That noise you hear is the sound of the wind going out of the sails of an entire news network. MSNBC had wall to wall coverage for weeks at a time of the investigation into the closing of the George Washington bridge by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie supposedly to retaliate against a Democrat who wouldn’t support his re-election. Every rumor, every dubious claim was given loving and extensive coverage.
On Thursday, a former county prosecutor told the media that he had been talking to the New Jersey US attorney’s office about an incident in 2010 where he was fired for complaining that several Christie supporters weren’t indicted for wrong doing.
Bennett Barlyn alleges that he was fired from his job as a Hunterdon County prosecutor in 2010 after objecting to the dismissal of indictments against a number of Christie supporters.
Barlyn said he had spoken with federal investigators on Wednesday about his claims, the International Business Times first reported on Thursday.
According to Barlyn, the prosecutor’s office secured indictments against a sheriff and other officials before the Christie administration took over the investigation and got the indictments overturned, saying they were not based on strong evidence.
Barlyn has also filed a whistleblower lawsuit that remains open. He told ABC News he was unsure if investigators had spoken to others about the case.
Christie’s office has denied the allegations of wrongdoing, previously calling the allegations “conspiratorial nonsense,” according to ABC.
The federal probe reportedly is focused on why New Jersey’s then-Attorney General Paula Dow dismissed the indictments.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey dismissed media reports that it has launched a new criminal investigation into Gov. Chris Christie (R) as “a tremendous leap forward” in a statement provided Friday to MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
At issue is an allegation that Christie’s office helped scuttle indictments against the governor’s allies and that a former county prosecutor who tried to blow the whistle was fired. An International Business Times report from Thursday claimed that prosecutors launched a formal investigation into the matter.
Ben Barlyn, the former county prosecutor who says he was fired for pushing back on the indictments, told the news organization that he met with members of the Attorney’s office this week. He added that he spoke for more than an hour about his accusations and gave them what he referred to as “critical evidence.”
But while the Attorney’s office didn’t confirm or deny that it spoke to Barlyn, it characterized such conversations as not necessarily indicative of a full investigation.
“We talk to people all of the time,” a spokesman told MSNBC.
“It doesn’t mean we’re investigating anybody. Any characterization that we are investigating the governor about this is just not true.”
Barlyn also told the network that he “never characterized this as a full-blown investigation.”
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, emailed quotes from Maddow’s segment on Saturday to news organizations, in an effort to push back on various reports that had picked up on the IBT story, including one from The Hill. He said in an email that while the reports gave “the false appearance” of a new investigation, “new reports clearly debunk that allegation.”
Christie is reportedly considering a presidential bid in 2016, but he has been enmeshed in ethical controversy in the recent past.
The network clearly has a vendetta against Christie — as have most New Jersey Democrats. All of this scandal churning has had the effect of raising questions in Republicans’ minds about Christie’s fitness for high office — even though there has never been any evidence of wrongdoing on his part.
If you can’t beat ’em, smear ’em.