The New York Times changed the lede of its explosive story about former New York Port Authority official David Wildstein on Friday. Whereas the original story stated that Wildstein has the evidence to prove Gov. Chris Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closings when they were happening, the new version has Wildstein saying "evidence exists."
The original story lede reads:
"The Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it."
The edited version reads:
"The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening.
The original wording was already odd.
Why would Wildstein have the evidence in the past tense, instead of the present tense? Was the evidence located at his old office and he was unable to take it with him? The new editing states that evidence exists which in some ways amounts to the same thing. But doesn't.
In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.
Evidence that Christie knew about the closings and that he ordered them are two very different things. And the big question is motive.
Can the evidence establish that Christie was aware of politically motivated closings or just the fact of the closings?
Christie responded to the letter in Buzzfeed style with "5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell”
The letter is about what you would expect, loud, obnoxious and light on substance. Its first and fifth points are somewhat relevant...
1. New York Times Bombshell Not A Bombshell. A media firestorm was set off by sloppy reporting from the New York Times and their suggestion that there was actually "evidence" when it was a letter alleging that "evidence exists.
5. David Wildstein has been publicly asking for immunity since the beginning, been held in contempt by the New Jersey legislature for refusing to testify, failed to provide this so-called "evidence" when he was first subpoenaed by the NJ Legislature and is looking for the Port Authority to pay his legal bills.
But then we get to...
4. In David Wildstein's past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as "tumultuous" and someone who "made moves that were not productive."
• As a 16-year-old kid, he sued over a local school board election.
• He was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.
His high school social studies teacher? Really? This is Team Christie's idea of opposition research?