But another consequential feature of this controversy is an emerging narrative that, barring the unforeseen, could shift focus from Christie’s administration to the greater villain — the media. Judging from my overflowing inbox, there’s a growing sense on the right that Christie is being unfairly battered by a media all too eager to help defrock the Republican front-runner.
Needless to say, one bad deed (Obama’s falsehoods) does not excuse another (misusing power to punish a political foe). The bridge scandal is compelling precisely because it fits the well-documented bullying image of Christie, notwithstanding his denials during the news conference. “I am not a bully,” he said, reminding us mostly of “I am not a witch.” Or “I am not a crook.”
Christie’s style was always going to be problematic for him in the primaries, especially in the polite South. But now he also can be viewed as a victim not only of malignant, malicious and mind-bendingly stupid staffers but also of a two-faced, pro-Democratic media.
The media are not monolithic, as we like to remind people. But we do have a tendency to focus on the latest scandal. And it does seem that we tend to treat Republican scandals as more delicious than others. This is owing less to the sins committed than to the greater sin of hypocrisy. The higher the bar, the harder they fall.