Coming to a spirited and perhaps journalistically unprecedented defense of one of its reporters, the New York Daily News, the fifth-highest circulated paper in the United States, on Tuesday called Gov. Chris Christie a "fatso" on its front page.
The tabloid was responding to Christie's repeated ad hominem attacks Monday against the Daily News reporter who covers the New York Jets, Manish Mehta.
Christie spent four hours Monday co-hosting a sports radio talk show on WFAN in New York, and the topic du jour was Jets coach Rex Ryan's decision to play quarterback Mark Sanchez at the end of a meaningless preseason game. Sanchez got hurt, and reporters were aggressive in their questioning at the subsequent news conference.
Christie, who is friends with Ryan, and even received lap-band advice from him before the governor underwent his own surgery, defended the coach and slammed Mehta. He called Mehta a "complete idiot, self-consumed, underpaid reporter" and said he would have told him: "You're an idiot. Don't ask stupid questions."
"When reporters act like jerks, you need to treat them that way back," advised Christie, who has built a reputation attacking reporters. "They don't have some vaulted status in our society that they get to act like jerks and not be treated like a jerk back."
The Daily News did not take kindly to Christie's attacking one of its own. The tabloid responded with two articles and several headlines filled with fat jokes. The cover headline, "Who you calling an idiot, fatso?" was complemented by similar headlines inside the paper: "ATTACK OF THE BLOB" and "PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE."
In one of the two columns that appeared, Mike Lupica, who has written favorably about the governor in the past, wrote: "The biggest guy in the Republican Party may have thought he was being a stand-up guy for his friend Rex Ryan. He ended up looking small instead."
This isn't the first time the New York tabloids have called Christie fat. Last year, a New York Post headline about his possible run for vice president was succinct: "FAT CHANCE."
And when he visited Israel, above a picture of him praying at the wailing wall, the New York Post wrote: "THE WHALE AT THE WALL."