Category Archives: Journalism

Bridgegate vs. Benghazigate 1/15/14

My prediction that Bridgegate would bring down Chris Christie was, in a word, wrong. In my follow-up column, I was equally wrong to assert that Bridgegate, and other allegations of malfeasance by the Christie administration, would prove to be more consequential than Fastandfuriousgate, IRSgate, and a lot of other mostly Forgottengates.

Bridgegate vs. Benghazigate 1/15/14

by H.B. Koplowitz

The right claims the mainstream media have paid more attention to Bridgegate than Obamacaregate, IRSgate, Fastandfuriousgate and Benghazigate. Not true.

The MSM didn’t bash the botched rollout of Obamacare? Really? Who hasn’t heard “if you want to keep your insurance” as often as “time for some traffic problems”?

Fast and Furious? The MSM has covered the ill-conceived “gunwalking” scheme initiated under George W. Bush’s administration and continued under President Barack Obama, the tragic deaths of border agents and the congressional hearings and federal investigation, which basically exonerated Attorney General Eric Holder.

The MSM also covered IRSgate and tea party accusations of political persecution by Obama. Less reported was the fact that progressive groups were also “targeted” by the IRS because a mushrooming number of partisan organizations on both sides were seeking nonpartisan tax breaks they didn’t deserve.

Benghazigate has also been extensively reported on, from the anti-Muslim film to former UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s talk show mishaps to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s humbling appearance before a congressional committee. If, after the fact, the Obama administration publicly minimized the terrorist connections to the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi for political reasons, so what?

More serious is the allegation that Obama and Clinton didn’t authorize a rescue mission for the same reason. But politics wasn’t the only consideration. There was also the very real possibility that a high-risk rescue operation could turn into another “Blackhawk Down,” with more American deaths and perhaps hostages.

The right claims the MSM wouldn’t be so obsessed with Bridgegate if Christie weren’t a Republican front-runner for president. Duh. Democrat or Republican, it’s called vetting, which should be done sooner rather than later. And so far, the media have found evidence of at least six instances of malfeasance by the Christie administration, not including the ongoing cover-up, that could one day turn into civil lawsuits, criminal indictments and/or articles of impeachment:

– in 2010, Christie’s appointed attorney general, Paula Dow, fired county prosecutors and quashed a 43-count grand jury indictment against Christie supporter and Hunterdon County Sheriff Deborah Trout, who was accused of public corruption;

– in 2012, Christie decided to spend $12 million of state money and inconvenience voters to hold a special election for a vacant Senate seat three weeks before his own election, ensuring popular Democrat Cory Booker wouldn’t be on the same ballot;

– in 2012, the Christie administration slashed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s request for $100 million in Superstorm Sandy federal relief funds to $300,000, after the Democrat wouldn’t endorse Christie for governor;

– in 2013, as Christie was ramping up his re-election campaign, his administration spent $4.7 million in Superstorm Sandy federal relief funds on tourism ads starring the governor and his family, rejecting a $2 million bid for an ad not featuring the governor;

– in 2013, Christie officials rescinded offers of “new access to state commissioners, who hold the purse strings for many Jersey City services,” after its Democratic mayor, Steve Fulop, declined to endorse Christie; and

– in 2013, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, told David Wildstein, one of Christie’s appointees to the Port Authority, which oversees the busiest bridge in the world, to cause some traffic problems in Fort Lee, perhaps to punish the town’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie.

Taken separately, some of these incidents might be written off as hardball politics, dirty but legal tricks, or the power of incumbency. Taken together, they add up to a pattern of abuse of power, of misusing government agencies and public funds for the personal political benefit of one person, Chris Christie.

Bridgegate is less Benghazigate than Watergate, which deservedly got a lot of coverage in its time. Politics aside, Christie has become a celebrity, a caricature, like the bullying “fat ass” Eric Cartman on “South Park.” So here’s another way to evaluate the media coverage: Which deserves more attention, government officials causing a massive traffic jam on the busiest bridge in the world, or a Lindsay Lohan fender-bender? As Christie would be the first to say, what a stupid question.

© 2014-21 H.B. Koplowitz

Princess Di Online 9/11/1997

As this story about the tragic death of Princess Diana illustrates, online trolling did not begin with Facebook and Twitter. It also hints at some of the ways a wired global community was changing journalism.

Princess Di Online 9/11/1997

by H.B. Koplowitz

The mainstream media consensus is that the whole world is mourning the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But on the unfiltered Internet, emotions amongst the cyber commoners are decidedly mixed. Equal venom is being spewed at the “stalkarazzi” and the “people’s princess,” and, as always, at each other.

Princess Di and her beau, Dodi Fayed, died early Sunday morning [Aug. 31, 1997] in Paris (Saturday night in Los Angeles). Fleeing from biker paparazzi, their Mercedes crashed while traveling in excess of 100 miles an hour through a Paris tunnel beneath the Seine. Dodi, 41, and the driver, who was legally drunk, were killed instantly. Diana, 36, was pronounced dead about 4 a.m. Sunday, Paris time.

Some, especially in Europe, first heard about the tragedy on the Internet, from American computer users monitoring TV news reports. An Internet friend visiting Paris said her first awareness that Princess Di was dead was at 6 a.m. local time Sunday morning, when she logged onto her computer and entered a chat room on America Online.

“They asked me what they were saying in France and I did not know what they were talking about,” she recounted. “So they told me what happened. And when I checked the French news, the titles on AOL, there was still nothing about it.”

When big news breaks, chat rooms become like talk radio, only without the radio and without the talk show host. Potshots fly in all directions, with special attention given to sexual innuendo. Typical comments from the AOL chat room “Papparatzi Killed Di” Monday evening included:

MastrBaitz: she knew what the price was when she married prince bozo


EL P0RK: he was spanking himself in the front seat as Di was spanking her man’s meat in the back

EL P0RK: he was spanking himself in the front seat as Di was spanking her man’s meat in the back

MastrBaitz: i think the british intelligence servces probably killed her

SueKewpie: holy smokes, I canot believe the drivel that is filtering thru here. I just can’t…

Jkren: god bles the ignore button

Usenet newsgroups also lit up with messages, not unlike these posted in

“We want to know

MastrBaitz: i think the british intelligence servces probably killed her

We create an industry
To pry and expose
We build them up
We take them down.

Today I cry.
And tommorow I will buy
The newsprint that killed her.
God help me.
And you…
— mrblonde”

“Diana and Dodi’s tragic death was caused by the poor judgement of a drunk driver. They were being followed with cameras, not guns. It is a horrible, horrible accident that should never have happened. If you want to blame something, blame foolish decisions and drunken driving. Beverly”

“Call her Lady, call her Princess, call her whatever you like. Diana was Queen in our hearts!”

SueKewpie: holy smokes, I canot believe the drivel that is filtering thru here. I just can’t…

“Such pious nonsense. She represented nothing and nobody. She was a loose cannon addicted to high living and media attention.”

Trying to start an urban legend, one message writer claimed Buckingham Palace had given permission to sell bone china gilded plates engraved with photos of the crash.

Charlene Vickers of Yellowknife, NWT, announced a memorial Web page , along with a petition to create a permanent memorial for Diana: “It occurred to me that many late members of the Family have had monuments built to their memories in London and at Windsor. I feel that Diana, Princess of Wales, deserves a similar monument, and I am asking you to sign a petition to that effect.”

The official British Monarchy home page has set up an area for people to leave their written condolences, but it is hard to access now because so many people are trying to get in.

Jkren: god bles the ignore button

However, the Unofficial British Royal Family Pages has current information on the accident and aftermath, along with excellent links to other royal Web sites, and a Diana Memorial Page where people can leave condolences. Most of these comments have been more respectful, such as this one from Shannon Tod of Australia:

“Princess Diana, a true legend in my eyes. U are an inspiration to me and a best friend to the world. I will always remember your courage, patience, and mostly love to other people that u showed. Nothing could ever replace the true and wonderful you that I have known. U will live in me forever, and the light that you shone upon this world will always remain. I luv you, Sweet Princess. @}—>—‘— “

© 1997-2021 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.