The journalists of Good Morning America offered, perhaps, a preview of 2016, highlighting Chris Christie's weight and what "could be a major campaign issue." After playing clips of the New Jersey governor talking to David Letterman, guest co-host Amy Robach scolded, "He's going to have to lay off the doughnuts."
Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos lectured, "[Christie] knows it. If he wants to run, he is going to have to lose some real weight." Reporter Dan Harris found a medical expert. The correspondent related, "Former White House physician Connie Mariano, who helped President Clinton lose 30 pounds in office, said she cringed when she saw Christie eating that doughnut and that she's worried about him dying on the job." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Harris did allow that Christie's appearance on Letterman, in which he made fun of himself and pulled out a doughnut, was "brilliant." He also insisted that if the Republican can "take some of the weight off and keep it off, he's going to have a great relatable story to tell out on the campaign trail."
Unlike ABC, on CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford explained, "Christie may not be as unhealthy as he looks. In a study released last month, researchers found that while people who are obese have a higher risk of death, body mass index is an imperfect measure of mortality."
This isn't the first time the hosts of GMA treated a sensitive topic so lightly. On November 16, 2012, the ABC journalists mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess. The show had an on-air Twinkie party.
While ABC has no problem mocking Christie and his "weighty issues," the same network's morning and evening shows have ignored Democratic Senator Robert Menendez's much more serious problem, prostitution accusations.
A transcript of the February 6 segment, which aired at 7:14am EST, follows:
ABC GRAPHIC: Republican Star's Weighty Issue: Opens Up After Late Night Appearance
AMY ROBACH: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now making big headlines for candid talks about his health and his weight. Is it all part of his ramp-up for a possible presidential run? ABC's Dan Harris has been tracking all of that. Dan, good morning.
DAN HARRIS: Good morning. Chris Christie continues to be a little coy about whether he's running for president in 2016. But he is clearly taking some very public steps to deal with what, fairly or not, could be a major campaign issue. It was a brilliant sight gag. Chris Christie, sitting across from David Letterman, who has repeatedly lampooned the governor for his weight and pulling out a doughnut.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I didn't know this was going to be this long.
HARRIS: But the next day, Governor Christie at a news conference, making clear he takes this issue seriously.
CHRISTIE: Of course, I care about it. And I'm making the best effort I can. And sometimes, I'm successful. And other times I'm not. And sometimes periods of great success are followed by periods of great failure.
HARRIS: The spectacle of a male politician repeatedly having to address his looks, the way Hillary Clinton dealt with talk of her different hairstyles and pantsuits and Sarah Palin with questions over her post-baby weight loss, strikes some observers as fascinating.
NICOLLE WALLACE (ABC News political contributor): I think the fact that a man has to deal with questions of his appearance is a real sign of the times. Even a man who is a governor of a very large state.
HARRIS: Former White House physician Connie Mariano, who helped President Clinton lose 30 pounds in office, said she cringed when she saw Christie eating that doughnut and that she's worried about him dying on the job.
DR. CONNIE MARIANO (Former White House physician): Somebody of that size, I would assume they have issues regarding their blood pressure, the blood sugar. So, that puts them at high risk for stroke and heart attack.
HARRIS: Christie says his own doctor has warned him, too.
CHRISTIE: So far, up to 50 years old, I've been remarkably healthy. And my doctor continues to warn me that my luck will run out relatively soon.
HARRIS: And he insists he has a plan to deal with it.
CHRISTIE: Be assured, there is a plan. Whether it will be successful or not, you'll all be able to notice.
HARRIS: He doesn't mince words. There is a way, by the way, in which his size could actually play to his advantage. If he's able to take some of the weight off and keep it off, he's going to have a great relatable story to tell out on the campaign trail.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That worked for Mike Huckabee running for president. But, he will– He knows it, If he wants to run, he is going to have to lose some real weight.
ROBACH: Yeah. He's going to have to lay off the doughnuts.