, the report says, they weren’t communicating with each other.

Did someone above Bridget Kelly know about the lane closing plan? Did some such person approve the plan? These obvious questions are largely glossed within the Mastro report.

Reasoning extremely poorly, the Mastro report seems to conclude that the lack of evidence of approval means that no such approval took place. Needless to say, the lack of evidence can’t begin to settle this basic question. But near the end of its section about Fort Lee, the report directly adopts this unqualified, bold-faced conclusion:
No One In The Office Of The Governor Other Than Kelly Had Any Advance Knowledge Of The Lane Realignment Or Was Otherwise Involved In Approving It
It may be true that no one else knew. But it’s monumentally dumb to offer that as a proven conclusion.

At many points, the Mastro report reasons like a distracted second-grader. But uh-oh! If anything, the journalism about the report has been even worse.

Reporters and pundits have struggled and strained, trying to define the shortcomings with the report. Last night’s segments on Hardball and the Maddow Show were especially pathetic.

But, as always, the boys and girls who pose as our “press corps” came up with an instant reaction to the Mastro report. In the early going, their assessment was driven by ludicrous logic and by several false facts.

In a series of bungled reports, journalists announced that the problem with the report was its sexist treatment of Kelly. The term got ratcheted up to “misogynist” in a headline at Salon. Yesterday, Alex Pareene took this Standard Group Assessment to a silly but predictable new level.

Please remember the lesson of the fourth button, the “journalistic” practice we have reported for the past sixteen years:

When pundits adopt a Standard Group Story—when they agree They’ll All Say The Same Thing—a pundit can only distinguish himself by making that Standard Group Statement in a more extreme or more colorful manner. As he linked to a piece at The Daily Beast, Salon's Pareene ratcheted thusly:
PAREENE (3/31/14): Perhaps the single dumbest aspect of the report and its unveiling is how it invites a backlash from the people the report blames for the scandal, especially the already pissed-off David Wildstein and former top Christie aide Bridget Kelly, who is subject to shockingly sexist treatment in the review. Painting your once fiercely loyal aide as an unhinged emotional wreck is probably a good way to get her to start opening up to the press and the less friendly investigators at the U.S. attorney’s office.
Walsh said the report was “sexist;” the headline ratcheted that up to “misogynist.” Three days later, Pareene was even more overwrought.

The Mastro report is “shockingly sexist,” the overwrought script-reader said.

Question: Is Kelly subjected to sexist treatment in the Mastro report? We’ll review that question tomorrow. For today, we’ll say we think the claim has been strongly overstated, in part through the use of a set of false claims.

(For examples, see yesterday's post.)

Next question: Does the Mastro report paint Bridget Kelly “as an unhinged emotional wreck?” As a courtesy to Pareene, we’ll assume he hadn’t read the report when he offered that characterization. Only an unhinged intellectual wreck would describe the report that way, absent the need to advance an established Standard Group Narrative.

As a courtesy, we’ll assume that Pareene hasn’t read the report. But then, it isn’t clear that Olivia Nuzzi, Pareene’s muse at The Daily Beast, had read the report when she wrote the piece which has Pareene so upset.

To help define the journalistic geography of the current age, Nuzzi is the Weiner college student intern who rose to prominence on page one of the New York Daily News last July. From there, she was profanely trashed by a Weiner aide, then quickly advanced to the Beast.

We have no opinion of Nuzzi’s overall work at the Beast. In last Friday’s Beast, her piece ratcheted the emerging group fury with a headline which charged the Mastro report with “slut-shaming.”

Nuzzi seemed to concede one point—there may have been a reason to report the romance between Kelly and Stepien. Her complaint concerned the fact that the Mastro report said that it was Stepien who ended the romance.

This inspired Pareene to declare the report “shockingly sexist.”

Had Nuzzi spent much time with the Mastro report when The Beast rushed her piece into print? Everything is possible! That said, we were struck by the way her complaints tracked the work which had appeared in the New York Times that morning.

Below, you see the opening paragraph of Kate Zernike’s largely hapless report in the Times. Then, you see the way Nuzzi was struck by the Mastro report:
ZERNIKE (3/28/14): She “seemed emotional.” She was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor.” A boyfriend had ended a relationship.

NUZZI (3/28/14): In addition to informing us that Kelly had been dumped by Stepien, Christie’s internal Bridgegate report says that Kelly “seemed emotional,” and that she was “habitually concerned with how she was perceived by the governor.”
Great minds were plainly thinking alike in this, the first day of the chase! Is western literature a footnote to Homer? If so, Nuzzi’s account of the Mastro report looks like a footnote to Zernike.

As we’ve shown you for sixteen years, this is the way the “press corps” works when they agree on a Standard Group Story. They copy off each other’s papers. As they do, they look for ways to ratchet the story-line up—to top what the others have said.

In fairness, some of the press corps' Standard Group Stories may be fair and accurate. Was that the case with Zernike’s assessment of the alleged sexism in the Mastro report?

Tomorrow, we’ll return to Zernike’s piece and examine her various claims. The Mastro report is very weak in several major respects.

As always, the “journalism” in the New York Times may have been even worse.

Tomorrow: Zernike’s claims and assessment


  1. Bob, you're sexist. Christie knew.

    1. His deputy chief of staff issues the cryptic order in which his "eyes and ears" within the Port Authority understood immediately and completely.

      His campaign manager is looped into the e-mail conversation.

      He is now desperately trying to isolate this to two people he he has already thrown under the bus.

      Of course, Christie knew. And he also knows what Kelly and Wildstein know, and the cards they are holding.

  2. Salon...Times...Salon...Times

    Covering quivering jellyfish with TDH.

    1. You left out the Daily Beast. It'''s daily!

  3. Bob uses the word "romance" a couple of times to describe the relationship between Kelly and Stepien. Let's play Bob and ask if that word appears anywhere in the Mastro Report.

    If not, then where did he get this idea that their "personal relationship" was in fact a "romance"? Especially since neither Kelly nor Stepien were asked about it?

    Would Bob be guilty of embellishing the office gossip Mastro ran with?

    As for "sexist" I keep searching the report over and over, and I have yet to find any indication of the personal relationships of co-conspirator Wildstein, any mention of the health of his loved ones, or anything else that might have impaired his judgment.

    I guess it's only women who get so flighty and unpredictable when their personal lives are going smoothly.

    1. Christie already said nobody knew what Wildstein had been up to since high school except when they ran into him on the political campaign trail and ran 50 or so crazy ideas by them.

    2. There were no quotation marks around "romance." Please ban yourself since Bob won't and stop annoying those of us too timid to comment otherwise.

    3. What she did was stupid. Can we all least come to agreement on that?

    4. 130: please find your fainting couch.

    5. Yes, 1:30. Thank you for once again demonstrating how the lizard brain of the Somerby Fan Club and Cult works.

      I put quote marks around "romance" because I was quoting Somerby. It's his word. And his embellishment as he takes a personal relationship and grows it into a romance.

      Can you even begin to imagine Somerby's reaction had Rachel Maddow done such a thing?

      He would scour the full report over and over again looking for the word "romance." And not finding it he would write for days, weeks, and perhaps even years how she "invented" a romance, and how she speculated far beyond the known facts.

      You see, Bob himself finds the rules he sets for others too bothersome to follow himself.

      But he certainly has his rubes and his lizard brains to back him up and call him brilliant.

    6. Well it is obvious you "trolls" or whatever it is you call yourselves or we are supposed to call you have little honor and refuse to do the right thing.

    7. Yes, if only they would do the right thing and leave, so that we Bob fans aren't reminded on a daily basis that our guru is an idiot.

    8. There hasn't been a convincing troll criticism here for months, if ever.

    9. Oxymoron alert!

    10. Anonymous @ 7:07 PM

      It is thoughtful comments like yours which make put all other crititques of trolls to shame.

      You have demonstrated what a fear free thread could be like!

  4. Dear Bob,

    On Monday, March 24, the Christie camp leaked the report to the NY Times, claiming it was not only thorough and exhaustive, but woud exonerate Christie.

    Meanwhile, Christie went on his favorite radio show to proclaim further that "all the important questions would be answered" even though none of the people so far identified as being at the center of this mess were interviewed.

    Everybody else smelled the rat. And subsequent events proved their judgment to be spot on.

    Somerby, meanwhile, could only muse about imagined "possibilities" conjuring mountains of new documents and new evidence that certainly "could" make the report complete and exhaustive while "possibly" answering all the big questions. We don't know; it is possible, Bob famously proclaimed as the thinking world got big belly laughs at his expense.

    So who is guilty of crimes against journalism? Why all those people whose instincts about this "stupid shazam" (Somerby, 12/16/13) have been right on the money.

    And who continues to proclaim himself right? The one person in the universe who hasn't gotten a damned thing right going on four months now.

    Somerby, you are a legend in your own mind. But I admit, you have finally acheived your goal. You certainly make people laugh.

    1. You have no way of knowing whether that radio show is Christie's favorite.

    2. Journalism is not a game show where the pundits try to guess what actually happened.

  5. Will one of Bob's loyal fans please explain to me how Bob continues to disappear the co-byline of David Chen from the NYT piece he finds so egregious?

    Bob has no idea who actually wrote the words he finds so offensive. So he'll continue to blame the female.

    1. Thanks for asking. Bob disappears the byline of David Chen by first avoiding use of a conjunction after the proper noun Zernike. Then he adds all other authors who follow that name in alphabetical order.

    2. Zernicke has done this stuff before. Chen, maybe not so much. Perhaps he is being given the benefit of the doubt.

    3. Or perhaps Bob is extending him the benefit of Chen's gender, since Somerby has no idea who wrote what.

  6. Bob and his fans should wrap their lizard brains around this:

    Kelly's seven-year, four-kid marriage ended in 2012. She married golf pro Joseph Kelly one year out of Mount St. Mary's University, then began work as an aide to an assembly man, working her way up to chief of staff through the birth of her four children.

    Then she got the job as newly elected Christie's director of legislative relations, doing that job well enough as her marriage was breaking up to earn the promotion to deputy chief of staff.

    And only when Stepien (allegedly) dumps her is her judgment and character called into question, conveniently at the most opportune moment for Christie.

    1. If she had stayed home to care and nurture those children perhaps she would not have been led astray.

      Now she's used goods competing with perky coeds 10 years younger than she.

    2. Shorter 344: barefoot & pregnant - that's how I like em.

    3. 3:44 is actually mocking the newly infamous Princeton Mom.

  7. Another inconvenient truth that Somerby disappears.

    Instead of not talking to each other, there is documentary evidence that Stepien and Kelly were communicating quite often during the bridge fiasco. In fact, it was Stepien's remarks about Sokolich that got him kicked out of the inner circle and banished.

    1. Wasn't it Mastro who said Kelly and Stepien were not communicating with each other?

    2. Yes, it was. And e-mails say they were communicating with each other. And Somerby ignores those e-mails as he defends Mastro against charges of sexism.

    3. I don't think he is defending Mastro as much as asking that the press be more accurate.

  8. "Tomorrow: Zernike’s claims and assessment"

    Six day old jellyfish wrapped in five day old newspaper.

    1. Tomorrow: The troll above once again directs his web browser to the Daily Howler, despite claiming to be disinterested in the things Somerby covers. LOL.

    2. Today, a Bobfan once again has his day ruined by people who can think for themselves.

    3. I was quite a fan of Tab Hunter. I thought Troy Donahue was a ridiculous knock off.

    4. Troll Hunter. Interest or disinterest isn't the issue. We are still with him every morning in group until either he or we are released.

    5. Tomorrow: Troll hunter expresses fresh outrage over what happened to Al back in '99.

    6. I officially give all trolls permission to go away.

  9. I suspect she really got off being the bully's enforcer. Eager to impress and eager to please. A real self motivated, self starter as they like to think of themselves. I have no pity for her or her ilk whatsoever.

    1. How about for her four kids?

    2. Tough shit. Why don't we just forget all about the whole thing in honor of Christie's kids?

    3. Perhaps too harsh. The fact is though she's busted. She didn't just happen upon that job like some naive temp, but rather, helped Christie earn his reputation.

      Let me guess, in her case a person (gender neutral) given authority who just isn't content unless they're 'effing with someone, as the bridge story shows. I'm all for allowing the Koch brothers, Adelson or one of the others to set up a pension/trust fund of sorts for families of disgraced Republican operatives so they can be shielded from shame..

  10. Comments TL? DR?

    Shorter: Somerby sux, the coverage of the Mastro report is the aces!!

    [Of course that's nonsense, but you get exactly what you're paying for if you read comments here because we are by and large a bunch of douchebag trolls.]