Scientists have long theorized about a hypothetical “most excruciating dinner party possible,” and now a potential breakthrough has been made: In October, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Donald Trump had dinner in Washington, D.C. NBC News confirmed the existence of the dinner, which neither Facebook nor the White House had announced.
How should we feel about the fact that 2007 Muhammad Ali Entrepreneur Award Winner and President of the United States Donald Trump is privately and secretively dining with the executive of the largest communications apparatus on the planet and his democracy-skeptic mentor? Scared? Paranoid? Facebook suggests you should feel no particular way about it: “As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the president and first lady at the White House,” the company told NBC.
They are, of course, right: This dinner was very normal. Not only is it normal for the CEO and a powerful board member of a major U.S. company to have dinner with the president, it’s normal for Zuckerberg to have dinner with right-wing pundits and conservative figures: As Politico reported last month, he’s been having routine meetings with people like Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson. Indeed, attending carefully to complaints from conservatives — while dismissing those from liberals and the left — is increasingly normal for Zuckerberg. Aside from the way one of these guys is a reactionary billionaire with a bunker in New Zealand, another one controls a communications channel with access to one third of the entire planet’s population, and the third had a cameo in the 1989 Bo Derek/Anthony Quinn film Ghosts Can’t Do It — and it’s that last guy who is the president of the United States — this dinner was normal as hell.
“It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg, and Thiel discussed,” NBC reports, but a Vanity Fair blog post from last month about Thiel-hosted dinner parties gives us some indication: “When [Thiel] has dined Trump … it wasn’t the typical conversation of a Thiel dinner, and instead focused on a whole lot of straw-man arguments about unimportant topics, and even gossip about other people, especially media personalities, whom Thiel has little interest in.” (At his own dinner parties, Thiel “requires that people use what he calls ‘steel-man arguments versus straw-man arguments,’” and insists that guests “never gossip about other people.” Let’s hope the wine is good, at least!) So how should we feel? At best, I suppose, we should feel thankful that none of us had to be physically present as the trio chewed on well-done steak, Trump interjecting every so often to share his thoughts on Andrea Mitchell.