Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Saw What You Did There

Last month, a story went viral about a 23-year-old Australian man who was upset with Facebook because the social network refused to allow him to have a profile under his name – Phuc Dat Bich. No, that wasn’t his reply to Facebook; that’s his actual name.

The story made news both because it was funny and because it pointed out a flaw in Facebook’s questionable policy requiring “real names” which has often resulted in Facebook refusing to believe an individual’s proffered name was legitimate. However, in this case, it turns out Phuc Dat Bich wasn’t really the Australian’s name after all.

His real name is Tin Le. He claims it was all a joke, writing on his Facebook page: “What started as a joke between friends, became a prank that made a fool out of the media ... Out of this ordeal I’ve concluded not to trust the credibility of the media, it’s twisted by the hungry journalists who mask the truth.”

I saw what he did there … Did you? He lied, in fact he lied to the entire world, and bragged about making fools of the media – and when he was caught lying, he turned it around and blame the lie not on the liar but on the media. Instead of accepting responsibility for his own lies, he twists reality stating we can’t trust the media for accurately reporting what he had said; that the problem is with the media’s credibility rather than his own; and that by accepting what he had told journalists as true and reporting it, it was the media and not himself who were “masking the truth.”

Tin Le, or Phuc Dat Bich if he prefers, has taken a page out of the 2015 politicians’ playbook. Politicians have always blamed the media as a tactic. The messenger has always been a convenient scapegoat and foil. Don’t like the message? Shoot the messenger. But this new strategy is to blame the media for one’s own misstatements of facts. While Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie have all done this to some extent, the true masters of the art form are Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

For example, Trump denied having criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I was not at all critical of him. I was not at all.” The reporter asked Trump why she had heard that. “You people write the stuff,” he replied. Actually, it was Trump who had written that… on his Website as part of his immigration platform. 

Carson described reports of his relationship with Mannatech –  a nutritional supplement company that claimed it could cure cancer and had been sued in Texas for falsely advertising – as “propaganda”. Carly Fiorina claimed Planned Parenthood was “selling tissue from aborted fetuses.” Marco Rubio denied his tax plan would give more after-tax income to the wealthiest one percent than to the middle class, despite that finding by the Tax Foundation. He then attacked CNBC reporter John Harwood's credibility alleging the reporter had written a story on the topic that required a correction. Donald Trump claimed he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on 9-11. One thing all these candidates have in common is that they have consistently told lies like these… And then doubled-down by claiming it’s the media whom the American people cannot trust.

I hope the American people are smart enough to see what these politicians are doing. To the candidates, all I can say is I saw what you did there, and Phuc Dat Bich. 

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