Friday, January 17, 2014

Star reporter left big holes in Drewniak profile

These are the three George Washington Bridge access lanes on Hudson Street in Fort Lee, above and below, that are at the center of a storm over a Christie administration plot to tie up traffic in the Democratic borough. Two of the three lanes were closed for four days.

Today, an employee of Babe's Taxi in Fort Lee said he complained to a Port Authority police officer about the resulting gridlock, and was told to send "a letter to Governor Christie."


Michael Drewniak, Governor Christie's prickly press secretary, is one of the 20 insiders hit with subpoenas in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal, The Record reports today (A-1).

And although Christie himself hasn't been subpoenaed, he has hired a prominent lawyer to conduct an "internal review of his office" (A-1).

But on Thursday, the paper published thousands of words about Drewniak without attempting to explore how closely the former reporter works with Christie or how he has handled previous controversies involving his boss.

Big holes

The profile in cowardice by Staff Writer Stephanie Akin, one of the paper's stars, also failed to explain Christie's and Drewniak's favorite tactic for handling pesky members of the press:

They ignore e-mails inquiries, refuse to take calls and issue blanket no comments until they have had time to carefully craft a response, hoping the controversy will die down.

On Thursday, Christie abruptly left a Stafford Township meeting on Sandy aid without taking questions from residents or the media (A-1 and A-7).

Assumes too much

The Drewniak profile assumed readers were intimately familiar with his role as communications director or liaison with the media.

And it failed to tell us how closely Drewniak works with Christie, despite the central nagging questions in the Bridgegate controversy:

What did the governor know about the closure of two of three bridge access lanes that caused gridlock in Fort Lee on four days in early September, when did he know it and was he part of the cover-up?

Who is the victim?

The GOP bully claims he is the victim in the Bridgegate scandal, because his staff "lied" to him, and that he first learned of the plot from media reports.

Does Drewniak meet with Christie every morning and discuss how the administration wants to respond to media questions?

Were members of Christie's staff -- such as the disgraced Bridget Anne Kelly of Ramsey -- part of those daily meetings?

Kelly, the deputy chief of staff who was fired last week, had sent an e-mail to a Christie crony at the Port Authority, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

And Drewniak received e-mails from Christie appointees on the Port Authority, asking how they should respond to Star-Ledger staffers who asked about the lane closures and gridlock in the Democratic borough.

Earlier controversies

Christie has been involved in controversy before, when he was U.S. attorney in Newark, and Drewniak was his chief spokesman at the time.

It would have been instructive to readers if Akin had told them how Drewniak handled media questions about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees Christie steered to his former boss, John Ashcroft, as well as to former U.S. District Judge Herbert J. Stern.

The most insight Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin can muster is to compare Bridgegate to an old movie (A-19).

Life is a bitch

The families of missing minority women likely were shocked by a story in Local today, reporting on the search for a missing dog (L-3).

The story carries the byline of  the local obituary writer.

The lesson is that if you are the parent of a missing black or Hispanic woman, you have to buy a billboard to get the attention of the Woodland Park daily.


  1. Vic, you are doing a superb job on you blog questioning the media's (particularly the Bergen Record) agenda, transparency and objective reporting. I found this by chance.
    BTW one of my blogs is a nascent one questioning the objective reporting of the Star Ledger. I bet the ledger is worse than the record as to agenda for sure, and I wish I had the time to expose all of it, but one entry at a time when I have the time.

    I notice you also have a link to "The County watchers" on the right of your blog. Great investigative news media group that covers the waste abuse and apparent corruption rampant in union county govt. I support them and collaborate with them heavily. Other readers should read the countywatcher blog just to see the games our govt plays with our tax money enriching themselves, relatives, political bosses, hacks, operatives, relatives and cronies....all at our expense.

    Good luck with the blog.

  2. Thanks for your support, and I'll be adding your blog to my blog roll.


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