Author of Roll the Dice, Attorney and Political Commentator’s Views on Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional Appearance
Wayne Avrashow is the author of Roll the Dice, the perfect political novel for our times. It’s about what happens when Tyler Sloan, one of the biggest rock stars leaves the Las Vegas stage to run for the United States Senate. We figure Wayne knows what he is talking about since he was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and served as a deputy/chief of staff to those two elected city council members. He was senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the city of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government commissioner for nearly twenty years. Let’s face it, he knows politics.
So we had to ask him what he thought about Zuckerberg’s appearance before Congress and here is what he wrote:
United Senate hearings are usually dry and of no public interest and only attract a CSPAN-12 audience. FBI Director James Comey’s testimony drew some public interest and forty years ago Watergate hearings mesmerized a nation while airing on all three networks. That was then — a media explosion awaits Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony at two Senate Committees. All networks and streaming services are on alert.
My novel Roll the Dice is a three month sprint of rock star Tyler Sloan’s campaign for the United States Senate. Sloan is a mega star, a member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame who knows how to garner media attention. He strolls through a shopping mall, on the Las Vegas Strip and in a coffee houses which delight the public and attract hordes of media — not nothing like Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony.
Zuckerberg’s story is well known. The 33 year old Harvard wunderkind has a fortune of $60 billion and has structured Facebook to ensure his control. Disclosures that 87 million Facebook used personal details which ended up in the hands of a political consulting firm have dimmed his star and sliced the value of Facebook stock.
Importantly — Facebook has announced it will launch a research study to review the relationship between social media and elections. Smart. Smart crisis management — get ahead of the story and the regulators.
Make no mistake — there will no kid gloves on Zuckerberg, as Senators across the political aisle will blast him for his lack of security in protecting the public’s privacy. The left and right will disagree on methods, but all agree that protecting consumer’s privacy is important. While some loss of privacy is to be expected on the internet, this was too much of a breach to ignore.
The Facebook CEO is smart, media savvy and will be well prepped. He will not fight back or display arrogance. He must fall on his sword. He has already apologized and will do so repeatedly as he stresses before the Senators how he will self-regulate to ensure consumer’s privacy is protected. But he also knows, and will not publicly resist, more regulation is coming.
A couple of snap takes on the spectacle. Review where and how the media covers this multi-dimensional story.
· The Los Angeles Times had a story in its Calendar, or entertainment section focusing on the media activity. The article termed it a, “compelling political theater” and a “must-see event.”
· Today The Wall Street Journal plastered Zuckerberg’s photo on the front page. The newspaper was peppered with articles on; how Facebook is getting ahead of the story; how Facebook would be impacted by future regulatory measures, one dealt with his apology, another on how Facebook employees are reacting to the “crisis.”
· The New York Times published two articles; one on the political impact, another on the technological impact of future government action. This sums it up — Facebook and social media are the omnipresent force in our lives. We have made the bargain to swap some privacy for benefits — hopefully Congress will reach, but not overreach with its regulations. Privacy is paramount, but some loss is inevitable.
My bottom line takes — Zuckerberg will charm, duck, dodge, but absorb his share of damage in the Senate ring. This is an opportunity for Senators to display both legitimate policy concerns and take a political bow. Strange political coalitions will emerge as Senators all will strive to protect public privacy from further breaches. Stay tuned!
Originally published at medium.com