February 9th, 2014
11:25 AM ET
6 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. mcwreiole

    Who holds a gun to the head of the Star Ledger? They always have been and always will be the endorser of whichever the way the wind is blowing at the moment.

    February 9, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.

    February 9, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Rosslaw

    I made up my mind about Christie after the fourth or fifth videotape of him literally screaming into the faces of women in town hall audiences who had the nerve to ask Christie questions he didn't like. It's as though he liked to pull the wings off of birds-not directly related to politics but shows something about his character that should really make people afraid-very afraid- of Christie achieving national office.

    February 9, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Jason

    I think its stupid for the paper to feel pressured to endorse anyone... isn't journalism supposed to be objective? Ad far as the presidential bids- i think that its pretty pathetic that the GOP is much more worried about who will win in 2016, rather than who will be an effective leader

    February 9, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Tiger

    What about their support of Bush? Yeah, he did attack on NYC.. CIA confirms. See: CIA Asset Susan Lindauer pdx 911 Truth on youtube, or reports on veterans today site. All of Congress knows and sitl has done nothing.

    February 9, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Someone

    Or you could just not endorse anyone. I failed to see where there was a requirement you do so.

    When is someone not attending something bullying? Sounds like you all just need to grow up and act like adults, not like overly emotional high schoolers worried about if Christie comes to our party.

    February 9, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. leroy brown

    Lol, every post asks the same question, why endorse anyone? Well, Star-Ledger, why??

    February 9, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. kommy

    Tom Moran and the Star Ledger pretend that they have a say in their political choices.

    Looks like Koch brothers decided to dump Christie.

    February 9, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. db

    So sick of the media bias! if this was a democrate not big deal. Look at what the Democrats have gotten away with …and the press excuses it! I wouldn't vote for Christie either! another political puppet!!! It doesn't matter who runs if the media doesn't like your way of thinking your sunk and will destroy that person especially if they don't agree with the media's agenda!

    February 9, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. JMorcan

    The system is inherently corrupt. These people rise to the top because they need power over others. They're the worst of the worst.

    February 9, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Rachel

    Funny thing is we feel the same way about Obama too.

    February 9, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. don

    Hello President Clinton. What a joke that we know this early on that she will be president. The media shapes the elections for us, we have no say.

    February 9, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. flycatcher

    All politicians, regardless of party, are born in the same slime pool, most never even bother to bath while others scrub and scrub enough to fool the foolish. Eventually the slime pool reclaims them all.

    February 9, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. wendel

    no one forced them. maybe news papers should try being objective and not endorse anyone. we have enough outside groups as it is buying political offices. But Christy you didn't see this one coming after the way he treats people. ?

    February 9, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Rick M.

    Really? Did you blow it on Obama as well? Christie, who I do not like, has done nothing compared to Obama. Yet, Christie's denials are somehow superior to the POTUS? Come on! Why didn't you say he was a bully from the start? You "knew he was a bully" and you covered it up during the election? Really? But you didn't know he was crazy? Really? Who is the fool in this story? Christie or your incompetent news team?

    February 9, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Chuck

    Rather "Nixonesque" of him. I don't think we need someone like this in the white house.

    February 9, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Kinard

    Any person voting republican, blew it.

    February 9, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. LeeMT

    and we, the people, keep electing them. we are just as much to blame.

    February 9, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    Yet you think it is perfectly ok, for the President to bully half of America........now don't you?????

    GOP bad.......Dems who do the same, good????? What's wrong with this picture?

    February 9, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Alex

    Does anyone actually care which candidate a newspaper endorses? Newspaper...just report the news. Let US make up our own minds. Sadly most now think they are our overlords or something.

    February 9, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Chris

    Isn't it amazing how, without any proof he knew what was going on, the media is trouncing Christie? Why, I wonder? Since when did "innocent until PROVEN guilty" not become the standard by which we judge anymore? Oh wait a minute, I guess that only applies to Obama: Fast & Furious, IRS targeting scandal, Benghazi murders, Obamacare, etc., etc. The man who knows exactly what's going on all of a sudden doesn't know what's going on??? Well, be an actual journalist and examine both sides for a change lefties. Until you do that editorial board, you're just another example of unethical, biased journalism. But then again, you come from New Jersey.

    February 9, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. MEC

    Same thing happened in Texas when the Chronicle back-tracked its endorsement of Ted Cruz. Maybe these papers are finally starting to see the true colors of these Tea Party nut jobs.

    February 9, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Larry

    If it had been Obama, the press would have automatically assumed he had no knowledge of the event and then one of his staff would have fallen on their sword for him, and it would be swept under the rug.

    Like Benghazi. Or the IRS scandal. Or the intimidation of the Associated Press reporters. Or like Fast and Furious.

    But since he's a Republican, he's fair game. Just like when they were calling Sarah Palin a s!ut, even though she's been married to the same guy for decades, while holding up a grad student who "can't afford to pay for her birth control" as the epitome of female virtues.

    Double Standard.

    February 9, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. baldwin

    Obama gets a free pass on everything...why this story is getting any traction is a mystery to me....well maybe not.

    February 9, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. Philip Sites

    I agree with Jason, I always thought newspaper endorsements were highly unnecessary if we are striving for objectivity and fairness in journalism. If you really want to have an editorial, then have two people with differing opinions give it (without one being labeled just an op-ed). I always found it odd that editorials even exist in newspapers, considering not everyone who works for the newspaper supports the opinion of the editorial, but is yet associated with that editorial opinion.

    February 9, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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