Governor asked about ‘Ask the Governor’ cancellation at shore event

Gov. Phil Murphy stood before a newly-opened bridge spanning the waves of Barnegat Bay and discussed bigger waves he made by ditching the ‘Ask the Governor’ call-in radio show Thursday night. He says the show’s sponsors, public radio stations WNYC, WBGO and WHYY, broke faith by including a reporter on the panel.

“I have a lot of time for public radio. Their vision of that show was ‘Meet the Press’ and ours was ‘Ask the Governor.’ And our view is that there are plenty of opportunity to engage with the press, as we’re doing, as we speak. That show is intended for us to have a direct, unfiltered relationship and access to the 9 million residents who want to call in and ask anything they want,” Murphy said.

The radio show has only one prior episode in the can, and that did include a reporter, NJ Advance Media’s Matt Arco. But the Governor’s Office had indicated to the program’s executive producer at WBGO that was not the format they wanted. An hour before airtime, they still had no agreement.

“We thought we did, we thought we did. You’re a little surprised by that? So was I,” Murphy said.

So was WNYC’s Nancy Solomon, host of ‘Ask the Governor’, who commented Friday on the Brian Lehrer Show that the stations refused to pull a reporter at the governor’s last-minute request.

“I was unaware of a problem until 6 o’clock last night. I think there had been some conversation about it with the manager at WBGO, but it was not clear that the extent to which they disagreed,” Solomon said.

WBGO’s Amy Niles told us in a statement, “We had a written proposal that was presented and accepted by the Governor’s Office that included the reporter, and was exactly as presented in the first show.”

All sides are working on a solution. Meanwhile, major league sports are seeking concessions in New Jersey’s new sports betting legislation, like integrity fees. Murphy confirmed that he met with representatives Thursday, including former Major League Baseball pitcher Al Leiter.

“We’re working with the legislative leadership. I’m going back to Trenton. We’re going to have a meeting. I’m sure this will be part of that,” Murphy said.

Also part of that discussion, probably, will be the IRS’ recent threat to bar New Jersey’s new law offering a workaround on the $10,000 federal cap on State and Local Tax deductions, or ‘SALT.’ Without it tax bills would soar and taxpayers might be much less agreeable to the governor’s plans to raise revenues.

“They’re playing politics over policy and we won’t let them get away with that, so if we have to we’re going to sue them,” Murphy said.

Murphy will spend Memorial Day weekend at the governor’s official beach residence. He says he’s not bringing a beach chair. He will be back to work next week trying to avoid a government shutdown over the budget.