Bridgegate: America’s newest sensationalist story

As we rang in the New Year a few weeks ago, we drew one step closer to the presidential election of 2016. Luckily for the press, likely presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t fail in making headline worthy news right off the bat, did he?

Television stations, newspapers and bloggers raced to put out their pieces on Christie’s abusive administration, the bizarre traffic scandal – where Christie was accused of illegally jamming up a bridge in the town of a mayor who didn’t support his re-election bid – blossomed overnight into something that is being referred to as “Bridgegate.”

This event hardly seems newsworthy, and the end goal of the press is indeed hard to find. However, Christie did acknowledge the mistake that his administration made and took full blame for it, stating, “without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again,” during his State of the State address.

Christie made it clear that not only does he have nothing to hide, but also his brief acknowledgement signaled that there are more important things on the agenda than a traffic jam. Christie’s persona is that of an unconventional politician, something that some find refreshing while others find inappropriate.

On YouTube there is a video titled “Best of Chris Christie,” where viewers can watch amusing encounters that Christie has had in press conferences, town hall meetings, and various other events. Unafraid to speak his mind and call people words such as “idiot” and “stupid” straight to their faces, Christie might come off as a hothead to some. However, his raw honesty can also be considered a unique characteristic that seems to have been forgotten about on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps Christie’s reputation for his brutal honestly is the reason why many Americans haven’t been following Bridgegate. The Atlantic reported the results from a Pew Research Center poll that revealed “the public paid little attention to Christie’s Bridgegate,” and that the “national opinion of the governor has barely budged.”

Or perhaps Americans are detecting the sensationalism of the media. Compared to other political scandals, Christie’s holds little weight in the political realm of true scandals. Take for example former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal or even the infamous Watergate scandal, from which the name Bridgegate originated. These examples can’t be categorized as mistakes, but as something of a more serious matter.

Although many articles featured on CNN, ABC News and the New York Times explain the main points of Bridgegate, none of them state if Christie was aware that this was happening or if the idea of closing down the George Washington Bridge was ever even presented to him in the first place.

There are too many gaps to fill in this strung-together story, making it seem as if the media just jumped on the first political scandal they could get their hands on. These news articles aren’t filled with news, but are fluffed with conjecture and speculation about how much Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge being blocked off.

The Washington Times opened up an article on the Bridgegate scandal with the line, “New Jersey voters are giving Governor Chris Christie the benefit of the doubt as he fights for his political life over a traffic-jam scandal.” When first reading this article I thought that this line was supposed to be comedic. Fighting for his political life? Hardly. I think this event can be classified as apologizing for a mistake.

If this is any indication of how the media will handle potential presidential candidates in the next two years, we have a long road ahead of us. Turning nothing into something can only go so far. Come 2016, I’m sure that Bridgegate will be as obscure as good political reporting is nowadays.