Bell Pottinger

Bell Pottinger, the disgraced and now defunct British PR firm, played a supporting role in the sad saga of Hunter Biden trading his family name in return for a $50K monthly board seat at a then little-known Ukrainian gas company called Burisma.

Created by Ukraine energy minister Mykola Zlochevsky, whom the UK’s Independent news site called a caricature of wild east cronyism, Burisma grew via shady deals to the country's No. 1 gas company.

Following the ouster of Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, Zlochevsky was a wanted man and the future of Burisma was in doubt.

He brought in Bell Pottinger and criminal cases were closed and “outwardly respectable organizations like the Adam Smith Institute became partners,” according to The Independent. There was chatter of listing on the London Stock Exchange, as well as charity events and glitzy functions, including an energy forum Burisma hosted in Monte Carlo in 2016. 

By 2018, industry insiders said Burisma had begun to be recognized for good management practices and clever procurement

Thanks to Bell Pottinger salvaging the image of Burisma combined with Hunter Biden’s greed and boneheaded decision to take director job while his dad was US VP, the Bidens are now a sideshow in president Trump's desperate effort to ward off impeachment.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

Tough guy Mark Zuckerberg promised to “go to the mat and fight” Senator Elizabeth Warren over her plan to break-up big technology companies if she becomes president. The Facebook CEO called her plan an “existential threat” to his company. Duh!

Zuckerberg took his swipe at Warren during an open staff meeting in July:  “If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our government.” 

A person at the meeting recorded Zuckerberg's rant and gave the audio to The Verge.

Warren had the perfect response to Zuckerberg's outburst. She tweeted Oct. 1: “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets companies like Facebook engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”

Round One goes to Warren. It’s your move, Zuck.

Elizabeth warren
Elizabeth Warren

Warren has friends in Silicon Valley beyond the Facebook staffer who leaked Zuckerberg’s rant.

The Recode tech website canvassed Democratic donors and fundraisers in SV and found that Warren is winning support from them.

Though Warren hasn’t toned down her anti-SV rhetoric, the two-dozen executives, investors and fundraisers polled by Recode respect her policy rigor, more moderate stance than Bernie Sanders and shot at winning the nomination.

As former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya tweeted: “I don’t agree with many of her proposals, but I donated to Elizabeth Warren because she is the only major candidate with stuff written down.”

The Massachusetts politico has a plan for technology and just about every other challenge faced by the US.

Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan

First Lady Nancy Reagan championed the “Just Say No” slogan, which became the tag line in the Needham Harper & Steers-created advertising campaign launched during Ronald Reagan's presidency as part of the “war on drugs”  

The US could use a Just Say No advocacy campaign to break the country's addiction of relying on social media as its main source of news.

A Pew Research survey found that 62 percent of Americans say social media companies have too much control and that they present a worse mix of news because they rely on computer algorithms that rank and prioritize content tailored to the interest of each viewer.

Almost all of the respondents (88 percent) believe social media favors “sensational attention-grabbing articles,” while 79 percent say the platforms focus on stories with a political bent.

Only 34 percent say social media companies highlight news from media with “high reporting standards” and a mere 18 percent say the coverage is politically neutral.

How about “Just Say No” to algorithms controlling your news diet?

Take a break from Pew’s Top 10 sites with the most news-focused users.They are Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, You Tube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, WhatsApp and Twitch.

Expand your world. Curate your own news.

Kara Swisher
Kara Swisher

Kara Swisher, contributing editor at the New York Times, published a piece Oct. 1 headlined “Trump Is Too Dangerous for Twitter.”

Noting that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides Internet companies broad immunity from controversial content posted on their platforms, Twitter gives Trump a showcase for his “more incendiary tweets and rage-filled tweets and appalling tweets and reckless tweets and misleading tweets and inaccurate tweets and really inaccurate tweets,” wrote Swisher.

She wonders what Twitter management would do if the president “should lose the 2020 election and tweet inaccurately the next the next day that there had been widespread fraud, and, moreover, that people should rise up in armed insurrection to keep him in power.”

Swisher believes it is the duty of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to prevent the president from weaponizing the platform. It’s up to you, Jack. Don’t let us down.