February 9th, 2014
11:25 AM ET
5 months ago

Star-Ledger editor on Christie endorsement: ‘We blew it’

Updated 1:56 p.m. ET, 2/9/2014

(CNN) – The Newark-based Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, was already reluctant when it endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid. But now its editorial page editor is having a strong case of buyer’s remorse.

“We blew this one,” Tom Moran of the paper’s editorial board wrote in a column Sunday.

The column comes exactly one month after Christie denied in a nearly two-hour press conference that he had any involvement in or knowledge of an alleged plot to cause traffic problems in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

A state legislative committee and the Justice Department are investigating whether top Christie appointees orchestrated days of traffic gridlock around the George Washington Bridge last year to punish the city’s Democratic mayor for political reasons.

Christie fired two of the top aides accused of playing a role in the incident, while another one resigned before the scandal blew up in national headlines.

Report: Fort Lee mayor says Christie appointees may have courted him

In the editorial, Moran cited the tumultuous ride that Christie’s administration has taken in the past month.

“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,” he wrote. He also pointed to separate allegations that Christie’s administration used Superstorm Sandy funds to pressure a local mayor to back a private development deal.

Christie denies that as well.

In defense of the Star-Ledger, Moran wrote that the editorial board’s endorsement last fall was a choice between two flawed candidates - a view the paper acknowledged at the time of the nod.

“Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing,” Moran wrote.

NJ Star-Ledger endorses Christie with ‘deep reservations’

The paper backed him, however, because of his work to improve education programs, as well as pension and health reforms. On top of that, Christie’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, was “not up to the job of being governor,” Moran wrote.

Moran wrote Sunday that the editorial board didn’t consider Christie more likable than Buono, either.

“Christie has boycotted the editorial board for years, an attempt to bully us into more loving coverage. So we’ve had a front-row view of what a creep he can be,” he wrote. “Buono is the more likable person by far.”

But “we swallowed our hesitations and endorsed Christie, complete with our long list of deep reservations,” he wrote.

Christie's office declined a request for comment about the new column.

The controversy has tarnished Christie’s potential run as a potential front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

Even so, Moran argued, the other possible GOP front-runners are weaker, and he’d still back Christie.

“Now ask yourself this: If the Republican primary came to a choice between (Sen. Rand) Paul and Christie, which candidate would you endorse? At the risk of repeating a mistake, I’d pick Christie in that primary, even now. And if you think that makes some sense, then you understand how excruciating the endorsement process can be,” he wrote.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. 11thCavGuy

    Tom Moran and the Star Ledger are wrong again. They backed Corzine and McGreevy too. Did they apologize for backing those two losers too? I don't think so.

    February 9, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Don'tBuyThe BS

    ... so is there a law that says that they had to endorse someone, anyone???
    That is a lot of BS if you ask me. They could have been heroes instead of zeroes if that had taken a stand and just said that they would not endorse either candidate because of XZY...

    What a bunch of cowards!!!

    February 9, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. leroy brown

    Why did the paper HAVE to endorse ANYONE? if they felt that all the candidates were flawed, they should have simply stated this and endorsed NOBODY.

    February 9, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Gladdensnoot

    "... the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing,"

    That would be the guy in the White House.

    February 9, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. michael segal

    To be Captain Obvious, the choice between the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. My question is why did the Star-Ledger feel it necessary to endorse any candidate who they admittedly considered flawed? Why not just print an Op-Ed that argues neither candidate is worthy of their endorsement?

    February 9, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Dave

    Who really cares, story is getting old... Just a smear campaign going on because he is a high profile potential candidate for 2016 – Far worse going on out there from Obama and the democrates that are of real abuse but you don't hear about that do we....

    February 9, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Larry L

    The 2016 Republican Clown Car has two empty seats now! A couple of crazies can certainly squeeze in where Christie would have been sitting...

    February 9, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. TommyT

    Why endorse anybody?

    How about sticking to reporting the news, you know, as a NEWSpaper? Is that too radical of an idea?

    February 9, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Herbal Tea

    Spilled milk. Hind sight is always 20/20 but the Editorial Board has the perfect right NOT to endorse either candidate. At least they are owning up to a poor judgement.

    February 9, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. lgbarn

    The Republican Party is in deep trouble if they are forced to trot out Rand Paul vs Christie.

    February 9, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Have they ever thought about declining to endorse anyone?

    Or must they always "pick" who they want their readers to vote for? Are they getting a kickback from any candidates for their endorsement?

    All kinds of questions. Instead of picking the lesser of two evils, come right out and say loud and clear NO EVILS.

    February 9, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Christi was the ONLY hope of the GOP in 2016 ,only a slim hope because of their extreme views, NOW they have NO hope of ever being in the whitehouse THIS CENTURY!!!!!!

    February 9, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Susan

    Regardless of what Christie knew before, at the time, or after Sandy and 'The Bridge To Congested' this 'governor' didn't know what was going on. He has or had a great team of Republican underlings doing what was good for the Republican Party and of no concern to the people of New Jersey. Whether he knew or not NJ should remove him from office for his gross incompetence and pick a new governor who will work for NJ and not be just a political mouth piece for the Republican Party.

    February 9, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. todaypost

    the comment of "If the Republican primary came to a choice between (Sen. Rand) Paul and Christie,,,,,," looks like a backhanded compliment to Paul.

    February 9, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Mary Anne

    Why endorse a candidate at all if neither are the most qualified. I'd rather see the paper state why they can't endorse a candidate in a particular election and instead encourage voters to study each platform and make their own decision. Was the paper "bullied" into an endorsement.

    February 9, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Dave

    Failure is obam's communist administration ,who cares about traffic in NYC.

    February 9, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. rizzo

    Maybe someone else should be running that newspaper because it's been obvious for years that Christie is a dirty operator the same as any run of the mill NJ politician. A smart editor would be denouncing NJ and national politics in general at every possible opportunity, not making the problem worse by endorsing, well, anyone really.

    February 9, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Pete

    It was told on another news site that Jerseys largest paper had already pulled Christies endorsement and monies...Sorry Christie but the gig is up...Not only is this bridge lie coming out but the ad deal using states emergency funds came out too..What about your crooked collegues that you helped while being that states AG delaying some court dates for some and cancelling some all together remember Christie or should your child hood friends you fired remind you of it..

    February 9, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Jersey Joe

    Those – like me – that are subjected to the ramblings of this "newspaper" on a daily basis shouldn't be surprised by this. I wait with baited breath for them to retract their endorsement of President Obama and his White House, since they're about the biggest bullies DC has seen since the Nixon era. But guess what, the Ledger would never do that because President Obama is on their side of the line. Such transparent silliness.

    February 9, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Peter j. II

    Why is a newspaper endorsing a candidate? Shouldn't an organization that is supposed to present news be unbiased?

    February 9, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. I B Stumped

    Dear Star-Ledger:
    Yeah, you did blow it.
    You really should have looked into the Tollgate flap back in September. And you knew full well that Christie was wearing a costume in order to look more moderate and caring. Once a bull, always a bully.

    February 9, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. NewIdeas

    That's American politics today: If you're not sure, go with the more likeable candidate.

    Let's turn our government into a popularity contest.

    February 9, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. David G

    Here we are telling our children to stand up against "BULLING". I live in Calif and from all I have seen of CC, he is a BULLY. Tom Morgan you are as guilty as CC of being a BULLY. Maybe even a PIMP. Your acceptance of his BULLYING because he was the most qualified strikes a sour note. BULLYING does not make a candidate more qualified and you responsibility was to report the TRUTH. You failed the people of NJ and the message you sent is wrong by endorsing him.

    February 9, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Cindy

    Why endorse anyone if you do not believe in either candidate? That is very misleading and confusing to your readers. Why not just stick with reporting the facts about candidates and allow people to make their own decisions based on those facts.?

    As far as Christie goes, why not wait until the hearings and just remain quiet for now? As far as Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer goes, her story has more holes than Alpine Lace Swiss cheese already.

    February 9, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. alliluyeva

    So that's ONE paper that would withdraw their endorsement of Christie...How many HUNDREDS would withdraw their endorsement of OBAMA? Now THAT would be a more interesting news item...

    February 9, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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