“Political crises: Chris Christie responds to Bridgegate”

“Political crises: Chris Christie responds to Bridgegate”
By Victoria Larson - 2014

This case study focuses on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s response to the Bridgegate crisis. This paper presents a case study of a political individual’s response during a crisis across three distinct texts. Building on Image Repair Theory (Benoit, 1997a), differences across texts are identified and compared by observing the presence of Denial, Evasion of Responsibility, Reducing Offensiveness, Corrective Action and Mortification. The three distinct texts are analyzed through qualitative textual coding. These consist of Governor Christie’s prepared press conference response, his responses to reporter’s questions, and messages sent publically via Twitter January 9th 2014. Findings suggest that Image Repair Theory is useful for supporting a comparison between texts within a political image repair effort. Corrective action, as well as mortification strategies, were found to be used most prominently across the texts. The application of image repair theory in this case study led to the recommended addition of two new subcategories (Repentance and Taking responsibility) within the strategy of Mortification from Benoit’s (1997a) Image Repair Theory.