With Christie Scandal, Right Wing Media Confront Their Obama Fantasy Of Thuggish Corruption
Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
On Monday another shoe dropped on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political career when it was reported he's facing a federal investigation regarding the state's use Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
This, of course, comes in the wake of the political bomb that detonated last week when a key Christie aide was revealed to have conspired, via email, with a Christie transportation appointee to enact political retribution by wreaking havoc on the city of Fort Lee, in the form of a massive, four-day traffic jam. The nightmare congestion was deliberately planned by shutting down vital lanes to the George Washington Bridge under the phony guise of a traffic study.
Since the scandal erupted, much of the conservative media has been scrambling to try to protect the possible presidential candidate from long-term political damage. They've done that via obfuscation (i.e. "Benghazi!") and by claiming Christie's response to the crisis has offered a clear lesson in "leadership"
The irony is thick because the unflattering portrait that has emerged of Christie in the last week is the exact same portrait conservatives have tried, unsuccessfully, to paint of Obama for five years: A thuggish politician with a thirst for revenge who's mired in corruption. Obama, we're reminded by Fox News, is a corrupt bully who's at the center of every alleged administration scandal, from the IRS targeting conservatives, to the wide-ranging Benghazi "cover-up."
Yet despite the hundreds of hours Republican Congressional committees have spent trying to ferret out Obama scandals, and the thousands and thousands of hours the right-wing media has devoted to that same goal since 2009, the New Jersey governor's office last week produced the type of smoking gun document ("Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee") that Obama's critics can still only dream about.
But of course they'll keep dreaming.
According to this right-wing gospel truth, the notoriously low-key "No Drama Obama" is really a politician fueled by a raging appetite for revenge and a "Chicago-style" brand of ruthless hardball. Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro wrote an entire book last year about Obama and his venomous "army" of liberal "bullies."
As far back as the 2008 campaign Rush Limbaugh was warning listeners about the kind of "thug politics" Obama uses to "intimidate" his foes. Four years later Fox News's Eric Bolling was still reading from the same script, predicting "some Chicago-style, thug, gangster politics coming" from the Obama campaign.
A quick sampling of Foxnews.com headlines tell the never-ending tale about White House "corruption":
Yet after five years his critics still can't point to a single smoking gun email or memo implicating Obama or his White House team in any serious wrongdoing, and certainly nothing that even approaches the bold mendacity surrounding Christie's bridge fiasco, where some of the governor's closest aides plotted to paralyze downtown Fort Lee and were furious when their debilitating scheme was called off after four days.
Ironic, because that's the kind of raw, conniving behavior that Obama's critics insist runs rampant inside the Oval Office.
Remember that in the wake of the Benghazi terror attack in 2012, Fox News viewers were told Obama may have "sacrificed Americans" at the Libyan consulate as part of a "political calculation" to win re-election. It reported as fact that Obama made "no decision to do anything to rescue" Americans In Benghazi, "which allowed" them to be killed.
And what about the IRS "scandal"? Didn't Obama's professional critics accuse him of personally overseeing a vast campaign of intimidation unfairly targeting conservative groups of unfair scrutiny? They did. But Obama didn't. (The IRS also scrutinized liberal groups.)
Yet that's the closest the right-wing media has come to proving political malfeasance within the president's senior circle. Compare that with the established record of Chris Christie's aides and the roles they played in their jaw-dropping dirty trick.
From the Wall Street Journal [emphasis added]:
The email traffic reveals that multiple officials at the highest levels of Mr. Christie's administration were aware of the havoc the closures had caused as early as the day they were reversed.
And from New Jersey's Star-Ledger:
Based on the release of internal documents, a circle of Christie staff and allies appears to have taken political retribution to a new level.
But it's not just about the bungled bridge scheme. It's about a culture of bullying and retribution that's become pervasive inside the governor's office. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer reported that after she declined to endorse Christie for re-election last year, her city, among the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, received less than one percent of the flood mitigation funds she had requested from the state.
Also, emails and text messages released this week in response to a public records request bolstered Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop's claim that after he also failed to endorse Christie's re-election, a series of meetings he had scheduled with previously supportive Christie officials were abruptly canceled and never rescheduled.
Thug language? How about when Christie once urged New Jersey reporters to "take the bat out" on a septuagenarian legislator? Or when newly released emails showed Christie spokesman Michael Dewniak responded to a request from a Star-Ledger reporter for a quote with, "Fuck him and the S-L." (Dewniak referred to a different reporter as "a fucking mutt.") Language like that in a White House email would send Fox News into a catatonic state.
Meanwhile, what's the new federal review into Sandy funds all about? It centers on the previous revelation that when it came time to market New Jersey to tourists in the wake of the devastating hurricane, the state did not accept the lowest bid from public relation firms that submitted marketing proposals. Instead, the state selected a firm whose bid was twice as high as the nearest competitor but which promised to feature Christie prominently in "Stronger Than The Storm" commercials. The feel-good ads aired the same year he was running for re-election, providing him additional, positive exposure to voters at the taxpayers' expense.
From The Star-Ledger:
The firm chosen by the state to put together tourism advertisements that featured Christie and his family, MWW, submitted a bid of $4.7 million. Another bid that was not selected would have cost $2.5 million, but the governor wouldn't have appeared in the ads.
Additionally, a top official on the selection committee for the ad campaign (a committee appointed by Christie) had previously received a $46,000 loan from Christie.
But don't worry. Fox says Obama's the one with a corruption problem.