Thursday, February 11, 2010


In a special address before a joint session of thge legislature, Governor Chris Christie laid out his plans for plugging a $2.2 billion hole in the current year's budget. In many aspects, the speech was lacking in detail. Not to worry. The Administration got top staffers together for a briefing early in the afternoon.

Reporters were told the briefing was "pen and pad ONLY." The word "only' was put in bold type in the press advisory we received. I asked Christie's press secretary about the policy because as a radio reporter the tools of my trade are a recorder and a microphone. I thought the policy was discriminatory because I also thought "pen and pad only" is okay for print journalists. I was told, "too bad." Later I found out that I was wrong about how my colleagues in the print world feel about "pen and pad only."

Prior to the briefing, several of Christie's press people were asked about the policy. They were asked, "What's the concern about allowing us to record?" More than once their answer was , "It is pen and pad only."

Reporters are not children. We could clearly read in the press advisory that it was to be "pen and pad only." We wanted to know why that was the case. Christie's clearly frustrated press secretary said, "That's the policy so we can do this (briefing) now or not do this."

Eventually reporters were able to record the briefing, but could not use the sound on the air and could not attribute anything that was said to anyone who said it. We were allowed only to say, "administration officials."

In 2002 just after Jim McGreevey took over as Governor, his treasurer and other adminstration officials tried something similar. They said their entire budget briefing would be off the record. This led to a mini-revolt by the State House press corps led by veteran reporter Joe Allbright. The journalists simply packed up their stuff and left behind a dumbfounded group of top McGreevey staffers. That almost happened again today with the transparent "Team Christie."


Anonymous said...

I love Christie, but that was not cool.

Anonymous said...

This anonymous echoes the thoughts of that anonymous. I love Christie too but next time you press guys SHOULD leave the room.

Anonymous said...

Because of the sweeping changes Christie wants to make, he's gonna need all of the friends he can get. What this unnamed official did was rude and arrogant.
Being tough is fine. Being a bully is not.
If this is indicative of a trend in this administration, Christie will fail, and NJ is doomed.

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