Gawker, the popular blog based in New York, is going to court to investigate the relationship between the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
On Monday, the company and one of its reporters, John Cook, plan to file a civil suit against Mr. Christie’s office to try to obtain records of the communications between the two men. Mr. Cook, who regularly uses freedom of information and open public records acts to ferret out information for his Gawker articles, said the court action represents the first lawsuit filed by Gawker to obtain information.
The lawsuit has its origins in a New York magazine story in May which reported that Mr. Ailes had called Mr. Christie and “encouraged him to jump into the race” for president earlier this year. The report piqued the attention of people like Mr. Cook who believe that Mr. Ailes, a former Republican strategist who has run Fox News since its founding in 1996, still has a hand in politics. Mr. Christie has repeatedly ruled out running for president in the current election cycle.
In an interview with The Daily Beast weeks later, Mr. Ailes denied urging Mr. Christie to run, but acknowledged having dinner with him last summer.
By then, Mr. Cook had already sent a request to Mr. Christie’s office for any letters, logs of phone calls or records of meetings between Mr. Ailes and Mr. Christie. Mr. Cook asserted that that communications trail should be available under the state’s open public records act, but in mid-June, Mr. Christie’s office said that the records, if they exist, would be exempt upon “executive privilege and well-settled case law.”
Today, the ACLU says it is likely to drop the lawsuit. Why? Christie’s office presented the parties with a calendar item, which it says is the only communication between the two men.
While the suit will be dropped, the ACLU and Gawker’s John Cook both indicate that they believe there is still more to this story. Cook wrote: “We have no earthly idea why Christie would go so far as to invoke executive privilege to keep one lousy schedule entry, concerning a dinner that had already been reported, secret.”
The ACLU released a statement Monday saying, “While today’s response from the Governor’s office will likely resolve the lawsuit, it raises new questions.”