Christie Defends Lowering Flags For Whitney Houston [VIDEO]
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is strongly defending his decision to have flags lowered to half-staff Saturday for the late singer Whitney Houston amid criticism partly related to her history of substance abuse.
Christie says he rejects the idea the New Jersey native "forfeited the good things that she did in her life" because of her substance abuse struggles.
The Republican governor said Wednesday disparaging emails and other messages have been coming into his office. He says critics are wrongly accusing him of treating Houston better than fallen soldiers. He has ordered flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer during his time in office.
The cause of Houston's death at a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel over the weekend hasn't been determined.
New Hope Baptist Church To Allow 1 Camera At Funeral
Fans worldwide who want to bid Whitney Houston farewell will be able to watch her private funeral inside the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark on the World Wide Web.
Her publicist, Kristen Foster, announced that The Associated Press will be the pool camera for the Saturday ceremony and the AP will stream the service on livestream.com/aplive.
The stream will also be available on this Townsquare Media website.
Houston died in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Saturday at the age of 48. Her body was flown back to her native New Jersey on Monday.
Some fans were disappointed when they learned that the funeral was private and no public memorial was planned.
Coroner Seeking Whitney Houston Medical, Pharmacy Records
The Los Angeles County coroner's office has issued subpoenas for medical and pharmacy records from Whitney Houston's doctors and medical providers, which is standard procedure in such investigations, an official said.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the request is made in virtually all death investigations because it can shed additional light on how people died and whether they had any serious medical conditions.
"We've already contacted a number of doctors with requests for records," he said.
Winter said that at this point, there is nothing unusual about how his office is proceeding with the Houston death investigation and that requests for medical records are requested through subpoenas.
"If somebody even dies in a crash, a blunt force trauma, we will still take medical issues into account," he said.
"Anything helps." Investigators found several bottles of prescription medication in the Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room where Houston died Saturday, although Winter has said they weren't an unusually large number. Detectives have declined to disclose which medications were seized.
Authorities said an autopsy found no indications of foul play or obvious signs of trauma on Houston. She was underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from a bathtub, officials said.
It could be weeks before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.
Houston died just hours before she was scheduled to perform at producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards bash.
FLAGS AT HALF-STAFF IN NEW JERSEY ON SATURDAY
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he will order flags flown at half-staff at state government buildings Saturday in memory of Whitney Houston.
The governor says Houston was a "cultural icon" who belongs in the same category in New Jersey music history as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen. He says her accomplishments were "a great source of pride for the people of the state."
Meanwhile, in New York State, the NY Daily News reports that GOP-run State Senate has rejected a request from Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn)to honor Houston. Republicans, who just stiffened penalties for prescription drug abuse, were uneasy about paying tribute to someone who may have died of drug abuse.
Adams argued that Houston donated proceeds from the re-release of her 1991 rendition of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” to 9/11 first responders and victims to no avail.
BOBBY BROWN CAN COME TO THE FUNERAL
Friends of Whitney Houston's ex -husband Bobby Brown deny a TMZ report he is not invited to the funeral on Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church. ABCNews.com says the family can't stop him from attending because he wants to support their daughter Bobbi Kristina. In a statement,
"My daughter Bobbi Kristina is doing much better," Brown said in an email statement to ABCNews.com Tuesday. "We continue to provide love and support to Bobbi Kristina. She is dealing with the tragedy of her mother's death and would prefer to do it outside of the public eye. I ask again that our privacy be respected."
- INTERACTIVE: The life of Whitney Houston
- INVESTIGATION: Whitney Houston's Death May Be Linked To Prescription Drugs
- LIFE & DEATH: Whitney Houston Dead At Age 48
- BOBBIE KRISTINA:Feared To Be Suicidal?
- REPORT: Whitney Houston Found Under Water, On Xanax At Time Of Death
- REMEMBERING WHITNEY: Newark Church Where Whitney First Sang Remembers
- GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Whitney A True NJ Treasure
- APPRECIATION: Whitney, We Will Always Love You
- REACTION: The Music Industry Reacts To Whitney Houston's Death
- REACTION: Movie & TV Industry Remembers Whitney Houston
- BOBBY BROWN: On Stage: "I Love You, Whitney"
- WHITNEY HOUSTON: Happy In Her Final Days
- THE MUSIC: My Essential Whitney Houston - One Man's Opinion
- NJ SENATE: Remembering Whitney
WHERE DO BROKEN HEARTS GO?
Meanwhile, fans are wondering how they can publicaly show their appreciation and love for the singer. Whitney Houston's family plans a private church service. No public memorial is set. And in Los Angeles, Houston doesn't even have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for fans to pile flowers on.
The hearse that carried Houston's body from an airport to a funeral home came into Newark late at night. That denied residents yet another opportunity to grieve publicly.
The family said Tuesday it had no plans right now for a public memorial. Still, fans are holding out hope.
They gathered Tuesday outside the Newark church where her funeral is scheduled for Saturday and outside the funeral home.
FUNERAL TO BE PRIVATE
Houston's funeral will be held at noon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The funeral home said that no wake would be held and that there would be no public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center, the sports arena that the family had discussed as a possible venue.
The funeral service will be by invitation only, Carolyn Whigham said, reflecting the family's desire to keep the memorial more personal. "They have shared her for 30 some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell," she said. "The family thanks all the fans, the friends and the media, but this time is their private time," she said.
Some details about the funeral have leaked. Gospel singer Marvin Winans has been chosen to deliver the eulogy. Winans is a Grammy Award-winning member of one of gospel music's first families. In his role as a pastor he married Houston and Bobby Brown in 1992.
The Winans and Houston families have been friends for years. Houston performed with Marvin Winans' sisters CeCe and BeBe.
The New York Daily News reports the funeral will be a "strong musical celebration of her life" according to New Baptist Church Pastor Joe Carter. While not naming names, it is expected that singer Kelly Price, who shared the stage with Whitney on her last ever performance, and Jennifer Hudson are expected to attend.
"I WANT TO SEE JESUS"
TMZ reports that in her final days Whitney Houston told friends she "really wanted to see Jesus" and claimed she had a feeling the end was near for her ... this according to several of Whitney's friends. They say she became "spiritual" and felt that her time was coming. Whitney was discussing a bible passage involving John the Baptist and Jesus ... when Houston flashed a big smile and remarked, "You know, he's so cool ... I really want to see that Jesus."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)