Prior to delivering his State of the State message earlier this week, Governor Christie locked out the New Jersey media from an off-the-record press conference. That was wrong and petty. We already knew that Christie is the master of controlling the message through his taxpayer-funded political “town-halls” and his carefully scripted “Ask the Governor” call-in show.
But there’s an area where the media are aiding and abetting Christie’s messaging.
In all of their post-mortems about what Christie left out of his speech, the media glossed over Chritie’s omission of energy and environmental issues. This, for a governor who unilaterally pulled the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a program that would have reduced harmful carbon emissions throughout the region. A governor of the most densely populated state who all but ignored energy-efficient mass transportation. A governor who botched the recovery from a storm whose intensity was most likely exacerbated by global climate change and was a precursor of more violent episodes to come. A governor who has put regulatory roadblocks in the path of job-creating wind and solar projects in New Jersey. A governor whose handpicked members of the Pinelands Commission will most likely approve a pipeline through one of New Jersey’s most pristine and fragile areas.
Christie’s approach is understandable when you realize that much of his financial support comes from the fossil fuel industries, including the Koch Brothers. But when the Fourth Estate omits Christie’s denial of the long-term need for clean air and water, they are also derelict in their duty.
Clearly, the media’s shortfall in reporting these sins of omission is less serious than the harm being done by the Christie administration. The policies to reverse that harm will fall on future governors and future generations. But one of the jobs of the mainstream media is to inform the public about important issues – even those that are being ignored by the powerful. In this instance, they failed.