Dear Chris Christie: Sorry We Did Our Jobs
On CNBC Thursday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a simple request: that the media apologize for its unjust treatment of him during Bridgegate.
“I do believe there’s an absolute bias and rush to judgement,” he said. “You all know this. You saw the coverage of me 15 months ago. I was guilty, I had done it. Now we’re 15 months later. Where are the apologies pouring in? Not one thing I said the day after the bridge situation has been proven wrong. Fifteen months later everything that I said the day after that story broke—everything I said—has proven out to be true after three different investigations.”
Further, Christie added, Bridgegate received more scrutiny than more important scandals that had nothing to do with him.
“I think if you objectively looked at it you would say it was [overblown],” he said. “Has there been coverage of the email situation with [Hillary Clinton]? Absolutely. But the intensity of the coverage—and the relentlessness of the coverage—is different. And that’s where the bias is revealed.”
Christie has, as is his nature, graciously handed all of us an opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it.
I would like to apologize.
I would like to apologize to Christie, first, on behalf of everyone who noticed that access lanes to the George Washington Bridge had been inexplicably shut down and wondered why it happened, and how it could have happened without the state’s top lawmaker being—at the very least—aware of it.
And I would like to apologize to Christie on behalf of the children who were late to their first day of school because of the profound traffic jams those lane closures caused, and on behalf of the emergency workers who—instead of sitting in the traffic—were forced to respond to calls on foot.
I’m sorry that Christie’s initial response to this bizarre occurrence in the northern part of his state was indifference, and his response to reporters asking questions total contempt.
I’m sorry that in December 2013, two months after the lane closures, Christie told the press, “I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s not that big of a deal.” I’m sorry that Christie mocked WNYC reporter Matt Katz for asking if the lane closures were an act of political retribution by saying, “I worked the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody I was actually the guy out there, in overalls and a hat. You cannot be serious with that question, Matt!”
I’m sorry the theory that the lane closures were orchestrated to exact revenge turned out to be true.
I’m sorry to Christie for the inconvenience his total lack of hiring judgment has caused him. I’m sorry in particular that he hired as his deputy chief of staff Bridget Ann Kelly and as his top executive at the Port Authority, which controls the George Washington Bridge, Bill Baroni. And I’m sorry that Christie allowed Baroni to hire David Wildstein as his second-in-command. I’m sorry that all three of these people—if you are to believe the two indictments and one guilty plea—conspired to shut down the lanes in order to get back at a Democratic mayor who made the error of not endorsing Christie’s bid for reelection.
I’m regret that, in December 2013, Christie told reporters at a press conference that The Wall Street Journal will “owe an apology to Sen. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein,” for reporting on their involvement in the lane closures.
I’m sorry that Christie didn’t show any indication that he wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened until documents were subpoenaed—as a result of the journalism of publications like The Record and The Wall Street Journal—that suggested Kelly, Baroni, and Wildstein were behind the whole mess.
I apologize on behalf of whatever divine force that pressed Christie to hire an ostentatious attorney, Randy Mastro, to conduct an internal review of his office—which cleared Christie of any wrongdoing.
I’m sorry the report assassinated the character of Kelly by inexplicably disclosing her affair with Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien. (It also worked in the detail that it was Stepien’s decision to end the affair, not hers.)
I’m sorry that Christie’s attorney billed him $6.25 million—and I’m sorry that Christie forced New Jersey taxpayers, already burdened by the state’s crumbling economy that he oversees, to pay every cent.
I’m sorry that today, during Christie's CNBC interview, he mocked Hillary Clinton for deleting her emails apparently without sensing the irony of doing so, considering Christie himself may have deleted text messages relating to a Bridgegate investigation.
I apologize that as Christie attempted to go about the business of running for president while largely neglecting the state of which he is ostensibly in charge, I and many other reporters found it necessary to note that he remained—for 15 months beginning in January 2014—under federal investigation by the United States Attorney, Paul Fishman.
I’m sorry that the press has been so mean to Christie that in November 2014, while he was still under investigation by various entities, he was subjected to a cover story by Mark Leibovich in The New York Times Magazine—a publication he understandably hates—viciously titled “Chris Christie Is Back.”
I apologize on behalf of everyone in the media who did their job, despite Christie’s belittling, bullying tactics. That was wrong, and we all should have been covering the Clinton email story, instead—the one that wouldn’t break for another year and a half.