Zuckerman Defends Christie, while His Tabloid Rips Him Apart

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 10:31 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has an unlikely advocate in Mort Zuckerman, the billionaire publisher whose tabloid newspaper has taken the governor apart on a daily basis since the so-called bridge-gate scandal broke.

While the New York Daily News splashes the popular Republican governor on its covers with giant headlines like "Pathetic" and "Fat Chance Now, Chris," the paper’s top boss has taken to political talk shows in defense of Christie.

In the past, Zuckerman has observed that the governor has "no bulls**t about him,” and over the weekend on the McLaughlin Group, where he appears regularly, the publisher argued that "it’s entirely possible" Christie didn’t have any idea his top aides colluded with Port Authority officials to close the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution.

“There are many things in government that happen in any kind of state government that simply do not come across the desk of a governor,” Zuckerman said.

“This is not the end of Gov. Christie because he’s a man of enormous talent . . . and very direct and very open,” Zuckerman added.

His Daily News editorial board, however, has taken a quite different posture, writing that “in the best possible light . . . Christie built a top staff of lying thugs who threatened lives and safety to serve political ends. If not, Christie is a lying thug himself.”

Unlike their boss, the editors offered no benefit of the doubt, saying the scandal has exposed the governor with presidential ambitions as “a fool, a knave, or both,” who at best may argue plausible deniability and at worst was complicit in the plan to shut down lanes of the bridge because Fort Lee, New Jersey’s mayor refused to endorse Christie's re-election last fall.

Christie held a two-hour news conference last week to defend himself and also fired two chief aides whose emails strongly suggest that they ordered the lane closures at Fort Lee, N.J. that snarled traffic for hours on the bridge.

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