New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have a severe case of Vizzini syndrome, and by that I don’t mean that you should never go up against an Irish-Sicilian governor when budget cuts are on the line. Rather, I don’t think the word “Soviet” means what he thinks it means.
This weekend, Christie, speaking to New York public radio station WNYC, defended his attempts to sell off the New Jersey Network (to, hilariously, another public broadcaster just one state over) by saying, “I really believed that the state-owned operation of media ended with the Soviet Union.” Which is really just sort of goofy, because Russia continues to operate a bunch of state media through the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, because public broadcasting continues to operate cheerfully on every continent on the planet, and because state-owned media’s really useful if you want to do anything from producing cost-saving educational programming to turning out one of the more artistically impressive streaks of shows in the English-speaking world. This kind of crudeness and lack of nuance isn’t exactly atypical for Christie, but I think it’s worth calling out, given that his crudeness and theoretical dedication to truth-telling is one of the things that’s helped make him a national political contender.
All of this is even more hilarious because in the same interview, as my colleage Zaid points out, Christie may not think public broadcasting is an appropriate governmental function, but bailing out a large mall project is. And you know who was pretty good at building the giant department stores that were precursors to malls? Soviets! Also Communist China! As a side note, I’m really sort of sad that the Beijing Friendship Store is going to get updated. It’s obviously incredibly overpriced, and it’s deeply eerie to wander around a place where it seems like you’ve been the only customer in years, but the whole thing is a sort of delightful time capsule, and I bought some really adorable cloisonné pigs there, one of which still sits on my desk.