The Press Reporting On Things Unsaid

“From Ernest Hemingway I learned to listen within my stories for what went unsaid by my characters.”

– Author Nadine Gordimer

Newspapers (and blogs) thrive on quotable quotes from their sources. During Christie’s tenure he has offered a barrell-full of them which journalists report with gusto. However, just as important in a given article can be what the source does not say.

Over the weekend Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) stated that the governor’s office called every Republican senator and threatened them with their lives – their political lives – if they did not vote against the “Open Space” resolution. Undoubtedly Sen. Smith was using hyperbole. Nonetheless, on Monday the resolution failed by two votes.

True to form when Christie was asked about the accusation he launched into a multi-sentence personal attack against Sen. Smith. Christie ended his tirade saying “Smith is no leader. He’s a joke.” Such a juicy quote was reported by the press with gusto.

More telling, however, than the nasty, outrageous response from Christie was the opening sentence in the news article as reported by By Jenna Portnoy and Ryan Hutchins in the Star-Ledger:

Sidestepping whether he pressured Republicans to vote “no” on putting open space preservation on the November ballot, Gov. Chris Christie instead slammed the Democratic state senator who sponsored the resolution.”

The fact that Christie would not respond to whether his office pressured Republican legislators is more important than the colorful and insulting quote he provided. Christie is a master of this. All too often politicians avoid answering a question, and when that happens it’s important that the press tell us. Good for Jenna Portnoy and Ryan Hutchins.  

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