In February of 2017, at some conservative event in Maryland, Donald Trump said that Paris was a ruined city because too many brown and black people live there now. (I’m giving you the gist.) He attributed this opinion to his friend “Jim,” a “very, very substantial guy.” Is this jogging your memory?
Jim, that bon vivant, used to be a really big fan of Paris. He would travel there in the summer with his family. But he stopped, Trump said, because “Paris is no longer Paris.” Remember this? The Jim story?
Because Donald Trump is president, the things he says have to be fact-checked, and the case of Jim was no different. If Donald Trump were to say, “If your hand is bigger than your face, you have cancer,” an outlet would feel compelled to clarify that no, that is not true. It feels like an unnecessary service, but there are people this stupid out there! They’ll happily eat any shit if it means the people they hate get annoyed by it. Just ask Curt Schilling, who believes in QAnon. Anyway, the New Yorker was forced to ask in March, “Who Is Trump’s Friend, Jim?” and basically contact every flack for every famous Jim the reporter could think of:
Trump doesn’t follow any Jims on Twitter. But it’s easy to find Jims with whom he’s crossed paths. Jim Kelly, formerly of the Buffalo Bills? “No, that would not be Jim Kelly,” a representative said. Jim Dolan, the C.E.O. of Cablevision and the chairman of Madison Square Garden, who lent Trump the Rockettes for his inaugural concert? “That’s not him,” his spokesperson responded. Jim Furyk, the golfer? “Not him,” according to his agent. Jim Davis, the footwear mogul, whose support for Trump prompted a hate Web site to declare New Balance “the Official Shoes of White People”? “No, it is not Jim Davis,” a company P.R. manager replied. Jim Inhofe, the senator and climate-change denier, did not respond; neither did Jim McNerney, the former Boeing executive, who is part of the President’s Kitchen Cabinet. Jim Mattis, the “Warrior Monk” general, doesn’t have a wife. James Comey—does anybody know if he goes by Jim?
A whole investigation into Jim! Do you remember this very real, insane thing that happened?
No Jims came forward. Then, in July of that year, Trump went to France for Bastille Day. Before the trip, the AP suggested that Jim doesn’t actually exist. Could it be? Would Donald Trump create an imaginary person he could use to get away with scuzzy behavior or launder an abrasive opinion he secretly held?
At the commander-in-chief’s conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, one reporter brought up the former lover of Paris and asked Trump whether he still believed and spread the word of Jim, the guy we all definitely remember since there isn’t a deluge of news with no time to parse and consume all of it.
Jim had officially put his mark on American international relations. Do you remember where you were when the Jim question was asked?
Trump backed away from Jim. His new friend was the person standing right next to him: Emmanuel Macron.
It’s going to be just fine, because you have a great president. You have somebody that’s going to run this country right. And I would be willing to bet—because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And you have a great leader now. You have a great president. You have a tough president. He’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws and people that show this tremendous violence. So I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I’m coming back.
That answer led to the CNN headline “Trump is no longer listening to his friend ‘Jim.’”
Sincerely, does this ring a bell? Most of my coworkers didn’t recall a single part of this entire storyline, and it happened about a year ago. Nobody seems to have ever discovered Jim’s last name! What happened to Jim??