Simon's article depicts an awkward exchange between Fred and Waverly, IA fire chief Dan McKenzie which, according to Simon, went something like this:
...Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens goes to an eye witness -- Chief McKenzie himself -- to find out what actually transpired.
Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.
Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.
“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.
In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.
To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.
Unlike Simon’s characterization of a “sour” Thompson, McKenzie recalled that the firefighters were joking with the Thompsons during the visit, which corroborates the CBS News video that captured part of the event. He stated further than any attempt to portray the event as Simon described was the work of “someone who had their own agenda.”There's more in the Owens piece at PJ Media, including the odd behavior of Anelia Dimitrova, the Waverly newspaper editor who had plenty to say in Simon's hit piece, but clammed up on Owens.
Unprompted, McKenzie stated that he was well aware of the dangers of politicians wearing hats, and he and his fellow firefighters understood why Thompson declined to wear the helmet. He also stated that he understood that someone might want to make an issue of Thompson wearing his helmet, and that it seemed that when Thompson declined, “someone decided to make an issue out of it anyway.”