Last week, MSNBC’s media frenzy generated a number of alternative explanations for the scandal involving Chris Christie and the Fort Lee lane closures.
Theory No. 1: The generally accepted theory is that Christie’s aides were retaliating against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to endorse the governor in the previous election. This is supported by the derogatory comments in e-mails referring to the “little Serbian,” understood to be a reference to Sokolich. Until now, this explanation has been the focus of most of the media’s attention to the scandal.
Theory No. 2: Rachel Maddow of MSNBC offered an alternative explanation. Claiming that Sokolich’s endorsement wasn’t all that important (there were, after all, hundreds of Democratic mayors who did not endorse the governor), Maddow argued that the lane closures were instead political retribution for New Jersey Senate Democrats blocking Christie’s nomination to the state Supreme Court.
Maddow went on to demonstrate that the evening before the “time for traffic problems” e-mail was sent, Christie blew up at a press conference. He criticized Senate Democrats and was clearly upset at their obstruction of his nominee to the state Supreme Court, Helen Hoens. The kicker? Fort Lee is represented by the leader of the state Senate Democrats, Loretta Weinberg.
However, as with any alternative theory, there are several glaring problems. Sen. Weinberg was “utterly safe at re-election,” according to David Weigel. This would make any retaliation seem relatively pointless. Additionally, Weinberg’s legislative district comprises 13 different towns, according to Olivia Nuzzi at Business Insider. This, paired with the fact that there are no references to Weinberg in the e-mails or texts, makes the theory just a bit of a stretch.
Theory No. 3: Over the weekend, MSNBC host Steve Kornacki brought up another theory. Rather than political retaliation, Kornacki referenced the “billion-dollar development” project in Fort Lee called Hudson Lights. Aided by reporting from Brian Murphy at Talking Points Memo, Kornacki presented the possibility that the lane closures were intended to hamper funding for the development project.
After all, the prospective location for Hudson Lights is right next to the on ramp for the George Washington Bridge, and several meetings regarding the development’s financing took place during the lane closures. Murphy said, “We now know that a major redevelopment project, one that depends on Port Authority assets and relationships, was put in jeopardy at a vulnerable financial moment, and in a way that put the viability of the entire project at risk. But we still don’t know why.”
And that’s the biggest flaw with this theory. Even if the lane closures were intended to block this development project, what motivation would Christie’s office have to hinder the process?
One thing is certain — MSNBC will keep coming up with these theories as long as it gives them another chance to talk about the scandal.