January 12, 2014

It seems the producers at ABC's This Week believe that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie needs a little help with "crisis management" in order to get out from under this GW Bridge closing scandal, because they decided to devote an entire segment to it this Sunday.

It looks like they had some trouble with the chryon for the show as well, because they forgot to put the title "crisis management expert" under GOP PR fluffer Jonathan Karl's name.

Transcript via ABC:

RADDATZ: And John joins us now.

And also here to talk about how Governor Christie performed in the press conference and what he should do now, the superstar crisis manager who was the inspiration for the Olivia Pope character on the hit show, "Scandal," Judy Smith.

Welcome to you both.


RADDATZ: Judy, I want to ask you, first, the one word I've heard in the last couple of days, it wasn't the first day, is the word cover-up. No -- nothing to show that Chris Christie did that, but lots of talk about staff and others doing that.

How does he get beyond that?

SMITH: Yes, I think he did a good first step. I think the press conference, he did a great job. He set the message narrative at the top. He apologized. He took responsibility. He made some swift actions.

And I like the fact he was able to make sure that he apologized to the mayor and he did all of those things in one day.

I think now what he does is he focuses on governing. He was very strong in pointing out during the press conference, I think, that this is not the way that he governs, this is an isolated incident. So constituents, please judge me on the totality of the circumstances.

RADDATZ: Jon Karl, you're watching this. You've covered a lot of scandals. And some of them haven't gone so well so -- in the end.

So you look at this, you listen to what Judy says, what's your take?

KARL: Well, first of all, I mean we've certainly had scandals that are more salacious.


KARL: We've had scandals where people have used state power to enrich themselves, to reward their friends, enrich their friends.

This is the first time I've seen -- I've personally covered a scandal where there has been the use of state power to intentionally make people miserable, to make constituents...

RADDATZ: Which is what I was trying to get at...

KARL: -- ordinary people...

RADDATZ: -- with Mayor Giuliani.

KARL: -- including Giuliani...


KARL: And, you know, it all comes down to the underlying facts, right?

Certainly he did a -- this was a pretty masterful performance at this press conference.

But if there is anything that ties Christie to this decision or shows that he knew about this earlier...

RADDATZ: Making people miss school...



KARL: -- we heard this from Rudy Giuliani himself...


KARL: -- saying that Christie is done if he knew about this.

RADDATZ: I want to go to the -- who he is...


RADDATZ: -- and the man he is and the bully image.

Let's play something from that press conference and then we'll get your reaction to it.

SMITH: OK. All right.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your critics say this reveals that you are a political bully, that your style is payback.

Are you?

CHRISTIE: I am who I am, but I am not a bully.


RADDATZ: Not a bully.

Now you can call it aggressive, you can call it assertive, people clearly have liked that in the past so -- but does -- is it an asset and does it now becomes a liability?

SMITH: I think it's an asset. And the reason why I say it, first of all, in that particular clip there, I would have not used the word "bully." It was repeating the negative and it felt too on the nose for me.

I do think that his reputation is based on that straight shooter, speak what I'm thinking, tell it, what I feel. And those things have helped him.

I think, in particular, in crisis situations, where you are trying to bounce back -- and as we talked about earlier, moving beyond the crisis, the thing that really helps is whether you have goodwill and a reputation.

And I think with him, those two things are going to be helpful to him in trying to push past that, because he does have a reputation of integrity and honesty.

KARL: But you never repeat the negative.

SMITH: No, you don't.

KARL: I am not a crook.

SMITH: Right.

KARL: I am not a witch.

SMITH: That's exactly right.


SMITH: I didn't kill my wife. I didn't beat my wife. And, you know, the next day, you saw a lot of the headlines say, "I am not a bully."

KARL: That clip was over and over again.

SMITH: Yes. No, absolutely. Absolutely.

RADDATZ: So both of you, quickly, where will this be in six months and how would you say he should handle this in six months?

Does he stop answering questions in six months and hope this goes away?

SMITH: I think that he should stop answering questions. We have to see what the investigation reveals and he just has to move past this. You know, as long as there's nothing that contradicts what he said in the press conference -- and hopefully, there's no...

RADDATZ: Does it end in six months -- Jon?

KARL: The underlying facts are more important than how he handles the communication strategy.

Did he know?

The big question I have...


KARL: -- what about Bridget Anne Kelly, the staffer that he has thrown under the bus, called an idiot, stupid. She's going to have her time to talk.


KARL: What is she going to say?


SMITH: -- say. Yes.

KARL: Maybe she'll ask your advice.

RADDATZ: Quickly...

SMITH: She might...


SMITH: The one thing I will say, and we were talking about this, the thing that is so different about this scandal is its traffic.

What people...


SMITH: -- don't think about their commute every single day?

It's different in, I had sex with another woman. I mean we care about how long it takes us to get to work...


RADDATZ: So Bridget Kelly, should she talk, should she not talk, if she was your client?

SMITH: She's going to have to talk at some point.

RADDATZ: And Chris Christie is not your client and...

SMITH: He's not.


RADDATZ: Thanks to you both.

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