February 9th, 2014
11:25 AM ET
6 years 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. Oladapo Odumosu

    The newspaper is even telling us that they would endorse Christie in the presidential election! Then why are they regreting their endorsement of him as a governor? If he can bully the state of NJ, he can as well go on to bully the nation called the USA!!!

    February 9, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. bud fischer

    The fact that the Star Ledger is mentioned as New Jersey's premier newspaper is a strike against the state.
    This paper is and always been a rag – intended largely for illiterate people. When I lived there, I never read it.

    February 9, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Norm

    So sick of newspapers and the self appointed "king maker" status. Who cares who you endorse? If nothing else, by endorsing anyone you show to the world your the exact same biased cronies you claim you're not.

    February 9, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. Hillary

    Not up to the job of being NJ's governor? Like the qualifications could be more demanding than 'Can you spell doughnut?'

    February 9, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. GiveMeABreak

    I can hear Jon Stewart now making fun of the Conservatives for making such a big deal about lane closures. But now that it is a Republican, this is HORRIBLE!!!!
    This is what happens when you have half the US getting their political information from Comedy Central.

    February 9, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Red Ormiston

    LOL. He was proud of being a bully until they accuse him of being a bully... LOL.

    February 9, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Quixote

    Yep. So did the voters of NJ. Taken in by a slick talking bully. Oh well, he will stop damaging the state when the indictments come around.

    February 9, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Name usaf

    I guess they plan to wait for a cadidate like Hillary be for some reason the press just can't seem to find a scandal associated with her. Move along, nothing to see there!

    February 9, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Gary

    The telling quote in this story is this: "Moran wrote that the editorial board’s endorsement last fall was a choice between two flawed candidates.." And this friends is the problem with politics in this country today, at the national, state, and local levels. The candidates (e.g. those who can afford to run for political offices) are indeed flawed. Until we can get back to "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" rather than government of, by, and for those in the upper-income brackets, this is what we are going to have to put up with. However, I do not see that happening.

    February 9, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. Truth

    They "blew it" on their endorsement of Obama. "If you want to keep your plan..."

    February 9, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. penguin

    Christie is a bully and vindictive. There's a high probabilty that he is a liar as well (the proof on that score isn't in yet). But he is a much better choice than Rand Paul or any other Republican bafoon considered a Presidential prospect

    February 9, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Mark

    Its New Jersey. Why do we really care? Whats next – an article that people think Illinois politics are corrupt?

    February 9, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Q

    Politic at it's worst! Shows how you can't trust media....

    February 9, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. rh

    Tom Moran is a db. Read some of his other editorials (with my comments in parentheses):
    – Boston Marathon bomber and the ugliness of the death penalty (really? getting killed as a young child or your leg blown off is pretty horrible)
    – If Hoboken mayor is telling the truth, Christie's 2016 hopes are dashed (that was Jan. 19 – now less than a month later, he still would say he is the best Republican candidate for 2016?)
    – Chris Christie, America's most overrated governor (before Bridgegate, offended enough people that he had to have a live chat with readers about it)

    The Star-Ledger is not represented by his views, and the residences of the state of New Jersey are not represented by his views. He's part of the "guilty until proven innocent" brigade.

    If Christie is a bully, that's one thing. It gets the job done, especially against bullies such as the NJEA. If he is guilty of breaking the law and using his position illegally to put pressure on or punish others, that is a completely different story. The latter has NOT been proven, and he is being made out to be somewhere between Jerry Sandusky and Satan in terms of his innocence.

    Leave Christie alone, let justice take its course. Moran, you really should consider another line of work.

    February 9, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Q

    Media pics you up and then waits to put you down.... Lovely....

    February 9, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. charley

    I think the table is clearly set for another Romney run. He has to be considering it. The GOP field is very weak, and i just do not see the country putting another bush in the White house, especially one from Florida. I think Romney will wait till after the mid terms, maybe till the end of 2017 to announce, but i think he is going to be the nominee.

    February 9, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. LinebackerDad

    After last year's re-election and before 2014, Christie was being widely thought of as the one Republican who could beat Hillary. That idea came from his ability in NJ to bring Democrats into his fold. He could bridge the aisle.

    That notion has now been destroyed. Maybe Christie didn't have first-hand knowledge. But, he has proven himself to be an inattentive leader. Even if he was clueless, he chose the folks who did the deed. They were his henchmen. At this point, Chris Christie couldn't beat Joe Biden. But he probably would do far better than Rand Paul in a national election. At present, the Republicans are toast in 2016. They have no viable candidate.

    February 9, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. bo

    A McKinsey and Co. survey cited by the Journal found that just 11 percent of private insurance signups were people who previously had no coverage. Other surveys found that about one-quarter of new sign-ups were previously uninsured.

    Whatever the precise number, it appears that a large majority of the activity in Obamacare private coverage sign-ups is essentially a churn operation: The system throws people out of their coverage, and then those people come to the system to sign up for new coverage, and that is reported as a gain for Obamacare.

    February 9, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. RickV

    After your unvetted endorsement of Barack Obama you needn't bother endorsing anyone else, you are not qualified.

    February 9, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. gstlab3

    The whole thing sounds rotten to me.,from the news papers and television with lame 24/7 breaking news., It is total BS we get from both sides and the other BS we get in spades from Washington D.C.

    February 9, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. Willa45

    Traditionally, journalists are supposed to report the facts and only the facts without allowing their personal biases to 'color' their writing. They are duty bound to be completely objective and unbiased in their reporting and the lines between what is the truth and what is an opinion, cannot be crossed or even blurred. Endorsing political persuasions or a particular political candidate should be a resounding "no no"! It is unfortunate that over the years, that kind of journalistic integrity has gone by the wayside.

    February 9, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. T. Holt

    Another example of why it's bad business for newspapers, who are supposed to be objective, to endorse political candidates. They didn't blow it endorsing Christie, they blew it getting into the endorsement business. I don't think the American public needs journalists to help us figure out who to vote for, although it would have been humorous to be a fly on the wall during your intense deliberations that led to your split vote. Had your investigative journalists spent more time investigating instead of voting on silly endorsements like this, we all would have been better off. How about making everyone a winner here and declaring that as a result of your poor decision you're going to stop endorsing candidates and get back to your day job.

    February 9, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. John

    I fail to see how this story is newsworthy unless it's a very slow news day or someone wants to pound home a message about Christie. Just thinking if I have ever seen a similar story about an editor or board reconsidering their endorsement of Obama after the ACA rollout disaster or the IRS controversy.

    February 9, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. j007bond

    db is absolutely correct.

    February 9, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. tonyl

    Why should any newspaper have to endorse any candidate? No reason or no need.

    February 9, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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