On a day when the national press is refocused on the Chris Christie scandal, with subpoenas expected from various sources, CNN decided to train its eye instead on Dawn Zimmer.
First, there's the title of the piece: "Mayor behind Christie allegations full of contradictions". Then there's the first paragraph:
The Democratic mayor at the center of one of the controversies swirling around Republican Gov. Chris Christie is, to put it politely, a woman of contradictions.I had to scroll back up to see who had written this and whether it was an opinion piece. The author is Chris Frates (a name that means little to me); he is characterized as an investigative reporter, so that is also the context in which the article is to be read. This is supposed to be an investigative piece.
The not-unbiased language continues straight on into the next two paragraphs:
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says the New Jersey governor threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief funds unless she got behind a redevelopment project he favors. It's a story that has changed with the telling.My immediate thought after reading this was, "You haven't established any inconsistencies yet." (Also, tu quoque is a logical fallacy.)
The inconsistencies don't stop there. Hundreds of pages of court documents reviewed by CNN raise questions about her allegations against Christie and whether she deals in the same pay-to-play politics she's alleging against him.
The article, as it goes on, does finally start to resemble a standard report of facts (though some of its "evidence" that Zimmer contradicted herself is flimsy at best, especially the segment about whether she lied by not admitting she kept a diary). However, by that point, the tone of the piece has already been established. It's very irresponsible journalism, in my opinion.
Yes, it's CNN. The bar is low over there. I probably should have shrugged it off. However, what concerns me is that this is getting rebroadcast by such places as the Daily Beast (which heralded it under the title "Christie Accuser Changing Story"). The aggregator at Google News is now front-paging the piece as well.
Apparently, the Christie camp has some fans in the press corps. He needs them. Who else is in a better position to divert our attention?