By: Scott Galloway (No Mercy/No Malice)
Big tech has won before the hearing starts. Agreeing to let all four testify concurrently inhibits the committee’s ability to go deep on any one issue, and will leave the American public with a sentiment instead of a viewpoint on big tech, much less any conclusions (such as, that the Obama DOJ was asleep at the switch, and Instagram and Whatsapp should be divested). The Covid-inspired remote format dramatically lessens the likelihood of an unscripted moment that reveals something the American public didn’t previously know. Fabric softener for tough questioning is the deep pockets that keep members in power.
When the show starts, Zuck will be the target of the most ire, as he’s an oligarch minus the charm. Bezos, on the other hand, will receive the least ire, as his command of soft power is second only to China. Being on these committees must be just awesome, as every member clings to their office as if they were Puerto Rican rescue dogs clinging to lamb lung fillet. (I see this with my dog Gangster. It’s a moment that gives you pause … to see how much a living thing can love something else.)
Bezos has the power to take away the committee’s lamb treats (he owns a powerful arbiter in the WaPo) and, maybe more important, they want invites to the best parties in DC (low bar) at the old textile museum — Bezos’s man cave in Kalorama. I think Bezos lacks character and code (he gamifies the commonwealth for his own enrichment #HQ2), but I’d love to roll with him, and so would every first ballot hall of lame panelist questioning him at the hearings. Cook and Pichai will likely just try to stay out of the line of fire and fawning for Zuck and Bezos, respectively. Expect Zuck to use two words repeatedly in his defense (tik and tok) as he attempts to wrap himself in the flag and convince the committee that he’s our national champion, singularly able to repel the invading Chinese … coming for our children.