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The Right is freaking out over Trump’s lies



The Wall Street Journal is scared out of their minds about Trump’s impending collapse, and Daniel Henninger’s latest foolishness proves it.

In politics, when your side has done something horrifyingly stupid, the usual tactic is to shift the blame onto someone or something else. You don’t have to be particularly adept at this: even if your lie is utterly transparent, it at least changes the conversation, and may put your political opponents off balance.

All politicians do this, but Trump is the undisputed master. Nearly every lie he’s ever told—more than 2,000 by last January, according to the Washington Post, “about small things and large,” in Jim Comey’s words—was designed as a smokescreen to shift the public’s attention away from his administration’s, and his own, misdeeds. Fox “News” does this a lot: whenever there’s a particularly devastating development in any of the various Trump scandals (porn stars, RussiaGate), Rupert Murdoch’s Republican propaganda machine can be counted on to ignore it in favor of peddling some wacky Hillary conspiracy theory that will get the Breitbart yahoos all in a tizzy.

Trump’s sycophants follow the same course, the latest being the Wall Street Journal’s hysterical columnist, Daniel Henninger. He can always be counted on to stretch the truth to its breaking point, as he did yesterday in his opinion piece, The Zuckerberg Collusion.

Henninger’s conflates many Republican lies into a single hatchet job on—who else?—Obama! His topic is ostensibly about Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress about Facebook’s misuse. But, of course, there was nothing helpful to the Trump cause in Zuckerberg’s testimony, which was essentially non-political, and that presents Henninger with a problem: he has to write about it because it’s big news, and he wants to write about it because the country is fixated on it; but he can’t address the real story—Russian collusion on behalf of Trump—because his job is to defend Trump, not do real journalism. So he has to make something up.

So what does Henninger do? Turn Zuckerberg’s testimony, and indeed the entire Facebook scandal, into an attack on Obama. How’s that again? Here’s Henninger’s B.S. spin: Why didn’t the Obama administration alert the American people in 2015 or earlier to the threat of Russian political subversion? Protecting us from Russian bots wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility.”

You can easily see the problem. It’s always possible, after the fact, to ask why someone didn’t do something sooner. This is a very easy line of attack: no one can defend not doing something to stop a potentially harmful attack. Someone could have done something sooner about Sept. 11, or about the California Wine Country fires, or any of a million other stories. Such questions can be turned usefully into formulating future strategies, but for Henninger to pretend that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for Facebook’s fake posts is scurrilous. One might just as easily blame Trump for the Parkland shootings: Why didn’t the president alert the American people to the threat from assault weapons? I doubt if Henninger would like that very much, and if in fact a liberal columnist wrote it, Henninger’s would damn the liberal to the depths of Hell.

It’s also weird that Henninger claims “Protecting us from Russian bots wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility.” Really? Then whose job was it? As Zuckerberg pointed out in his testimony, he runs Facebook. It is his responsibility to manage it in a transparent way, and to let us, the American people, know when and if Facebook was harming us. That’s what product liability laws are for—and Mark Zuckerberg is probably going to be facing his share of them by users whose data was given to Cambridge Analytica.

But of course Henninger doesn’t give a damn about protecting Facebook users’ personal data, or about the fake news that got his candidate elected. What he cares about (besides keeping his job) is diverting attention away from Trump’s mounting problems, and the fastest way to do that is by slurring Obama, or Hillary, or Pocahontas, or Oprah, or Daniel Hogg, or some other convenient rightwing bête noir. It’s what all those rightwing smear-meisters do: it’s all they can do, because the horse they’re backing, Donald Trump, is failing, and they just can’t, or won’t, bring themselves to admit it.

Have a lovely weekend!

  1. Bob Henry says:

    “If Adults Won’t Grow Up, Nobody Will”
    Wall Street Journal – “Opinion” Section – Peggy Noonan – April 5, 2018



    “Tim Cook of Apple, in an impressive and sober interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, said last week something startling, almost revolutionary: ‘Privacy to us is a human right.’ This was stunning because it was the exact opposite of what Silicon Valley has been telling us since social media’s inception, which is: PRIVACY IS DEAD. GET OVER IT. Some variation on that statement has been made over and over by Silicon Valley’s pioneers, and they say it blithely, cavalierly, with no apparent sense of tragedy.”

    There is this famous (or infamous) remark from Silicon Valley entrepreneur/technologist Scott McNealy:

    “Sun [Microsystems CEO] on Privacy: ‘Get Over It'”
    WIRED – January 26, 1999



    “The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer privacy issues are a ‘red herring.’

    ” ‘You have zero privacy anyway,’ Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company’s new Jini technology.

    ” ‘Get over it.’

    “Jodie Bernstein, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, said that McNealy’s remarks were out of line.”

  2. Bob Henry says:

    Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal “Business & Finance” Section
    (June 1, 2017, Page B1ff):

    “How Not to Expose Yourself on the Web”


    By Geoffrey A. Fowler
    “Personal Technology” column

    “You wouldn’t walk naked through Times Square. Stop being naked online.

    “Your laptop and that smartphone grafted to your hand are double agents. What you look at, where you go and even what you say can be used to paint a portrait of you leaving you as exposed as the day you were born. Much of Silicon Valley wants you to think the price of using the internet is letting them data-mine your life.

    “This is a beginner’s guide to fighting back.

    “It starts with a golden rule: When the product is free, that means you are the product. YOUR PRIVACY IS THE COST OF A FREE SOCIAL NETWORK, free tax prep or free photo storage.”

  3. Bob Henry says:

    Déjà vu?

    “Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises”
    Federal Trade Commission press release – November 29, 2011


    Yes Daniel Henninger, it was Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility to protect our privacy — against the Russians . . . and against Facebook itself.

  4. Bob Henry says:

    Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal “Main News” Section
    (April 13, 2018):

    “Facebook’s Days as an Unregulated Monopoly May Be Numbered”


    By Greg Ip
    Chief Economics Commentator
    “Capital Account” Column

    “Facebook Inc.’s climb to the pinnacle of business success was nurtured by a grand policy experiment: that a light regulatory touch would turbocharge innovation and make consumers wealthier and happier. Companies who mistreated their customers would succumb to competitors, or be punished with rules already on the books.

    “The events of the last few months suggest the experiment may have run its course. It has left Facebook effectively an unregulated monopoly and despite founder Mark Zuckerberg’s latest apologies, THE COMPANY HAS LITTLE ECONOMIC INCENTIVE TO CHANGE ITS WAYS ITS BUSINESS IS TO SELL ITS USERS’ ATTENTION TO ADVERTISERS, AND THUS IT MUST KEEP PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES ON PRIVACY, while the paucity of competition limits the consequences if it goes too far. If policy makers want to change that calculus — a big if — they will either have to enact tougher regulation, or use antitrust authority to nurture more competition.”

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