CBS Pounces On Governor Christie's Fight With Heckler: ‘Don’t Poke The Bear’

After ABC and NBC played up Governor Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) confrontation with a heckler at an event marking the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy during their Wednesday night broadcasts, all three network morning shows (ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today) predictably continued to pile on against the Republican on Thursday morning.

On CBS This Morning, reporter Jan Crawford began her report by noting how on Wednesday, Christie “went at it with a constituent… When a former New Jersey councilman [Jim Keady] showed up Wednesday to criticize the pace of the restoration after the storm, Chris Christie let him have it.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell introduced Crawford by hyping how Governor Christie “went to the Jersey Shore where he got into a shouting match with a protestor.” Crawford continued to promote Christie’s clash with the heckler, who has written for the liberal Huffington Postbut ignored his liberal political idology, and pointed out how “the governor, with support from others in the crowd tried to move on but when the protester wouldn't relent, Christie really let him have it.”  

The CBS reporter then did her best to legitimize the complaints made by the protestor, that relief from Superstorm Sandy hadn’t made it to the citizens of New Jersey fast enough. Crawford never bothered to look into whether the federal government has hindered the allocation of relief funds and instead simply promoted Christie’s critics:

CRAWFORD: Sandy left behind an estimated 365,000 damaged or destroyed homes in New Jersey and very little of the $1.8 billion set aside in a state run reconstruction program has been handed out. Christie's critics say he's not moving fast enough but the governor blames federal red tape. 

CLAUDE BRODESSER-ANKER [Star-Ledger & NJ.com]: Only about just shy of $300 million in two years-time has made its way to those affected families. So if people are heckling, you can sort of understand why they might be. 

Crawford then pushed the line that Governor Christie was embroiled in political controversy and described how “this week Christie has been hit with questions over his response to a nurse quarantined after working with Ebola patients in West Africa.”

Rather than provide any soundbites from individuals defending the New Jersey Republican, the CBS reporter portrayed Christie as someone who has “never shied away from a verbal sparring match. He prides himself on his ability to be both brash and compassionate as he told Gayle King in an interview:

GAYLE KING: He's not going to necessarily take your head off because he disagrees with something that you’ve said.  

CHRISTIE: I never did. 

KING: Oh, there were a couple of times I thought people were walking around with no heads after they challenged you. 

Crawford concluded her critical piece on Christie by promoting the heckler one final time:

With this heckler, some people are saying Christie is not going to be able to shut him up so easily. He's a former pro soccer player and he helped a lot with all that cleanup after Hurricane Sandy. He says he’s an independent but I got to tell you this. A reporter asked him yesterday if he would vote for Christie for president and he paused a minute and said no. 

After the report ended, the three CBS co-hosts appeared visibly shocked at Christie’s spat with a heckler. Gayle King proclaimed “Governor Christie's got lots of clubs in that bag but it's never a good sign when somebody in the heat of a battle says buddy.” Norah O’Donnell wrapped up the segment by joking “don’t poke the bear, yeah. In this case he used his driver. That’s the club he used.”  

See relevant transcript below.

CBS This Morning

October 30, 2014

NORAH O’DONNELL: And on the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found himself in a familiar spot. He went to the Jersey Shore where he got into a shouting match with a protester. Jan Crawford is in Washington to show us how this confrontation went down. Jan, good morning. 

JAN CRAWFORD: Well good morning. It's been an interesting week for Governor Christie. He started with his state’s response to the Ebola threat, then he did some campaigning for Republican candidates up and down the East coast and then on Wednesday he went at it with a constituent. 

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I got the picture. I read it. 

CRAWFORD: When a former New Jersey councilman showed up Wednesday to criticize the pace of the restoration after the storm, Chris Christie let him have it. 

CHRISTIE: I'd be more than happy to have a debate with you anytime you like guy, because somebody like you doesn't know a damn thing 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. 

CRAWFORD: The governor, with support from others in the crowd tried to move on but when the protester wouldn't relent, Christie really let him have it. 

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. 

CRAWFORD: Sandy left behind an estimated 365,000 damaged or destroyed homes in New Jersey and very little of the $1.8 billion set aside in a state run reconstruction program has been handed out. Christie's critics say he's not moving fast enough but the governor blames federal red tape. 

CLAUDE BRODESSER-ANKER: Only about just shy of $300 million in two years-time has made its way to those affected families. So if people are heckling, you can sort of understand why they might be. 

CHRISTIE: Wonderful, absolutely. 

CRAWFORD: As he was being escorted from the event, the heckler asked Christie to dinner. 

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

CRAWFORD: Perhaps that's because Christie's calendar has been full lately. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association Christie’s had a dizzying stretch of travel leading up to next week's midterm elections. 

CHRISTIE: When Terry Branstad asks you to come to Iowa, you do not say no. Definitely not.

CRAWFORD: This week Christie has been hit with questions over his response to a nurse quarantined after working with Ebola patients in West Africa. 

CHRISTIE: With access to her cell phone, access to her internet, and takeout food from some of the best restaurants in Newark, she was doing just fine. 

CRAWFORD: Casie Hickok is threatening lawsuit against the Garden State.

UNKNOWN PERSON: It looks like you're going have to defend this in court. 

CHRISTIE: Whatever. Get in line. I've been sued lots of times before. Get in line. 

CRAWFORD: Governor Christie has not ever shied away from a verbal sparring match. He prides himself on his ability to be both brash and compassionate as he told Gayle King in an interview. 

GAYLE KING: He's not going to necessarily take your head off because he disagrees with something that you’ve said.  

CHRISTIE: I never did. 

KING: Oh, there were a couple of times I thought people were walking around with no heads after they challenged you. 

CHRISTIE: Well sure, and you know what, those people deserve to have their heads taken off and I'll still do when if I need to. But I don't just have one club in the bag for golfers who are watching this, okay? You have to understand as a leader that there are times when you have to be tough and direct and times where you have to be softer and listen, and I can do both. 

CRAWFORD: Now, with this heckler, some people are saying Christie is not going to be able to shut him up so easily. He's a former pro soccer player and he helped a lot with all that cleanup after Hurricane Sandy. He says he’s an independent but I got to tell you this A reporter asked him yesterday if he would vote for Christie for president and he paused a minute and said no. Charlie?

O’DONNELL: Really interesting. 

KING: Governor Christie's got lots of clubs in that bag but it's never a good sign when somebody in the heat of a battle says buddy. But one of the best things is to look at his wife’s face--

CHARLIE ROSE: Or shut up. 

KING: Or shut up. Look at Mrs. Christie's face. She sort of looks at the guy like you should stop talking sir. Don't poke the bear. 

O’DONNELL: Don’t poke the bear, yeah. In this case he used his driver. That’s the club he used.

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