Newspapers endorse presidential candidates and candidates call each other names, but it’s not every day those newspapers start calling each other names. However, the war of words between the New Hampshire Union Leader and the New Jersey Star-Ledger continued to escalate Wednesday.
It all began when the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s biggest newspaper, announced Saturday night that Republican Chris Christie had landed their coveted endorsement.
The Star-Ledgerresponded Monday with a column by editorial page editor Tom Moran, saying the Union Leader didn’t know the New Jersey governor’s full record — referring to Bridgegate, his response to Hurricane Sandy, and the state’s credit downgrades.
After speaking to Union Leader editorial page editor Grant Bosse, Moran wrote, “this editorial confirms my worse fears about this presidential race. It’s all about performance, not substance.’’
Bosse didn’t like that, responding Tuesday night on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.
“At this point, the Star-Ledger is like Chris Christie’s crazy ex-girlfriend,’’ Bosse said. “They dated him in 2013, they broke up with him last year, and now they’re going around town bad-mouthing anyone he takes out to dinner.’’
Grant Bosse, editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader, defends his paper's endorsement of Chris ChristiePosted by All In with Chris Hayes on Wednesday, December 2, 2015
“You want to stick with that metaphor, Mr. Bosse?’’ Hayes asked, with raised eyebrows.
“Yeah, they’re just going around saying bad things,’’ responded Bosse during the interview. “Maybe their headline should have been newspaper that endorses Christie slams newspaper that endorses Christie.’’
However, Bosse’s initial phrasing appeared to stick. Campaigning Wednesday morning in Manchester, Christie himself repeated Bosse’s words near-verbatim when a New Jersey-based donor asked about how he would deal with his homestate paper.
“The Star Ledger is like my crazy ex-girlfriend who broke with me and is now running around town saying I am an awful person,’’ Christie said, according to CBS News.
Word traveled quickly back to the Garden State.
“Like any crazy ex-girlfriend, I can’t let that be the last word,’’ wrote Moran, who then took exception with the “craxy ex-girlfriend’’ trope in a column Wednesday afternoon.
“The sexism thing is a quibble, though,’’ Moran wrote. “The deeper problem is that the paper, the Union Leader, wrote a love note endorsement of Chris Christie without weighing his record as governor. They heard his slick talk, and they bought it without checking.’’
Moran then defended his past endorsement, saying the Christie’s 2013 opponent was not ready at the time and that the New Jersey governor “nose-dived’’ after he won re-election. He then redirected aim back at Bosse, calling into question whether the New Hampshire writer understood how New Jersey’s government works.
The wildest answer came when I asked about New Jersey’s nine credit downgrades on Christie’s watch. Surely, a conservative would flinch at that.
“That largely stems from the fact that while he’s been successful in holding back taxes, he hasn’t been as successful in restraining spending,’’ Bosse said. “Credit agencies like taxes.’’
For the record, New Jersey cannot spend a single dime without Christie’s personal approval. He has line-item veto. Bosse didn’t know that, either.
The crazy ex-girlfriend crack came when Bosse appeared Tuesday night on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.’’
Among the defenses he offered was Christie has balanced the state budget six times. That’s true, but it’s also a requirement in the state Constitution. Jon Corzine and Jim McGreevey balanced every budget, too. I guess Bosse fell for Christie’s line on that, too.
For all the talk of ex-girlfriends, these two papers are bickering like an old married couple.