Bridge Scandal Threatens Christie’s ‘No-Nonsense Image’

The news that “Emails Tie Gov. Christie’s Aides To Lane Closings Controversy” has led to headlines such as these on this morning after the story broke:

— “Christie’s Carefully Devised, No-Nonsense Image in Peril.” (The New York Times)

— “Controversy Deals A Big Hit To Christie’s Reputation As Truth-Teller.” (New Jersey’s The Record)

— “Chris Christie’s Handling Of George Washington Bridge Scandal Veers From His Norm.” (The Star-Ledger)

— “Chris Christie’s Critics Savor His Misfortune.” (Politico)

— “Bridge-Spat Emails Pose Questions For Christie.” (The Wall Street Journal)

If you’re just catching up to all this, our colleagues at WNYC sum up the news this way:

“A series of email messages to the central figure in the fray surrounding the closure of traffic lanes to the George Washington Bridge show a top aide to Governor Chris Christie was directly involved in what has become a burgeoning scandal for Christie. ‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,’ the aide to Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote to David Wildstein. A minute later, Wildstein replied ‘got it.’ …

“Those closures caused a work week’s worth of traffic jams in Fort Lee [last September]. Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, did not endorse Chris Christie for re-election, and it’s been widely speculated that his refusal to do so prompted the closures — a charge Christie has denied.”

It’s a national story, of course, because Christie is widely seen as a leading contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Now, he’s going to face questions about whether the lane closures were politically motivated. And he’s sure to be asked about reports such as this:

“Rescuers faced delays during medical emergencies because of traffic jams that appear to be tied to a political scandal engulfing former appointees of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to a letter obtained by CNN Wednesday.”

The governor’s office says Christie will be holding a news conference in Trenton at 11 a.m. ET. We’ll be watching for news from it.

Last evening, as we reported, the governor’s staff released a statement from him. It reads:

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

Thursday on Morning Edition, WNYC’s Matt Katz talked with host Renee Montagne about the scandal. Matt has also put together a look at the “3 Stages Of Chris Christie’s Crisis Management.” The governor, he says, has gone from sarcasm to contrition to outrage.

Not surprisingly, the news from New Jersey led both of Comedy Central’s faux news shows Wednesday night:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Colbert Report

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