Saturday, May 9, 2015

Media's obsession with political conflict cheats readers

Tulips blooming in Manhattan's Central Park last Sunday.


Conflict. Controversy. Confusion.

The Record and other news media love conflict, and every issue is presented in such a way as to fan the flames of controversy and confuse issues.

A legislative proposal is never presented on its merits. 

For example, on Friday's first Business page, a Democrat proposes to suspend corporate tax breaks until the state Treasurer documents the cost to New Jersey.

That sounds reasonable, given the low level of job creation in return for hundred of millions of dollars in corporate incentives.

Instead, The Record's prints a vicious reaction from the spokesman for Governor Christie, a Republican.

"We don't respond to the political games of notorious, unashamed partisans," said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts (Friday's B-2).

To confuse the matter further, the story by Staff Writer Hugh R. Morley completely omits any data on the state's unemployment rate, job creation or anything else that would allow readers to judge the merits of the proposal by Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union.

Political column

Since Christie took office in early 2010, Record Columnist Charles Stile has specialized in analyzing the GOP bully's every word, burp and fart in terms of their political impact, most of the time on Page 1.

You never see Stile discussing whether a Christie policy is good for the state. His job is to spin it and try to measure the impact on the governor's White House dreams.

Politics causes gridlock in Washington and Trenton, and it also is one of the most boring subjects one can imagine in a general interest newspaper.

The real story behind the politics -- the battle of the wealthy against the middle and working classes -- is never told.

Inside journalism

Would you believe that Stile has been honored by The Society of Silurians, a nationwide organization, for editorial writing and commentary?

That was the case even though his column is never labeled as "opinion" or "commentary" -- apparently to fool readers into thinking Political Stile is objective reporting.

The Silurians' awards aren't intended to gauge service to readers; that isn't even a factor in the judging.

In fact, Stile's fellow journalists cited him for "a yearlong series of riveting columns that chronicled in keen-eyed detail the political evolution of the embattled governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie" (Thursday's L-3).

Riveting? What about the uncounted thousands who are put to sleep by Stile and The Record's other veteran columnists, including Mike Kelly and Road Warrior John Cichowski?

Today's paper

We won't find out the truth about Christie's role in the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal until he and others testify under oath in federal court.

Today, Stile reports Christie defended cheating quarterback Tom Brady, and Staff Writer Melissa Hayes says the governor repeated the same I-knew-nothing answer to a Bridgegate questioner in New Hampshire (A-1).

Meanwhile, the Christie lawyers who whitewashed his role in the lane closings have billed the state $311,000 more, bringing their total fees to $7.8 million (A-4).

Hackensack news

The Record is reporting a $4.5 million tax-appeal settlement with Hackensack University Medical Center from the viewpoint of the City Council's political opponents (L-1).

That's pretty much the way almost every story on City Council actions and policies has been reported since a reform slate took over in 2013, defeating allies of the Zisa family.

Even though the election was "non-partisan," we are still talking Democrats (losers) v. Republicans (winners).

Readers don't have any way of judging the arguments presented in today's he said/she said story by Staff Writer Todd South, who is reporting what happened at Tuesday night's council meeting.

At one point, school board attorney Richard Salkin is actually quoted as predicting how a court would rule on the hospital's challenge to a 2008 air-rights agreement he "authored" (L-5).

Nowhere does South report Salkin was totally unconcerned about a $1 million loss to the city when it was discovered the school board had never been billed for a high school resource officer.

According to press reports at the time, Salkin advised the board not to pay the city.


  1. What was the Appellate Court decision on Zisa? Or when will it be? Thanks.

  2. Courts don't say when they are going to issue a decision. None on Zisa as far as I know.


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