The Conversation

NY Times Revives the 'Tone' Argument on Christie Bridge Scandal

The NY Times wasted no time today making a connection between a political scandal Gov. Christie said he knew nothing about and his "confrontational style."

Today the Times posted a video combining a series of Christie confrontations with hecklers going back several years and suggested they were somehow part of a story they published on the press conference. The video description reads:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has been accused of bullying political opponents. On YouTube, there are clips of his confrontations with critics.

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1dzaJVS

If you follow that link it takes you to an account of today's press conference about the bridge scandal, one that contains the following line "Mr. Christie has been accused at times of bullying political opponents, and he was asked if the tone of the emails was a reflection on his own governing style." Christie answered the question in a straightforward manner, "This is not the tone I have set over the last four years in this building. I am who I am. But I am not a bully." But the NY Times still published the video of old clips with a link suggesting some connection exists.

This is the same dishonest "tone" argument the media used in 2011 when they accused Sarah Palin of contributing to a shooting rampage in Tucson. Back then it was NY Times columnist Paul Krugman who led the charge, suggesting Palin's political district map, the Tea Party and a general right-wing "climate of hate" was to blame for the shooting. There was no specific connection just a feeling on Krugman's part that it was all sort of inevitable and a harbinger of things to come. Many in the media followed Krugman's lead despite having no evidence to make the connection. You don't need a connection when you can put it down to "tone."

It later turned out that the Tucson shooter had serious mental problems and had likely never seen the map in question (plus his only existing political commitments were on the left). In short, there was no connection whatsoever between Palin and Jared Loughner or Loughner and the Tea Party. The media reluctantly pointed that fact out after days spent hounding Palin to the point that she received death threats. Paul Krugman never apologized for his unfounded speculation in the pages of the NY Times.

If the Times has something connecting the bridge story to Christie's penchant for telling hecklers to back off they should share it. If not then they should stop implying a connection that, so far as they know, is not there.


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