While backing away from the idea of “breaking up with MSNBC,” Real Time host Bill Maher did press Rachel Maddow on her network’s coverage of the investigations into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration.
“He’s not the president,” Maher told Maddow. “He’s not even a guy who ever, himself, said he was going to be running for president. He’s a New Jersey governor who did something bad. He closed lanes on a bridge; bad. But is it really that bad? If it was a Democratic governor not close to New York City, the media capital, would we be covering this?”
“When there are gonzo political corruption stories, you cover them,” Maddow responded. “The most interesting thing about the Christie one is that we still don’t know what happened. It’s still not resolved. We still don’t have an explanation.”
A week ago, Maher published a “break-up note” expressing his dissatisfaction with the network’s across-the-board coverage of the unresolved closures last year on the George Washington Bridge, writing, “Look at yourself. You’re turning into Fox News. Bridgegate has become your Benghazi, and this isn’t easy to say, but you and I are no longer on the same news cycle.”
But Maher reassured Maddow on Friday that he did still watch her network, and clarified his post.
“I should have said that, yes, this is not the same as Benghazi,” Maher explained. “I made that analogy — ‘This is your Benghazi.’ Benghazi is nothing. There is no scandal there. This is an actual scandal. It’s just that it’s not Watergate.”
National Review Online writer Charles Cooke did agree with Maher that the possible actions by the Christie administration did constitute a scandal, he accused Maddow and MSNBC of moving to undermine the governor’s potential as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
“Why not come clean?” Cooke asked. “What you’ve been doing over the last two months is trying to get rid of Chris Christie from the race.”
“Why would I be excited to clear Chris Christie from whatever race you mean?” Maddow responded.
“Why would MSNBC want one of the most popular Republicans in the country to be embroiled in scandal for two months or more?” Cooke pressed.
“So you think that I created the bridge story out of whole cloth in order to elect a Democrat in 2016?” Maddow asked, before adding a faux-maniacal laugh.
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Friday, below.