Critics Call Tribute Inappropriate

Governor Chris Christie is defending himself against critics of his plan to lower flags at state government buildings on Saturday in memory of singer Whitney Houston.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has ordered flags to flown at half-staff at state government buildings Saturday in memory of Newark's own Whitney Houston. But critics argue that the flag tradition should be reserved for members of the military, noting that it's wrong to honor someone with Houston's history of substance abuse.

The award-winning pop diva, who died on the eve of the 54th Annual Grammys, will be laid to rest in a private memorial service in the city of her birth this weekend.

On Wednesday, the Republican governor said his office has received a barrage of emails and other messages from constituents critical of the flag tribute. But the rotund politician -- once a favorite for the GOP presidential ticket -- doesn't believe the "I Will Always Love You" singer "forfeited the good things that she did in her life" because of her drug struggles.

In fact, the governor calls Houston a "cultural icon who belongs in the same category in New Jersey music history as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen."

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"A great source of pride for the people of the state… What I would say to everybody is there but for the grace of God go I," he said.

Christie has also ordered flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer who has perished during his administration.

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who unleashed a no-holds-barred rant about Whitney's battle against addiction on-air this week, feels it's appropriate to lower flags in the star's honor.

"Yes, I think we should respect the life and talent of Whitney Houston. I said a prayer when I heard she died," the host of The O'Reilly Factor said on The Today Show Thursday.

"This isn't a personal thing. This is a preventive thing. I want society and media to tell the truth about drug and alcohol addiction. Let's stop exploiting it and start explaining it."

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Comments on "Jersey governor under fire for Whitney Houston flag plan"

rosemary hirsch February 24, 2012 | 12:54 PM

I liked Whitney Houston as a singer, but her personal life with drugs and booze was a mess. It was a political mistake for the state's flag to be lowered to half-mast in honor of a deceased drug addict who died by her own hand. Save the lowering of the flag for those who die honorably in defense of their country or state.

Louise February 23, 2012 | 10:48 AM

This is not only an outrage, it should be a federal crime! The flag should never be flown at half staff for a private citizen, Especially one who has mis-served the public in the ways miss houston has. Sure she had talent, but she presented an image to our youth as a drug addict who more than likely caused her own death. How on Earth can Christie provide our nations top honors to her! His half assed attempt to validate his decision by ordering flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer who has perished during his administration came only after the outrage of disbelief.

Chris February 16, 2012 | 3:21 PM

Have we lost our minds, Its a shame that a person with a god given talent throws it away for drugs. Most people would give their right arm to have the ability and opportunites that she has had Then to lower our counties flag to half mast for a person who gave their life to drugs. Where it is typicaly done for men and women who gave their lives for our freedom and or our protection is insane. Where have our morals gone, we try to teach our kids drugs are bad...... But i guess there only bad if your not in the public eye

kitty February 16, 2012 | 12:34 PM

ABSURD !!! She is the ONLY artisit that I EVER remember having such an honor bestowed! ABSOULTELY RIDICULOUS. It's like rewarding bad behaviour! Don't do it!

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