Who could have predicted that American “journalist” Kurt Eichenwald would be able to successfully enter the news cycle yesterday during the over-hyped Comey hearings? The media almost had drool dribbling down their faces as they watched their countdown clocks until the hearing was scheduled to begin. But Kurt had other plans. He managed to tweet out an anti-Trump picture which he apparently didn’t check too closely before uploading for all the world to see. The picture displayed his web browser in the background with a tab containing Japanese cartoon pornography, “hentai”. This incident was quickly named “tentaclegate” for Kurt’s explanation. He claimed to be looking for “tentacle porn” to prove its existence to his children and wife.
In a world overrun with fact-checking, let’s not neglect this very serious and important matter. First of all the particular hentai comic in question (the one displayed in the tab) doesn’t contain tentacles. Strike one. Second, Kurt claimed he read about the tentacle part on Wikipedia. The comic in question doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page (at least as of this writing). Strike two. Third, this incident fits into a pattern of behavior. Eichenwald has previously been caught paying money to a child pornography website for “research purposes”. He failed to notify his editor or other newspaper staff beforehand. Sounds fishy to me. Thus, his narrative quickly crumbles.
Following the Watergate scandal the phrase “the coverup is worse than the crime” became publicly known. Tentaclegate is a perfect example of this sentiment. Kurt’s blatantly false statements and obvious coverup attempts fuel the public interest in the story. It is a classic case of the Streisand-effect in action. What has happened is that the internet has caught whiff of the smell of blood in the water. Memes and discussion of the incident has exploded. The searchlight has also thus been focused on the child pornography incident a few years back. For Kurt, this can only be described as a public relations disaster. Had ha owed up to the truth, that he likes hentai, this whole thing would have blown over much quicker than it will now.
I don’t know enough about Watergate to delve into details, so I’ll use another example of unintended political consequences. Hillary Clinton collapsed during the 9/11 memorial service during last year’s campaign. Prior to this, there had been a lot of rumors circulating on the net about her health. I consider many of these claims to be credible. The anti-seizure special glasses she was seen wearing on many occasions are hard to explain away. Her campaign claimed that Hillary suffered from pneumonia. She was shortly thereafter seen hugging a child outside an apartment. This is where the narrative collapses. First of all pneumonia is contagious and takes the lives of about a million children worldwide each year (if I remember correctly). Why in the world would Hillary be hugging a child while suffering from a contagious disease? Either she is lying or incredibly reckless. Either way she looks bad.
Thus, we can learn from this whole tentaclegate kerfuffle that lies often take on a life of their own in politics. You can quickly lose control of the narrative. Owing up to whatever it is that was controversial that you did might be a better strategy long term than attempting a half-hearted concealment. Remember that the next time you get in the mood for some tentacle on human action.
PS: Before I forget, the prevalence of tentacles in pornography is also a prime case of unintended consequences. The Japanese government enforces censorship laws, making porn producers pixelate genitals. Clever people in Japan concocted tentacles as a clever way to bypass these restrictions. That is the reason we see tentacle monsters with 10+ “proxy-penises” instead of a human with one. Good job censorship laws!