Only the New York Times could bash a Republican candidate for something he didn't say.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was at the Reagan Library in Simi Tuesday night on a GOP fundraising tour. As he's done for the last year, the otherwise blunt politician deflected speculation that he might run for president.
In an article with the awkward headline "Christie Adds Little New, but Fails to Quell the Talk," the New York Times seems to put a lot of effort in making Christie's silence into the worst possible thing the rotund governor could do.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey failed to address intense speculation about his presidential ambitions on Tuesday night as he delivered a foreign policy speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
Did he "fail" or did he succeed in doing exactly what he planned? Journalists have subtle ways of setting the tone of their articles and words like "fail" is part of the game.
Consider two headlines about the same hypothetical scenario. A man is arrested and tried for murder and then found not guilty. The journalist can write either of these two headlines:
1. Man exonerated by jury
2. Jury fails to convict alleged murderer
The first headline makes the man seem innocent, the second one implies he was guilty and got away with murder. The Times could have easily written:
"Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey succeeded in ignoring intense speculation about his presidential ambitions..."
Their choice of "fail" is telling, but we're just scratching the surface. The next paragraph reads:
With those close to the governor saying he was "reconsidering" whether to mount a bid, Mr. Christie's unwillingness to address his political future at such a high-profile event left some Republicans exasperated and worried that a protracted game of "will-he, won't-he" would be bad for the party's chances of retaking the White House.
As if the New York Times cares if this is bad for the GOP. But his "unwillingness" to announce his presidency "left some Republicans exasperated?"
We're left with the impression that all these Republicans are freaking out. But what is "some exactly?" Two Republicans? Fifty? Who knows, but it sounds significant, doesn't it?
Wikipedia identifies "some" (and "many") as "weasel words," which are "numerically vague expressions." It's OK for some blog to employ weasel words, but the country's newspaper of record?
But the Times left quality by the wayside a long time ago, reiterating that he's "failing to quiet the clamor to draft him..."
For such a failure, I wonder why so many people want him to be president!
The truth is Christie is succeeding masterfully--he's getting millions of dollars of free advertising just by floating his name as a possible contender (or rather, by letting others float his name). We see this every in every presidential campaign. Jesse Jackson knew he wasn't going to win, but he raised his profile. Ron Paul knows he's not going to win, but he runs to draw attention to libertarianism. Sarah Palin is still teasing the media, and they're still paying attention to her even though they hate her. Donald Trump--the master of personal branding--got to see his name in the papers earlier this year by talking about running for president.
Christie would be stupid not to do exactly what he's doing.