How does a Wellesley grad end up like this?


Presumably, it took practice: Can we share a dirty little secret about the new wave of America’s “press corps?”

These people just aren’t very smart. They aren’t especially serious people. Manifestly, they aren’t very honest.

To get an idea what we’re talking about, consider the new post by Margaret Hartmann at New York magazine.

Pitifully, Hartmann’s headline says this: “Christie’s Other Childhood Friend Gave Tour of Fort Lee Traffic Jam.”

This implies that David Wildstein was a “childhood friend” of Christie’s. But guess what? No one believes that!

That headline made for a very bad start. This was her opening sentence:
HARTMANN (2/16/14): After it emerged that former Port Authority official David Wildstein oversaw the George Washington Bridge lane closures, Chris Christie explained that he barely knew his appointee and high-school classmate (though they were photographed together during the debacle).
Nice catch! As we all know, you can’t get photographed with someone unless you know them well, probably from high school.

What a pitifully propagandistic start! That said, we were most struck by the way Hartmann ended her cheeky new post.

Truly, what follows is pitiful—sad. For the record, Jeffrey Michaels is a semi-major New Jersey political player. Chip Michaels, his substantially younger brother, is a Port Authority policemen. He’s seven years younger than Christie:
HARTMANN (2/16/14): In a public television interview, Jeffrey Michaels said of the governor, "We went to high school with—we—our families knew each other from Livingston, and just stayed in close contact with him over the years and was very pleased to help his campaign out with policy." Presumably, Christie has also stayed in touch with Chip Michaels, who was the head coach of his son Patrick's little league hockey team in 2010. Looks like Christie is going to have to go with "betrayed by those closest to me" rather than "we're not even friends" on this one.
What makes that highlighted passage so pitiful?

First, it assumes that Chip Michaels collaborated with Christie in some way in the Fort Lee matter, although there isn’t a scintilla of evidence to that effect. People like Hartmann don’t seem to consider such points.

Even more ridiculous is the point she presumes to be true:

“Presumably, Christie has also stayed in touch with Chip Michaels, who was the head coach of his son Patrick's little league hockey team in 2010.”

Why would anyone “presume” something like that? Does Christie strike you as the type of guy who makes a point of staying in touch with younger working stiffs who coach youth hockey teams?

Hartmann graduated from Wellesley in 2006, then got a master’s degree in journalism. From there, it was on to Jezebel, where her brains may have been fried.

Consider: All we ever hear about is the difficulty college grads face in finding decent employment. In such an economy, why would a writer like this be employed by New York magazine, a major publication?

Most of these people just aren’t very smart. Manifestly, though, they aren’t very honest—and they aren’t even slightly serious.

As we’ve noted, this is the next group of Sam-and-Cokies! The silly pair crafted our bullshit back then. By now, the torch has been passed.

Getting a taste of the tone: When Hartmann came to New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer site, Dan Amira made the announcement:
AMIRA (6/7/12): Introducing Intel Margaret

...We'd also like to introduce our new night editor, Margaret Hartmann. Intel Margaret, as we have forced her to legally rename herself, joins our team after four years at Jezebel, where she most recently served as a night editor as well. You know how some people are night people and some people are day people? She's a night person, we think! Margaret joins evening veteran Brett Smiley, who has been cranking out news into the wee hours of the morning for some time now. The two of them are an integral part of our effort to deliver a continuous IV drip of Daily Intel, straight into your eyeballs, for something approximating 24 hours a day.

Everyone say hi to Intel Margaret.
Was Pee Wee Herman writing Amira’s stuff? Today, Amira is a writer for Jon Stewart. Not that there’s anything wrong with it!

What do you think of the tone of that introduction? Would you call it playful and fun? Two years later, are you surprised by the cheeky, pitiful fare Hartmann has just “cranked out?”


  1. Two posts about the same damned thing, which still doesn't amount to a half pitcher of warm piss.

    But of course, Bob and his analysts must separate the youngish, female Wellesly grad for extra special attention.

    1. Pointing out that an innocent person may not be guilty of what he is being accused of "doesn't amount to a half pitcher of warm piss"? Maybe not to you, but perhaps to him and to people who care about truth.

      Are young, female Wellesly grads not to be taken seriously enough to be criticized? Should their work be ignored because they are youngish, female and from an Ivy League school? Has Somerby ever singled her out before she said something stupid? Or do you perhaps think Somerby should be singling out youngish NJ soccer coaches of Christie's children instead?

    2. You are exactly correct. Chip Michaels stands wrongfully and horribly accused of being a childhood friend of Chris Christie's! My lordy, what an outrage!

      Why, Bob has absolute PROOF that Michaels is seven years younger! This should be good for another 16 years worth of posts!

    3. No, he is being accused of somehow participating in the lane closure scandal. If he were only a friend, his name would never have been mentioned.

    4. "being accused of somehow"!

      Wow! Even worse!

      Bob will be on this like Somerby on Ripley!

    5. "youngish NJ soccer coaches of Christie's children instead"

      Not soccer, but hockey. And not children, but one son.

      Thought you might want to correct yourself to maintain the high standards of absolute perfection that Bob demands.

    6. Again, you mistake trivialities for substance. It doesn't matter whether it was soccer or hockey, but it does matter what age Michaels was compared to Christie. Anyone who knows kids or can remember childhood knows that with that big a gap in ages, even siblings don't hang out together.

      I don't find these reports very specific about how Michaels participated in the lane closure scandal, other than by driving Wildstein around, which was his job. Someone elsewhere says he was reporting to Wildstein via email. I didn't see that in the reports Somerby referenced. If Michaels was already implicated, why wasn't that reported in these new articles about the supposed childhood friendship between Michaels and Christe? Is it because they wish to assume that Michaels reported to Christie (despite absence of emails or texts) so they can prove Christie masterminded this?

    7. "Again, you mistake trivialities for substance."

      How ironic coming from a Bob Fan.

    8. Because Bob Fans are always writing long comments that revolve around trivial details that someone got wrong, totally beside any point that anyone was making, in order to show what an utterly worthless human being Somerby is?

    9. Brilliant Comment 3:57

      A. Taboi Baab

    10. "Bob will be on this like Somerby on Ripley!"

      Hope you are right @1:16. I am looking forward to a little Finn flipping and Pole poking. Been awhile.
      Black kids gotta feel mighty lonely since the Bobster turned his back.

    11. Black kids make poor clickbait, unlike Zimmerman and Christie.

      Bob learned this lesson long ago when he tried to turn his blog into an "education blog" and nobody at all read it. So he turned his back on those poor kids to write how mean the press has been to Scooter Libby, with an occasional reminder of how many of those "other" vile people care nothing about those poor kids since they never write about them,

    12. AnonymousFebruary 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      "No, he is being accused of somehow participating in the lane closure scandal. If he were only a friend, his name would never have been mentioned."

      Here's what is being reported, what we know at this point.

      On the first morning of the lane closures, text messages appear to show Michaels telling Wildstein before they went for their ride-around, that “its [expletive] up here.” Then, at 8:46am – approximately 75 minutes after they had apparently left for their ride-around on the bridge – Michaels tested Wildstein that “I may hav idea to mak ths beter” (sic). The next morning, just before 9:00am, Michaels texted Wildstein again. “Local ft lee traffic disaster.”

      Fort Lee Police Chief Keith Bendul told msnbc that Michaels was one of three Port Authority Police officials he reached out to on the morning of the lane closures as he unsuccessfully tried to contain the impact on the area.

      The actions of this PA police officer in connection with the lane closings have raised eyebrows.

      Foye requested the agency’s inspector general investigate the reported actions of police officers who were at the bridge during the lane closures, according to a source close to the Police Department.

      That would be Port Authority Executive Director. When the top guy sees reason to launch an investigation by the agency's own Inspector General, than I would have think it is significant.

      Does Bob Somerby know more about proper and improper behavior of the PA police or does the Executive Director of the Port Authority have a little more authority in this area?

    13. 3:57 - what is the point?

    14. If we must become like our enemies in order to defeat them, we have already lost.

    15. Everytime there is an investigation of a liberal the claim is made that it is frivolous no matter how much smoke there is. When someone perceived as conservative is investigated he is branded guilty just because there is an investigation. Nevermind if there is no evidence of any wrongdoing.

      Fort Lee cops bitched to Michaels. Michaels in turn complained to Wildstein that things were messed up. That is fishy? The fact he complained that things were messed up means he was taking his job seriously. The investigation is a joke and not going to result in anything. The only reason he is suddenly being investigated is because he coached Christie's son so now all of a sudden people are trying to claim he is best friends with Christie and a link to Christie. His texts raised no eyebrows when peopel thought he didn't ever meet Christie. But once they foudn out he knew Christie it was misrepresented as them being best friends growning up and that they had to be in contact over the incident.

  2. If you are under pressure to crank out "news" 24 hrs a day, some of it will not be very high quality. Does this imply that she is combing the internet for tidbits and rewriting AP items to make them sound fresh and original? I cannot imagine she is doing investigative journalism at midnight. So, embellishing regurgitated items seems like a good way to introduce errors.

  3. Anybody ever see a reference to where Kornacki went to college?

  4. We assume Chris Hayes is perfectly bright. What did he write in his college newspaper?

    1. He apparently participated in theater while at Brown University, not journalism.

    2. Did you pick that up in one of TDH's pieces?

    3. Wikipedia. Also, Kornacki went to Boston University.

  5. The current wave of American journalists is dumb because their Boomer gramps and grammas did drugs and their parent's didn't give a rat's patoot about NAEP scores or black children.

  6. OMB (Must have something to Do with old school Ties?)

    Talking Points Memo ran a very similar post, with the byline of CAITLIN MACNEAL (Your really can hear upper case screams in space). Our BOB elected to pass that one by withoug generational judgement or annotation of educational affiliation.


    1. Josh Marshall has been persona non grata in these parts for many years, ever since Somerby offered his unique guidance to the poor lad, and Marshall told him what to kiss.

      This was when Marshall started to make some real money, and that drove Somerby nuts.

      And even to the point where Bob wouldn't even nibble at the bait when TPM Cafe had Amanda Ripley as a special guest for an entire week.

  7. Did anyone, including Bob in particular, read the Newark Star-Ledger 2010 puff piece that Hartmann referenced? Michaels is described as being part of Christie's "tight circle" of back-home friends, and is quoted saying how he and others in that circle "break his chops" over Christie's remarkable ascent. Sounds fairly tight to me, even without the brother and coaching connections. Why does Bob ignore that -- and why do his groupies just assume he is reporting this fully and honestly?

    1. Bob has already handed out the script. Michaels is seven years younger, so Christie couldn't have possibly known him when they were kids, which also means he barely knows him now.

    2. Valid wherever "couldn't possibly have known him" = no evidence whatsoever indicates they were close -- but only "fans" and "groupies" would make such a distinction, of course.

      The rest of you free thinkers like urban legend and 5:55 Anonymous get your panties in a wad if the bullshitting of NY Magazine writers is pointed out.

      "Christie's Other Childhood Friend" -- that's the stuff you prefer everyone swallow without chewing.

      Fucking well-matched pair of idiots you are!

    3. I've defended the Howler many times, probably for longer than you've been following the blog. Are you simply pretending the Newark Star-Ledger article describing both Christie and Michaels as part of a "tight circle" of friends from their hometown doesn't exist? Or that it's meaningless that Michaels would say he and his friends "break his chops" over his ascent to prominence because there was a seven year age difference?

  8. In my humble opinion I think Christie is done. He's been outta for the thug he is, and Wall Street is backing away. My question is, who are they pick to replace him?