Time Editors: 'Elephant' Cover Not a Shot at Christie

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 09:55 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Two of Time magazine's top editors Thursday defended the publication's "Elephant in the Room" cover story about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, insisting that the headline was more than a fat-shaming pun about the popular Republican leader's size.

"Well, he's obviously a big guy," Executive Editor Michael Duffy told MSNBC's Chris Matthews. But, Duffy said, the cover isn't poking fun at the man he also calls "obviously a big Republican, but instead is really descriptive of the 'huge thing' Christie did Tuesday in winning re-election in a landslide.

"He stood astride the Republican Party and said, 'Stop. We don't have to make our whole appeal about narrow base issues.'"

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Duffy said Christie's victory is another "big" thing about the governor.

"There's another thing that’s really big about what Christie achieved in the state that hasn’t voted for a Republican two times in a row since 1985," said Duffy. "He’s made his campaign not really about issues but about sort of the cult of personality."

Further, Duffy said, Christie has "lifted himself beyond politics," and is becoming "something of a kind of cultural figure here, the way Palin did, the way Clinton did, the way Bush even did at the start."

Duffy also described Christie as "brash, bold, bare-knuckled — a different politician than we’ve seen from Republicans in awhile."

Meanwhile, Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs also defended the treatment of Christie on the cover, telling the New York Post that the magazine "never set out to be mean or offend anyone."

She pointed out that Christie "doesn’t seem to take his appearance too seriously."

"He can poke fun at himself. Remember when he went on David Letterman last year with the donut?”

This isn't Time's first controversial cover about Christie. In January, Gibbs' predecessor, Rick Stengel, ran a cover with Christie and the words "The Boss."

While some called it a tribute to Christie's idol, Bruce Springsteen, other critics complained the cover was a link to people like HBO's fictional New Jersey character Tony Soprano and Italian-American stereotypes about the mafia.

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