Morning Joe Piles On Christie: This Could ‘Kill’ Him Being GOP Nominee
By Jeffrey Meyer | January 9, 2014
The liberal media seem to be having a field day with revelations that aides to Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge as payback for a Democratic mayor refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection bid for governor in 2013.
Following ABC, CBS and NBC’s lead, Morning Joe followed suit and hammered the popular Republican governor where host Joe Scarborough said that “knowing is absolutely devastating” and it "certainly ends a future on the national stage if he knew” of his aides’ actions.
The segment began when NBC’s Chuck Todd asked, “Is there actually a criminal -- a crime that potentially was committed here… Is there something beyond a political crime that was met?”
The network's political director then doubled down on his attack saying that Christie was:
Undermining his own brand in so many ways but even in how he has handled it…He implied in that press release yesterday that he only knew of -- only found about all of this yesterday, which that in itself seems hard to believe why wouldn't he have wanted to get all of the facts when this first percolated up over the last few weeks ago?
Todd continued his attack on the Garden State governor, insisting, “it doesn't add up. Are we really -- would Chris Christie -- would he believe somebody else who said that they just found out yesterday?”
Did Todd, a veteran White House correspondent, express the same skepticism of President Obama when he claimed he was unaware of the problems plaguing the ObamaCare website until after the site went live?
Scarborough, himself a moderate Christie-style Republican, piled on:
Chuck, explain about the culture. It always starts at the top. That's why it's so hard to believe that Chris Christie was shocked, shocked that there was gambling going on yesterday.
Finally, Todd had to bring up the impact that this scandal might have on Christie’s potential presidential campaign, going so far as to call the New Jersey Governor a “bully”:
And the worse so-called scandals that impact a presidential candidate in national politics we know are the ones that reinforce a negative stereotype and that's another problem here for Chris. There's so many but that is another problem here for Christie, right? Which is the negative part of him is what? He a little bit of a bully, he’s a little bit mean. This is the ultimate bullying tactic, right?
The Morning Joe hyperbole continued on during the next hour when MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann said that “Bridgegate” could spell doom for Christie’s electoral future:
There's a chance that it's enough to kill any reasonable chance for him becoming the Republican nominee.
Gov. Christie was MSNBC's favorite governor in 2012 and 2013, but his usefulness is now outlived. Given that Chris Christie is a potential frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2016, the liberal media has predictably turned on the governor, attacking and smearing him at every turn.
See relevant transcript below.
January 9, 2014
7:10 a.m. Eastern
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Alright, joining us now from the White House we have NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director and host of the "The Daily Rundown," Chuck Todd. Chuck, chime in.
CHUCK TODD: The question I have here, and I would go to my friend here at the "The Wall Street Journal" is there actually a criminal -- a crime that potentially was committed here because -- and is it more so because it's an interstate bridge or anything like that? Is there something beyond a political crime that was met?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And Ted, have you heard that? Because that is when all of this obviously gets amped up very quickly when suddenly subpoenas start flying around.
TED MANN: These right now are to be clear investigative subpoenas. In the original e-mail sent by Patrick Floyd, the New York official when he discovered this was going on, which as a clearly very angry message. He made reference to the possibility that state and federal laws had been broken. We have talked to sources since then who think that it's unlikely that there is a major criminal charge there. It doesn't rule out the fact there could be some misconduct or misuse of office if they can actually show this was a politically motivated. But right now, I think it's a political scandal, not a criminal one.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. I think we do need to stop right here just for people that don't live in New York, don't come to New York and explain, Mike Barnicle because, you know, you shut a bridge down and a lot of cities you can figure something out. We have got 17, 18 million people around this area and there are only a couple of ways to get in and out of the city.
JOHN HEILEMANN: It's the most heavily traveled bridge in America.
SCARBOROUGH: In America, I mean you've got—
MANN: The Port Authority says the world. The busiest bridge in the world.
SCARBOROUGH: The busiest bridge in the world. So, when you shut down three lanes, you don't just affect Ft. Lee. You affect people that need to get to hospitals or need to get to work or get to school. Not only in New York, but in New Jersey. I can tell you I have friends who commute to Connecticut and, Mika, you know, other people that go north for days. It was traffic like you haven't seen. And there's no doubt like this is majorly affects people's lives.
MIKE BARNICLE: And in addition to that, Joe, and Ted you can probably bear me out here. Is that in any other city, every other city, when you shut down a major tributary like that there are weeks and months of notice from the authorities involved, from the Port Authority from city involved, from the state involved, so travelers, commuters know what is going to happen when it's going to happen. Not overnight.
MANN: The Port Authority does that on this very bridge any time they close a lane for any reason. So this just a complete anomaly in the way they behaved. I mean they didn't tell the chief of police in the town they were about to do this in.
MANN: When does that happen?
BRZEZINSKI: Question for Joe—
TODD: Hey Joe—
BRZEZINSKI: Go ahead, Chuck.
TODD: Hey Joe, what is worse for Christie? Not knowing that this was taking place in his office or knowing?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, knowing is absolutely devastating. And I do think that ends a future on the national stage if he knew. If he didn't know, though, it certainly suggests that he's not as strong a leader as we have all believed him to be. I think it's bad either way. But I think—
BRZEZINSKI: One might besurvival.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, the second one is survival. Chuck, you're NBC News’s political guy. Talk about how discordant yesterday was with the Chris Christie we have seen for over the past five years that immediately comes out and is the most transparent guy, you know, in press conferences, talk about just, what, a discordant chord that struck yesterday.
TODD: I think he is undermining his own brand in so many ways but even in how he has handled it. Look, let's forget that, obviously, that there was some political retribution that looks like it's been completely proven here by these e-mails. Now, the question of course is did Christie know about it? At what point did he know? He implied in that press release yesterday that he only knew of -- only found about all of this yesterday, which that in itself seems hard to believe why wouldn't he have wanted to get all of the facts when this first percolated up over the last few weeks ago? That is another part of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Chuck, that is—by the way Chuck that is-- so much of this just doesn't make sense.
TODD: Doesn't add up.
SCARBOROUGH: It doesn't add up, does it?
TODD: No, it doesn't add up. Are we really -- would Chris Christie -- would he believe somebody else who said that they just found out yesterday?
TODD: I mean, he wouldn't.
BRZEZINSKI: Ted, you brought up that he asked his staff about this.
MANN: In one of the press conferences after there had been two resignations from the Port Authority he was asked did your campaign manager know?
BRZEZINSKI: So those are the two questions right there. First of all, why did those people resign, how would he not know why they resigned?
MANN: He knew why they resigned but he then said I've asked the rest of my staff, my campaign manager, my official staff and they have all assured me they had nothing to do with this.
BRZEZINSKI: So let me go to Joe with that. You have a staff working for you in Congress. You're a politician. You ask your staff, come on guys, what is going on here?
SCARBOROUGH: You burn—
BRZEZINSKI: Well let me ask you something, do they actually not tell you at this point?
SCARBOROUGH: I can tell you --
BRZEZINSKI: Come on, right? I don't know. I don't. I want to hear from him so badly.
SCARBOROUGH: I just got to say it is so beyond me that this could go on in somebody's office. I can only talk about what happened in my office over, you know, the better part of four terms and my staff just wouldn't have done this. Unless -- here is the deal. There are so many members of Congress and the second you walk into that office.
SCARBOROUGH: And we have all seen this. You see an office that reflects the person that runs that office. It is one of the most remarkable studies. You can walk into one congressional office after another after another. You're in for five minutes. And there is a culture to that office and that culture always reflects the person at the top. I find it hard – and Chuck you've seen this too. I love John McCain. I walked into John McCain’s Senate office for the first time it was extraordinarily disorganized. You just sort of sit here and sit there. You know books stacked all over the place. And I sat there looking around thinking, okay he is going to run a presidential campaign, I wonder how this is going to work out. I love him, I love the guy. But Chuck, explain about the culture. It always starts at the top. That's why it's so hard to believe that Chris Christie was shocked, shocked that there was gambling going on yesterday.
TODD: That's right. And the worse so-called scandals that impact a presidential candidate in national politics we know are the ones that reinforce a negative stereotype and that's another problem here for Chris. There's so many but that is another problem here for Christie, right? Which is the negative part of him is what? He a little bit of a bully, he’s a little bit mean. This is the ultimate bullying tactic, right? This is the ultimate. So you do have to ask yourself was this the culture of his office? Maybe he didn't, you know, again take him at his word they he didn't know, but the culture, as you just pointed out, that's being represented of the tone that he set potentially and that is something else he has got to answer.
SCARBOROUGH: And here is the key too to leadership. You put people around you that tell you no. I had two chief of staffs. The second one especially was maddening. David Stafford. And one day I jumped up and screamed at him and said why are you always saying no? It's always, no this, no that. And you know what? In about three months later, something blew up and I was like, thank god he said no. I pat him on the back and said, keep it up, keep it up. But you want people around you that say no and that you respect.
BRZEZINSKI: Is there a scenario, Joe and John Heilemann, where Governor Chris Christie surges to great power and great fame and is a potential presidential frontrunner and he is really sort of come up fast and quick and is seen as the best hope for the Republican Party, and people in the office got too big for their britches kind of throwing around their power?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it happens.
BRZEZINSKI: That’s where I think when the benefit of the doubt may exist here? No?
SCARBOROUGH: It may, and that happens all the time.
BRZEZINSKI: That happens all the time.
SCARBOROUGH: That said, these people, And I believe Chris but these people are awfully close to Chris Christie.
HEILEMANN: He is now, after his re-election, he's playing on a different field than he has played on before. He is now getting a kind of national scrutiny that he has never had before. And their handling of this crisis throughout, from start to finish, has been abysmal so far. The fact that they seem totally blindsided yesterday by these revelations. The fact that Christie went into hiding, the fact that he cancelled a public event. The fact that he didn't do the thing that everybody expected him to do that was in line with his brand which is to step up and take these things on really suggests that at this moment they are somewhat out of their depth. I want to ask chuck one last thing. Chuck, do you know right now as a matter of media and political anthropology just to this question of him stepping up at the national stage and what he now faces. Do you know, you talk to a lot of reporters, a lot of politicians? Do you know anybody who thinks Christie is telling the truth about this now? How many reporters or politicians do you know that think that Christie is in fact knew much more about this than he is saying publicly right now?
TODD: Well, if history is any guide you sit there and you -- we would be accused of being naive if we sit here and now you take somebody at their word when what he said three weeks ago or about a month ago when he sort of mocked the questions and was sort of almost saying I can't believe you would think that this would come all the way into his office. Look. Everything, by the way, it does sound like this morning there's a lot of speculation that he is going to hold a press conference at some point this morning. That he is going to start firing some staff. I think he's going to have to start somewhere, get in front of a camera and be more Christie like in this. Hold somebody accountable like he said in that statement and he has to do it in a hurry. Because the longer he doesn't, then John I think more of those questions -- because then the other questions are going to be, geez, what did the mayors who did endorse Chris Christie get? Did they get something? If they are punishing people who didn't endorse them, then what happened to the mayors that did?
SCARBOROUGH: And a lot of people are asking –
TODD: This is what -- do you know what I mean? This is just going to unravel.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, a lot of people are asking, Chuck, today, Alex just said in my ear, you know, if we are now going to follow the Sandy money and see who got rewarded in New Jersey and who didn't. So, we will see. A lot of questions.
HEILEMANN:There is a chance that this will be the end of Chris Christie's national political career. There's a chance. I'm not saying it's for sure. I'm not predicting that. But that's the gravity of this. The severity of this is very, very high. And there is a chance that if they don't handle this well, and so far they've handled it horribly, if they don't handle it well going forward there's a chance that this will -- it will be with him forever if he runs for president. And there's a chance that it's enough to kill any reasonable chance for him becoming the republican nominee.