Maddow's latest play: What did Bridget Kelly say yesterday during the "Bridgegate" trial?
If you watched last evening's Maddow Show, you pretty much didn't find out. For the report in the New York Times, you can just click here.
Maddow devoted eight minutes to the topic last night. This morning, the Washington Post gives the topic eight paragraphs, drawn from an AP report.
That said, you learn some essential facts in the Post's first three paragraphs. We refer to some basic facts which weren't spelled out last night:
WASHINGTON POST (10/22/16): New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former deputy chief of staff testified Friday in her criminal trial that she told him about a traffic study on the George Washington Bridge before sending an email that it was “time for some traffic problems,” which prosecutors say started a political revenge plot.We've highlighted some extremely basic facts; another extremely basic fact is found in that third paragraph. Let's get clear on what those facts are, and on the way they should affect our assessments of Kelly's claims.
Bridget Kelly is accused of plotting with two other former Christie allies to close lanes on the bridge that connects New Jersey and New York as revenge against a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse the Republican governor’s reelection effort in 2013.
Kelly maintained Friday that she believed the lane closings to be part of a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey traffic study. She is on trial along with former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni.
First, Bridget Kelly was testifying at her own criminal trial. She's a defendant in the trial, charged with criminal conduct. This essential fact was never made clear on last night's Maddow Show.
More specifically, Kelly is accused of plotting to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge as an act of political revenge. Because of that alleged nefarious motive, she faces possible years in prison.
This brings us to something else we learn in the Washington Post. This concerns what Kelly says she told Governor Christie in August 2013, one day before she sent her famous "time for some traffic problems" email.
According to Kelly, she had been told that the lane closings were being planned as part of a legitimate traffic study. She testified that she didn't know that there was a nefarious political motive behind the proposed plan.
She also testified that this is what she told Governor Christie.
According to Kelly, she told Christie about the proposed lane closings weeks before they occurred. But she also testified that he was told that it was a legitimate study with an innocuous purpose. Few people watching Maddow's program would have grasped this fact.
Like you, we have no way of knowing if Kelly's claims are true. It's possible that her claims are all true. It's also possible that she is lying about every point.
That said, viewers of Maddow's program were given a highly selective account of the facts. It isn't clear that a viewer would even have realized that Kelly is the defendant in this trial and might, therefore, have an incentive to lie. On several occasions, Maddow seemed to present Kelly's claims as if they were established facts.
Did Bridget Kelly ever have that conversation with Christie? Like Maddow, we have no idea. It's possible that the conversation occurred, but it's possible that Kelly is lying. Here's the lay of the land:
Kelly is trying to explain, or explain away, a raft of emails she wrote during the course of this episode. On their face, these emails seem to suggest that she knew about the nefarious motives behind the lane closings.
She is being charged with crimes on the basis of those emails. To avoid conviction, she must explain, or explain away, the appearance of guilt those emails seem to convey.
Yesterday, she was explaining why she wrote the famous email which said, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." She said she made a poor choice of words concerning a traffic study she believed to be legitimate. She said that she had run the proposal by Christie the day before, telling him that it was legitimate. According to Kelly, this explains why she sent that email the next day.
Is that what actually happened? We have no way of knowing! But Maddow's viewers were given little understanding of these basic events. Instead, they heard about Kelly's (unsubstantiated) claim that Christie once angrily threw a water bottle which hit her on the arm. (Shades of endless claims about Hillary Clinton!) They also heard utterly pointless piffle about the way Christie allegedly scattered some f-bombs around. They also heard about the way Kelly sobbed on the stand.
Have you ever heard the term "more prejudicial than probative?" Maddow's selection of facts was a tribute to this propagandistic, Hannityesque approach, an approach in which our corporate TV hosts display their contempt for their viewers.
Alas! As our "liberal" news sites have proliferated and grown, they've increasingly become propaganda organs, along the lines of Fox. Maddow's program has become much sillier, and more propagandistic, in the past several years. All too often, this is what happens when relatively unstable people are afforded vast wealth and fame (and power).
As of now, no transcript of Maddow's program is available. At a later date, when a transcript appears, we may show you some of what her viewers were told. (Beyond Kelly's testimony, there seems to be a substantial point of dispute about what one other witness said.)
That said, the propagandizing of gullible liberals proceeds apace at our pseudo-liberal profit-making sites. Sadly but inevitably, here's how the news report about Kelly's testimony starts at TPM:
KIRKLAND (10/21/16): In bombshell testimony Friday, Bridget Anne Kelly said that she told New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) that access lanes to the George Washington Bridge would be closed for a traffic study a month before the plan actually was carried out in September 2013.Exciting! But, despite that opening clause, Kelly's statements constitute "bombshell testimony" only if they're true. And because she's on trial charged with a crime, Kelly has an obvious incentive to spin, misremember or lie.
The former deputy chief of staff testified that the governor approved the study, which prosecutors allege actually was cover-up for a revenge plot against a local Democratic mayor.
Christie has long maintained that he knew nothing about the lane closures that brought traffic in the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey to a days-long standstill until he read about them in the press in late September or early October 2013...
Did Governor Christie know about the lane closings in advance? If so, did he know that they were being planned for nefarious reasons, as an act of revenge?
Everything is possible! For ourselves, it has always seemed implausible that Christie would have concocted or approved such a hair-brained, open-air scheme—a hair-brained, open-air scheme which basically destroyed his shot at the White House.
Plainly, Bridgegate "mastermind" David Wildstein is dumb enough to enact such a scheme. It seems to us that Christie isn't, although that could be wrong.
Like you, we have no way to know what actually happened. We do know this:
Bridget Kelly is on trial, charged with serious crimes. The claims she's making may be true. But she also has a major incentive to lie.
Unless you watch the Maddow Show! There, you'll generally hear a reliable tale about matters like this, a tale you will enjoy.
In our view, Maddow has been damaged by the wealth and fame bestowed upon her by the suits. As has been proven again and again, we humans tend to respond to vast wealth and fame in uninspiring ways.
In the course of the past two years, Maddow's program has become increasingly propagandistic and silly. In the course of all that clowning, her ratings have only grown.