New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, on Jan. 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Matthew Holst | For NJ Advance Media)
TRENTON — Open to press: Yes. Availability: None.
They are the words that most often describe Chris Christie’s public schedule these days in the emails reporters receive from the governor’s press office.
Once a staple of the Christie regime, the governor has not to held an open-ended press conference in five months. His last was on November 12, 2014. New Jersey Press Association executive director George White recently described Garden State reporters’ access to the governor since then as “minimal at best.”
While Christie has returned to a once-a-week schedule of town hall style meetings throughout the state in which the public may ask him questions — if called upon by him — they rarely produce probing questions: After Christie was pressed on his settlement with ExxonMobil at a town hall in Kenilworth, he quickly pivoted to a pair of Girl Scouts, who asked him to name his favorite color and dessert.
Christie spokesperson Kevin Roberts has argued the governor believes it’s just as important to communicate directly with his constituents but good government and media experts doubt that’s the real reason. The president of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, Walter Luer, recently told the AP that the restrictions on press access seem to be aimed at avoiding any unforced errors that could haunt Christie in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire. And in fact, Christie will spend most of the coming week in the Granite State.
What do you think? Is the governor hiding from the media? Vote in our informal, unscientific poll below.
Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org