Tag Archives: New Jersey

‘The Donald’ seizes on Christie’s missed opportunity

Need evidence to support the theory that Chris Christie would have been better off had he run for president in 2012 rather than 2016? Look no further than Donald Trump.

In the early days of the 2016 campaign, The Donald has risen to the top of several GOP presidential polls by employing a style and a tone quite similar to Christie’s. These same tactics once helped the New Jersey governor earn high approval ratings and land on the cover of several national magazines. They also might have helped him become a top contender for national office in 2012.

As governor, Christie has called a U.S. Senator a partisan hack, a state assemblywoman a jerk, an openly gay legislator numbnuts, and a former Navy Seal an idiot. He once told reporters to “take the bat out on” a 76-year old state Senator and grandmother who was critical of his administration.

Today, it is Trump stirring the pot by Continue reading

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Panel to Explore Voters, Elections and Chris Christie

I will be a panelist at the New Jersey Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting on Friday, Feb. 28. 

I was invited to organize and take part in a panel that will explore the topics I researched for my doctoral dissertation — media coverage of New Jersey’s gubernatorial elections. The session is titled “New Jersey’s Changing Media Landscape: The Impact on Voters, Elections and Chris Christie’s Future.”

My wife Anne Lee, who teaches a Women, Minorities and the Media course at St. Bonaventure University, will take part in a “Women in New Jersey Politics: The View from Academia, The View from the Field” panel at the meeting.

The conference will take place at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

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Selective criticism of the media

Like most developments in the ongoing bridgegate saga, the Christie Administration’s 5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell email has raised more questions than answers.

Among the new questions is: If the governor had such a poor opinion of David Wildstein, why did he appoint him to an influential post at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey?

But that’s not the only contradictory message emerging from the email.

The email begins with strong language criticizing The New York Times for “sloppy reporting” that set off a “media firestorm.” But the message then cites numerous media reports to support its comments about Wildstein and his demeanor.

Granted, the email targets just one news report in one publication and is not a blanket criticism of all media. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the Governor’s Office has no qualms about using news reports that bolster its arguments, but is quick to criticize the media when the reporting raises new and legitimate questions about the governor’s role in bridgegate.

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All the right moves, but it’s only Day 1

I tend to agree with most of the crisis communication “experts” who feel N.J. Gov. Chris Christie handled things well yesterday in his press conference about the controversial lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

The governor fired the people he said were responsible. He was apologetic and repeatedly said he was misled and felt humiliated — and he kept the press conference going until he answered every reporter’s question (almost two hours).

That said, none of what Christie did will work if it turns out he’s not being honest about how much he knew and the extent of his role in the affair. Having worked in a governor’s office, I believe it is highly unlikely, but not impossible, that Christie didn’t know about the lane closures, especially since he is a notorious micro-manager.

On the other hand, it’s hard for me to imagine that Christie would have stated so emphatically and so publicly that he didn’t know about the plans to close the lanes and intentionally snarl traffic. He’s smart enough to realize the consequences if he is caught lying about his knowledge of the incident, and he must know that the press and various government agencies are going to be looking into the affair aggressively for a long time.

One other note on a related development that took place yesterday: The fact that former Port Authority official David Wildstein invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee could ultimately prove to be very damaging in the long run.

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A Simple Lesson Missed

When I teach public relations, I tell my students: Before you send an email or text, or post something on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network, stop and think of what the repercussions will be if what you write ends up on the front or home page of a newspaper.

It’s a very real concern. Because of freedom of information laws and increased calls for government transparency, more material than ever is legally accessible to reporters and the general public. And the reality in 2014 is that it is unrealistic to expect that anything one writes in electronic form will remain private, regardless of whether the communication is subject to government transparency requirements. Such items often are leaked by individuals or organizations with a vested interest in making them public. And computer hackers have demonstrated increasing abilities to tap into private files.

Apparently, my lesson on using discretion when communicating electronically is not one that the Christie Administration has learned. As The Record reported this morning:

Private messages between Governor’s Christie’s deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create “traffic problems in Fort Lee” by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge and apparent pleasure at the resulting gridlock.

The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how they tried to reach Port Authority officials in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000 which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest.

Tomorrow, former Port Authority official David Wildstein is scheduled to appear before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee to answer questions about the lane closings. The session will provide an opportunity to see how well the Christie Administration has learned a different public relations lesson – the one on crisis communication.

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Could the Worst-Educated Voters in History Kill Democracy?

Today’s political candidates campaign in a world in which news and information travels with unprecedented speed and arrives on smartphones that we carry in our pockets.

But modern technology has not produced a more informed and educated electorate. In fact, when New Jersey voters go to the polls on Nov. 5 to choose a candidate for governor, they may be less prepared to make that decision than they were four years ago.

Why?

For starters, the size of newsroom staffs at news outlets covering the state has decreased through buyouts, layoffs and other cutbacks. At the same time, the growth of the Internet has altered the manner in which news is gathered, reported and disseminated, placing new demands on depleted news staffs. Neither of these developments is unique to New Jersey, but our experience in the Garden State may provide a lesson for the rest of the nation. Because we are the most densely populated state in the country, public policy issues often emerge here first – and we are among the first to react and respond to them. Continue reading

Who’s the most ‘Jersey Guy’ in Town?

With Chris Christie up for re-election on Tuesday, I’ll be updating my study on Who’s the Real Jersey Guy: Chris Christie or Bruce Springsteen?

My wife Anne Lee will join me in making the presentation on Thursday at the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA) conference in Atlantic City.

A short description of our talk is on the MAPACA website, and a 2010 version of the study still is posted on the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey website.

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