News & Politics

Christie Friend Joe Scarborough Sours on the New Jersey Governor

The MSNBC host, who initially mocked the Bridgegate Scandal, says his friend has become a distraction for GOP governors.

Photo Credit: AFP

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is known for being close friends with Chris Christie.  Asked about the New Jersey governor’s attacks on MSNBC over its coverage of the Christie bridge scandal, Scarborough told the Today Show: “They're obviously not talking about 'Morning Joe. [Journalist] John Heilemann calls our show 'Good Morning Trenton' because we love Chris Christie so much around here."

But now, as scandal continues to bear down on the Christie administration, Scarborough is changing his tune.  The MSNBC host said that Christie was becoming a distraction at the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which he is the head of.  

“The fact is right now, he’s a distraction to the RGA,” the host said on his show, “Morning Joe.” "If Republicans’ job is electing governors and you got a guy running the RGA that has Republican candidates running away from him, that’s a serious problem.”

The namesake of the Morning Joe team had come under criticism for his defense of Christie during the first month of the scandal.  Scarborough frequently compared the inquiries into the scandal to the fruitless Repubican criticism of the Obama Administration over Benghazi. Scarborough also called Hokoben Mayor Dawn Zimmer a liarfor allegations that the governor's office threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid from her city in retribution for her refusal to back a real-estate project connected to the law firm of Port Authority Chairman David Samson, a Christie appointee.

Scarborough’s souring on Christie comes as the scandal over Christie’s conduct over a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge and Hurricane Sandy funds deepens. The New Jersey committee investigating the scandal—which started with revelations that Christie allies closed traffic lanes to punish a mayor who hadn’t endorsed the governor’s reelection—has issued subpoenas for Christie’s flight records.  The committee is trying to see if Christie flew over Fort Lee, New Jersey as the traffic mess was ongoing.

It’s possible he did.  Christie took traveled by helicopter every day the traffic jam was ongoing, including once in the vicinity of Fort Lee.

Other subpoenas have also gone out to Christie officials.  Meanwhile, donors to the GOP are voicing worry about Christie’s potential presidential campaign.  “There are influential donors who are giving him a second and third look,” Anne Herberger, a GOP fundraiser, told the Associated Press.  “Where they would have been 'this is the guy' two months ago, I think a lot of people are giving him a second look and keeping their powder dry." Still, other donors said Christie’s future is still intact, as long as no evidence emerges to directly contradict the governor’s claims he had no knowledge of the bridge lane closures.

And an editorial board member of New Jersey’s largest paper slammed Christie in a column reflecting on their endorsement of Christie. 

“We blew this one,” wrote Tom Moran in a piece for the New Jersey Star-Ledger.  “Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor.”

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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