STUDY: New Investigation Into Gov. Christie Administration Virtually Ignored By Major Networks

CNN, Fox News, and evening news shows on NBC, ABC, and CBS largely ignored a June 23 report by the New York Times that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's (R) administration may be tied to a second bridge investigation involving possible securities law violations.

New York Times Reports Christie Administration Investigated For Possible Misconduct In Second Bridge Inquiry

New York Times: “2nd Bridge Inquiry Said To Be Linked To Christie.” On June 23, the New York Times reported that the investigation into the apparently politically-motivated closing of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration has uncovered a separate set of “possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion road repair agreement in 2011”:

The inquiries into securities law violations focus on a period of 2010 and 2011 when Gov. Chris Christie's administration pressed the Port Authority to pay for extensive repairs to the Skyway and related road projects, diverting money that was to be used on a new Hudson River rail tunnel that Mr. Christie canceled in October 2010.

Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency's purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.

But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected. [The New York Times, 6/23/14]

Christie Administration's Actions May Have Violated The Martin Act. The New York Times further explained that the Christie administration may have violated securities laws:

In bond documents describing the Skyway reconstruction and other repairs, the Port Authority has called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements.”

The accuracy of this characterization is now a major focus of the investigations, according to several people briefed on the matter. Under a New York State law known as the Martin Act, prosecutors can bring felony charges for intentionally deceiving bond holders, without having to prove any intent to defraud or even establish that any fraud occurred. [The New York Times, 6/23/14]

Cable News, Broadcast Evening News Shows Largely Ignore New Christie Investigation

CNN And Fox News Largely Ignored Christie Allegations While MSNBC Provided Substantial CoverageAccording to a Media Matters transcript search of all shows on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN between June 24 and June 26, MSNBC gave the story the most attention with 34 minutes and 43 seconds. CNN devoted a total of one minute and 55 seconds to the report, while Fox completely ignored it.

Broadcast Evening News Shows Silent On Report Of New Inquiry Into Christie Administration. A Media Matters transcript search of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelly, ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams between June 24 and June 26 found no mention of the New York Times report of a new investigation into the Christie administration for possible violations of securities law.


Media Matters searched Snapstream and Nexis using the search term “Christie” in the 48 hours between 5 A.M. on June 24 and 5 A.M. on June 26. Media Matters counted the number of minutes cable news channels Fox, MSNBC, CNN, and network broadcast news (ABC, NBC, and CBS) mentioned Christie and whether or not those segments referenced the allegations against Christie reported by The New York Times. Only those segments that mentioned the investigation were counted.