For better or worse, the old Chris Christie is back.
That would be the one who takes no guff from anybody, especially those weasels in the media.
Today Christie held another of his marathon news conferences to answer questions about the report prepared by a phalanx of former government prosecutors working at or through a big (really big) New York City law firm. The report concluded that Christie did not have prior knowledge of nor did he order the George Washington Bridge closures that horribly inconvenienced thousands up thousands of commuters, and seemed to have derailed or obstructed Christie’s presidential ambitions.
After the news broke that the four day traffic jam was payback to the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who committed the offense of not supporting Christie’s re election effort, the Governor was subdued, contrite, quiet, at least for a period of months.
Today all that was gone. The old Chris Christie was back in form. He chastised reporters, interrupted them in mid-question (“Stop!”) and gave one reporter a dressing down for either not listening, or not taking notes, or framing a question in a manner below the intelligence level required for the reporting profession.
Like him or hate him, it was quite a show.
On at least one point, he seemed to have a very good point.
More than one reporter wanted to make an issue of his firing assistant Bridget Ann Kelly, whose emails indicated she was in on the plot to create the bridge jam, without having spoken to her, without asking her side of the story, without having a face to face meeting. The reporters’ pointed question was, didn’t this indicate that he was either unfair to her by not letting her defend herself before firing her, or didn’t this indicate that he was in on the plan to disrupt traffic for petty political reasons and he did not want to have to face his designated fall guy.
Reporters do have a sense of a weak spot in the story, and this certainly could have been one.
But his explanation was good. His experience as a prosecutor told him that a private, no-witness meeting with the person he was going to fire would later look like he was getting together with his fall guy, getting their stories straight, and perhaps would even appear as though he were making promises, doing some quid pro quo so that she would stick with a story in which she accepted blame and cleared him.
Over and over he said, I know how you guys would think that meeting would look. He said, essentially, I know you guys (reporters) would have never believed such a meeting was not skullduggery.
So he didn’t have the meeting, but simply fired her.
He’s right on that point. That meeting would have been very hard to explain, and as tough as reporters were being today, they would have been much tougher and much more suspicious had such a meeting taken place.
Some commentators have observed that perhaps Christie didn’t do himself any favors throwing the punches he threw today. Perhaps the world of real people watching on television won’t like the old Christie making a reappearance. Perhaps.
But he showed today that he is in command of the facts, he is anxious to put an exclamation point on the report that cleared him, and he is not going to take any crap from reporters.
Plus he lost some weight.