Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday accused a Fox News of a personal "attack" after he called an internal investigation cleared New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for closing the busiest bridge in the world for political retribution.
During a panel discussion on Fox News Sunday, Rove insisted that Christie was still a viable presidential candidate, and that the governor's own internal investigation put him "back in the arena."
The National Journal's Ron Fournier, however, was not convinced by the internal review, calling it a "whitewash report."
"We saw what happened with the IRS scandal with you have your own person investigate yourself, nobody believes it, it's not credible," he explained. "This was basically his attorney declaring his innocence, and the public trial is about to begin. And the public trial is going to be ugly."
As host Chris Wallace tried to call on another panelist, Rove interrupted: "It's a direct attack! I have a right to response!"
"How can it be a whitewash," The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel agreed.
"Because it's done on his behalf," Fournier said. "And it didn't talk to half the people you have to talk to."
Strassel argued that the law firm hired by Christie would not have whitewashed the report because "so many reputations" were at stake.
"That's what attorneys do all the time," Fournier insisted. "That is exactly what defense attorneys do when they defend clients."
"I grant you that this does not exonerate him," Rove remarked. "But I think you're missing -- this is part of a process. And now we have a third party that has looked at all this information and gushed it out!"
"It's not a third party!" Fournier observed.
"Yes, it is a third party," Rove shot back.
In conclusion, Wallace noted that Rove, Strassel and Fournier were the "least collegial panel I've ever seen."