Does Christie REALLY want press to beat female senator?

Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

If there's a Ph.D. candidate in Journalism looking for a dissertation topic, how about analyzing the progression of this story:

1) On Wednesday, Gov. Christie went off at a press conference about Democratic State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who is getting her legislative salary while simultaneously collecting her pension from her former Bergen County job. Weinberg has criticized Christie for going easy on his key Democratic ally, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo (who is also a double-dipper), so Christie said Weinberg should get the "hypocrisy award."

2) Then, Christie, nearly screaming in mic, argued that the press was giving her a free pass: "Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?...This is my unsolicited advice to the press corps. This is the kind of stuff that drives people crazy about you."

3) The story got minimal coverage, but the blogosphere seized on it, with this headline - "New Jersey Gov. says he wants to ‘take the bat’ to a 76-year-old widow" - circulating on aggregator news sites and progressive blogs.

4) Today, more than 24 hours after the comment, my e-mail box started filling with outrage. From Democratic State Senate Pres. Stephen Sweeney:

In the past, the governor’s rhetoric has been silly, disrespectful and generally unhelpful. But his comment that the press should "take the bat out” on Senator Loretta Weinberg goes beyond any sort of decency or common sense. In no way, shape or form should the phrase "take the bat out" be used on anyone, much less someone who has dedicated her public life to helping women, children and working families. The statement was offensive, indecent and so far beneath the standing of a public official it boggles the mind how the governor could even think of uttering it.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D., Union), went further:

The governor’s comments Wednesday are no different than Sarah Palin telling her supporters ‘Don’t Retreat – Instead RELOAD!’ in the context of her much maligned ‘Take Back the 20’ bulls-eye map. This right wing proclivity toward violent rhetoric can – and has – incited violence. It was a despicable choice of words that shows how clueless this governor truly is and continues to show just how little he values women as equal members of society.

And from Weinberg herself:

Frankly, considering I’ve devoted my entire legislative career to fighting for the rights of women – including battered women – I think his words continue to show the level of insensitivity and poor judgment that the Governor has demonstrated on women’s issues since getting elected. I doubt that the Governor will apologize to me personally regarding this latest attack. He has proven himself to be far too thin-skinned and stubborn to admit when he’s wrong on an issue. But I hope for the sake of women who’ve had to fear for their lives and their safety that he apologizes for his poor choice of words. However, I won’t hold my breath.

What do you think? Sexist? Big story? Non-story? And shoud the gov apologize?