Gov. Christie Keeps Feeding Media Frenzy

Will Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey enter the fray for the Republican presidential nomination or won’t he? Although he continues to say no, he’s certainly dominated the headlines all week, literally eliminating any media exposure for the nine current Republican presidential hopefuls. In fact, PolitickerNJ.com today shows that in their own Google search, Christie has eclipsed all the frontrunners in searches this week. What is driving this media frenzy? Look no further than Chris Christie. Earlier this week, Governor Christie gave a major national policy speech at the Ronald Reagan library in California. This speech and how it was framed, had the look and feel of a coming out party by a national candidate. When asked at the event whether he would indeed enter the contest, Christie referred back to an online video collage that has him continually saying no during television appearances.
The speech in California followed by his trip to Louisiana for a fundraising event for the Republican Governor, Bobby Jindal, continues to keep Christie on the national stage, despite his denials that he is running. What also continues to fan the flames are comments by respected party leaders such as former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and former New York Governor George Pataki either saying Christie is considering running or should get in the race.

By allowing himself to be placed in presidential-like settings, making speeches on national policy and not forcefully removing his name from consideration, Christie has allowed media to continue to perpetuate his potential candidacy and cause leaders in the party looking for an alternative to keep floating his name as well.
As Matt Katz in the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote earlier in the week following the speech at the Reagan library:

The speech that could have clarified it all did anything but.

 In front of 1,000 devoted Republicans, a national TV audience, and Nancy Reagan herself in the front row, Gov. Christie could have said Tuesday night: “I am not running for president in 2012.”

 Instead, the surging non-candidate-of-the-moment charmed, joked, and answered the “Will you run?” question by referring the audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum to an online video compilation of his previous declarations against running.

That answer – coupled with a string of recent news stories featuring unnamed sources saying Christie either was not running or was possibly reconsidering a run – was interpreted differently across the media.

 The Wall Street Journal’s headline, “After Christie Speech, Answer Still ‘no’,” and the Christian Science Monitor’s “Christie Tells California Audience He Won’t Enter 2012 Presidential Race” conflicted with Yahoo’s assertion that Christie “hints he might reconsider” and Politico’s conclusion that “Christie Leaves 2012 Run Question Open.” According to Slate, he ducked the question.

 Such journalistic confusion is not a reflection of poor reporting, says pollster Patrick Murray of Monmouth University. It is being sowed by the Christie camp and perpetuated by the evasiveness of Christie’s recent remarks.

Christie has now reached the point of no return. He needs to either officially enter the race or forcefully end this talk once and for all. The longer the feeding frenzy goes on, the more Christie hurts his party’s chance to win the White House in 2012.

He cannot have it both ways. By placing himself on a national stage, Chris Christie has created the headlines. Now he needs to decide what the headline reads.

Tom Cosentino

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