MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski Call for Equal, ‘24-hour’ Media Coverage If Christie is Officially Cleared

On Friday morning, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski joined the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein in calling for equal news coverage if Christie is officially exonerated in numerous investigations into his involvement of the scandal known as Bridgegate to the non-stop coverage when it broke in January.

During a discussion with their panel on Friday’s Morning Joe, they discussed news that a source informed NBC News on Thursday that a federal investigation has found no evidence that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) knew of or ordered lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013. [Audio available here]

At the conclusion of the first of two segments on Christie, Stein strongly emphasized that: "You should continue the probe and you should see to it to its conclusion, but if it turns out that it exonerates him, then we, in the media, owe to cover it as much as we covered the accusations."

Both Brzezinski and Scarborough agreed as Brzezinski called for “24-hour coverage” if Christie is officially cleared of all charges and Scarborough took a jab at his own network (and a few others) by saying declaring that the media coverage of Christie’s innocence should run for “12 nights in row at a certain network.”

When first asked by Brzezinski what he thought about the news, Scarborough said that Governor Christie “has a point” that the a state committee controlled by Democrats should conclude their own investigation now that it has crossed the nine month mark. He joked that “[t]his is not Iran-Contra” where “[y]ou're not having to figuring out what Middle East agents funneled money to the Iranians.”

The BBC’s Katty Kay managed to take a shot at Christie during the first segment by ruling that the scandal had already hurt Christie too deeply. Kay wondered: “How far has the damage already been done to Chris Christie in terms of his presidential – how much do you hear Republicans around the county – still saying he's a major contender.”

After not mentioning the reported leak during his program on Thursday night (while NBC Nightly News and PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton did), MSNBC’s Chris Matthews appeared during the show’s second segment on Christie.

While he said that the news  is “all good news for the Governor,” and that “a pattern here...hasn’t been developed” yet that shows Christie was directly behind the incident, Matthews still couldn’t help but bring up his comparison between Christie and Richard Nixon:

Richard Nixon got into trouble, not so much for the break in, which he was never caught ordering, but the culture of the plumbers and doing anything it takes to get our enemies, all the way back to, you know – getting – the – the psychiatrist office broken into. So, it all opened up.

(h/t: Mediaite)

The portions of the full transcript that relate to Chris Christie on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on September 19 are transcribed below.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe
September 19, 2014
6:11 a.m. Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Some other news now: Sources tell NBC News that federal investigators have found no evidence thus far showing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had advance knowledge of the George Washington bridge shutdown in 2013. Nine months into the investigation, officials say there's no sign he planned or ordered the closures, though the investigation is still ongoing. Yesterday, during a press conference, Governor Christie lashed out at another investigation being handled by the state legislature’s Democratic-controlled Committee telling them to, quote, “wrap up their work.”

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: And unfortunately Assembly Wisniewski is attempting to keep his name in the newspaper. We've fully cooperated with him. Absolutely, fully cooperated with him and I'm really growing tired of him. You know, I've known all along that this is a partisan pursuit. An absolutely partisan pursuit and the leaking that's being done by the Legislative Committee is just further evidence of the fact this is a partisan pursuit. 

BRZEZINSKI: What do you think? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I think the governor has a good point. It's been nine months. [LAUGHING] This is not Iran-Contra. You're not having to figuring out what Middle East agents funneled money to the Iranians in an exchange.

SAM STEIN [JOKING]: It’s changed. It’s bigger. 
                    
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. I mean, come on. Listen, if Chris Christie screwed up, if he had advance warning, then we need to know about that. But they've had nine months. I mean –

JEREMY PETERS: Okay, but –  

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, So says the guy from The New York Times. How many wit – I’m serious, Jeremy, how many witnesses do you really have to talk to the figure out what happened? 

PETERS: I think – 

SCARBOROUGH: They closed two lanes or three lanes of the George Washington Bridge, New York Times reporter? 

BRZEZINSKI: Jeremy, ten seconds. Go.

PETERS: That's a determination the federal prosecutor should make, not us, and I do – I would like to point out this is a leak. Right? It’s from somebody inside the investigation saying, “here's what we know so far.” We don't know everything that there is to know yet cause the investigation is still on-going.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, yeah, I know, but my point is, not – I don’t – a lot of times leaks are wrong. We're nine months into this, Katy. Come on, how long does it take to figure who shut down the couples lanes? 

KATY KAY: Okay, but, to some extent: How far has the damage already been done to Chris Christie in terms of his presidential – how much do you hear Republicans around the county – still saying he's a major contender. 

[CROSS TALK]

SCARBOROUGH: They’re keeping him twisted in the wind. The Democrats in – in New Jersey are – 

STEIN: You should continue the probe and you should see to it to its conclusion, but if it turns out that it exonerates him, then we, in the media, owe to cover it as much as we covered the accusations. 

BRZEZINSKI: I agree. There should be 24-hour coverage.

SCARBOROUGH: And I want to know – 12 nights in row at a certain network.

(....)

6:59 a.m. Eastern [TEASE]

BRZEZINSKI: Alright, coming up at the top of the hour, nine months into the investigation of the George Washington Bridge shutdown, do officials finally have a case against Governor Christie? We have their findings next on Morning Joe.

(....)

7:12 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: In the Clear? NBC News Sources: No Sign of Link With Christie, GW Bridge Scandal]

BRZEZINSKI: Sources tell NBC News that federal investigators have found no evidence thus far showing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had advance knowledge of the George Washington Bridge shutdown in 2013. Nine months into the investigation, officials say there's no sign he planned or ordered the closures though the investigation is ongoing. Yesterday, during a press conference, Governor Christie lashed out at another investigation being handled by the state legislature's Democratically-Controlled Committee telling them quote to wrap up their work. 

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: And unfortunately Assembly Wisniewski is attempting to keep his name in the newspaper. We've fully cooperated with him. Absolutely, fully cooperated with him and I'm really growing tired of him. You know, I've known all along that this is a partisan pursuit. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: In the Clear? Christie Slams Legislature’s “Partisan” Bridge Investigation]

An absolutely partisan pursuit and the leaking that's being done by the Legislative Committee is just further evidence of the fact this is a partisan pursuit. 

SCARBOROUGH: So, Chris, is it fair to say that this was a pretty simple matter. If you're an investigator, you get the texts, you get the emails, you get the communications, you get everybody in separate rooms, you start talking to them. At what point do you suggest that the Democratic legislature in New Jersey to put up or shut up. This has been nine months. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: But they don't have the power to get Bridget Kelly on the stand and threaten her with jail time if she doesn’t tell the truth.

SCARBOROUGH: The feds do.

MATTHEWS: We have no evidence they’ve gotten to their key witnesses that – who are definitely in peril here for their own futures. 

SCARBOROUGH: But how long does this last? 

MATTHEWS: I don't know. I think all these things take too long. 

BRZEZINSKI: Why won't she talk? Why won't she talk? 
    
MATTHEWS: Well, at some points though, they’ll have to decide between what they want punished with and what they want the governor punished with and they’re going to have to say during the course of the time they worked for the governor: Did he ever tell them – let me tell you how the game works. We get mayors behind us. We'll do what we can to pressure them to get behind us. We’ll be tough on it, but we have a lot of Democratic mayors behind us. 

SCARBOROUGH: Right. 

MATTHEWS: Somebody put that strategy together. The inter-government relations office of the Governor had that as his purpose.

SCARBOROUGH: So – 

MATTHEWS: So, who set that mission to play hardball?

SCARBOROUGH: – how long does the Democratic investigation in New Jersey last? 

MATTHEWS: Well, that’s the question. I look at Fishman. I think Fishman is the guy, the U.S. Prosecutor who does this for a living and is a pro and apparently not partisan to find out what happened here, but I think it's good news for the Governor, but I do want to point out the whole question that most people saw in this was a pattern of behavior set from the top we'll play tough and, to me, it was always more impressive to me –  

SCARBOROUGH: It’s cultural.

MATTHEWS: Well, the testimony of the Mayor of Hoboken Zimmer, who was very impressive when she said that Guadagno, the Lieutenant Governor, had come to her and said meet me in a parking lot and then she said, “I know it shouldn't be this way but if you don't back this waterfront project the mayor is all after, you won't get any more government money.” Now that had the ring of truth to it. I want to know more about this. Richard Nixon got into trouble, not so much for the break in, which he was never caught ordering, but the culture of the plumbers and doing anything it takes to get our enemies, all the way back to, you know – getting – the – the psychiatrist office broken into. So, it all opened up. To be fair, if there’s a pattern here and that hasn’t been developed in court yet. 

SCARBOROUGH: That hasn’t been proven, right. 

MATTHEWS: So, we want to be fair, it's all good news for the Governor he’ll be able to campaign now for awhile, but I’m still watching at this point. 

SCARBOROUGH: How – how is the Governor doing a year later now?

MATTHEWS: He’s great. First, of all, his numbers are great, given all the stuff that’s going on.

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