Mark Zucker­berg's 'Lis­ten­ing Tour' Stops in DC

El Dorado News-Times - - Viewpoint - MICHAEL SHAN­NON

It's ironic that pri­vacy vulture Mark Zucker­berg's first day of Sen­ate tes­ti­mony so closely re­sem­bled the ac­tion in a first-per­son shooter: 44 waves of poorly pro­grammed, time-lim­ited at­tack­ers that didn't come close to do­ing any real dam­age.

It was like Zucker­berg was shoot­ing tun­nel rats in Fall­out.

The Sen­ate ques­tion­ing was so in­ef­fec­tive Zucker­berg could have gone all Mi­crosoft on the an­cient in­cum­bents and just re­peated "re-in­stall the sys­tem from the orig­i­nal disks" and most couldn't have told the dif­fer­ence. As Bre­it­bart pointed out, Face­book's stock price in­creased the longer the ques­tion­ing con­tin­ued.

What do you ex­pect when there're 44 cam­era-hogs on the com­mit­tee and each wants a chance to ut­ter the sound­bite heard 'round the world? There's only so much time avail­able when chained to Cu­ra­tor of the Sen­ate Mitch McCon­nell's gru­el­ing half-day sched­ule.

The Op­po­si­tion Me­dia was filled with breath­less ac­counts of Zucker­berg's un­stint­ing prepa­ra­tion for the high-stakes event. He hired me­dia con­sul­tants, mes­sage con­sul­tants and cri­sis con­sul­tants. It was al­most as if the na­tion's eaves­drop­per was pre­par­ing to con­vince Kim JongUn to add an ex­tra help­ing of saw­dust to the menu for North Korea's Juche Day cel­e­bra­tion.

What he should have hired was a Trump voter.

The ques­tion Zucker­berg was to­tally un­pre­pared to an­swer ex­plains ev­ery­thing. I tell clients to read the news­pa­per on the way to a news event. That's be­cause, re­gard­less of what the ses­sion is sup­posed to be about, a splashy head­line will ren­der all the ground rules ir­rel­e­vant.

The Zucker­berg bub­ble ap­pears to be im­per­vi­ous to any in­for­ma­tion from con­ser­va­tives. He was taken com­pletely aback by Ted Cruz' (R-Pres­i­den­tial As­pi­ra­tions) ques­tion re­gard­ing the ban­ning of black Trump sup­port­ers Di­a­mond & Silk.

(Okay, maybe I'm ex­ag­ger­at­ing. Zucker­berg claims Face­book AI is al­ready screen­ing ter­ror-re­lated in­for­ma­tion, but judg­ing from the na­tional peep­ing-tom's robotic an­swers, I'll wa­ger the AI has also seized the Zucker­brain. How can one tell when a vape store wooden In­dian is ex­press­ing emo­tion?)

Cruz: "There are a great many Amer­i­cans... deeply con­cerned that Face­book [is] en­gaged in a per­va­sive pat­tern of bias and po­lit­i­cal cen­sor­ship... Face­book has ini­tially shut down the 'Chick-fil-A ap­pre­ci­a­tion day page,' has blocked the post of a Fox News re­porter and most re­cently has blocked the Trump sup­port­ers Di­a­mond & Silk's page af­ter de­ter­min­ing that their con­tent and brand were 'unsafe for the com­mu­nity'."

Zucker­berg looked like Cruz had ac­cused him of be­ing a mem­ber of the TEA Party.

His re­sponse was pure in­sin­cer­ity, "I un­der­stand where that con­cern is com­ing from... This is ac­tu­ally a con­cern that I have... I think it's a fair con­cern..."

Cruz then fol­lowed up, "Are you aware of any ad or page that has been taken down from Planned Par­ent­hood? How about MoveOn.org? How about any Demo­crat can­di­date?"

Zucker­berg: "I'm not specif­i­cally aware..."

That means no. An­other dis­turb­ing de­vel­op­ment was how Zucker­berg got away with dodg­ing ques­tions. He car­ried a brief­ing book into the hear­ing room that was al­most as thick as the booster seat placed on his chair to make him look taller. Ev­i­dently the book only con­tained buzz­words, not an­swers.

Re­peat­edly the all-see­ing Zucker­berg was able to get away with telling se­na­tors, "my team will get back with you." This is 21st Cen­tury's equiv­a­lent of tak­ing the 5th. In­stead of us­ing that un­pleas­ant "tend to in­crim­i­nate me" lan­guage, mod­ern dis­sem­blers re­fer the ques­tion to the "team."

The prob­lems with this are le­gion. There's no guar­an­tee his peo­ple will get back with the se­na­tor's peo­ple. There's no dead­line. There's no as­sur­ance the an­swer will be true. And worst of all the an­swer will be given in pri­vate, not in pub­lic, de­feat­ing the pur­pose of a sen­ate hear­ing.

Sen­ate and House hear­ings should ex­tend for two days min­i­mum. The first day politi­cians at­tempt to pin down slip­pery wit­nesses and the sec­ond day the wit­ness has to pro­vide de­tailed an­swers to the ques­tions dodged on day one.

This won't hap­pen for a num­ber of rea­sons, mainly be­cause it would re­quire ef­fort on the part of Cu­ra­tor McCon­nell and he's too busy plan­ning the "long game" for when his feck­less 'lead­er­ship' re­turns him to the mi­nor­ity.

Trump 2020 cam­paign man­ager (at least for this week) Brad Parscale has an ex­cel­lent, con­ser­va­tive so­lu­tion to rem­e­dy­ing Face­book's con­ser­va­tive cen­sor­ship. Zucker­berg boasts about pro­vid­ing "an op­por­tu­nity to con­nect with peo­ple." As long as peo­ple don't wish to con­nect with Face­book.

Parscale sug­gests Face­book should be re­quired, en­cour­aged, bribed or co­erced into pub­licly post­ing a daily, cu­mu­la­tive list­ing of all pages, posts and users that have been banned or blocked or oth­er­wise sti­fled.

"Con­nect" the pub­lic with Face­book's con­tent de­ci­sions so they can judge for them­selves if Zucker­berg's cen­sor­ship leans left. Sun­shine is a great dis­in­fec­tant, let's see if it will clear up Face­book's rash of con­ser­va­tive bans.

Michael Shan­non is a com­men­ta­tor and pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant, and is the au­thor of "A Con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian's Guide­book for Liv­ing in Sec­u­lar Times." He can be reached at man­date. mmpr@gmail.com.

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