Maddow and the very large salary!


Seven million ways to get fake: What did David Wildstein do at the Port Authority?

Last night, one of Lawrence’s guests has no trouble explaining. WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein described some of the gentleman’s projects:
BERNSTEIN (2/5/14): I mean, this wasn’t a nothing job. This was a really important position, where he was in charge of doling out billions of dollars for capital projects, much of that in New Jersey. And what we know now is that David Wildstein was taking money and putting them into projects that solved other problems for Chris Christie, lots and lots of money...He was arranging the kinds of mega-projects that advanced Chris Christie’s political fortunes.
Asked to elaborate, Bernstein cited several specific “mega-projects” involving the use of Port Authority money for the Bayonne Bridge and the Pulaski Skyway. This took pressure off the New Jersey state budget, she said.

We were quite surprised by Bernstein’s detailed knowledge. One hour before, Rachel Maddow had built her opening segment around a familiar pair of claims:

David Wildstein was paid way too much! And no one knows what he did!

Maddow loves to clown with these themes, as you know if you watch her TV show. We’ll highlight what Maddow said about the amount Wildstein was paid:
MADDOW (2/5/14): The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, every year since 2008, has posted its employee payroll information on their publicly available web site. So just pick the year you want, download the whole payroll and there it is, job by job, name by name, salary by salary. You can sort by the person, you can sort by their department. You can sort by what they get paid.

This is the employee payroll document of 2013. It shows, as you can see here, Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director who has since resigned his job in the bridge scandal. It also shows Phillip Kwon, Chris Christie`s unsuccessful nominee for Supreme Court in New Jersey who he then installed at the Port Authority as the first deputy general counsel once he didn’t get the court job.

And of course, then there’s David Wildstein, the Director of Interstate Capital Projects, getting paid as you can see there an annual salary of $150,000 plus change.

That’s him on the payroll in 2013. This is the same payroll document from the year before that, from 2012. There he is again making the same, $150,000. The Director of Interstate Capital Projects. Also in 2011, same deal. David Wildstein, $150,000. Same deal back in 2010, there he is.

Here’s the thing, though. If you go back one year further than that, if you go back to 2009, David Wildstein is not there. He’s not listed. That’s because David Wildstein couldn’t get that job at the Port Authority until Chris Christie was sworn in as governor in 2010. So David Wildstein, in the 2009 records, not on the payroll.

And here’s the really interesting part. Before David Wildstein joined the payroll at the Port Authority in 2010, not only was he not there, his job was not there either. There was no job called Director of Interstate Capital Projects. If that job had existed before he was there, where that red arrow is, is where that job title would have been listed in the payroll records which are all public for this agency in New Jersey. If that job existed in 2009 it would be there, but it did not exist before him. And that’s because in order to hire David Wildstein at the Port Authority, once Chris Christie became governor, they had to invent that job for him there.

So they created this job. They invented this job title, the director of interstate capital projects. They assigned the job a $150,000 salary, and then they just put David Wildstein in it. This is a job that was custom-built for him.

The Star Ledger reported in December that that job created for David Wildstein has no job description. Had no job description on file. Look, quote, "in his campaign to transform itself into a model of government transparency, the Port Authority turned over a stack of resumes and job descriptions for employees hired in a salary of $100,000 or more during Governor Chris Christie’s first two years in office.

For most of the 50 names, 50 employees getting paid six figures, most of the 50 names on that list quote "the agency provided both a resume and the positions corresponding job description and requirements." But not in David Wildstein’s case, David Wildstein’s case, no job description, no resume with the paper notes which the paper notes makes it impossible to gauge whether his experience or qualifications actually met the requirements of the job, this job that was invented just for him.


And now today, exactly 60 days after he became the first Chris Christie ally or staffer to resign in this bridge scandal, today, we learn that the Port Authority is eliminating the job that they created for him. They are eliminating the job that he once held. According from the Star Ledger today, in all the vast history of the sprawling bureaucracy known as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, there’s never been a job like it. It came with no actual job description. It had only one occupant. And he didn’t have to submit a resume. Nobody seemed to have the vaguest idea what he was really doing, but he was paid $150,000.
MSNBC can be amusing! Last evening, in the 9 o’clock hour, we learned, for about the ten millionth time, that “nobody seemed to have the vaguest idea what [Wildstein] was really doing.”

One hour later, Bernstein came on and rattled off chapter and verse.

If you watch Maddow’s show, you know she loves to talk about the large salary Wildstein was paid. Last night, we got so sick of hearing her cite that $150,000 salary that we decided to see if there was any fresh reporting on how much she gets paid.

According to a TV Guide report from last August, Maddow was getting paid $7 million per year at that time. It’s dangerous to pay “journalists” that much, as anyone can see from watching the gong-show Maddow now puts on the air.

At any rate, here’s the start of a report from the Daily Mail, citing TV Guide as its source:
DAILY MAIL (8/20/13): MSNBC's Rachel Maddow makes about $7 million annually, edging out Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who makes about $6 million per year, according to a survey released by TV Guide on Tuesday.

By comparison, the survey found that CBS' Scott Pelley makes $5 million annually and CNN's Chris Cuomo makes about $2.5 million.

All those salaries pale in comparison to Today host Matt Lauer's, however, which was estimated at around $23.5 million.
For the TV Guide report, click here. We can’t vouch for the accuracy of its figures.

According to Bernstein, Wildstein was driving some very major projects from his Port Authority post. On TV, a $7 million clown has been rolling her eyes, for weeks, at the shocking amount of scratch this lay-around slacker was paid.

No one can say what he did! But he got paid all that money!

It’s dangerous to pay “journalists” $7 million per year. As you watch Maddow clown and cavort and beg for viewers, you can see why we’ve made that point down through these many long years.


  1. And Billy Butler, designated hitter of the Kansas City Royals, gets paid $8 million. That is about as relevant to this discussion as Maddow's salary.

    A job was created at a very handsome salary for Wildstein, who doesn't have on his resume any education, expertise or experience to do the work Bernstein says he did.

    Moreover, Baroni recommended and Christie approved (Christie version) a very "unreliable" guy for this highly important postion (New Christie version, not to be confused with the Minstrels).

    And this position was so important that after the only guy to hold it resigned in disgrace, the job was abolished.

    1. Maddow is the person complaining about the size of someone's salary. Somerby is pointing out that the same complaint might be made about her salary, which is large compared to many others in her field.

      It might be argued (by someone without an anti-Christie axe to grind) that Wildstein may have conducted his own study in an irregular way because he was outside the normal traffic study bureaucracy, wanted a quick answer to something affecting plans for future large-scale building projects, and was impatient about going through regular channels. He may have asked about doing a study the right way and been told to get in line or go fly a kite. His lack of traffic engineering expertise, coupled with his higher position, may have led him to disregard warnings about havoc as he went through with his proposed study.

      Somerby is urging us to wait for more facts. It may turn out that Sokolich was impeding some development plan that Wildstein was working on. To my knowledge, no one but Maddow is suggesting that Wildstein wasn't doing a job in exchange for his salary. That explanation makes more sense given his job content. Maddow's version makes no sense, especially if we accept that he was just a political appointee with nothing real to do except act as the governor's crony.

      The best evidence that Wildstein is unreliable is the lane closure fiasco itself and the way it was carried out (e.g., without informing the people affected, without going through channels, without documentation, without waiting for simulations or other analyses, etc.). If Wildstein's job was to devise major development projects using Port Authority funds, to free up governor's budget money, then it makes sense Christie would not appoint someone else in his place but would abolish the position. He has a spotlight on him now and all of his actions are being examined. This is not the time for him to engage in budget-related maneuvering that might appear shady to investigators. That doesn't mean Christie created the position FOR Wildstein. If Christie were not potentially running for president, someone might ask whether Baroni created that position for Wildstein, as payback of some kind. But Baroni isn't a major figure and there is no reward to Maddow for going down that road. That's part of Somerby's complaint -- only pleasing partisan story lines get pursued by Maddow and others discussing this issue, much less facts that don't fit such a story line.

    2. "....without informing the people affected....."

      Actually, what he did was affirmatively instruct people not to inform the people affected.

    3. The only person complaining about salaries in this post is the blogger. Mentioning, even repeatedly, is not complaining.

    4. Exactly. I read in nothing Somerby has quoted Maddow anywhere where she "complains" about his salary.

      Her point is quite clear, even in the piece Bob cut and pasted, as long as you read the whole thing and not just what Somerby chose to highlight.

    5. And why is Bob so hung up about Maddow's salary? What is the going rate for cable hosts whose shows are the highest rated on the network? Why isn't he all worked up over O'Reilly's pay? Or Hannity's? Or Chris Hayes or Lawrence O'Donnell?

      They all make handsome salaries, Bob.

    6. I found out why Bob apparently isn't as upset over O'Reilly's paycheck.

      TV Guide doesn't say what it is. And Bob is too damned lazy to find out. After all, he's got his "talking point" -- Maddow makes a lot of money.

    7. By the way, Bob. Took me 10 seconds to find a Website, that gives some indication of O'Reilly's haul.

      They say its $17 million per year. And between his radio gig and TV gig, Hannity hauls down between $22 million and $25 million.

      So yes, Bob. They are all handsomely paid.

    8. Another 10 sec wasted.

  2. Well done, Bob. These analyses are meticulous and I am grateful.

  3. So the fact that a job with no job description but a substantial, tax-supported salary that didn't exist before Christie came into office and will not exist from here on out is not news?

    Rule of thumb here: if Maddow reports it, it is not news by definition.

    1. Of course, it's not news. What is news for Bob's fans is what Maddow makes.

    2. Do you know the difference between a civil service appointment and a political appointment? Maddow should unless she is playing ignorant.

    3. Are you saying Wildstein was a civil service appointment?

    4. No, he was a political appointment. That's why no job description. That's why Baroni asked Christie to appoint him, instead of him being hired via HR. That's why he has no training for doing traffic studies. That's why there was no job like this before Christie came in and why there is no one being appointed in Wildstein's place. These kinds of jobs exist in most big cities. These people are like Obama's appointees. His advisors and assistants for this and that, his staff people. They change with each administration. Maddow is trying to make that normal process sound like something sinister.

      That show on British TV, Yes Minister, was about the attitude of the career employees toward the political people who supervised them and were largely ignorant of how the bureaucracies functioned and came and went with the changes in which party is in power. Our government has retained that element, although not as institutionalized as in Great Britain. In Chicago, they refer to patronage jobs that the mayor has the power to assign, and it is the same on the East Coast and at the governor's level, not just mayors in big cities. That's why Bridget Kelly can be fired without going through a complicated documentation process -- she works at the pleasure of the governor. When the President fires someone, he asks for them to resign. Wildstein and Baroni resigned, perhaps at Christie's request because they were compromised and if he fired them it would be like admitting they did something wrong, which would compromise their defense in any later trials or investigations -- which they seem to expect given that they have lawyers and are taking the 5th. Kelly's wrongdoing is obvious, so he had to fire her to disassociate himself from it.

    5. As Paul Begala said, Christie's choice was crook or schnook.

      He either knew what all these people he put in patronage jobs were up to, including his deputy chief of staff, which makes him a crook. Or he had no idea, which makes him a schnook.

      He chose schnook.

    6. The port authority is in a peculiar in between land and the salaries are high

  4. I did a search for "Maddow" and "Howler" and Google's servers crashed.

  5. "....he was in charge of doling out billions of dollars for capital projects, much of that in New Jersey."

    Holy Toledo! However will they figure out how to fund these bridge projects without Wildstein there to "dole out" all those "billions"? Did he turn in the key to his safe? Did he give anyone the combination before he left?

    1. Captain Somerby has summoned all officers to the bridge. They and the sailors will be strip searched to find Wildstein's key. Please ignore the pieces of the Port Authority piggy bank Mr. Wilstein left on the deck when he shoved off.

  6. OMB (BOB and the Teeny Tiny Salary)

    Rachel makes big bucks. BOB does not.

    Rachel supports her meme with invented, distorted, disappeared facts. BOB does not!

    Wait. Let's check out that last line.

    Rachel's big buck salary is a meme of BOB's.

    But BOB has the goods on Wildstein's important job. Right? Wait. Let's check out that last line.

    When BOB first introduced us to David Wildstein he called him a "minor New Jersey official official" who was "a high school friend of Christie's."

    Today Wildstein's job " was a really important position, where he was in charge of doling out billions of dollars for capital projects.... He was arranging the kinds of mega-projects that advanced Chris Christie’s political fortunes.....specific “mega-projects” involving the use of Port Authority money for the Bayonne Bridge and the Pulaski Skyway..... According to Bernstein, Wildstein was driving some very major projects from his Port Authority post."

    Of course, for both the inital description of Wildstein and highlights of his PA work, BOBfans may note he was relying on the work of real reporters (Note BOB used to be a "real" reporter. He is now either a former reporter or unreal reporter. We just don't know which.)

    Funny thing. In the intial and second reports BOB's description of the importance of Wildstein's job contradict each other. In the inital descritpion of his high school relationship to Christie, Bob has embellished his source's inaccurate report. We begin to detect a pattern. He has invented and distorted. But what else?

    Go read the work of the reporter he praises in this post, Andrea Bernstein. You will find that the two projects were not "driven" by Wildstein, as BOB suggests.

    He in fact had nothing to do with doling out the funding, that was done by Port Authority Commissioners. He did not drive either of the two projects. The first began prior to his arrival at the Port Authority and work to expedite it can be credited to professional staff and the Democratic Senators from the two states along with President Obama. The other was a highway project of the state of New Jersey, not the Post authority.

    In fact, the best way to describe what Wildstein did is help make it possible to take the money away from other projects and spend it on projects. Just like he helped take toll lanes from Ft. Lee and give them to other commuters. You could say he took things from some and gave them to others. I know there is a name for that kind of work.

    Oh well, BOB is different than Rachel. He doesn't make big bucks. Nailed it!


    1. "The first began prior to his arrival at the Port Authority and work to expedite it can be credited to professional staff and the Democratic Senators from the two states along with President Obama."

      Could this be one of those "shovel-ready" projects that Obama was looking to "stimulate" practically as soon as he was sworn in?

      I do note that Wildstein was described as "a minor official" only by Bob. But of course that was back in those long ago days when this was only a "massively ginned-up controversy." Both descriptions are no longer operative, so Bob "seem"lessly moves onto his next theory -- all leading to the startling conclusion that Rachel Maddow makes a lot of money.

    2. If he can leave his job without being replaced, doesn't that suggest he is minor?

    3. Of course the fact that Somerby was relaying as context, the background narrative already in the media is too fine a point for King Wanker.

    4. He can order the Port Authority's top professionals to close lanes without going through any of the steps, planning and notifications.

      Does that suggest he is minor?

      But you might ask Bob. His new script is that Wildstein was indeed worth every penny of his handsome salary, doing important Port Authority work on a daily basis.

    5. Of course, the fact that Somerby depends on a totally unreliable medium (the NYT, Gasp!) to supply him with that "background narrative" is an elephant sitting on Cecelia's couch that she will continue to ignore.

    6. Anon 6:42, I wish it was a blip on your radar (let alone an elephant) that it's logical to relay the media narrative, when relaying the background of the media narrative...

    7. No Cecelia, BOB was not just passing along backgound. The ultimate irony is that the article to which he linked when he wrote his "background" piece was written by Kate Zernike. BOB has since trashed her, saying this: "From her first day reporting this major event, Zernike has endlessly bungled the facts. She may be the most incompetent reporter we have ever seen."

      Is Kate Zernike incompetent? Well in the piece
      BOB paraphrased in his opening post on this controversy, she erred by calling Christie and Wildstein classmates. BOB called him the "high school frends. Zernike called him by his Correct title. BOB invented the "minor official" tag all by himself/ Zernike described what he did, and what other officials testified happened. BOB invented that Wildstein "lied." At that point Wildstein had not spoken in public.

      BOB performs as badly as Rachel on the points he raises. He just doesn't do the other things she does well enough to make a seven figure salary. And you, my dear are silly, and in this instance, not informed.


    8. We know many BOBfans may not want to follow the link provided above. Here is what Zernike wrote:

      "two Port Authority employees said that they were told to close the lanes by David Wildstein, a high school classmate of Mr. Christie’s and a former political blogger who worked as director of interstate capital projects; Mr. Christie’s chief appointee at the authority created the position for him."

      Here is what BOB turned it into after linking to it:

      "Back in September, a minor New Jersey official had closed three lanes of traffic from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge. This created a week-long traffic jam which crippled the town of Fort Lee.

      The minor official was a high school friend of Christie’s. First, the minor official lied about why he had done this weird, stupid, dangerous thing. Last week, though, he resigned his post with the Port Authority."

      In subsequent posts, BOB would change that "liar" into a person possibly acting in good faith. Then he became a bungler. Then unreliable. Now he is the master of critical projects for Camp Christie.

      BOB is what he is. He does exactly what he attacks others for doing. He is in part what he calls others. We would never go so far as to call him a "subhuman droog." But brother he is right when he calls some people rubes.


    9. OK, KZ, Bob is awful. I said it. Now you can go somewhere else. Your work here is done.

    10. Maddow is a TV journalist charged with informing the public. Somerby has a blog. Who does more harm by getting things wrong?

    11. Who gets more things wrong?

      And I have more faith in the republic that either Somerby or his tribe. Whether it's a TV journalist or a blogger getting things wrong about high school friendships, the republic will survive.

  7. Just finished watching the second half of Rachel's show tonight. Somerby just doesn't care about Appalachian school children.

    1. Bob will likely not mention that very important and continuing story at all.

      Instead, he will concentrate on the first half, when Maddow showed -- not talked about, not demonstrated, but showed in his actual words -- Christie's ever-evolving cover story.

    2. Anon: @ 2:29

      Which meaning do you assign to the term "cover story"? As you know, the OTB has told us that in the case of Maddow, "cover story is a fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy, extremely fuzzy charge.

      It could mean he was involved early on in Mr, Unreliable's heinous deeds. Or he could have been so dazzled by MegaProject Man's past performance that he believed this was a traffic study. Or he believed this was a traffic study and simply now has a better recollection of the facts surrounding his efforts to find out why Mr. Foye went so "New York" on their fine Jersey effort and stopped their efforts to improve commute time to Manhattan in mid blockage.


    3. I would apply, in the case of the Governor of New Jersey, whatever comes out of his mouth on any particular day to any particular audience in his answer to any particular question, which he thinks serves his purpose of the moment, highly contradictory though they may be.

      And unfortunately for Bob and his fans, not just contradictory in minor details.