Did a traffic reporter for a local paper derail a Presidential candidate?

If you don’t follow US politics, you may have missed the unfolding scandal in New Jersey, and its implications on US national politics.

This post is not going to look at the actual scandal (it involved a bridge, traffic jams and the New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was likely to be front-runner for the Republicans in the 2016 presidential elections). Background on the scandal can be found here CNN (Chris Christie bridge scandal: a primer). This post is more about how it went from a minor traffic issue to a major national story.

“Traffic jams are not news,” Rachel Maddow said. “Traffic jams caused by poorly organised ‘traffic studies’ are not even really big news stories. But if the state of New Jersey is being run in such a way that control of interstate assets is being manipulated on purpose to punish specific towns and even specific individuals for political reasons, then that really is news.”

Shawn Boburg, a traffic reporter for the Bergen Record, did what many in the Australian media are unwilling or unable to do. He asked questions.

The reporter for one local paper, realised he was not being given the full story when the traffic delays did not follow the usual procedure for traffic delays. However, instead of accepting the official explanation of “research”, he kept asking questions. Boburg kept researching, sought out as much information available to the public, and he did not stop asking questions.

If only the Canberra Press Gallery had have done the same thing before the 2013 election. If only the Canberra Press Gallery would do the same thing now. Instead, the established media in this country behave as if they are players on the political scene, as if they are working for a political party. Truth, objectivity, democracy are a stepping stone to their careers.

That many in the Australian media are too ready and willing to reprint or repeat PR for one political party without questions, research, alternative view points, both sides, without going deeper into a story beyond “Tony Abbott says…” shows why alternative media, bloggers, citizen journalists, independent media is more important than ever.

* full episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show are available for free download on itunes


Inclusion of this post on this site does not signify an endorsement by any of the other contributors to this site, not does it signify an endorsement of their posts by this author. Nor does this post indicate an endorsement by Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show, Chris Christie, the state of New Jersey, the Bergen Record or Shawn Boburg
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Categories: Politics

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19 replies

  1. I suspect, if the media did say Abbott lied, it would make little difference as far as many are concerned.,

  2. Gov Chris Christie is an arrogant, rude bully typical of most Republicans. It might have been good had he been the candidate for 2016, he would have lost the election. I have been following the bridge lane closures and it appears he did it out of pure spite. People died because of the traffic jams and this A-hole kept the lanes closed anyway. Check out the pure arrogance of this dirtbag: http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/politics/2014/01/09/bts-nr-chris-christie-greatest-hits.cnn.html

  3. For a start, radio and TV could stop parroting the Government lines in interviews e.g. “The reform of Medicare with a $6.00 payment will help keep it viable”… or “…but surely lower wages will help business employ more people.” etc, etc…but as “Fed-Up” says who would be listening…?

  4. <

    A lard arsed Tammany Hall Republican (Liberal party here) politician.

    And just have a look here at the latest from the lard arsed Liberal party in Victoria :

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/environment-minister-ryan-smith-pushes-liberal-activist-land-deal-in-frankston-20140110-30mq0.html

  5. And this is the sort of person who wants to lead the free world?

  6. The role of the Canberra Press Gallery and the broader implication of diminishing journalistic standards is a good question to ponder. I’m only a youngish person, merely the other side of 40, but in my own life time I have seen a stunning deterioration in the quality of – for want of a better term – mainstream Australian media. Is this dumbed-down shrill polarised load of crap masquerading as “news” simply a reflection on the “evil Murdoch Empire” or does it say something broader about Australian society?

    I think Turnleft’s closing paragraph is significant in identifying the remedy to the present malaise. People need to reengage with what is going on & how decisions that are made by the ruling elite will impact on them. Some people may not even be aware that they’re living in a consumerist torpor. They may not even be aware that they are so dissociated from themselves, their society, their community, their neighbour, and a broader understanding of world affairs in a complex world. They become the sort of people who are putty in the hands to the sloganeering of opportunistic simpletons. And, in my opinion sadly, it could well be that many prefer it that way.

    I personally think things like the AIMN are invaluable in this day & age. It plays an important role in the ability for people to share. It can offer a starting point for information to be passed along and for an alternate perspective to be explored. The Internet will play such an important part in rescuing Australian democracy from the encroaching authoritarianism that is at hand.

  7. Last night Letterman devoted 5 minutes of joke time to the bridge closure scandal. He sure got some mileage out of it. Nyuk nyuk.

    These types of lampooning of Chris Christie are sure to kill his chances for becoming president in 2016. It beggars belief that Christie, who is known as a bully, could not have been aware of the dirty political tactics of his employees.

  8. silkworm: “It beggars belief that Christie, who is known as a bully…”

    From what I’ve read on American sites, it seems that Christie was not an acknowledged bully. Much of the media portrayed him as a down-to-earth straight talker. Seems that the disguise has fallen away…

  9. Christie denied all knowledge of it – (if thats true) what does that say about the man whose staffers arranged this from within his office, without his knowledge

    and if he did know, he forgot that old adage – its never the conspiracy that will get you in the end, its the cover up

  10. Yes who investigates? Thought the www was going to enlighten us not make us lazy and gullible? ? ;-(

  11. Best comment, at the CNN website, has to be this one:

    “If any one man could block two lanes of traffic, it’s Chris Christie.”

  12. [i]From what I’ve read on American sites, it seems that Christie was not an acknowledged bully.[/i]

    Mars08, your reading differs from mine. This headline from the L A Times: “Chris Christie bridge scandal only underscores his bully image,” and this from the Washington Post: “Chris Christie: ‘I am not a bully’ — LOL”

  13. Can we ask Mr Boburg if he would be interested in running a web-based course on journalism for morons. Give reduced rates to anyone with “murdoch” on their CV to see if they are actually capable of being proper journalists, or whether they instead prefer to remain employed as typists under American Loopert Murdoch.

  14. This is quite an evolving story …. and Rachel Madow is in the forefront of unwrapping it …. the latest (and most intriguing) update on it that I have seen is the following (and it is 17 minutes of really engrossing reveals) …. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/10/1268645/-Christie-They-should-ve-thought-about-that-before-they-opened-their-mouths?detail=facebook

  15. I sincerely hope you are right @jasonblog, I really do.

    Unfortunately, the (slightly older) cynic in me says that most people nowadays are simply too self-absorbed or are disinterested in anything that may require a bit of brain-power or some original thought.

    You see, life is tough, battling the traffic every day and fighting hard to keep that job hate working for a boss who pays you no respect and would readily sack you if things turned bad, all so you put yourself deeper into debt buying stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t really like.

    You can’t possibly expect people to have to think about important issues as well, do you?

    No. The 21st Century Australian seems to like their news to be bland, pre-chewed, swallowed, semi-digested, regurgitated and fed straight into their brains, so they don’t have to go through even the most basic of tasting and chewing.

    Because in smelling they may be confronted with something that isn’t quite right that they may need to investigate or analyse. By tasting they may find they are being fed something they don’t like (Soylent Green anyone?), and in chewing, they may have to invest some effort in the whole process and what if was tough?

    No, it’s all too hard. Better to just sit back and allow Uncle Rupert to feed you his patented brand of baby formula News – zero effort, zero nutrition, but with that lovely warm soporific glow.

  16. I damned well HOPE so! I want nothing more than to remove the ultra-Right Wing nutters from any position of any sort of power!

  17. Seems this is still trying to be swept under the carpet so the sheep forget.

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