Sunday, August 21, 2016

Columnist assumes role of Christie's Bridgegate attorney

An image of veteran Trenton Columnist Charles Stile from C-Span in 2007, when The Record of Woodland Park was headquartered in Hackensack. It's not known whether the dark splotches on his forehead are from falling to his knees and touching his head to the floor every time a New Jersey governor walks into the room.


Editor Deirdre Sykes of The Record has sunk to a new low with today's sustained Page 1 attack on the credibility of an aide to Governor Christie at the time of the Bridgegate scandal.

Just 10 days ago on A-1, Columnist Charles Stile labeled as a "bombshell" a newly revealed text message that Christie "flat out lied" to reporters in late 2013 about his administration's involvement in the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

Now, Stile argues, former Christie aide Christina Renna was only "a mid-level administrative staffer" whose text messages "don't prove anything at all" and "raise questions about [her] credibility" (A-8).

Stile goes on and on, just as a $650-an-hour defense attorney would, to persuade readers Christie is blameless -- even though the vast majority of New Jerseyans have convicted the GOP bully in the court of public opinion.

Of course, the truth will come out next month when the trial of former Christie confidants begins in Newark federal court -- about three years after the lane closures were used to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to support Christie's reelection.

Veto crazy

Stile has been on Christie's side since his first day in office in early 2010, writing column after column about the governor's so-called reform agenda, and promoting him time and again as a bipartisan compromiser.

That was the case even as Christie's vetoes mounted, eventually setting a record for any New Jersey governor.

A veto is the opposite of compromise, but Stile is keeping up the B.S. long after other columnists and editorial boards have denounced Christie.

Talking about his 500-plus vetoes, an editorial today deals a mild rebuke to Christie for killing a bill that would have allowed automatic voter registration as part of applying for or renewing a driver's license.

Noting the state Motor Vehicle Commission uses a six-point identification program to prevent fraud, the editorial calls Christie's mean-spirited veto "illogical" (O-2). 

Any other newspaper would call the veto what it is -- more voter suppression by Republicans like Christie who know low turnout favors them, as it did when he was reelected in 2013.

Have a heart

As with the obesity that dogged Record editors for many years, heart disease is a subject the Woodland Park daily tries to avoid.

Columnist Mike Kelly has never written about his brush with death before open-heart coronary bypass surgery, even though thousands of readers would benefit from his experience. 

Instead, Sykes today runs the third major story this year about Frank Bodino, 70, who got a second heart transplant and a new kidney at a New York hospital (A-1).

Staff Writer Lindy Washburn says 30,000 transplants are performed each year in the United States, but doesn't tell readers that's the total for all transplants.

Bodino is far from the common man -- about 2,300 people have heart transplants each year.

But thousands of heart surgeries are performed every day, and "in a recent year, surgeons performed 500,000 coronary bypass procedures," according to the Texas Heart Institute.

Saving newsprint

Gannett Co., the new owners of The Record, continues to save tons of money on newsprint by printing what appears to a single local-news section for Bergen and Passaic counties (L-1 to L-8).

Today, you won't find any Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood news in Local, but you will find a half-dozen major stories from Paterson and other Passaic County communities, and even a story from Montclair.

Heart-attack food

The Better Living cover discusses North Jersey restaurants that don't dare take customers' favorite dishes off the menu (BL-1).

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung describes Maribar as "filet mignon with bearnaise sauce and chestnut puree" instead of as "a heart attack on a plate" (BL-3).

The chef who took over at the Saddle River Inn in 2013 made the dish even less healthy by adding "roasted shallot butter" to the bearnaise sauce.

An editing error tells readers five of the "lasting dishes" are discussed on BL-3, but readers find only four.

I guess at the last minute the editors couldn't bring themselves to cut anything out of Bill Ervolino's moronic column on the same page, comparing his dog's eating habits to his own.  

What about Spain?

"Rooms with a View of History" -- the feature on the cover of today's Travel section -- is a superficial discussion of hotels in historic buildings that is missing a lot more than room rates.

Surely, world-weary Travel Editor Jill Schensul must have heard about Spain's paradores, a chain of government-run luxury hotels dating to 1928 that are located in refurbished castles, fortresses, palaces, convents and other historic structures.

Each one has a restaurant serving regional cuisine.

For example, the Parador of Granada is in a former convent on the grounds of the magical Alhambra.

Yet, Schensul's long article doesn't contain a word about Spain or the paradores (T-1 and T-3).

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