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Opponents, media have a field day with Christie 'Bridge-gate' crisis

New Jersey governor Chris Christie faces the most difficult challenge of his administration as e-mails link his staff to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie faces the most difficult challenge of his administration as e-mails link his staff to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The editorial board of the Newark Star-Ledger stopped its coverage of most anything newsworthy yesterday, to issue an editorial lambasting Governor Chris Christie for the burgeoning crisis that centers around lane closures on the George Washington Bridge (GWB) in September 2013. The newspaper chided Christie's personal style; sounding more like a jilted lover than a non-partisan news source.

Christie’s aggressive temperament is a home-field asset. Voters who hate his politics still swoon over his combative charm. Christie’s bullied his way to a landslide re-election. But will the Jersey-thug act play in Iowa? New Hampshire? Probably not.

The newspaper does a disservice to a matter that is newsworthy on a number of different fronts. First, the fact that a gubernatorial aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, was in e-mail contact with a Port Authority official, David Wildstein, over the GWB lane closures certainly merits further investigation. The fact that Christie's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, was aware of the circumstances is troubling as well.

But The Star-Ledger jumps the gun by not allowing all the dominoes to fall, wanting more to instantly damage a potential presidential run, than uncover what really happened.

The newspaper opines:

Nationwide, voters probably won’t remember the name of the city or its bridge, or when Kelly emailed Wildstein. They won’t care if he says his minions lied to him. They will remember that Christie was angry with Fort Lee’s mayor and took his revenge on commuters and schoolkids.

Max Pizzaro reported in PolitickerNJ.com today that Stepien was a promoter of the work that Kelly did in Bergen County, which is how she ended up in the governor's office. "Another source told PolitickerNJ that Kelly's ascent to the governor's inner circle surprised party members who believed long-time GOP loyalist Amanda Gasperino deserved a shot, " Pizarro writes.

It certainly remains within the realm of possibility that these aides acted on their own, using their status as government officials to be punitive. If that is the case, then it would not be the first time that something similar has occurred.

But no one has yet directly linked Christie to the lanes closures, so the fact of the matter remains that while this may be a stain on the governor's record, it merely represents a crisis of his administration. Therefore, the state's largest newspaper should hold its powder and wait for the entire story to be told before it starts its victory dance.

Keep in mind that The Star-Ledger did not endorse Governor Jon Corzine for re-election in 2009 based upon his lackluster record. Endorsing an underperforming Democrat would make the newspaper seem like a shill for the party, but instead of endorsing the Republican, Christie, The Star-Ledger threw its support behind third-party candidate Christopher Daggett.

Daggett was a former commissioner in the administration of Republican Tom Kean in the 1980s, and The Star-Ledger certainly knew, in almost a Machevellian way, that most of the votes that Daggett would attract were probable Christie votes, so its Daggett support was a backhanded way of actually supporting Corzine.