Watching Chris Hayes disappear: The time has come to ask a question:
Is Chris Hayes, the cable news host, on performance enhancing drugs?
Hayes’ persona has been reinvented since he was moved to prime time. Early on, Hayes described this as the process of becoming a showman.
This was the relevant Q-and-A. The interview with Salon appeared last June 25:
SALON: You have to think about ratings more? MSNBC has had its challenges there lately.Italics by Salon.
HAYES: Yeah, ratings are the measurement of what you have to think about, which is producing entertaining television. The ratings—I try not to think about the numbers, because that data can be very overwhelming or misleading. The thing I do think about is “are we producing a good show?” And the word “show” is key. You have to be a showman. It is a show. You need to put on a show every night. Which means, like, step right up, ladies and gentlemen, let me entertain you.
It isn’t necessarily evil to let the suits reinvent your delivery and your person. That said, the carnival barker who hosted Hayes’ program last night did raise questions in our minds concerning the use of pep pills.
Remember how normal Hayes used to seem? To watch his pepped-up opening segment, click here, and then click this.
Nor was his content great. This is the start of the snarky taped presentation with which Hayes opened last night's program. We'll focus on two factual claims which heightened the story-telling:
HAYES (2/17/14): Meet Lieutenant Thomas “Chip” Michaels, a police officer at the Port Authority. Chip was on duty at the George Washington Bridge on September 9, 2013. That would be the first day of traffic in Fort Lee.Please forgive Hayes for referring to Lieutenant Michaels as “Chip.” Journalistically, no, he shouldn’t do that. But he was just trying to please you by snarking about a supposed Christie pal.
But September 9 wasn’t just a normal day at work for Chip, because he had a meeting with a high-ranking official at the Port Authority, according to documents submitted to the New Jersey assembly…Yes, according to documents submitted by David Wildstein himself on September 9, Chip Michaels appeared to be texting the former Port Authority appointee David Wildstein, "It’s expletive up here."
Later, the two met in person. Michaels took David Wildstein for a ride around to survey the impact on traffic. In the coming days, documents indicate that Chip texted Wildstein with updates on the traffic. A message on September 10 reads, "Local Fort Lee traffic disaster."
And Chip Michaels and David Wildstein had more in common than an interest in traffic. They both hail from Livingston, New Jersey, where they attended high school with none other than Chris Christie. In more recent years, Michaels coached Christie’s kid’s hockey team. In a 2010 profile for the Star-Ledger, Michaels joked about seeing his childhood friend ascend to governor of his state.
On the other hand, note the way the reinvented Hayes improved his story-telling. Right away, he said that Michaels “attended high school with Christie.” He also said that the Livingston lads had been “childhood friends.”
Those claims made Hayes’ story much better. As the arm-waving, finger-pointing, hopped-up host propelled himself through his opening segment, he was soon speculating that Michaels might have gotten in touch with his childhood friend to tell him about the traffic lane closings which he observed in real time.
That would mean Christie knew! It would mean that Christie’s been lying!
Like everything else, that could have happened. Everything is possible! That said, the speculation works much better if the pair really were childhood friends—and if they really went to high school together.
But according to yesterday’s Asbury Park Press, Michaels is 44 years old, seven years younger than Christie. See our previous post.
If the Asbury Park Press got it right, that makes “childhood friends” a bit of a stretch. It makes the claim about going to high school false.
This morning, we were thinking about the many lives of the Christie “childhood friend” meme:
As you know, the guild loves to improve its stories through the use of brainless embellishments or inventions. A large amount of modern political discourse involves the repeated misstatement of easy-to-understand inaccurate facts.
In the current manifestation, the claim about Christie’s “childhood friends” has gone through quite a few changes. As always, the impulse has been to keep preferred claims about childhood in play, even after such claims have been shown to be wrong.
The bogus claims go away for a while. After that, they start returning! Lassie behaved the same way!
We’ll run through the changes another day; we think they’re worth reviewing. Meanwhile, take a look at the frenetic fellow who hosted Hayes’ program last night.
You may understand why we’re worried that Hayes may be popping pills. Everything is possible!
Watch his frenzied physical conduct. Consider the instant snark about “Chip.” Note the extensive speculation, with absolutely nothing to back it up.
Is Hayes on pep pills? We can’t be sure! We also aren’t sure about Michaels’ age.
Do you think Hayes knows what his age is? Or did he just say this last night: Step right up, ladies and gentlemen?
Now for a bit of good news: Last November, Lt. Michaels intervened to talk a teenager out of a suicide attempt.
Hayes won’t likely be able to talk about that. To read the Huffington Post’s real-time account, go ahead:
Just click this.