Part 1—He’s no George Washington: George Washington couldn’t tell a lie, as almost everyone knows.
Yesterday, in this news report, Steve Kornacki came pretty darn close.
Kornacki should be embarrassed. Yesterday, he invented the latest in the long line of imaginary figures who drive our “press corps’” novelized tales of scandal and high adventure.
To its credit, the New York Times has taken a pass on Kornacki’s exciting new invention. Elsewhere, the nation’s brain cells are under attack—in these exciting headlines, to cite just a few examples:
THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Gov. Chris Christie has new childhood pal to shove into Bridgegate trafficThat last headline is the most pathetic, since it tops Kornacki’s report. But all across the low-IQ press corps, extending to London’s Daily Mail, readers are being told today that “another childhood friend,” a “new childhood pal,” is involved in the Fort Lee matter.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Christie’s Other Childhood Friend Gave Tour of Fort Lee Traffic Jam
NBC NEWS: Report: Christie's Pal Monitored Bridge Lane Closures
MSNBC: Another Christie childhood friend witnessed traffic surge
Those formulations imply there was a first “childhood friend,” presumably David Wildstein. They directly state that a new “childhood friend” has surfaced as part of the stew.
Surely, Kornacki wouldn’t claim that Christie and Wildstein were “childhood friends.” Appearing on MSNBC, he has often said different.
But so what! That bogus claim is plainly implied in the headline appearing above his report. He should be embarrassed.
That implied claim is simply false. The new direct claim of another childhood friend seems to be highly embellished. By the standards of George Washington—the man, not the bridge—this claim is perhaps “untrue.”
Has a new “childhood friend” emerged as part of the Fort Lee story? Does that make two childhood friends who are involved in this tale? It depends on how far you’re willing to go in the anti-journalistic search for political thrills in the form of novelized tales.
You can read Kornacki’s report to see who this new “childhood friend” is said to be. You can learn about his highly tangential connection to the events in Fort Lee.
You can enjoy extremely tenuous speculation about the role he might imaginably have played in the unfolding events at Fort Lee. Imagination is powerful!
For ourselves, we’ll show you the language with which Kornacki created the impression that a new “childhood friend” has emerged.
The alleged new “childhood friend” is a man named Chip Michaels. According to Kornacki, he has been a Port Authority policeman since 1998.
Michaels seems to have been driving Wildstein around on the first day of the lane closings. This involves the large set of actions by Wildstein which have rarely been reported to MSNBC viewers, if they’ve ever been reported at all.
Question: Did Michaels report the Fort Lee lane closings back to Christie, his supposed “childhood friend?” That is the thrilling possibility being churned in this latest puddle of piddle.
Go ahead! Feel the thrill!
Below, you see the way Kornacki created the exciting impression that Michaels was a “childhood friend” of Christie’s. Kornacki ought to be embarrassed by well-crafted bullshit like this:
KORNACKI (2/16/14): In 2010, a Newark Star-Ledger article described the Christie-Michaels family friendship as one that has endured for decades.Out of that carefully crafted bullshit, headlines about “another childhood friend” have emerged.
“We break his chops a little bit, just saying, ‘You’re the Governor?,’ looking at him laughing,” Chip Michaels told the paper. “It’s crazy. He grew up like everyone else in New Jersey. So to see him as a celebrity, it’s just really odd. But he’s the same guy. He’s a grounded guy.” At the time the article was published, Michaels was coaching one of Christie’s sons in a youth hockey league. The article described a friendship dating back to their childhoods.
Multiple attempts to reach Chip Michaels directly and through the Port Authority were unsuccessful. The Port Authority Police Department has not returned calls for comment.
Was Chip Michaels a “childhood friend?” Is that a reasonable description? Reading Kornacki’s report this morning, we were struck by a fact that didn’t bark. We were struck by Kornacki’s failure to cite Michaels’ age, the age of this new childhood friend.
How old is Christie's “childhood friend?” We wasted about a half an hour trying to find this basic fact. Finally, we found a citation in the Asbury Park Press:
SYMONS (2/16/14): Michaels, 44, who lives in Randolph, has worked at the Port Authority since 1998 and has been a youth hockey coach for the governor’s son, Patrick. He grew up in Livingston, as did Christie. Though Michaels is seven years younger than the governor, their families have been friendly for years.Interesting! According to Symons, Chip Michaels is 44. Christie, his alleged childhood friend, is 51 as we speak. That would mean that Christie’s latest “childhood friend” was still in the fifth grade as Christie was finishing high school.
Wildstein wasn’t a “childhood friend,” as everyone actually knows. Given this new set of facts, would you want to build on that first misstatement by calling Michaels a childhood friend?
Question: Have many of your childhood friends were in the first grade when you were in eighth? For extra credit, discuss: If George Washington were here, would he be inclined to describe Chip Michaels as Christie’s “childhood friend?”
In recent decades, enormous chunks of our political discourse have been built around stretchers like these. We’ve been handed the 21-year-old intern, who wasn’t 21 or an intern. We’ve been handed the fancy hotel, which wasn’t fancy and contained (rather small) apartments.
We’ve been handed the dog which was strapped to the roof of the car, even though he sort of wasn’t. Starting on January 8, we were handed a childhood buddy, friend and pal who just plain actually wasn't.
These imaginary figures make preferred stories work better. Now, we seem to have yet another imaginary childhood friend.
Again and again, our discourse has been turned into a joke as “journalists” have played these cards, making their stories a little bit better. The Kornackis insult us when they do this—but then too, they give us cheap thrills.
These stretchers are an entertainment feature; they’re part of partisan entertainment. All week long, we plan to review the obvious problems with this familiar press culture.
Long ago, we repeatedly told you this: The press corps [HEART] accusers! That said, let's be more specific. In those days, the press corps was in love with anyone who accused Clinton, Clinton or Gore.
By definition, such accusations were known to be true. Accusers were allowed to embellish as much as they liked, even to invent.
By law, no one spoke up.
Today, the children who play on The One True Channel love accusers and accusations which are aimed at Christie. They are willing to gambol and play in service to pleasing tales.
Chris Matthews has been playing this game for a very long time, with disastrous results for the world. Tomorrow, we’ll remind you of the time he almost got one person killed.
Tomorrow—part 2: Helping a favorite accuser make a false accusation!
To refresh yourself, click here.