Questionable Crisis Management Call from Christie

Sections of this topic

    woman talking on mobile phone while sitting | crisis management

    Why renew focus on an issue you’d clearly rather avoid speaking openly about?

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) would probably love to have this whole George Washington Bridge scandal just…go away. It seems Christie felt he was expected to do something to explain things, but his choice to appoint a friendly lawyer to “investigate” the allegedly politically motivated lane closures reeked of nonsense.

    Here are a couple of snippets, from the Washington Post’s coverage of the report:

    Christie didn’t know in advance

    “The Governor Did Not Know In Advance And Was Not Involved In This Bridge Lane Realignment Decision. … Before September 9, 2013, The Governor Had No Knowledge Of The Bridge Lane Realignment.”

    Shocking, right?

    The lane closures were originally Wildstein’s idea

    “That Fort Lee was favored with these dedicated toll lanes was an issue periodically raised within the Port Authority. Indeed, Wildstein himself first raised the issue in late 2010. For some reason yet to be determined, Wildstein seemed to be driving this issue again in 2013. It was Wildstein’s ‘idea,’ like so many other ‘crazy’ ones he’d had before that never got off the ground.”

    We’re not sure we’ve ever heard an impartial investigator say someone’s ideas were “crazy” before, but maybe it’s a first…

    It seems Jonathan Bernstein‘s take on the situation summed up the feelings of most after reading this report:

    “It’s like conducting your own colonoscopy, you’re likely to just end up with your head up your ass.”

    The credibility of the so-called investigation was doomed from the get-go because it was A) self-imposed, and B) conducted by people who have clear reason to be beholden to Christie, begging the question, why do it at all?

    Nobody’s going to believe the results if they’re coming from a clearly biased source, so why not just try to let the whole thing die down and move on as much as possible? From where we’re standing, putting out a bogus investigative report is only serving to re-focus attention on the reputation threat, not the ideal direction for crisis management at all.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]