It’s 8 a.m. and Mike Snyder is in a suit and tie. It’s a habit he can’t shake, even though he doesn’t really need it anymore. He wakes up at 6, and goes through his workout routine — 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, and, every other day, 10 jumping jacks. Then the former NBC Channel 5 anchor showers, eats a sleeve of mini-powdered donuts, and gets suited up. It’s his battle armor.
We are in Snyder’s home office, shoulder to shoulder in front of his Toshiba laptop. He is trying to explain what went wrong.
“What people don’t understand is, I — you know, maybe I got a little carried away, but I just like creating new people on Facebook,” he says. “It’s sort of a game for me, a — it’s like a puzzle. You know, I come up with the name first and then I think, ‘OK, Mike — who is this guy?’ You know? A name will pop in my head — say, Barry Schwarz — and then I have to figure him out. What does he look like? Where is he from? What does he like to do? Can he run really fast? Is he married?”
“How he feels about certain civic issues?” I ask.
Snyder’s eyes briefly flash, then he lets out a long, deflating sigh, like someone just kicked loose the power cord from a kid’s bounce house.
“That’s what I’m trying to explain to you,” he says, staring down at his keyboard. Just then, his computer pings — he has an incoming Gchat from Jane McGarry. Snyder switches his chat status to “invisible,” and turns to face me. “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Here is what Snyder said happened: yes, Museum Tower hired Snyder and the company he was working for, Ropewalkers, to help them out with what was becoming an untenable public relations disaster. Snyder was delighted to sign on to the project: “I’ve just always loved tall buildings, you know, since I was a kid. Just, yeah, the taller the better.” One of the first things everyone agreed on was they had to get into the comment sections of various blogs and start trying to turn back the tide of negative opinions about Museum Tower. Snyder was delighted to do this, also. “No offense, but Tim Rogers is a real, well, I can’t say the word. Let’s just say he’s a jerk.” But — and this is an important “but,” Snyder says — he was supposed to do this all under his own name.
“Why would I hide behind Barry or Brandon or Wes Mantooth for something like this? Zac, I’m Mike Snyder. Do you know what that name means in this city? Hell, in all of North Texas? I was one-half of JAM. I mean, I wanted people to know that Mike Snyder had a problem with the Nasher. That was the whole point!” He slaps his particle board desk for emphasis. The screen of the Toshiba laptop shakes. “I’m sorry, but really? Come on. It doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Scott Murray would do something like that, but not me.”
The cause of the problem was simple: he was messing around with one of his fictional Facebook profiles when he decided to leave a comment on a FrontBurner blog post. He thought he was logged in as Mike Snyder. He wasn’t. And then it was too late. He couldn’t figure out how to delete the comment, and he couldn’t exactly explain that he had left the comment under an assumed name. It snowballed from there.
“I — I, Jesus, I wanted to come clean so many times, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell anyone.” His computer pings again. Another chat from Jane McGarry. He snaps the laptop shut. “I was terrified. And then it happened anyway.” He laughs softly. “I’ll tell you, it was” — he pauses for a few seconds, his eyes raising to the popcorn ceiling — “it was a relief.”
In the wake of the Museum Tower debacle, Snyder has already started a new company called Snyder & Associates. When I ask him who his associates are, as if on cue, two bichon frises come scurrying in from the other room and jump on his lap. “Here they are now!” his anchorman voice still in game shape. “This is Princess and Sweetie.” Though he is working solo, he has a new client: Parkland Hospital. They want him to drum up support for their controversial pedestrian bridge.
“But this time, if you see a hurriedly typed, poorly spelled, grammatically suspect comment full of hot air and old cultural references,” he says, as Princess gives him a sloppy kiss on the mouth, “you can bet your buns it’s from Mike Snyder.”
UPDATE: We’ve gotten some feedback that has convinced us that we need to say what should be obvious: this is all made up. Mike Snyder did not say any of the above.