ABC's Jake Tapper is promoting his Nightline interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tonight by noting he expressed no regret for calling a local reporter he was "stupid" and apologized for the reporter being an "idiot."
Tapper insisted Christie addressed a special session of the legislature Monday, but he made national headlines not for the speech, but for the “idiot” talk over the weekend. Asked if he’s ever “concerned” that some of his “rhetoric is too much,” he answered plainly: “No.”
“I don’t worry about that,” Christie said. “I’m not monochromatic. You know, I can walk and chew gum at the same time. And the fact of the matter is sometimes to get people to the table, you have to be blunt and assertive, or else they’d all come to the table with the right kind of attitude. You know, you have to read the situation and, and that’s part of what leadership is all about. Sometimes people need a pat on the back and an arm around them. Sometimes they need a kick in the rear end. You have to be able to read that; experienced leaders can do that. And I think I have the ability to do that.”
He said he doesn’t regret calling the reporter stupid because “when someone acts stupid, I’m going to call them stupid.”
Chris Harris from the Bergen County Record asked Christie about state business: whether he was planning on addressing the legislature Monday. Christie said reporters were told to stick to the topic at hand, an emergency at a water treatment plant, and “if you don’t have a hearing problem, you should be able to follow the rules. Those are the rules.”
“If you don’t want to follow the rules, leave the press conference,” Christie said. “I mean, I’m not going to put up with stuff where I’m dealing with a serious situation, where people are having a crisis in Monmouth County regarding a lack of water. I’m down there to talk about that. I’m not going to talk about other stuff.”
Harris tweeted that his "feelings were not hurt" by the governor's retorts. While local reporters were unfazed by the business-as-usual bluntness, CNN's Ashleigh Banfield was snooty about the exchange.
GOP consultant Cheri Jacobus compared this to Neil Munro's much-scorned yammering at President Obama in the Rose Garden. Clearly, when a New Jersey reporter goes off the governor's ground rules, he should not be surprised with the insults. Harris must have wanted to draw Christie's ire to see how extreme it would be. Media consumers should suspect Harris wanted attention for himself and perhaps some bad press for Christie, and not so much an answer to his question.