Watching the NJTV coverage of Governor Christie’s State of the State Address was like watching a train wreck. It’s no surprise that the station, run by Christie’s Adubato clan, made this broadcast just the opening salvo in the governor’s re-election campaign.
Of course, Christie is an excellent orator. That’s part of his appeal to the average voter. But it’s NJTV’s job to inform the average voter, not to provide an unchecked platform for the governor. And the Democrats are just abettors in this process.
Several hours before the event, I sent a message to NJTV on its Facebook page asking if the Democrats would be given air time after the speech so they could provide a rebuttal and/or alternate visions of the state of the state. The station’s initial response was that there would not be such an opportunity. After I ranted about this unfairness on Blue Jersey, the station came back about 45 minutes later saying that the Democrats would be given an opportunity. Was there a cause-and-effect connection here? During the broadcast, veteran New Jersey TV newscaster Michael Aron mentioned (on an open mic that he apparently wasn’t aware of) that the Democrats’ appearance was arranged at the last minute. Whether this was due to NJTV or the Democrats responding to my rant, or whether it was just a happy coincidence, doesn’t matter. At least the Democrats got their chance. And they, along with NJTV, blew it.
The Democratic leadership convened a press conference after the governor was done, and the entire Democratic leadership team was there. Each leader spoke, and there was some repetition in what they said. After a few minutes, NJTV cut off their coverage of the press conference just as Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald was starting his remarks.
NJTV should have given the Democrats commensurate time, and I feel they didn’t. But who can blame the station when this gaggle of leadership came across as just that – an unprepared or uncoordinated set of repetitive talking points.
What the Democrats should have done is choose one of their own to speak on behalf of the party. I thought Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver did an outstanding job at her few minutes of rebuttal, and would have been happy if she had been chosen for this task. She speaks with conviction and knowledge of the issues, and would have been a great spokesperson. By having a single speaker, focused on the issues, it would have been less likely that NJTV would have pulled away and replaced the rebuttal with talking heads.