The TikTok Hearings — More Absurd Political Theatre

It’s obviously not about data, national security, or child safety; it’s about controlling information and narratives

Mitchell Peterson
8 min readMar 26


Photo by Franck on Unsplash

Whether it’s Nancy Pelosi kneeling in Kente cloth, AOC pretending to be handcuffed when being escorted out of a protest by police, or Marjorie Taylor Greene walking around the Capitol building with a freaking balloon, American politics is no stranger to theatre. One could argue that Washington DC is much more about faking action through clown show optics than it is about governing.

The TikTok hearings last Thursday were no different. Admittedly, I haven’t watched the entire six-hour affair and am not on TikTok, but judging from the articles and breakdowns I’ve seen, it appears there wasn’t a single lawmaker who was there to listen or ask real questions.

All had made up their minds before the hearing even started, and all decided they were going to get some clips for their social media and future campaign ads.

And the whole thing wreaked of xenophobia.

Short of “okay, we’ll sell the company to an American firm and give an office to the CIA so it can control what information is being shared,” there was absolutely nothing TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew could have said that would have changed the atmosphere in that room.

Because the hearings weren’t about data privacy or child safety, and they weren’t even about national security in the way that most lawmakers framed it.

I don’t think they’re really concerned Beijing will have access to users’ data or manipulate the minds of Americans; I think they’re worried 150 million Americans are communicating on a platform that they cannot control.

As always, the hypocrisy is insane as First Amendment “free marketeers” shout for regulating speech and government intervention while decrying censorship and government interference in “authoritarian” rival states.

The banning TikTok debate is just the latest iteration in the unnecessary geopolitical battle, further proof the Western public will obediently believe all narratives pushed by their trusted media handlers, and another blatant example of hypocrisy.



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.