Journalists love a straight talker. They adore someone like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who lets his authenticity all hang out.
But the media, Christie discovered this past week, love other things too.
They love the storyline of building a politician up and then watching him plummet into a crevice of his own making. It’s so so juicy for a popular politician to face his inevitable reckoning.
And they love Democrats more than Republicans. So while President Obama got the hagiographic treatment as his bright new star ascended, journalists never hungered to tear him down. But they’ll go right after Christie.
The Corleone-style payback to Fort Lee’s mayor by tying up traffic on the George Washington Bridge is a legitimate story. It says potentially disconcerting things about the way Christie runs his shop and the type of people he surrounds himself with. But this is not Watergate.
Nor is the Christie saga equivalent to use of the IRS to target political opponents, or failing to protect our embassy in Benghazi and then offering up misleading statements about it, and several other Obama scandals.
Writing in Politico today, National Review Editor Rich Lowry captures the issue nicely:
Usually, it takes winning the GOP presidential nomination for a Republican media darling to experience such an onslaught of gleefully negative press coverage. John McCain was the straight-talking maverick right up until the moment he effectively clinched the nomination in 2008 — immediately triggering a thinly sourced New York Times report insinuating an affair with a lobbyist.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has gotten his disillusioning out of the way early, if he needed it. An occupational hazard of a certain kind of Republican is wanting to be loved by the wrong people. If the past week hasn’t cured Christie of that tendency, nothing will.
I searched the CNN website just now and found around 60 pieces devoted to Christie in the last four days. Does anyone remember that kind of intensive coverage like for the Obama scandals?
If the Bush administration had done the things Obama did, if it had targeted enemies through the IRS, we’d be well into impeachment hearings now, in part due to intrepid investigations by the press. His aides would be under subpoena to discuss what he was doing the night of the Benghazi attack, something we still don’t know about Obama.
Christie, as Lowry writes, has gotten a baptism in the kind of cold water the press will throw on him when it gets the chance. For him, better sooner than later.