Washington, DC, has its own annual correspondents’ dinner. It is not off the record. In fact it is televised live, with clips and comments that quickly appear in the media. There are plenty of jabs back and forth. Many with considerable bite speak to an element of truth. They garner plenty of laughter. They are not, however, overly malicious, nasty, nor crude. They are not harshly accusatory and they avoid foul language.
Governor Christie last week set a low bar for this type of event. As the Jaffe Communications Morning Briefing reported, “In what will forever be remembered as his ‘I don’t give a shit speech’, Gov. Chris Christie delivered a Bulworth-inspired, expletive-filled tirade against the media during the New Jersey Legislative Correspondent’s Club annual show that would have made many Iowa-based religious conservatives pray for his soul.” Forget the fact that this speech may not play well in Des Moines. That is Christie’s problem and is a result of his big mouth and poor judgment. That speech should not play well anywhere.
Kevin Roberts, Christie’s spokesperson, stated the acts of the night “including the governor’s obvious parody of himself, were in jest … That anyone would misrepresent the traditional lighthearted nature of the event is a disservice.” Christie started his tirade against Claude Brodesser-Akner of NJ.com with several remarks, including derisive comments about Akner’s former job and ending with “open your eyes, clean the shit out of your ears and pay attention.” Of Star-Ledger correspondents he said, “There will always be a place and a paycheck in their paper for angry drunks.” Does this sound like a “jest” and “light hearted?”
In the Virginian one cowboy says to another, “When you call me that, smile.” To me it sounded more like a sneer, from someone who is unhinged, losing control, foul-mouthed, angry, and mean-spirited. We realize things are not going well for the governor. New Jerseyans are fed up with him, and his national polls are an embarrassment. That is no excuse.
Tom Moran writes in a column that the reporter and show director Michael Symons worries the whole event could collapse. It’s time that New Jersey correspondents’ dinner hue closer to the Washington, DC, model. It is certainly time for the governor to apologize. It would be too bad if the event comes to an end because the governor sneered rather than smiled.