Thursday, January 9, 2014

Holey Corpus Christie!

Like many people with nothing better to do this afternoon, I was glued to CNN's coverage of the Chris Christie marathon news con.

"I am a very sad person today," he sneered.

 If there is any justice, the New Jersey governor will get sadder still. His former Port Authority appointee, implicated in the deliberate snarling of George Washington Bridge traffic last fall, reportedly is cutting a deal with prosecutors for immunity in exchange for testimony. It remains to be seen whether Bridget Ann Kelly, fired over her own gleefully vindictive machinations, will remain vindictive enough to testify against her former boss. Then again, this being Jersey, I suspect she got a consolatory parting gift or two for taking the fall for the Boss. Or maybe she'll go into seclusion in the Pine Barrens.

Ditto for the mayor of Fort Lee, who initially demurring, finally accepted an offer he couldn't refuse for a Christie apology today. Christie described the meeting as "warm and productive," and threatened even more meet-ups in the future. The mayor, for his part, expressed gratitude that Christie had even acknowledged his existence.

In any case, Christie is already indicting himself in a narrative more full of holes than the victim of the week in a Sopranos episode. Besides the dead giveaway of "mistakes were made," his claim that he'd lost two nights of sleep over a scandal he didn't learn about until yesterday is curious, to put it kindly.

Just when cabin fever was setting in with a vengeance during this, the winter of our discontent, we are being treated to some brand new political infotainment to fritter away the chilly hours.

Oh, and speaking of gridlock -- have you noticed that new "sleek and intuitive" Gray Lady makeover? It's such a complete mess that it's garnered nearly 800 complaints on the Public Editor's blog. I was happy to see that Sardonicky contributor AnneEnigma got top reader recommendations for her entry:

Wow. This Public Editor section is the only part I still like. Here the comments are directly below, easy to read through quickly, and it's easy to comment - as it's always been. Not so with the new format in the rest of the paper.
Does the paper even realize how important the comments are to readers now that news sources no longer provide in depth analysis with context, history, inconsistencies, implications? It's up to readers to share those thoughts and we do. I bet I'm not the only one who often goes right to the comments. Commentators are often far more enlightening and entertaining than some of your paid staff. You should consider making comments available on a lot more news and opinions. It's a big draw and makes us feel like a community.
If I had just one request, I would ask that the comments section be returned to the format that is on this page so we can view, scroll, and read them quickly and easily.
Don't fix what isn't broken!
Ditto that. Readers are even complaining on the op-ed pages, where the third most popular comment (by David Underwood) to Gail Collins's takedown of Chris Christie completely sidestepped the topic and urged commenters to join forces and complain about the new format. The editors' response? They removed his comment. (suppression seems to be reaching epidemic proportions at the Paper of Record) But they forgot to remove the many responses agreeing with him! (If you have not yet attempted to visit the stingy little scroll that judders down readers comments a few lines at a time, do yourself a favor and skip it. Your eyes will thank you. But anyway, here was my two cents:
I have already left my thumbs-down comment on Margaret Sullivan's blog. Navigating this new format is like struggling to cross the GWB from Fort Lee on a Monday morning with Chris Christie personally manning the cones. Pure torture, and not aesthetically pleasing.
And here's what I wrote on the actual preapproved Chris Christie topic:
 My son, trying to get into the city over the GWB last fall, was among the many, many collateral damage victims of Chris Christie's criminal vindictiveness. So I am taking this very personally. Maybe some enterprising lawyer (Better Call Saul?) can begin a class action lawsuit, the evidence including millions of crumpled up E-Z pass receipts and other documents of the four hours of misery it took to go a couple of miles.
But first, indict him, convict him, and throw his corpus in jail. (a change of venue may be needed to Wyoming. That Jersey jury pool is already hopelessly biased.) Not a minimum security fancy country club, mind you, but one of those private for-profit overcrowded affairs, staffed by non-background checked $10/hour corrections officers. Chris will be doing his huge patriotic part to fill the GOP-mandated body quota for the private prison industry, the better to enrich his plutocratic pals. He will fit in just perfectly in the general population.
When Chris is up for parole, if he is ever up for parole, he can reside in one of those infested halfway houses he has a personal financial stake in. Or maybe he can be enrolled in a work-study program whereby he is forced to physically help dig the Hudson River tunnel he was once so instrumental in quashing.... again, out of his pure pathological hatred of the whole human race.
 This could be the first wonderful day of the rest of New Jersey's life. Happy New Year, everybody!


annenigma said...

Of course my comment about 'some' people's comments being frequently more enlightening and entertaining than the paid NYT staff was referring to you, Karen. I think everyone figured that out. Glad you chimed in and proved it.

Personally, I can't stand to even look at the front page of the NYT anymore. I hate the headlines in italics, and it took me half the day just to figure out how to open a comment box. I can't wait for Pierre Omidyar/Glenn Greenwald's new venture to get off the ground.

As far as Cristy Creme goes, he made a good case today for being elected President - he can lie his ass off. I wonder if anyone's buying it though. A two-hour press conference? Me thinks he doth protest too much. I read on Wikipedia that he focused on political corruption when he was U.S. Attorney. I suppose that is like Obama focusing on constitutional law.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

This episode should also reduce Gov. Christie's electability in another way, perhaps not mentioned by commentators out of political correctness.

Given the pressure on him, expect his shape-up-for-2016-makeover diet to go out the window, leading to a gain of several dozen pounds or more. (Unless he goes to prison, where they will control his calorie intake --- and doubly-so if it indeed is a private prison, where a calorie not eaten is a penny earned for the corporate bottom line).

annenigma said...

May I expound further on the NYT? Here is my comment at the Guardian:

The NYT home page with italics headlines is hideous. There is also too much white space - I need my sunglasses to read it through the glare. Seriously though, the NYT is playing commentators for suckers. They are forcing us to click on their articles and editorials to see if comments are there or even allowed, unlike the Guardian which shows on the main page which ones have comments. That way they sucker us into viewing more ads.

I don't think they value commentators at all. They should though - they are often more informed and entertaining writers (Karen Garcia for one) than much of their paid staff (David Brooks for one), which serves to draw more eyeballs for them.

Also the comments are tucked into the right side with a separate scrollbar, it's difficult to figure out how to open a comment box, and difficult to view more than one comment at a time. They allow us to close the comments section but not to close the article so we can view more comments. I much prefer comments at the end of the article anyway.

I really don't think these changes had anything to do with reader satisfaction. It has to do with formatting for advertisers. I much prefer the Guardian's layout and readability, not to mention fearlessness compared to the NYT regarding the news they will dare to print.

I'm still waiting for the NYT to do a full article on the fact and implications of the NSA's carte blanche agreement to give all American's metadata, including Congressmen and judges, in raw, unfiltered form to Israel with no conditions on how that info can be used by them against Americans. When the Public Editor questioned the honchos at the NYT, they said that bit of news wasn't "surprising enough".

Jay - Ottawa said...

You Times commenters still don’t get it, do you. The Grey Lady does not want your comments. She regrets ever having opened up comment sections years ago, but just can’t abolish comments now that they’re out of the box. People might think her high-handed.

Over the past few years she’s put obstacles in commenter paths to discourage comments, except for those groomed to be cheerleaders for the Times Team. A year or two ago, you had to be a chatty member of Facebook or from the Twitter aviary to get in the door, or even to vote a comment up or down. Then, that two-tiered system of approved (or not) commenters. I think that’s when Marie took a walk. Now it’s whatever new obstacles you diehards are describing as part of the latest “improvements” to the commenting section. Which “improvements,” everybody agrees, are telling you what? I predict the next improvement to comments on the horizon will be semi-invisibility by toning the print light grey in tribute to you-know-who.

Just maybe, Marie was right to take a walk. The so-called newspaper of record doesn’t want to tell you all the news that’s fit to print. I know, you’re shocked, shocked. With the corollary that the newspaper of record and responsible analysis doesn’t appreciate your repeatedly calling them out on their facts and their analysis. Nor does it want you to keep dissing the tepid (like Krugman), the blockheaded (like Brooks) and the fatuous (like Dowd), all highfalutin writers on its payroll.

Even by complaining, you only encourage them. You can get as good or better news, analysis and commentary from other publications or blogs. So why not boycott the Times –– is that so unthinkable?––, maybe with a final comment that says you’ve had enough and are going elsewhere.

The Times is owned by rich men like, Carlos Slim. As we all know, the Times backs the Money Party and other forces unworthy of support. They don’t want you, except to honor the paywall and to continue cheering for the Grey Lady. The Times is no longer the Times we used to know. Why should we, dissed by the Carlos Slims of the world and ignored by their publications, give them our money and, what is more important, our time and trust?

annenigma said...


I agree with you. I was already weaning myself off the NYT by only looking at the headlines. But then I noticed they had links to comments finally showing up. I couldn't resist checking to see if they changed their format, but no. It's the new version.

So I am going to boycott them as you suggested. No great loss.

By the way, the piece by Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian about the NYT's new look disappeared right after my comment.

Pearl said...

Dear friends: Please don't walk away from the NYTimes. The people that are
now writing excellent articles (although not always easy to track down) that I have been referring to recently, deserve our support (like the article about the early whistleblowers now talking). There are some decent people on the editorial board who need to hear from us especially when the balance in
the NYtimes is in jeopardy. And Krugman (with all his faults) and Blow and occasionally others deserve to hear from us which affects what people are reading in their comments sections. Just look at the positive influence Karen has become.

I am now getting announcements from the Washington Post, pay up or we will
not allow you to read our articles. I usually don't but have been enjoying
their political cartoons in the Comics section. However there is another
group that lists them.
By restricting access via computer by the newspapers, they are cutting off a large input of opinion.

But there are ways of getting around it (hint hint ablebodied computerites).

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Pearl

A wide-ranging 7-part series (video with transcript) on journalism and related topics:

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