Famed 18th century translator Samuel Croxall offered this warning on the dangers of political alarmism, as illustrated in Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”:
“When we are alarmed with imaginary dangers in respect of the public, till the cry grows quite stale and threadbare, how can it be expected we should know when to guard ourselves against real ones?”
With every over-hyped, over-reaching, over-zealous allegation against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the liberal media and Democrats out to sink him run the risk of crying wolf one too many times.
The latest came from the New York Times, which has had to explain why it initially published a story exaggerating former Port Authority official David Wildstein’s claims that he “had the evidence to prove” that Christie knew about the closings.
In fact, all the New York Times knew was that Wildstein, via a letter from his lawyer, said such evidence existed. It later removed the offending line, without noting the correction. That led the New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan to admit, “My take: This change was more than a nuance . . . Some sort of notice was due to the reader that the initial story had changed in a substantial way.”
Further, it prompted the reporter who wrote the story, Kate Zernike, to admit on CNN’s Reliable Sources, “Ideally it would be more perfect but look, this is, you know, it was up for about 20 minutes, we went back, we revised.”
The rush to get ahead of the facts of this investigation, and then the embarrassing “revising” of allegations, isn’t just a problem for liberal media outlets like the New York Times.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegations against Christie — that his office threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy money unless she approved a development project — have also been revised and changed. Her diary entries have come under closer scrutiny. And some claim she has made the same kind of pay-to-play threats she accuses Christie of.
Even lawmakers directly involved in the investigation have seemingly overstepped their bounds. Just three days after Christie addressed the allegations in a press conference, New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is leading the investigation against Christie, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he didn’t think it was “credible” that Christie didn’t know about the lane closures. Aren’t those kinds of declarations supposed to be reserved for the conclusion of an investigation and not the start?
The facts of this case will bear out. If Christie is lying, no one in the media or the Democratic Party will have to call for a funeral. Christie’s career will be over.
But until then, all the premature and over-zealous dancing on his grave does is solidify Christie’s support among the very people who have trusted him the least: far-right conservatives.
Before Bridgegate broke, Democrats were confident that Christie’s 2016 ambitions would be cut short during a Republican primary in which more reliably conservative candidates would call Christie out on his moderate policies. They claimed Christie 2016 would be a replay of Giuliani 2008. Sure, independents in New Jersey might like him, but the rightwing of his base won’t trust him.
Now, the tides are turning. Conservative activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina who weren’t Christie fans before are siding against the media pile-on and with the governor, according to Politico.
In the strongest indication that Christie has now won friends among former enemies, the Conservative Political Action Conference that previously snubbed Christie for being too liberal has invited him to speak at this year’s gathering.