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NBC Connects Christie to Decrepit Trenton High School, Ignores Mayor's Corruption Charges

For the second straight evening, NBC stuck with Chris Christie's "Bridge-gate" on Thursday as CBS and NBC haven't mentioned the story since Tuesday. And NBC's Nightly News tacked on a story about a dilapidated Trenton high school and connected its disrepair to Governor Christie.

"For his part, Governor Christie tonight is responding to an issue that's been festering for years, right there in the shadow of New Jersey's state house," anchor Brian Williams noted of the school. Nowhere did NBC even wonder about the negligence of the city's Democratic Mayor Tony Mack, who currently is on trial for federal charges of corruption.

In fact, the AP stated that Mack's "administration of New Jersey’s impoverished capital city has been plagued by accusations of cronyism and reckless spending." Yet NBC didn't bother to report the mayor's alleged "cronyism and "reckless spending" in the very city in which the decrepit school resides.

Any specific political blame for the school was focused on Christie:

"The community accuses lawmakers at the capitol, less than two miles away, of turning a blind eye. They say Governor Christie has been publicly asked to visit. He has not."

And NBC's Ron Allen noted that the story now has Christie's attention:

"Today as Christie spoke at another embattled school, confirmation he will support a plan to build a new high school in Trenton. Why the apparent change of heart? After our tour last week and the response to our inquiries, a top Christie aide recently appointed to head the agency responsible for the school said he had visited Trenton High the day after getting the job last month, and said there will be no more delays in getting the facility into the best possible condition."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

NBC
NIGHTLY NEWS
1/23/14
[7:11 p.m. EST]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: In the state of New Jersey, new developments tonight in the investigation of those lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, including Governor Chris Christie's office. For the first time the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has issued subpoenas for documents to Christie's re-election committee and the state GOP. The New Jersey legislature is conducting its own parallel investigation.

For his part, Governor Christie tonight is responding to an issue that's been festering for years, right there in the shadow of New Jersey's state house. A high school in such disrepair it would make any parent in the country wonder about sending their child there. NBC News started looking at conditions at Trenton High School about two months ago. The word got out in the community and the local newspaper, and now it appears that after so many years of neglect there may be finally a solution. Our exclusive report tonight from NBC's Ron Allen.

(Video Clip)

RON ALLEN: Trenton Central High is an 82 year-old historic building with a once-grand facade. Inside, some 1800 students and teachers work in shocking conditions. They call the stair well the waterfall. During heavy rain, it pours. A secretary protects herself from the stench and grime in this file room. Near a cooking class, caution signs. The ceiling in this adjoining room collapsed. Bridget Ruggiano's arts class is beneath a rest room.

BRIDGET RUGGIANO: Whenever the boy's bathroom floods or leaks, I start to hear the pitter-patter, and I know to brace myself.

ALLEN: And there's the storage area.

RUGGIANO: I can smell the dead mice in the wall.

ALLEN: You can smell dead mice in the wall?

RUGGIANO: Yeah.

ALLEN: Recent health and safety citations obtained by NBC News charge serious repeat violations, leaks, falling plaster, exposed electrical outlets and fixtures. Over 100 violations in recent years, according to a court complaint. Repairs have been made, but teachers like Annie Coleman insist the mold problem in her classroom keeps coming back. She took these pictures in September.

ANNIE COLEMAN: It was really bad, caused me headaches. The kids in the classroom, they had headaches.

ALLEN: Trenton school officials have sued, claiming health and safety hazards threaten students and staff on a daily basis, and demand immediate repairs.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We stand before you begging for help.

ALLEN: The community accuses lawmakers at the capitol, less than two miles away, of turning a blind eye. They say Governor Christie has been publicly asked to visit. He has not.

HOPE GRANT, Trenton Central High School principal: I don't ever want students to get comfortable and think this is okay and think this is normal and think this is acceptable.

PRISCILLA SONPON, student: It is embarrassing to go into another school and it's like you guys have this, you have this, you have this?

ALLEN: Now, perhaps a breakthrough. Today as Christie spoke at another embattled school, confirmation he will support a plan to build a new high school in Trenton. Why the apparent change of heart? After our tour last week and the response to our inquiries, a top Christie aide recently appointed to head the agency responsible for the school said he had visited Trenton High the day after getting the job last month, and said there will be no more delays in getting the facility into the best possible condition. The state plans to present its proposal to the school community for approval on Monday. At Trenton high, they hope to see vast improvements soon. Ron Allen, NBC News, Trenton, New Jersey.

(End Video Clip)

— Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matt Hadro on Twitter.