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article imageOp-Ed: Slow news day? Press goes bonkers over Christie cell phone use

By Nathan Salant     Oct 26, 2015 in Travel
Washington - Slow news day?
That would seem to be the most-charitable explanation for yesterday's media obsession with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie being asked to leave a "quiet car" on an Amtrak train for speaking loudly on his cell phone.
I mean, what's the big freakin' deal?
Christie apologized for the incident and said through a spokeswoman that he had just gotten on the train from Washington, D.C., to New York and didn't realize he was in the quiet car, according to the Reuters international news service.
OK, that makes perfect sense.
But it didn't stop Internet gossip site Gawker and gossip pages in newspapers across the country from repeating the story like it was some kind of big scandal.
"Chris Christie kicked out of Amtrak quiet car," screamed the New York Post newspaper. "NJ Gov. Chris Christie kicked off Amtrak ‘quiet car’ for allegedly screaming on his cell phone," offered KPIX Channel 11 television on its website.
Even normally staid Reuters chipped in with "Governor Christie apologizes for loud speech in Amtrak quiet car."
Two questions come to mind right away: Why is the governor of New Jersey taking the train and turning a 45-minute helicopter ride into a 3 1/2-hour ordeal with staff members to keep track of, and how long has Amtrak has a quiet car?
Christie is a sitting governor and he's running for president, albeit badly — doesn't he have a lot of stuff to do more important than spending seven hours on a train?
How come no one ever told me that Amtrak has a quiet car where cell phone conversations are forbidden and a conductor will enforce the rule?
Samantha Smith, Christie's spokeswoman, said the governor quickly recognized his mistake Sunday and moved to the cafe car, where phone conversations are acceptable.
"After breaking the cardinal rule of the quiet car, the governor promptly left once he realized the serious nature of his mistake and enjoyed the rest of his time on the train from the cafe car," Smith said.
Cafe car?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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