Saturday, November 5, 2016

Idiotic headline caps repetitious Bridgegate trial coverage

From Blue, where the motto is, "All the news that slips from print."


In covering the long Bridgegate trial and especially in providing a peak inside the emotional jury deliberations, The Record's reporters deserve an "A" for effort.

But who are the moronic editors responsible for writing and approving today's Page 1 banner headline?

"Time to pay the toll"

Even the over line -- TWO MORE GUILTY IN BRIDGEGATE SCANDAL -- stopped readers who have been following the case for years.

Then, they realized the reference was to former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, the government's star witness, who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy 18 months ago, and testified against defendants Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, who were found guilty on Friday (A-1).

February sentencing

With sentencing set for Feb. 21, followed by appeals that could delay any prison time for up to 2 years, what could today's ridiculous headline possibly be referring to?

Instead of crafting a headline that has readers' eyes rolling, the editors should have assigned a reporter to look into federal sentencing guidelines, and answer a question many are asking:

Does U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton have to send Kelly, 44, a mother of four and Governor Christie's former deputy chief of staff, to prison or can she place her on probation and order her to pay a fine and perform community service?

Today's front page is dominated by a large photo of Kelly "sobbing on the shoulder of her lawyer, Michael Critchley, who promised to appeal her conviction" (A-1).

Missing angle

Despite the incredibly repetitious coverage that began several days before jury selection in September and continues today, one angle that no one at The Record has covered is whether legal fees have bankrupted Kelly and Baroni, and who will bankroll the long appeals process.

On Thursday, WNYC-FM reported the law firm that issued a taxpayer-funded whitewash of Christie's role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures in September 2013 submitted legal bills for nearly every day of the trial -- said to total nearly $1 million.

The report also noted 28 attorneys at the Gibson Dunn & Crutcher law firm contributed to Christie's doomed presidential campaign.

The firm's bills from January 2014, when the scandal broke, through the beginning of October bring the total cost for Gibson Dunn and a digital forensic subcontractor to nearly $11.3 million, the public radio station reported.

When legal fees at the Port Authority, Fort Lee, the state Legislature and for state employees subpoenaed in the matter are included, taxpayers and toll payers are on the hook, so far, for $14.6 million, Matt Katz of WNYC-FM reported.

'Christie's criminals'

Today's editorial -- "Christie's criminals" -- notes four of the governor's top aides "are now guilty of federal crimes" (A-11).

"As a gubernatorial candidate in 2009, Chris Christie promised he would run an ethical administration.... We question how he can continue in elected office. We question how the people of New Jersey can have any faith is his appointees and staff."

Yet, the Woodland Park daily's editorial board remains alone among major New Jersey newspapers by not calling on Christie to resign, as The Star-Ledger and six others did when he endorsed wacko racist Donald J. Trump's White House run in February.

Overfed critic

Who does Staff Writer Elisa Ung, the paper's chief restaurant critic, have in mind when she raves that the banana split tart ($9) served at City Perch, an expensive new restaurant in Fort Lee, "will blow you away"?

"It's dressed up too much here, but dig past the chocolate pearls, sauces and enormous sprinkle cookie on top and you'll find a sublime banana tart atop a Linzer cookie ...," the food archaeologist moans with pleasure.

"Blow you away"? 

"Kill you" might be closer to the truth. 

Ignores readers

After more than a decade of reviewing restaurants for The Record's print edition, this dessert-obsessed reporter on an expense account apparently doesn't realize or simply ignores that most of her readers are older -- much older.

She could care less they are watching their weight, their cholesterol, their blood pressure; and their intake of salt, sugar and artery clogging food.

In her lukewarm review, many of the City Perch dishes she liked contain land mines for her older audience:

Cornbread "gilded" with whipped goat cheese, a kale salad with "crispy bits" of Genoa salami and ricotta, a waffle topped with creme fraiche, a $14 hamburger made from mystery ground beef, and a pizza with three cheese and a fontina bechamel.

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