Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Jeff Drury presented “The Rhetoric of Rogue Ethos: Chris Christie’s Swing from ‘Boss’ to ‘Bully,’” at the Central States Communication Association Convention in Madison, WI in April. The presentation mirrored the essay he published in November 2014 in the Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric.

The article and presentation looked at how Christie’s existing rogue ethos may have hurt his damage control efforts in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal because his arguments in that context centered on personal feelings of embarrassment and shame rather than public values of republican leadership.

As Drury writes: “In the span of a year—from January 2013 to January 2014—public perception of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shifted from viewing him as a ‘Boss’ and rising GOP leader to a ‘Bully’ and a vindictive politician. In my essay I explain this shift in approval through the concept of ‘rogue ethos,’ loosely translated as rogue credibility, as it applies to Christie’s rhetorical responses to Hurricane Sandy relief and the George Washington Bridge scandal.

“I argue that Christie’s rhetoric provided conflicting constructions of his status as a leader. More precisely, Christie framed his response to Sandy relief from a moral standpoint of republican leadership while he framed his bridge scandal response from a personal, and hence selfish, vantage point that contradicted the earlier ethos. These two situations underscore the importance of community values undergirding rogue conduct and help theorize the risks of rogue ethos.”

Read the essay here.