Eds: Note use of vulgarity “b----” in story
Now that I’ve seen that Mark Zuckerberg actually owns a big-boy suit, I feel much better about the future of Facebook. OK, no I don’t.
Like many who have testified before Congressional committees before him, Zuckerberg had been coached on how to dress, behave and respond during the dog-and-pony show televised hearings.
I could practically hear his handlers imploring him to “Sit up straight, look them in the eye, be courteous and respectful at all times and, for God’s sake, don’t tell them you pee through your third eyelid.”
The grill masters, members of Congress and whatever other experts are needed to make it all look Very Serious Indeed, scrunch their faces into expressions that range from outrage to sanctimony, orating and bloviating about stuff they should’ve paid attention to years before it got to this point. The Congressional Seal should be changed to a picture of a barn door being secured as a horse trots off into the distance.
Zuckerberg is by no means innocent — I mean, c’mon, a breach of personal information affecting 87 million people is kind of a big deal. As is greedily selling ads to fake-news factories that wrecked our electoral process in a way that could best be illustrated by a frog in a blender.
Speaking of which, Zuckerberg spent most of the time in the hot seat looking like he just wanted to drink something green and check his phone a few dozen times an hour. He was less Harvard golden boy and more beleaguered billionaire. Either way he was having a profoundly difficult time with the whole contrition thing. Surely there was an app for that.
I almost felt sorry for him, much as I did Hillary Clinton during the interminable Benghazi hearings. The same question is asked over and over and over again until the tiniest edge of irritation creeps in. Zuckerberg didn’t reach the “What difference does it make?” that Clinton did, but he seemed close, prefacing every answer with a faux respectful “Senator ... ” I recognized this rhetorical device because I’m a Southerner. It’s the same way that, if we’re irritated, we exaggerate the word “ma’am” in a way that leaves no doubt that what we’re really saying is “b----.”
For example: “Why don’t y’all hire more people to work here? I’ve been waiting in line for almost a half hour.”
Clerk: “You would have to ask the owner that question ... MA’AM.”
Did you just call me a b----?
Clerk: “No ... MA’AM.”
You did it again!
Clerk: I don’t know what you’re talking about. MA’AM, please.”
But I digress. The grandstanding is so over the top at these things because it’s the only chance some of these politicians will ever have a national audience to watch them being all tough and aggressive. Years too late, but super tough and aggressive.
“I made that Facebook fella squirm like a worm in hot ashes,” they will say back home at the crawdad boil fundraiser. “Did you see it on TV?”
“Of course we did. Ma’am.”
— Wilmington, North Carolina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and political humor columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.