Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Editors bury the lead in trying to predict Bridgegate verdicts

This morning, in an annual municipal ritual, a pothole-patching crew proceeded slowly up Euclid Avenue, between Prospect and Summit avenues, in Hackensack -- a block that hasn't been paved in more than three decades, according to longtime residents.


Front and center on Page 1 of The Record today is a preview of the long-anticipated Bridgegate trial, but the biggest question in this political who-done-it isn't even addressed until deep into the continuation page.

Most readers likely won't ever see the paragraph that should have led all the rest:

"Although Christie is not on trial, the specter of the 55th governor of the state of New Jersey will loom over the courtroom" (A-4).

In the court of public opinion, Christie long ago was found guilty of orchestrating the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who refused to support his reelection.

Fingering Christie

Staff Writer Paul Berger doesn't spend much time exploring the possibility of damaging testimony about Christie by his former aides, who will be on trial.

Nor does Berger know the testimony of ex-Port Authority official David Wildstein, a Christie crony who has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors who have jealously guarded the identity of several unindicted co-conspirators are expected to name them during the Newark trial.

Readers are losers

Readers lose when The Record and other media spend less time reporting what happened and more time trying to predict the future -- whether it's a national election or a sensational federal trial.

The Berger story is another blow to the credibility of the Woodland Park daily, which stands alone in not calling for Christie's resignation after he endorsed wacko racist Donald J. Trump.

Labor Day

The Local front today provides a fresh perspective on Labor Day today with a long story about low-wage workers who couldn't afford to take the day off (L-1).

A second story describes a Labor Day Mass for janitors held at a Paterson church.

These sympathetic accounts clash with The Record's editorial on Monday, when we celebrated Labor Day.

The editorial criticized Christie for pushing a formula for school aid that would favor rich districts over poor ones.

But the editorial doesn't mention the GOP bully's veto of a hike in the minimum wage to $15 by 2021, the second time he's turned his back on the working class.

News Media Alliance

On Wednesday, the Newspaper Association of America, "the trade group that has represented the interests of major newspaper publishers in one form or another since 1887, is going to drop from its name the very word that defined it: 'Newspaper'," The New York Times reports.

The group will be known as the News Media Alliance.

The Times says the number of newspapers has fallen to about 2,000 from 2,700 in 2008.

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