Very interesting and sobering NYT OpEd by the former head of the NSA and the CIA, Michael Hayden. I was particularly struck by this passage:
A few months after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, I got a call from a colleague who thought he might be on a very short list for a very senior position. He asked my opinion. I told him that three months earlier I would have talked to him about his duty to serve. Now I was telling him to say no. “You’re a young man,” I said. “Don’t put yourself at risk for the future. You have a lot to offer. Someday.”
When asked for counsel these days by officers who are already in government, especially more junior ones, I remind them of their duty to help the president succeed. But then I add: “Protect yourself. Take notes and save them. And above all, protect the institution. America still needs it.”
Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor who has been sounding the alarm about the social media giant since the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, is not letting up.
In an interview with the Mercury News, McNamee talked about why he thinks Facebook should be reined in — and possibly broken up.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the AT&T consent decree planted the seed for Silicon Valley,” McNamee wrote. “One of the many fundamental patents in AT&T’s huge portfolio was the transistor. The combination of freely licensable patents and restrictions on AT&T’s ability to enter new markets enabled entrepreneurs to create today’s semiconductor, computer, data communications, mobile technology and software industries, among others.”
McNamee told this news organization that the changes Facebook is making now don’t go far enough, and that “nobody can make them” enact change that would truly address the myriad problems with the platform, including possible manipulation of Facebook’s massive number of users.
“There are 2.2 billion people on Facebook each with their own ‘Truman Show,’ ” McNamee said. “Everybody has their own set of facts.”
In addition, he takes issue with the attitudes of Facebook’s top executives.
Facebook is “almost the same size as Christianity,” McNamee said. “When you are presiding over the largest interconnected organization in the world, that gets to your head after a while.”
Zuckerberg for Pope?
I’ve always been revolted by the annual dinner of the White House Press Corps, but never more than this year — after the pompous umbrage the hacks have taken to the scathing monologue delivered at the dinner by comedienne Michelle Wolf.
The Economist‘s US correspondent is no admirer of the event, either, and has written an equally scathing commentary on it. Extract:
Calls for press-corps civility are in fact calls for servility, and should be received with contempt. Some might argue that insults do not deserve the same protection as investigative journalism, but that is a distinction without a difference. Anyone who wants to outlaw or apologise for the former will end up too timid to do the latter.
In open societies, self-censorship—in the name of civility, careerism or access preservation—is a much greater threat to the media than outright repression. The only person owed an apology here is Ms Wolf, for being scolded by the very people who invited her to speak, and who purport to defend a “vigorous and free press.”
Right on! But there’s a serious point here. Trump and his acolytes treat serious journalism with contempt. (See Jay Rosen’s splendid NYRB essay). Given that, why should they be entitled to civility or respect?