During his snow-shortened inauguration on Tuesday, Christie did his best Barack Obama impersonation, urging politicians to compromise while calling on colleagues “to play outside the red and blue boxes the media and pundits put us in.”
Unfortunately, his lofty rhetoric doesn’t match the actions of his communications team, which have turned to the lazy narrative that every desperate Republican seems to lean on at some point in their political career: the “liberal” media is out to get them.
After MSNBC host (and fellow PoliticsNJ.com alumn) Steve Kornacki broke the news alleging Christie’s camp help Sandy relief money hostage over a development deal linked to Port Authority Chairman (and Christie appointee) David Samson, Christie spokesperson Colin Reed released a statement trashing MSNBC as a “partisan network” that is “gleeful in their efforts attacking [Christie].”
In the statement, Reed also noted that MSNBC has dedicated three times more coverage of the unfolding Christie scandal than Fox News. Is anyone surprised? After all, with Fox Chairman Roger Ailes being one of the largest “Christie 2016” cheerleaders, do you think they’d risk damaging they best chance they (sorry, I mean Republicans – I sometimes mix up the two) have at defeating Hillary “Benghazi” Clinton?
On January 18, the day Kornacki aired Zimmer’s allegations, Fox News all but buried any coverage of the bombshell, despite MSNBC, CNN and the nation’s top media outlets devoting significant time and space to the new revelations. According to Media Matters, Fox News only mentioned Christie a total of three times that day, and only one of those mentions briefly mentioned the allegations. Guess how many times they mentioned “Benghazi” in that same time period? 20.
So despite having a warm blanket like Fox News to wrap himself in, Team Christie still feels the need to attack the “liberal” media. Coming from Christie, these attacks come off as laughingly hollow. After all, it was the same “liberal” media that propped him up, that helped him build his brand as a straight-shooting post-partisan, willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, politics be damned!
Christie wouldn’t be the national brand he is without the “liberal” media. Instead of bashing them, he should be sending them bon-bons and thank you notes every single day he continues to have a political career. Because without them, he’s just another cut-rate New Jersey pol willing to cut deals and do what it takes to stay elected.
Compare the Christie we all know and love now to the aspiring politician he was in 1994. Back then, Christie was a 31-year-old unknown running for Morris County Freeholder. A 31-second commercial he made – claiming his opponents were being investigated by the Morris County Prosecutor’s office – ran more than 400 times on TV, and he ended up winning the race, the start of his 10+ year campaign against public corruption.
The problem is he was lying. As it turned out, his opponents weren’t being investigated, and sued Christie for defamation. Christie settled (he was “not at liberty to say” how much money he paid) and was forced to run an apology in local newspapers, where he admitted the statement wasn’t accurate, and continued, “I fully intend, in any future campaigns in which I am involved, to be much more sensitive to the impact of such tactics.” The following spring, without the benefit of the “liberal” media propping Christie up, he lost his re-election race, finishing dead last. He returned to his law firm, became a fundraiser for George W. Bush, and was eventually nominated to be New Jersey’s sole U.S. Attorney, where he was so loyal he survived the great U.S. attorney purge of 2006 (a bogus investigation into Sen. Robert Menendez 3 weeks before an election might have had something to do with his longevity). The rest is history.
The point to all this is it’s easy for politicians like Christie to bash the “liberal” media when they find themselves under the spotlight, but never forget if it wasn’t for that same media, Christie would probably still be in his law firm, looking out the window, wondering when he might have a shot at being powerful enough to bully his peers with acts of political payback.
Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe.