With the previous blog in mind, I want to show you (as if you didn\’t already know) just how important it is that we have a free press; just how much it can affect what we “know” about the news.
Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a town hall meeting – his first since the “bridgegate” scandal rocked his political world and gave a perpetual orgasm to just about every show host at (where else?) MSNBC.
This morning, I read my New York Times, read Michael Barbaro\’s front-page article about the town hall meeting, and found out that it was an absolute disaster in every way. Here is how Mr. Barbaro\’s account begins:
WhenChris Christie started to talk over a complaining questioner, asignature tactic of the bellicose, pre-scandal governor, the audiencehere briefly turned on him.
“Answerthe question,” some shouted.
Whenhe took a microphone from a long-winded speaker, the man startled Mr.Christie by snatching it right back.
Andwhen he singled out a young woman as his inspiration for repairingthe Hurricane Sandy-battered coastline, he failed to grasp that thegirl’s mother – sitting just a few feet from Mr. Christie – wasangry with him for not doing enough.
“He\’sfull of it,” she said.
Use the link I\’ve provided above, and you will find that almost all the rest of Mr. Barbaro\’s article reads the same way. Other than an offhanded reference to “moments when Mr. Christie struck an empathetic tone”, you have to get to the 32nd paragraph (not a typo – count \’em up) to even find out that he had supporters in the audience as well as detractors.
And then we have the article by Maggie Haberman of politico.com – certainly not a venue, nor a writer, which fawns over Chris Christie. Here\’s how that one started. A few excerpts for you:
For105 minutes, everything was right in Chris Christie\’s world.
TheNew Jersey governor held court, theater-in the-round style, at his110th town hall on Thursday, his first since his administration wasrocked by scandal. It was the type of forum that made him famous,producing viral YouTube clips of him confronting teachers andconstituents in his first years in office.
Thistime, a more restrained Christie was on display.
“I\’mglad to get back out here and start doing this stuff again,” hetold the crowd of more than 300 people.
Does that in any way look like the town hall meeting New York Times writer Michael Barbaro described?
Ms. Haberman goes on to note that several attendees were clearly unhappy with Mr. Christie\’s performance, which caused some tense moments…”Butas the minutes wore on, as Christie the political performer grewlooser. The crowd did, too.”, and referenced a number of positive exchanges as well.
Which of the two reports is more accurate? I was not there and I don\’t know for sure. But I do know that, without both of them, only one side would be “news” to the general public.
Is that fair? Is that what we want as a country?
And how likely would it be to happen, if snoops from a partisan administration were stationed in newsrooms, looking over the shoulders of our journalists to make sure their idea of the right side was presented?