“Alexa, how can I attack Trump without making it look like I’m attacking Trump?” If Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and The Washington Post, asked his smart device for that advice, we now know the response from his Artificial Intelligence appliance: “By running an ad during the Super Bowl that invokes another Republican impeachment scandal — one that liberals keep comparing the Trump saga to.”
Amazon aired during the Super Bowl an ad touting how “Alexa” would have worked throughout history. Most of the spot contains humorous examples from long, long ago, involving indistinct people and events: A Victorian home, a wagon train headed west, a homing pigeon carrying a love note. All, except the last one, which is much more recent, involves clearly identifiable people, and is not even an appropriate Alexa command.
It has President Richard Nixon, in the Oval Office, instructing his secretary, Rose Mary Woods: “Remind me to delete those tapes,” to which she responds, “Yes, Mr. President.” She then quizzically looks into the camera, realizing this is a totally improper idea.
This part is not only completely out of place, it is historically incorrect.
It has never been shown, and I don’t recall it ever being seriously alleged, that President Nixon personally deleted any portion of his infamous White House tapes. In fact, there has never been any substantive deletion allegation whatsoever. There was the famous 18½ Minute Gap on the June 20, 1972 tape, but it could never be characterized as a deliberate deletion, as it was clearly delineated by a noticeable buzz.
Further, Rose Woods herself readily admitted to inadvertently erasing the first several minutes — and the cause of the remainder has never been ascertained. While the subject of an extensive grand jury probe, no indictments were ever forthcoming.
The Amazon depiction is a “Fake History.”
To totally misrepresent that event, involving real people and taken from recent memory, and to include it at the end of six non-descript, century-old scenarios, did not happen by chance.
The Amazon ad looks like a stealthy anti-Trump statement, paid for by a corporation that is worth nearly $1,000,000,000,000 (Trillion!). We learned last year that Mr. Bezos takes great personal interest in Super Bowl ad production, and given that he personally tweeted this year’s offering, it’s probably safe to assume he had great influence over this apparent subliminal shading of President Trump.
The spot would have been every bit as entertaining if this portion had been omitted. But Mr. Bezos realizes that by making it political, it’s more likely to generate buzz — in the desired direction.
If Mr. Bezos thought impeachment revisionism was funny, he could have gone with a Bill Clinton caricature asking Alexa for the meaning of what “is” is. If Mr. Bezos thinks political scandals are fair game, he could have had President Obama asking the Amazon device to remind him of his promise to the country “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” when pitching Obamacare.
But no, Mr. Bezos landed on Watergate probably because the liberal media, including his newspaper, keep referencing it in hopes that saying the word often enough will lead to their same desired result: The end of a Republican presidency.
To be fair, no political scenario would have been as entertaining than Bezos himself asking the device something along the lines of: “Alexa, why has Amazon been accused of “limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous, many in China?” That type of self-deprecating humor would generate gobs of attention, but wouldn’t have advanced the anti-Trump agenda.
So what we’re left with is Mr. Bezos throwing a “Fake Nixon History” scene, dressed up as comedy, as a proxy punch at Trump, during the biggest television event of the year. It’s subtle, but it’s telling of who Mr. Bezos really is. Whereas Mr. Trump has the guts to call out Amazon founder by name, this billionaire seems content letting his newspaper and TV ad surreptitiously settle scores.
• Geoff Shepard served as deputy counsel to President Nixon during the unfolding of the Watergate scandal. He is the author of “The Real Watergate Scandal, Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot that Brought Nixon Down” (Regnery, 2015).