Both "scandals" of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) carried much more weight Thursday than on Friday, but ABC's Good Morning America continued hitting Christie Friday for his use of a state helicopter to attend his son's baseball game. However, the network's morning show dropped the Twitter scandal of Rep. Anthony Weiner from its newscast.
Although Gov. Christie wrote a personal check to the state Treasury Thursday to cover the travel expenses, ABC's focus on the story was largely negative and still centered on the scandal itself. Anchor George Stephanopoulos admitted that "he's used the helicopter a lot less than his predecessors, but in these times you just can't get away with it."
[Click here for audio. Video below the break.]
Maybe so, but governors using state transportation at taxpayer expense is a bad idea at any time – so why are they hitting Christie so hard now? Could it be that he's a "rising star" in the Republican Party?
The show ran the headline "Rising Star Defends Chopper Ride" at the beginning of the segment. ABC News correspondent Dan Harris thought as much, as he summarized the story as "a rising Republican star dealing with a potentially serious controversy."
"But this story has put the governor in a tough spot," Harris added later. "He has aggressively argued for cutbacks and shared sacrifice. It has earned him a national profile with many Republicans begging him to run for president."
Harris also brought up Christie's past negative headlines, when he was criticized this past winter for remaining at Disney World with his family while New Jersey was hit hard with a blizzard. "His reaction to this controversy over the helicopter was much mellower than the way he handled the dust-up over his refusal to return from a family vacation at Disney World during a blizzard last winter," Harris commented.
However, he added that Christie was "still pretty testy" when he held a press conference yesterday afternoon to explain the situation. When Christie told the press that he understood "this is a really fun media story for all of you," Harris retorted Friday that Christie was "tweaking the journalists in his presence, as always."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 3 at 7:08 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now for what's turned out to be a pretty costly decision by New Jersey governor Chris Christie to chopper into his son's baseball this week on a state helicopter.
[HEADLINE: "Rising Star Defends Chopper Ride"]
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says he was trying to be a good dad, but he is paying for it now. Dan Harris is here, he's been looking into this.
DAN HARRIS, ABC News correspondent: George, good morning. You know, this really is a story not only about a rising Republican star dealing with a potentially serious controversy, but it's also about a parent dealing with a very common and very difficult balancing act.
HARRIS: Facing cries of hypocrisy, the hard-charging, budget-cutting chief executive of New Jersey had to cut a check of his own, reimbursing the state 2100 bucks for using a government helicopter for private purposes, including flying from his son's baseball game to a meeting with Republican Party big-wigs from Iowa who were trying to convince him to run for president.
New Jersey governor CHRIS CHRISTIE: The fact of the matter is that sometimes when you're governor, you do not control your schedule.
HARRIS: Christie said he puts his responsibilities as a father over his responsibilities as a governor.
CHRISTIE: He's going to leave for college in a little over a year, and then those things are going to be gone.
HARRIS: But this story has put the governor in a tough spot. He has aggressively argued for cutbacks and shared sacrifice. It has earned him a national profile with many Republicans begging him to run for president. He has consistently told everybody, including Diane Sawyer, he's not going to do it.
CHRISTIE: I'm not running for president.
DIANE SAWYER, anchor, ABC World News: Categorically not running.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, I mean, I don't know how else to put it, Diane.
HARRIS: His reaction to this controversy over the helicopter was much mellower than the way he handled the dust-up over his refusal to return from a family vacation at Disney World during a blizzard last winter.
CHRISTIE: This is just partisanship.
HARRIS: Christie was still pretty testy this time around, however, insisting he was only writing a check to make the media stop chattering so he could focus on fixing the state budget.
CHRISTIE: I also understand that this is a really fun media story for all of you.
(End Video Clip)
HARRIS: Tweaking the journalists in his presence, as always. Christie was also asked what his son had to say about all of this. According to the governor, his son came to him after the game and said Dad, thanks for coming. So George, this is a mixture of personal and political.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, and as you pointed out in the piece, and he has said many times, he's used the helicopter a lot less than his predecessors, but in these times you just can't get away with it.
HARRIS: Especially given his message of cost-cutting.