As Republicans attempt to deflect blame from the Trump administration’s demonstrable incompetence in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the malicious negligence and privateering of its crisis response, they have returned like homing pigeons to their favorite roost: aggrieved xenophobia. After some early attempts to blame the uniquely American Covid-19 crisis on China,Trump and his allies have resumed this line of attack, this time via Chinese influence over the World Health Organization.
Former George W. Bush press secretary and Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer must miss the days when he exploited tragedy for political gain, because he decided to get into the act on Twitter to raise awareness of another fresh outrage perpetrated by China: knock-off PS4 controllers.
The tweets has since been deleted, but here it is for posterity (courtesy of Patrick).
We’ve all been there, of course. Not the part where we were the public mouthpiece for a tragically incompetent presidential administration who had to excuse its past fuckups while laying the groundwork for the next ones. But ending up with a trash third-party controller? That’s something we can all relate to.
But it’s striking the degree to which Fleischer has no case here. You can’t even really blame this on Amazon’s general policy of promoting and surfacing knock-off products on its website, steering consumers away from genuine products toward cleverly disguised imitators. Amazon has taken steps to ameliorate that issue, albeit in a way that serves big brands and harms small businesses who were never part of the counterfeiting problem. What this means is that Amazon pretty aggressively pushes you toward official Sony Dualshock controllers when you search for PS4 controllers, and away from third-party knock-offs. You have to proactively choose to buy the imitator. In this case, a Foster Gadgets “Wireless Controller Remote for PS4 - JUEGO Control Joystick for Sony Playstation 4 with Double Shock”.
It’s also striking that on every one of the listings for this controller that I saw, the product description further underscores just how much this is not the real PS4 controller.
Perhaps Fleischer was just looking for a deal. An official PS4 controller normally costs $60. The knock off he ended up with sells for half that price.
The whole embarrassing episode was enjoyable to watch because Fleischer is someone whose public life the last few years has been to re-live the 9/11 attacks on Twitter every year and to remind us all of what a solemn day it was—and how the Bush administration rose to the moment. Seeing him trying to wield a shoddy PS4 controller as some kind of proof of Chinese perfidy is a reminder that he, like most of the leadership from the Bush administration, is someone better suited to farce than drama. Ari Fleischer is still someone who will seize on evidence to scapegoat a problem that he helped create.