By VICTOR E. SASSON
The Record's front-page photo today shows Governor Christie with two of his appointees to the patronage mill known as the Port Authority, which runs bridges, tunnels, ports and airports in the bi-state region.
The photo was taken during the early September George Washington Bridge lane closures that have been viewed as political revenge in Democratic Fort Lee.
Now, former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, who appears with Christie in today's A-1 and A-10 photos, is the first rat to abandon the sinking ship of state.
Did Christie lie?
Basically, Wildstein is saying Christie lied during his two-hour news conference three weeks ago, when he said he had no knowledge of the lane closures engineered in e-mails between Bridget Anne Kelly, who was the governor's deputy chief of staff, and the Port Authority.
Wildstein's claim that he has evidence Christie knew of the lane closures -- as they were happening -- broke first on The New York Times Web site after 3 on Friday afternoon, setting off a scramble in the Woodland Park newsroom.
Today's banner headline shows the effect, incorrectly calling Wildstein an "ex-aide" of the GOP bully. That's a stretch.
In the text, on Page 1, a copy editor made a second mistake, missing a lower-case "legislature."
And instead of assigning a reporter to write an "ANALYSIS," Editor Marty Gottlieb called on the columnist who is the paper's chief political hack, Charles Stile, to assess whether Christie's "career is in tatters" (A-1).
Stile has given the governor so many journalistic blow jobs in the past four years, everything he writes now is suspect.
The lead Page 1 story says a letter from Wildstein's lawyer, first disclosed by The Times, "landed like a bombshell two days before North Jersey hosts its first Super Bowl ... and three days before massive amounts of records subpoenaed by an investigative committee of the state Legislature were due for delivery."
Three more Wildstein sidebars appear inside on A-6 and A-10.
The Record's editors had the good sense to put the third, 8-page "Super Bowl Special" section this week inside the paper, instead of wrapping all that mindless publicity around other sections, as they did on Thursday and Friday.
Weak local report
But Dan Sforza, the incompetent deputy assignment editor, still needed two Super Bowl stories on L-1 to fill out the local-news section.
Instead of more pro football nonsense, Sforza should have given better play to:
The tributes to Harriette Townsend, a beloved crossing guard in Leonia killed in a house fire (L-1); and efforts by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. to get the United States to accept more refugees from the Syrian civil war (L-3).
Congratulations to Staff Writer Kara Yorio for telling readers how to escape the "insufferable hype" of endless Super Bowl coverage from The Record and other media (BL-1).
But Yorio is wrong on advising readers to take mass transit into the city on Sunday.
The day of the Super Bowl has always been known as a paradise for drivers as millions stay glued to TVs at home and in bars and restaurants.
One downside of a North Jersey Super Bowl is that Manhattan's biggest dining bargains have been postponed until after the game.
The city's famous Winter Restaurant Weeks -- which usually begin in late January -- won't start until Feb. 17 and will be shortened by a week, ending on March 7.
North Jersey residents and out-of-towners are being denied three-course lunches for $25, plus tax and tip, compared to $40 to $45 for the same food ordered a la carte, and three-course dinners for $38.