WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Should Barbara Walters have asked Gov. Chris Christie about his weight?

ABC's Barbara Walters created a bit of a stir when she asked New Jersey's Governor (and U.D. grad) Chris Christie about his weight.

I could argue either side of the relevance of such a question: Stick to the issues, it's very personal - or - if Governor Christie truly aspires to the Presidency, the governor's girth is relevant given obesity's role in potential heart disease; cancers; obesity, etc.

(Although I don't recall an extended public debate about former Vice President Cheney's persistent heart problems, despite a LACK of heft!)

But isn't there a double-standard here? What if a male news anchor/interviewer asked a female politician about her weight? To my knowledge, it never happened here in Delaware with Governor Ruth Ann Minner, nor in Maryland with Senator Barbara Mikulski. Come to think of it, we've had comparatively FEWER plus-sized, female politicians who've become governors, senators, etc. Although few nationally prominent male politicians could match Governor Christie's physique! (In U.S. history though, President - and later U.S. Chief Justice - William Howard Taft. It has been reported when President Taft was vacationing in Cape May, New Jersey, irreverent reporters put up a sign reading, "No swimming -- President Taft is using the Atlantic." Grover Cleveland, the one president to serve non-consecutive terms, was the second heaviest President, and arguably our least healthy President: A penchant for rich food and alcohol, plus cigars, which probably led to carcinoma at the roof of his mouth. In those days, surgery could be performed in secret. Like Christie, Cleveland was born in New Jersey.)

Here's the British newspaper DAILY MAIL's treatment of the Barbara Walters/Chris Christie exchange, plus you can access the video at the bottom...


Posted at 2:28pm on December 13, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 3:06pm
Come on Allan, "Political Correctness" protects minorities and women from being asked embarrassing questions like that. The European male is fair game. Don't mean to be so cynical, but let's face it, reporters walk on eggshells around Obama, because if you cross over the line, then you're branded a racist. Look at the news story about the white blond tennis player who did a prank on her personal friend Serena Williams, who is black.


Allan Loudell
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 3:10pm
Mike from Delaware... If and when political correctness means equal treatment, courtesy, respect, and civility, I'm all for it. When it stops people from asking legitimate, relevant questions, I'm against it.

I can see how the tennis "prank" you refer to could have been offensive not only to African-American women, but to women generally. I think we're comparing apples and oranges. Completely different context.

I do admit to a prejudice against Barbara Walters. I've just never understood her appeal.

Allan Loudell

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 3:16pm
This is award-winning, hard-hitting journalism at its best. While you're at it, Baba Wawa, ask Christie what's his favorite type of pizza.

The most interesting part of this, is that Christie has never said he's running for president. In fact, he even held a press conference to say he WASN'T interested in running for president. So there goes the argument that his weight is a relevant issue.

Must be a slow news day.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 5:16pm
Allan: That's my point. I have no problem with Walters asking Gov. Christie about his weight, because I believe if he runs for Prez it will be an issue, but if he were a minority or a woman, that question or any other question about his person would be off limits. The double standard is what I dislike.

If Christie were black and Walters asked that same question, my guess is based on the past, someone would be raising a stink and call her a racist. THAT's the crap that needs to end. A reporter should be able to ask the same questions to any political candidate.

I agree the tennis prank could be offensive to all women, but naturally Whoppie Goldberg made it racial. I'm so darn tired of that. They do that so much that when a real racial offense happens, who cares, its lost its punch and offensiveness, because if a white person looks at a minority the wrong way its automatically called racist.

So IF Serena Williams did some mocking thing about her friends Ms. Wozniack, would there have been an issue of it being racial? I think not.

The bigger problem with this Allan is in schools or the work place. A white teacher or employer has to really walk on egg shells when dealing with minority students or employees lest they be called a racist (that can kill a career) and have Al Sharpton protesting out in front of their building.

Black teachers and employers don't have that same pressure, who's going to have national TV cameras outside of their workplace? There's no white Al Sharpton. What happened to free speech? If I tell a black guy he's an idiot I'm a racist. If he says I'm an idiot he's only expressing his opinion. There's something very wrong with that. That's my point.

It's also why the achievement gap isn't closing in schools between minority students and white/Asian students. Its far easier and better for a teacher's career to just pass the minority student who'd not learning the work, than to fail that child and get called a racist. So the minority student is hurt even worse due to political correctness. So the kid doesn't get his/her feelings hurt in school and simply gets passed on to the next grade, but then his/her diploma isn't worth the paper its printed on, because that child never had to actually learn anything. How tragic that is for these kids.

Its time we get past this stuff. Sure if you call a black the "N" word that is offensive and probably is racist. If the black guy calls the white guy some name like Wop, Mick, etc, yes that too is offensive and probably is racist too, but even then would the black be accused of being a racist? Probably not.

The double standard is my point. IF saying something that could be taken as a racial slur is wrong for one group, it should be wrong for all groups. THAT is my point, but that's NOT where America is today. We are 180 degrees opposite of how it was back in 1950 where whites could say anything and blacks had to walk on egg shells. Somehow we've got to move the compass 90, not 180 degrees, so that its wrong for both sides to say racist things, because until we do, we'll never solve the racial problem in America. THAT's my point.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 6:45pm
Let us not forget that we once had a BIG FAT president, William Howard Taft, who kept getting stuck in the bathtub!

Also, we had a president with heart disease, Lyndon Johnson.
In fact, he had his first heart attack in 1955, five years before running on the Kennedy ticket in 1960. Now it is possible, based on how things were kept secret back then, that his heart trouble may not have been publicly known until after his death or after leaving office. In any event, LBJ died with heart attack #4, four years after stating "I will not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

Yeah, we're more health conscious now, supposedly. But one of the reasons you have a vice president is for a back-up in case the president, God forbid, dies.

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