Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In GWB case, editors' knowledge of legal system is a joke

The YMCA at Main and Passaic streets in Hackensack.


Despite the hundreds of hours his ass has been planted on a courtroom bench, Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record is no expert on federal criminal prosecutions.

In fact, only one of the three bylines on today's continuing front-page coverage of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure indictments carries with it any credibility (A-1).

Staff Writer Peter J. Sampson, who is assigned to cover the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Courthouse in Newark, is a former wire-service reporter who likely has covered hundreds of federal indictments and trails.

Still, today's banner headline isn't news to anyone familiar with federal prosecutions:

"Defense team may call Christie"

That was clear four long days ago, when Christie ally David Wildstein pleaded guilty to conspiring with the governor's aide and another Port Authority executive to close bridge access lanes in 2013 as part of a political vendetta against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor.

Defense lawyers for Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni would be fools not to call Christie, himself a former U.S. attorney, who continues to insist he had no knowledge of the scheme.

Otherwise, Kelly and Baroni, along with Wildstein, would have to take the fall for a fraud scheme that was the nastiest political dirty trick since Watergate.

'Oh, shit' moment

I am sure that Christie said "Oh, shit" to himself and called his high-priced lawyer on Friday as soon as he heard Wildstein repeat his January 2014 statement that "evidence exists" the GOP bully knew of the lane closings as they were happening.

Instead of pursuing the potential of a sitting governor and GOP presidential candidate being called as a witness at a Bridgegate fraud trial, Editor Martin Gottlieb jumped immediately to the governor's defense.

That was clear from Monday's idiotic banner headline:

"Sharp contrasts in GWB probe"

Gottlieb actually compared the federal criminal charges filed against the Bridgegate defendants after a 16-month investigation to a March 2014 report that exonerated Christie at a cost to the taxpayers of $7.5 million.

That report -- from lawyer Randy Mastro -- was never even credible in the court of public opinion, but Christie could count on a clueless media to waste precious front page space and treat it as if were evidence.

'Fading' hopes

In one of the most negative Christie editorials I've seen, The Record notes the governor will be out of state again today and asks:

"When is Christie going to consistently show up at his day job, the one some people were so focused on his retaining in 2013 that they allegedly broke the law" (A-8)?

The edtorial also refers to the Mastro report as "a multimillion-dollar whitewash on the GWB scandal," making you wonder why it was regurgitated at such great length on Monday's Page 1.

Playing media

Christie continues to manage Gottlieb and other editors in the wake of the federal charges, just as the GOP  bully has since he took office in early 2010 and started waging war against the middle class.

NJ.com reports the governor has cancelled the weekly New Jersey town hall meetings he said he was going to attend.

And WNYC-FM, a New Jersey Public Radio station, puts Bridgegate legal costs to taxpayers and toll payers at nearly $10.7 million, if state, legislative, Port Authority and Fort Lee expenses are included.

Finally, a new Bridgegate poll released today found more than two in three New Jerseyans (69%) feel Christie has not been completely honest about what he knew.

And a majority of Garden State Republicans (52%) now believe he hasn't been completely honest.

More errors

On Sunday, The Record reported incorrectly that Pompton Lakes had already adopted its school budget (A-2).

A bigger error occurred in Brigid Harrison's Sunday opinion column, which referred to Richard Nixon as a former governor (Sunday's O-2).

An Eye on The Record reader noted Nixon ran for governor of California in 1962 and lost.

On Christie's lack of concern in reacting to the GWB charges, the political science and law professor said:

"The connection to the [Christie] administration is problematical for a presidential contender because it demonstrates either corruption and lying or an inability to manage staff -- not what voters are looking for in a president."

Why wasn't Harrison's column played on Page 1 -- instead of an endless stream of drivel from Charles Stile, Mike Kelly and other burned-out reporters?


An upbeat Business page story on McDonald's slumping sales reports the company "intends to stop buying chicken treated with antibiotics" (L-8).

The clueless Washington Port reporter says nothing about the low-quality, additive-filled beef on which McDonald's made its reputation.

Anyone foolish enough to eat at McDonald's would be happy with a guarantee the hamburgers don't contain cow feces.

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