John Doe may have pre-dated Bridgegate, but Christie's scandal hit the national news first.
After reading through the coverage of the John Doe email release, I've come to two main conclusions. One, the scandal will not get media attention the way Chris Christie and Bridgegate did, but two, the scandal can still hurt Scott Walker in November. I'll explore the potential damage to Walker's reelection campaign later, but for now, here are four big reasons why national media aren't going to latch on to John Doe.
1. Christie is a bigger target
This is not a Chris Christie fat joke. Christie won a blue state by a huge margin. There is no way Walker will ever win Wisconsin with that kind of margin, unless he becomes quarterback for the Packers, gets the team a perfect record and resurrects Vince Lombardi to coach them in the Super Bowl.
Christie's admittedly adept handling of Hurricane Sandy made the Republican governor of New Jersey a national figure. Before his scandal, Christie was a confident, engaging speaker who would have crushed his opponents in the debates. Walker, though, still stumbles when he is off his talking points. As much as Wisconsinites act like Scott Walker is the center of the political universe, Christie was a much more prominent player nationally before the George Washington Bridge scandal. He was a more tempting target to take down.
2. New York media encompasses New Jersey
Even with the amount of attention Wisconsin got with the Act 10 protests, we are still in flyover country. The nation's capital may be Washington D.C. but the epicenter of the American news business is New York City. Many of the reporters who work at the major New York news outlets live in New Jersey and Christie is on their local news. If I was a news producer, it would be way more tempting for me to send a reporter to a Chris Christie press conference that is an hour away (or two if a bridge is shut down) versus flying someone to Wisconsin.
3. Secret e-mails aren't tangible
This issue has been covered by others already, so I won't go into to it very much. Shutting down a bridge is something relatable, much like breaking into the Watergate hotel. That's something physical, real. The scandals in John Doe are wonky, there is no direct action-reaction that makes for a nice 30-second news clip. Bridgegate was the first episode of season two of House of Cards where [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS] off a [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS], and John Doe is the rest of season two where they engage in a trade war and feud with a billionaire and other things I slept through.
4. Bridgegate reached the national consciousness first
John Doe may have pre-dated Bridgegate, but Christie's scandal hit the national news first. The media already has its 'Republican governor grilled over staff's misbehavior story,' it isn't looking for a new one. Rachel Maddow doesn’t have any time for John Doe when her show is jam-packed with analysis of Week 11 of Bridgegate.
It is silly, but being first matters in a story -- nobody wants to cover a runner-up. This scandal looks like all of those regrettable, forgettable films trying to turn every single young adult novel into the next Twilight or Hunger Games. The national news will care about this if Walker makes serious progress leading up to the Presidential primaries; however, Wisconsin's 2014 gubernatorial race will be long over by then. Wisconsin progressives shouldn't expect a lot of support from national news media to keep this story alive.
The situation isn't all doom and gloom, though. Tune back in Friday when I provide four reasons why John Doe can still hurt Walker here in Wisconsin.