Chris Christie’s whole political persona is as a straight-shooting tough guy who tells it like it is. Yet despite being pressed repeatedly by MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace on Tuesday, the former New Jersey governor declined to aim his fire at Fox News for peddling lies and conspiracy theories.
Christie, who is laying the groundwork for a 2024 Republican presidential run, has been a ubiquitous presence on the talk-show circuit in recent days. Promoting his new book, Republican Rescue: Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden, Christie has openly criticized ex-President Donald Trump while urging Republicans to let go of their false belief that President Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election.
But while he has blamed Trump’s rhetoric and embrace of election conspiracies for the violence of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Christie hasn’t ruled out voting for Trump if he’s the GOP nominee in 2024. That stance has prompted some to remind the ex-governor that he was the “first mainstream politician to glowingly endorse” Trump during the 2016 election and accuse him of trying to have it both ways.
With Christie’s political rehabilitation tour bringing him to MSNBC’s Deadline: White House on Tuesday, Wallace wondered aloud why the tough-talking ex-governor didn’t address Fox News’ inflammatory content in his latest book.
“The book is about conspiracies and lies, and yet you really don’t take on Fox News,” the former George W. Bush spokesperson said. “Why not? Have you seen the Tucker Carlson program?”
Christie claimed that he doesn’t watch Carlson’s show, adding that he’s “not really” aware of what the primetime Fox News star does or says on his show. Wallace noted that Republican Rescue is “a book with truth deniers, conspiracy theorists on the cover, and you attack CNN, The New York Times, and MSNBC,” yet steer clear of Fox.
The former governor insisted the section of his book about the media was mostly about bias, leading Wallace to fire back: “Is bias more dangerous to the country than conspiracy theorists?”
Christie, for his part, asserted that it was another section of his book that centers on conspiracy theories and truth denying, noting that it focused on QAnon, Pizzagate, and “the election situation.” He also groused that Wallace was “conflating them,” only for Wallace to keep the pressure on Christie.
“I don’t think it’s an intellectually honest case to make about conspiracy theories without taking on Fox News,” she said.
“Listen, you can write that in your book,” Christie snidely retorted.
“Well, I’m not trying to rescue the Republican Party,” the MSNBC host shot right back.
Wallace then asked Christie what his relationship with Fox News is going to be like if he’s president. After first claiming he hasn’t actually said he’s definitely running in 2024, Christie then deflected by saying he won’t make that decision for another year.
Furthermore, when pressed on whether he thinks “Fox News in primetime is good for the country or bad,” Christie demurred and merely said there are shows he likes and others he doesn’t like.
“Are you afraid to question the purveyors of conspiracy theories?” Wallace questioned the ex-governor.
While still claiming that he doesn’t watch Carlson’s show and is unaware of “what Tucker does from night to night,” Christie said he enjoys the programs of other Fox primetime hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham because they’re “not purveyors” of conspiracies.
“So you may or may not support Donald Trump in 2024. You may or may not run for president, and you wrote a book about liars and conspiracy theorists but don’t have anything to say about Fox News?” Wallace finally asked Christie, essentially summing up his current stance.
Hannity, who peddled the false Seth Rich story that resulted in a lawsuit settlement, devoted much of his airtime before Jan. 6 to pushing baseless election fraud claims. Ingraham, meanwhile, was one of the first major media figures to peddle the falsehood that antifa was responsible for the Capitol riot.
Carlson, of course, not only has repeatedly said the 2020 election was “rigged” but has advanced many baseless claims about the Capitol riot, including that it was orchestrated by the FBI. And Fox News and several of its stars have been hit with billion-dollar defamation lawsuits from voting software firms Dominion and Smartmatic for pushing false claims that the companies were involved in widespread election fraud. The network has filed motions to dismiss both suits, citing First Amendment protections.