The New York Times demonstrated their ardor to take Chris Christie down a peg again in the Tuesday front page story headlined “In Christie’s Career, Fondness for Luxe Benefits.” Reporters Kate Zernike and Michael Barbaro did a “deep dive” into Christie’s fondness for private planes and luxury hotels.
So try a Nexis search over the last year for “Hillary Clinton” and “private planes” or “private jets.” No news story. “Hillary Clinton” and “luxury”? No news story. Zernike and Barbaro know they could do this kind of a news story, as they admit in their Christie story:
Mr. Christie is hardly the first politician, in either party, whose embrace of luxury travel has prompted criticism. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, a potential Democratic candidate for president, is known for her dependence on private planes often paid for by others.
On Morning Joe, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said the same thing on Tuesday, that the Times could easily do this kind of story all about Hillary’s private planes and lucrative speeches, that the Clintons have lived like royalty:
But the paragraphs before the “Hillary, too” disclaimer, Zernike and Barbaro underlined it’s Christie’s “cheesesteak” appeal to lower-income and middle-income voters they’re attacking:
The governor, a Republican now preparing a run for president, shot to national prominence as a cheese-steak-on-the-boardwalk Everyman who bluntly preached transparency and austerity as the antidote to bloated state budgets. But throughout his career in public service, Mr. Christie has indulged a taste that runs more toward Champagne at the Four Seasons.
He has also quietly let others pay the bills.
That tendency — the governor himself says he wants to “squeeze all the juice out of the orange” — has put him in ethically questionable situations, taking benefits from those who stand to benefit from him....
While previous New Jersey governors have flown commercial for trade missions, Mr. Christie flew privately for three. (His spokeswoman said he flew commercial to London.) He has taken family on all. He stays in five-star properties: the King David in Jerusalem, the Intercontinental in Mexico City. The hotel in London, the Corinthia, has a Baccarat chandelier and masses of flowers refreshed every morning....
Mr. Christie’s first-class tastes have become well known. He made it clear when he campaigned for Mr. Romney in 2012 that he would do out-of-state events only if he was given a private plane, even during the primary, when the candidate’s wife was still flying commercial to save money. The Romney campaign came to understand that he preferred a Cessna Citation X, which, its manufacturer boasts, has exotic wood interiors and a Rolls-Royce engine.
Scarborough also mocked the Times for singling out how Christie liked to party with Bono and Donald Trump and "danced onstage with Jamie Foxx at a celebrity benefit at the Hamptons in August before a crowd that included Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro." As if the Clintons or the Obamas don't hobnob with a pile of celebrities???
But on January 24, Amy Chozick, a Times reporter on the Hillary beat, demonstrated how that’s handled: as a desperate Republican attack line. The headline was “Clinton Opponents Hone New Barbs and Attacks as 2016 Campaign Nears.” When “Christie Opponents Hone New Barbs and Attacks,” that headline would describe a New York Times newsroom meeting.
First, she was called the bra-burning feminist with a degree from Wellesley. Then, she was the aggressively political spouse from Arkansas who plotted behind closed doors. Today, she is the millionaire elitist who socializes in New York City and the Hamptons.
Few modern political figures inspire the animus that Hillary Rodham Clinton generates, and the cottage industry that opposes her never really goes out of business. But as Mrs. Clinton prepares for a likely presidential campaign in 2016, the sprawling network is evolving to attack her on new grounds.
There are ''super PACs'' with names like Women Against Hillary, Just Say No to Hillary, Stop Hillary and Defeat Hillary. The Republican National Committee recently introduced a website PoorHillaryClinton.com, which mocks Mrs. Clinton's wealth.
While all politicians endure scrutiny and efforts by the other side to define them, the attacks on Mrs. Clinton often take on a personal tone, which her defenders say is driven by an electorate still coming to terms with the possibility of a female president.
But the message against Mrs. Clinton before 2016 is shifting, highlighting new, less gender-based attacks than those leveled during the 2008 campaign. She is no longer caricatured as the embodiment of a 1960s feminist pushing her husband's administration to the left. Instead, Mrs. Clinton is criticized as overly cautious and centrist and out of touch with average Americans. Last summer she said that her family was ''dead broke'' upon leaving the White House, yet she has made millions off her books and is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches.
This kind of reporting only underlines that the difference between national newspapers and super PACs like Ready for Hillary and “Correct the Record” rapid-response spinners can be pretty blurry.