When Chris Christie was mired in political turmoil, he had a friend in “Morning Joe.”
While everyone else on MSNBC gave critical, nearly round-the-clock coverage of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and the rest of channel’s sunrise crew readily provided cover to New Jersey’s embattled Republican governor.
As Christie lost much of the goodwill he gained after Superstorm Sandy, “Morning Joe” remained his cable news sanctuary.
Scarborough and Brzezinski have taken thinly veiled shots at their MSNBC colleagues for giving so much attention to the story. They’ve repeatedly splashed cold water on reporting by the New York Times about “Bridgegate.” Christie was their guy, and no traffic jam was going to change that.
But the alliance, like a forbidden romance between members of rival families, was always liable to get rocky.
Now, as the New York Times Magazine’s Mark Leibovich reported this week, there really is trouble in paradise for the chummy clique of politician and pundits:
He used to be a regular on “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC morning show, and was pals with the co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. But after bridge-gate, it became a feeding frenzy. “There’s an agenda at the network level at MSNBC,” Christie told me. “All these folks have to march in line in order to keep their jobs.” I asked Christie if he thought Scarborough and Brzezinski were taking orders from corporate bosses. “I don’t know,” he said. “But it seems to me there is a completely different approach to me than they were approaching me in the past.” (When I asked Scarborough if this was true, he said: “We saw him at the Vanity Fair-Bloomberg party last spring, and he stormed right past us. Mika and I just looked at each other and laughed. It’s a question of temperament with him.”) Yet Christie did not seem entirely displeased with this turn of events, either. Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, “A lot of people who vote in our primaries think that if MSNBC attacks you for a month, you must be better than I thought you were.”
There have been signs of a fractured relationship on recent editions of “Morning Joe.”
In July, Scarborough called Christie a “chicken” for refusing to meet with the families of Sandy Hook victims. And last month, after long serving as Christie’s biggest booster in the media, Scarborough was dismissive of the New Jersey governor’s chances in 2016.
“We ought to do what we do around here and say on the air what everybody says off the air in Republican circles… nobody thinks Chris Christie can win,” Scarborough said.