ABC, NBC Skip Midterms; Spend Time Attacking Christie for Flying ‘Off the Handle’ at Heckler

ABC and NBC failed to cover the upcoming midterm elections during their Wednesday evening broadcasts, but instead devoted over three-and-a-half minutes to going after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) for confronting a protestor earlier in the day during an event marking the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

Christie, who has been known to be praised by the mainstream media (rare for a Republican), was not that person on Wednesday as ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir reported he was “unscripted” and “lashing out” as he engaged in “a war of words” with the heckler in what “was supposed to be a mission accomplished moment” for promoting the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl injected some political analysis at the conclusion of his story, saying that “it comes just as he is getting ready to make a decision about whether or not to run for president.” 

Over on NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams teased the story at the beginning of the broadcast: “Losing his temper. Chris Christie flies off the handle at a protester at the Jersey Shore on this second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.” 

NBC News correspondent Kelly O’Donnell led off the program’s report by opining that “Governor Chris Christie's impulse control, or lack of it” was “on full display today.” Just as Karl did, O’Donnell also choose to wind down her story by dwelling on Christie’s future aspirations and surmised that his “personality can be an asset or an obstacle for bigger things.”

To further support that point, she turned to liberal writer and commentator Howard Fineman: “It shows a character that seems to a good many people to be slightly out of control when confronted.”

While both networks were giving the heckler plenty of weight on a national platform, they both failed to disclose that the protester was a Democrat and former Asbury Park city councilman in New Jersey who also founded a group that’s been critical of the pace of disaster funding being allotted in the state.

The portions of the transcript discussing Governor Christie on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on October 29 can be found below.

ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
October 29, 2014
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Lashing Out]

DAVID MUIR: Unscripted. Governor Chris Christie lashing out at that man with a message, right there in front of him. 

NEW JERSEY REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sit down and shut up. 

MUIR:  How this ended. 

(....)

6:42 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Fighting Words]
                                            
MUIR: Tonight marks two years since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast and today in Belmar, New Jersey, Chris Christie marking the anniversary when, suddenly, a war of words erupting with a heckler. ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl tonight. 

JONATHAN KARL: It was supposed to be a mission accomplished moment. Chris Christie touting the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore on the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, but then a protester accuses Christie of not doing enough to help storm victims who are still suffering. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Christie Uncensored; Why Did the Governor Lash Out?]

CHRISTIE: [TO LIB HECKLER] I got the picture, I read it, ok? So – yeah, you do yours, too, buddy. 

KARL: Christie is known for his occasional outbursts and this was classic Christie. 

CHRISTIE: We're going to get into a debate here today, it's going to get very interesting and very fun. Somebody like you who doesn't know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I've been here when the cameras aren't here, buddy, and done the work. I've been here when the cameras weren't here and did the work. So – 

KARL: Last year, Christie celebrated the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore with President Obama. This year – a much different scene: 

CHRISTIE: So, listen, you want to have the conversation later? I'm happy to have it, buddy, but until that time, sit down and shut up. 

KARL: Afterwards, that protester told us that Christie is a bully. Christie's office had no comment on this, but David, it comes just as he is getting ready to make a decision about whether or not to run for president. 

MUIRl Alright, Jon Karl at the White House. Jon, thank you. 

The relevant portions of the transcript from NBC Nightly News on October 29 are transcribed below.

NBC Nightly News
October 29, 2014
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Losing His Temper]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Losing his temper. Chris Christie flies off the handle at a protester at the Jersey Shore on this second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

(....)

7:07 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Lashing Out]

WILLIAMS: Just yesterday, when he was told he could be sued by this nurse he ordered quarantined last weekend, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said she can get in line. Then came today the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which chewed up parts of the Jersey Shore, a protester at an event today spoke up and held up a sign, and then the Governor went after him. We get our report tonight from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. 

KELLY O’DONNELL: Governor Chris Christie's impulse control, or lack of it, on full display today. 

NEW JERSEY REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTE: If we're going to get into a debate here today, it's going to get very interesting and very fun. 

O’DONNELL: When a heckler protested what was supposed to be a serious event. 

CHRISTIE: I've been here when the cameras aren't here, buddy, and done the work. So turn around, get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state. 

O’DONNELL: Marking two years since Superstorm Sandy ripped across the Jersey Shore. 

CHRISTIE: Somebody like you who doesn't know a damn thing about what your talking about. So, listen. You want to have the conversation later? I'm happy to have it, buddy, but until that time, sit down and shut up. 

O’DONNELL: Building to another Christie-style public smackdown. 

CHRISTIE: There's about a thousand things I'll do tonight, going to dinner with you is about number 1,001. 

O’DONNELL: That protester, Jim Keady, says Sandy recovery aid has been too slow. 

JIM KEADY: Where's the money and why aren’t families getting it? 

O’DONNELL: This week, Christie's been on fire, barnstorming for Republican Governor candidates [NOTE: WHILE SHOWING CHRISTIE WITH NC SEN CANDIATE TOM TILLIS] and defending his state's treatment against Kaci Hickox, telling me the quarantined nurse had: 

CHRISTIE: Her cellphone, access to the internet and takeout food from the best restaurants in Newark. She was doing just fine. 

O’DONNELL: Christie’s personality can be an asset or an obstacle for bigger things. 

HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/NBC NEWS ANALYST HOWARD FINEMAN: It shows a character that seems to a good many people to be slightly out of control when confronted. 

O’DONNELL: No reaction tonight from Christie's office, telling me the Governor said it himself. Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, Washington. 

ABC World News Tonight NBC NBC Nightly News New Jersey Government & Press Jonathan Karl Brian Williams Kelly O'Donnell Howard Fineman David Muir Chris Christie
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