OK, you caught us. The Christie Tracker Podcast actually wrapped up back in November of 2016 - after the Bridgegate trial of former Christie staffer, Bridget Anne Kelly and former Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority, Bill Baroni.
But because Tuesday, January 16th marks the last day in office for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, we had to temporarily reemerge.
We bribed them with hot coffee and free EZ Pass for a month, so WNYC's Matt Katz and Nancy Solomon came back for one more round on the podcast. They join host David Furst for a last look back on the Gov's two terms in office.
Chris Christie dominated the state's political stage like no other. He claims New Jersey is "much, much better than it was eight years ago." But he finishes his term with the lowest approval rating of any governor in state history and may be remembered more for Bridgegate, Beachgate and endorsing Donald Trump than anything else.
Matt and Nancy highlight some of the moments that helped shape his legacy. Nancy says, "To me, it's all about how good of a communicator he is and how personable he is... and then all of the ways that he perverted our state government for his own purposes."
And while they were at it, the crew selected a few of their favorite episodes of the Christie Tracker Podcast:
Christie's Bold Defense of Muslim-Americans (Four Years Ago)
On this show from November of 2015, we turned back the clock to a time well before the presidential primaries, when Gov. Christie was letting loose with his bold support for a Muslim-American judge.
Chris Christie Through the Looking Glass
Things get curious. The man who deleted texts during Bridgegate investigation gets offended when Hillary Clinton's emails are erased. Matt picks apart every word of the governor's recent statements. And what does Alice in Wonderland have to do with Chris Christie? All will be explained in this episode from August 26, 2015.
Chris Christie: The Springsteen Tracker
If you're with the Gov at a Bruce show, don’t even think about leaving early. Back in October of 2015, Matt explained Christie's Springsteen legendary obsession.
The Christie Tracker Podcast Answers Your Questions
The Bridgegate trial is done. Governor Christie is heading into his last year in office. And the Christie Tracker Podcast is closing up shop.
Before we go, our resident Bridgegate-ologists, WNYC's Matt Katz and Andrea Bernstein, join us to answer your questions.
Former Christie associates Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni plan to appeal their guilty verdicts. But the Gov is certainly ready to move on. Speaking about Bridgegate on NJ 101.5's Ask The Governor show this week he said, "I'm DONE with this... the people of New Jersey are done with it, it's over. And I know that it won't allow for the liberal media in this state to continue to beat on the Republican governor. But they'll find something else to do."
Speaking with host David Furst, Matt Katz says, "Never has the governor specifically addressed those allegations that came up in the trial and told us what is, exactly, wrong with them. He's just given blanket denials."
WNYC's Matt Katz and Andrea Bernstein
(Photo: Arun Venugopal)
The Christie Tracker Podcast: Bridgegatepalooza!
The Trial is done. The guilty verdicts are in. So in an effort to turn the page on this chaotic chapter in New Jersey's history, we present Bridgegatepalooza - - a wrap-up of the political retribution scheme that derailed the rising star of the national Republican party, and ended – we thought – the political future of Chris Christie.
Host David Furst is joined by a group of reporters who covered the Bridgegate saga as it unfolded. Shawn Boburg, formerly with the Record now with the Washington Post… Heather Haddon and Ted Mann with the Wall Street Journal... Tom Moran, the Star-Ledger's Editorial Page Editor... and of course, WNYC's Andrea Bernstein and Matt Katz.
Looking back after the trial, Ted Mann says, "These are people who didn't think they were gonna get caught. And when they didn’t think they were gonna get caught, they weren't weeping and they weren't appealing to you to consider their backgrounds in public service… They were speaking very nastily about their fellow human beings and they were doing things that they would never justify in the light of day."
The Christie Tracker Podcast: The Bridgegate Trial Verdicts
After seven weeks, the Bridgegate trial is done and the verdicts are in. Former Chris Christie staffer, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, the former Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority, were found guilty on all counts. Both sides are vowing to appeal. And even though testimony during the trial indicated otherwise, Governor Christie says the jury confirmed everything he has said all along – that he knew nothing about a plot to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge.
Meanwhile, the governor has a Nov. 23rd court date to deal with a citizen's complaint in Bergen County, accusing him of misconduct. And the possibility of a new legislative investigation into Bridgegate has been raised.
WNYC's Matt Katz and Andrea Bernstein join us to reflect on the verdicts and help us get a handle on where this is heading. The governor appeared on CBS This Morning in an attempt to minimize the damage. But speaking with host David Furst, Matt Katz says "There are four high level people - we should remember this - four high level people who have been convicted of federal crimes who served… high up in this administration."
The Christie Tracker Podcast: The Bridgegate Trial - Week 7
Now in week 7, the Bridgegate trial is in the hands of the jury. And so as we wait for verdicts for former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly and former Port Authority appointee Bill Baroni, WNYC's Andrea Bernstein and Matt Katz join us with a few closing arguments of their own.
There were a lot of details and characters for the jury to keep track of over the last 6 weeks of testimony. Speaking with host David Furst, Matt and Andrea detail the drama that played out in court when juror questions were presented to the judge.
At one point, tempers flared over a sensitive question. Judge Wigenton ruled that regardless of motive, Kelly and Baroni could be guilty of conspiracy. Matt Katz says that resulted in Bridget Kelly's attorney "throwing his head back and slumping in his chair" and telling the judge that she was directing a verdict of guilty.