Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christie trashes Gannett's 'billionaire bosses' on Twitter

Governor Christie's Twitter page, above and below, has been filled with criticism of "billionaire newspaper owners" demanding a government subsidy in the form of payments to publish legal notices. This week, the state Legislature deferred action on a bill to remove that requirement, which Christie claims would save taxpayers $80 million a year.


@GovChristie has been flailing away on Twitter at "billionaire newspaper owners" who "demand Gov't subsidy from taxpayers but refuse to open their books to show how much tax $ they already take."

The GOP bully just suffered an embarrassing defeat when he tried to get the state Legislature to enact what he calls "a commonsense piece of legislation" to "reform an archaic practice requiring taxpayers and private businesses to pay for costly legal notices" in newspapers.

But the bill isn't dead; action was deferred until the next session in the new year.

Hidden revenue

The Record of Woodland Park, now owned by Gannett, disputed the $80 million in savings Christie cited, if the new law offered the option of posting public notices online.

But nowhere in the week-long blitz of news stories, columns and editorials attacking Christie did The Record mention that, according to a message from the governor posted on Twitter:

"In the case of foreclosure, every family going through that trauma is charged an average of $910 just for the legally required newspaper notice.

"That is unconscionable, and in response to the advancing legislation the New Jersey Press Association proposes to increase those charges.

"As a result, required legal notices earned newspapers approximately $14 million for the 12-month period ending in October 2016," Christie says.

"Today, there are more than 65,000 foreclosures currently pending in New Jersey. That's $59 million in potential revenue going to private media outlets that can instead be saved by citizens experiencing foreclosure.

"For government entities, hundreds of millions of dollars of future resources to be spent on legal notices could now be made available ... for municipal and county services...."

One of Christie's Tweets refers directly to the layoffs at North Jersey Media Group after the publisher of The Record and other newspapers was purchased in July by Gannett Co., which now owns seven dailies in New Jersey.

Attacks Gannett

"Reporters blindly defend their billionaire bosses and their $80m subsidy while Gannett lays off their colleagues in Bergen," the governor tweeted, in an apparent reference to The Record, once known as The Bergen Record.

Of course, the paper's Hackensack headquarters were shut down in 2009, and the newsroom moved to Woodland Park.

The Record and Herald News have been printed in Rockaway Township for about a decade.

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