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Opinion | Slip away from the story

WASHINGTON – It’s an age old tradition: Outfox story if you can.

This maneuver could be called: I really wasn’t the horrible person I was. I want to be remembered as the person I want you to think of me.

Distancing yourself from failure or embarrassment is part of every politician’s skill. I knew a top Clinton-era Democrat who distanced himself from his own son during a touch football game after the boy played poorly.

James Baker and Dina Powell, advisers to the Republican presidents, were perhaps the masters of this dark art of all time, slipping like black silk away from the disasters of their governments.

In a number of new books on Donald Trump and one on Facebook, there are a number of famous people who seek to deny and expose their past guilt. Unfortunately for them, it’s more half-baked than full-baked. While those who enabled Trump and Mark Zuckerberg to build their reality distortion fields beat up in an attempt to turn the script around, the story is set in amber.

In “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination”, Times authors Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang describe a harmful pattern on Facebook: Don’t bring bad news to the boss or push yourself back. Exercise willful blindness to the catastrophe around the corner and then when it does happen you treat it badly. Put the syndicate over democracy. Blame others for your mistakes, especially the unfair media. Present yourself as if you are doing good for the world when you feel bad.

That also captures the routine in Trump’s White House perfectly.

Frenkel and Kang write about how Zuckerberg distanced himself from his consigliere Sheryl Sandberg and belittled her role even though he needed her and even though she helped him make money.

He wanted to stay in his hermetically sealed box and play a tech visionary, Kang told me, and blame Sandberg for the impact of Cambridge Analytica, foreign interference in the 2016 elections, disinformation in the 2020 elections, misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccines . Zuckerberg makes all decisions when it comes to critical questions for Facebook, such as how to deal with disinformation complaints and the ban on Trump.

“He basically blames them for bad PR because it allowed the public to have that negative impression of Facebook,” Kang said.

Sandberg was hired as an adult in the room, but she was too afraid to push Zuckerberg back in any way. And she, too, had a bad habit of only hearing what she wanted to hear and surrounded herself with Facebook employees who practiced groupthink.

“Even if they have distanced themselves and are trying to distance themselves from controversy, they are inextricably linked with each other and with Facebook,” said Kang. “You have built a business that is undiminished and showing no signs of slowing down.”

But the Biden government is not operating in a distortion of reality field. Last week, when the president was at the end of his wisdom due to the continued spread of vaccine misinformation and Facebook’s unwillingness to release data on how much information spreads on its website, tensions between the White House and Facebook exploded.

“They kill people,” President Biden told reporters outside the White House on Friday.

His general surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy first stated that bile was a threat to American health on social media.

It will also be an Augean task for those who have surrounded Trump to distance themselves and rehabilitate their reputations.

“I Alone Can Fix It,” the busy new book by Washington Post authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, reports that Ivanka Trump became increasingly uncomfortable with “efforts to overturn election results” when her father made his vice president harassed To help with the nefarious plan, she resented a national security officer: “Mike Pence is a good man.”

Her lived experience is that she only went to her father’s “Save America Rally” on January 6th to keep him happy. Notwithstanding the fact that when Daddy’s mob started doing his worst, the Scofflaws were referring to the Scofflaws as “American patriots” on Twitter.

After breaking new ground in the creative field of flattery, Pence said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library last month that he was “proud” to have confirmed the election.

And there’s former Attorney General William Barr, who supported so much of Trump’s madness just to see the light after he quit the job, telling ABC News journalist Jonathan Karl for his new book, Betrayal, that Trumps Allegations of electoral fraud “All nonsense.”

Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal reports in his book “Honestly, We Won This Election” “that Mike Pompeo, the top diplomat who was so often a Toady for Trump, began to act with all concern after the election that Trump might start an international conflict in order to stay in office.

“The madmen have taken power,” Pompeo told a colleague, according to Bender.

The madmen hadn’t taken over. They were there all the time and made the other madmen possible.

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