Was Bridget Kelly telling the truth?


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.”

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.
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.

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.


  1. "When prosecutors pounded Kelly this week, Rachel didn't discuss it."

    Bob Somerby

    And neither did Bob Somerby. He just linked to Kate Zernike of whom he once wrote in almost Trump like fashion, her "reporting of the Fort Lee mess has been almost impossibly bad.... reporting of the Fort Lee mess has been almost impossibly bad....Zernike was bungling other factual matters ....Zernike seemed extremely willful...Zernike’s more recent misstatements and novelizations....Zernike misleadingly reported....Wildstein seems like a rather strange dude. But then again, so does Zernike."


    Yep, when honest Bob Somerby wanted to debunk Zernike she was the new "Sam and Cokie- Impossibly Bad."

    When he wanted to debunk Maddow, he said she failed to quote the "impossibly bad" Zernike. As did he. Here is some of what she wrote:

    "Prosecutors in federal court here used texts and emails to show the former aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, as an eager warrior in the ferocious politics of Mr. Christie’s world, modeling herself on the governor and his campaign manager, who encouraged her fondness for grudges and helped her develop a “dead-to-me gene.”

    They did not challenge her assertion that she had told Mr. Christie, a Republican, about the lane closings before they happened in September 2013 and again as they were continuing."

    What a buffoon is that Bob?

  2. "But plainly, the prosecutors think..."
    I've heard that sort of thing called mind-reading. It would be safer to state that the prosecutors are trying to get a conviction. Even that might be a bit speculative.

    We know that the prosecutors' version of events at this trial doesn't square with the version told to the public by the guy who hired the people on trial--Christie (who also hired half of the prosecutors' office).

    If you believe the prosecutors version of how events and communications unfolded, it's hard to understand why Kelly, and not Christie, is on trial. Who had the authority to order around Christie's appointees at the Port Authority? Surely not Kelly...

    So if Christie is throwing Kelly under the bus, should we be rooting for Kelly? Well, not really--she was an unethical flunkie. But we should be rooting for her to drag Christie under the bus with her.

  3. If Kelly gets off, she AND Christie will be laughing all the way to, well they will be laughing about the effect of that thrown water bottle on the verdict. I just look at all these people... as they say, birds of a feather, they all got along until criminal charges got filed. Someone, I think the person who gives DATING ADVICE, called Somerby 'Honest Bob'. That person misses the entire approach by Bob, in my opinion. The author, and PART TIME COMIC! requires his analysts to be fact based. Of course, to each s/he his/her on about the agenda or whether Somerby is honest or not. The blog is not about platitudes or how pure someone is ideologically. I think his efforts are spot on in letting the ready decide the authenticity of other's arguments, not some soapbox review of us liberals are better than those conservatives. SEE the BROOKS POST from today. I never "agree" with David Brooks, but he is on to something... other than saying old the conservatives causing problems and fibbin are old. No, they are quite young and HOT,unlike Ann Coulter... and more dangerous too.

  4. Some readers haven't figured out the Howler does not report on the people in the news, but rather the people that present the news.
    Some day, maybe, but not today.

    1. But you have to follow the news in order to criticize how other people are presenting the news.

      If you say:
      "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."
      Then it sounds like you don't recognize that the prosecutors have already made clear that they don't believe Christie.

      It's not that Andrew Rice wants to disbelieve Christie, everyone disbelieves Christie--that ship sailed long ago.

      So TDH criticism of the Rice on this aspect of Bridgegate just doesn't make much sense in light of the facts.

    2. Here, Anonymous @8:15P, let me explain it to you. I'll type slowly so you can follow:

      1. Rice maintains that the person who "came off the worst" is that ol' debbil in Trenton, Chris Christie.

      2. But that won't fly quite as far if BridgeT Kelly isn't ring-a-ding-ding convincing. So Rice says she is.

      3. Except that Rice unrings that bell about a crucial part of her story, namely her knowledge about the motives behind the lane closings.

      So which is it?

    3. I'm sure you're typing slowly. ...

      Rice thinks Christie comes off worst because the prosecution asserted that he was a lying, partisan hack. Kelly is charged with working for him.

      So in that universe known as the real world, if Kelly has done what the prosecution alleges, she might be as bad as Christie, but not worse. Some people believe Kelly and some don't --but nobody believes Christie --not after the prosecution made their case.

      That's why it's not a matter of any controversy to say that Christie's reputation suffered more than anyone else's.

    4. Evidently not slowly enough. See that part of Rice's piece that TDH quoted, the part that says, "The consensus among courtroom observers"? Those observers were observing BridgeT Kelly's testimony, from which Rice says that BridgeT came off relatively well and from which Christie's reputation suffered. That last bit of narrative seems less likely if Rice says that BridgeT is lying. Now maybe everybody already thinks Christie is a lying, partisan hack. They should and from way before Bridgegate, but the story is about the effect of one person's recent testimony.

  5. Bob Somerby today:

    "Clearly, Wildstein was dumb (and crazy) enough. Was Christie that stupid too?"

    "In this deeply stupid way, Maddow continued to rage on the moors, telling her gullible, misused viewers about that traffic study—the one “we now know did not exist.”

    What does Maddow mean when she tells viewers that the study “did not exist?” We still have no clear idea. Meanwhile, she ought to be fired for saying those things because, despite wasting hours of time on this ranting, she has never told her viewers the following basic facts:

    Basic facts Maddow hasn't reported:

    *Traffic data were collected each day during that peculiar week.
    *The traffic data were then analyzed by Pott Authority traffic engineers.
    *Starting on August 21, bridge officials had been told about the impending study or test.
    *A very clear (if inane) rationale had been presented to the officials. In the testimony of bridge director Cedrick Fulton, Wildstein was posing a question “which neither of us could answer.”


    It is time for one of the analysts to whisper in Bob's ear that he is an old fool for bringing this up over and over again. It is like Trump reminding us he said Miss Machado gained 60 pound and was an eating machine.

    What? You say the analysts don't really exist? Sorry. I thought they did.

    1. Sorry, but no one here thinks Somerby is an old fool. You are wasting your time if you are trying to convince anyone of that. We don't always agree with him but that doesn't make him foolish for writing about topics he considers important and sharing his ideas with us.

      I do wish you would stop attacking him all the time. That is pretty tiresome.

    2. @10:33

      I followed the link from @ 9:59 to Bob's piece back in January, 2014 where he defended the non existent traffic study cover story.

      Before the spammers comments over 100 people commented. This post has generated less than 10.

      If no one here thinks Somerby is an old fool it is because there is almost no one here.

  6. And I am to accept, at this point, that Bob does not deeply WANT Christie to be innocent? Tough sell.

    1. Who cares what you accept? Get over yourself.

    2. Who knows what TDH wants with respect to Christie's innocence? More importantly, why would anyone care? This isn't about Christie, it's about TDH's ongoing obsession -- reporting about things. This "thing" happens to include Christie but it's not about him.

    3. If the argument is essentially that Christie is too smart to be petty and vindictive and then lie about it, and all media coverage must operate from those assumptions, then, yeah, it is about Christie.

    4. There is plenty of room to criticize liberal media coverage of Bridgegate without trying to salvage Christie's reputation. Why has there been so little coverage of Cuomo's evasions? Why did Cuomo's appointee to Port Authority have to leak to the Wall St Journal if Cuomo backed a proper investigation? Why was Cuomo playing down the possibility of wrongdoing even after his appointee had testified that there was no legitimate traffic study?
      These are real questions, and though I don't watch Maddow, I am pretty sure she has disappeared them.

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