And you wonder why Americans aren’t all that worried about privacy. In this week’s “Data,” Team Selina deals with matters of privacy in light of a government data breach. But don’t worry. The culprits- I mean, the scapegoats, are caught before they can flee to Russia.
The episode begins on Good Thursday with Selina discussing the Families First bill during an interview. This bill, the President says, will help children in need, such as the young girl who contracted HIV through breast milk, but still wants to be a ballerina. It’s always good to have examples, you know? Makes you seem more personable.
Unfortunately, Selina couldn’t have picked a worse example because the town where the previously mentioned girl, named Jennifer Graham, lives now knows her identity and word has spread. Dan, Ben, Mike and Bill now need to figure out how the team had access to the medical records, but for the love of God, do not tell Selina because she’ll lose her shit.
Selina, though, already has her hands full with Catherine, whose personal life is still being invaded by the press. There’s even an article in a newspaper that includes a photo of her vaping, not smoking, but vaping. Catherine feels that her private life should be kept just that– private. There’s even a photoshopped image that shows what Selina and Catherine will look like when Selina has completed her term. Selina…almost looks the same, but Catherine, well…
Mike, meanwhile, deals with the press’ questions about whether Selina will make a statement on Jennifer Graham’s private information. Selina, not briefed on any of this, enters the room and asks the journalists to give Catherine some personal space. However, one of the journalists asks Selina if that same privacy should be afforded an eight-year-old girl with HIV. Where did HIV come from? Well, Mike says that it may have started when a guy fucked a monkey.
Selina then learns about the data breach: medical and social security records were hacked by a member of the campaign team and used in the Families First press pack. It would make sense to just admit that, but instead, Selina tasks the team with finding a scapegoat to fire since it’d be impossible to identify the responsible party. After all, the press will need a culprit.
Catherine and Selina have lunch, with Catherine still reeling over the press’ invasion of her privacy. But hey, the honeymoon period is over. Even still, Selina isn’t spared from ridicule, as The Onion ran an article implying she’d only be president for a few months. Given the nature of this show and Selina’s stellar track record as Vice President, I tend to agree with The Onion.
As Jennifer Graham’s father speaks out about the lack of privacy, Sue informs Mike that various associations and organizations slowly cut their support for the Families First bill. Gary wonders why the press is only focusing on the negative. After all, Selina is working to make children’s lives better. Sue tells Mike to take care of this.
Over at a warehouse, Richard and Jonah meet with a pleasant salesman, played by Dakin Matthews, who doesn’t give a shit what the two pick for their fireworks display, but does want you to know that he’s got a giant grudge against Gerald Ford. I want this guy to return.
Next up is a Meyer campaign rally over in Towson, Maryland. Mike pulls Amy aside to inform her that Vice President Doyle will be walking out to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. That, by itself, isn’t the problem. The issue is that the song could be interpreted as being about spying since every line apparently ends with “I’ll be watching you.” I’ve never listened to this song before, so I’ll just take Mike’s word on that.
Team Selina tells Jonah to change Doyle’s music, but Jonah is reluctant since the music is timed to a lightshow. He eventually decides to go with “Eye of the Tiger” instead, at Richard’s suggestion, but “Every Breath You Take” ends up playing anyway. Richard just blames Windows 8 since he’s used to using a Mac. The goof ends up trending on Twitter, with the hash tag #EveryLittleThingSheDoesIsTragic. Given Selina’s past goofs, I can’t imagine this being the first time that Twitter has gone after her.
After the rally, Amy informs Selina that the campaign is losing microdonors and will soon be down to nanodonors who want to be removed from the database because they fear it isn’t secure. When a journalist mentions that Jennifer Graham’s aunt said that only an unfit mother would be immune to her niece’s suffering, Selina decides to just give an on-camera statement to the press about Jennifer Graham. She admits that she had no knowledge of the data breach, but takes full responsibility for it and vows to hold someone accountable for this.
Problem is that fireworks go off behind her. Very mixed messaging.
Dan has found a scapegoat in the random female White House staffer whose name no one knows. After all, she was in the writers’ room for the Joint Session address and was at the campaign rally. Side-note, Kent isn’t fully on board with this since he actually likes the staffer and even sees splashes of himself in her. He then instantly regrets saying that. I love the writers for this show.
So Dan delivers the bad news to the staffer, who we can finally identify as Leigh Patterson, played by Jessie Ennis, who can’t stay even if she cries. She’s talking to a guy who once broke off an engagement in Applebees and then ordered dessert.
However, come Easter Monday, the story still has not gone away. Leigh wasn’t very high up the chain of command, so the press isn’t satisfied with her firing. I doubt anyone would be, to be honest. Anyway, Dan announces that he’s been prepping Jonah for this moment and plans to link him with every other campaign screw-up. Plus, he has an inherently guilty face, like a surprised masturbator. Selina is on board with this. All Dan needs is a bus long enough to run over Jonah.
But when Dan tries to fire Jonah, he witnesses Teddy grope Jonah’s balls, which are apparently so big that they’re practically tits. This, in a rare moment of human decency for Veep, prompts Dan to call this out as sexual harassment. But this is pushed aside when Richard arrives with Jonah’s sandwich and asks if Jonah is being fired for the ‘campaign data thing.’ It’s revealed that Selina’s “I Care” mailer deliberately targeted recently bereft parents. Someone from the campaign used child mortality data from the same federal data breach that identified Jennifer Graham.
Catherine wants to get involved with an anti-bullying campaign, but Selina won’t allow her. It’s not that Selina ever bullied Catherine, it’s that Catherine was bullied because of Selina. Catherine is adamant about doing this, prompting Selina to threaten taking away their Hawaii trip for Thanksgiving. Who the hell visits Hawaii for Thanksgiving, by the way?
Anyway, Dan and Amy enter and deliver the news to Selina. Using stolen government data is a federal crime and someone could go to jail. In short, they’re fucked. To stop the press’ onslaught, though, the team decides there needs to be a major resignation. Oh, and Mike learns that the second breach came from a student volunteer who is no longer present. Ben volunteers to fall onto the sword for Selina.
In the men’s room, Dan stands right next to Ben despite the whole ‘leave a gap’ rule. There are rules in the men’s room, you know. Ben reveals that he’s volunteering himself to be fired and makes Dan promise to not reveal this until there’s been an official statement from Selina.
At the Easter Egg Roll, Dan immediately spills about Ben’s upcoming resignation, though Mike believed that Dan was referring to the man in the Easter Bunny costume at first.
However, Kent pulls Dan aside and reveals that not only has Selina changed her mind about Ben, she’s decided that Dan will resign instead. After all, he has a guilty look. When Dan instead threatens to reveal the use of federal data to target bereaved families for the campaign flyers, Ben…well, let me just repost what he said:
“You listen to me you little fucking turd’s assistant, you don’t threaten this administration, because we will fucking destroy you. We’ll skin you like a squirrel, clean you out like a dirty fucking chimney, and wear you like a glove puppet with my fingers sticking out your dead, fucking eyeballs.”
Though Kent can’t endorse that message, he does acknowledge it.
A staffer manages to reach Mike just in time as he then delivers word of the new firing of Dan Egan.
As Dan packs up his things, Jonah promises to lead him away from the press.
Wait, never mind.
And people here thought the Edward Snowden situation wouldn’t go away from the news cycle. “Data” is another great episode and another example of how the tiniest thing to come out of Team Selina can turn into something huge. Granted, using federal data to target bereft parents is not small potatoes and someone should be held accountable, but the fun came out of watching the team flounder as they tried to solve this.
Watching this episode- or pretty much any episode of Veep– is like watching a snowball grow larger as it rolls down a hill. Or, to use an example close to this episode, it’s like watching an exploding gas station in a Michael Bay movie: things are going to get worse before they get…well, worse since things rarely get better in Veep. Selina has the best of intentions with her Families First bill, but there’s no way she could have known about the data breach.
But like posting something on the internet- which isn’t just Alta Vista and the Star Wars kid anymore- once you put it out there, it’s out there for good. No amount of undo or backspace will save you there.
Because Veep has often been about turning politics on its head, it’s fun to watch these people struggle to nail someone to the wall, even when they don’t know where to start or who to blame.
It’s unfortunate that Leigh was the first to be fired and I do hope she reappears, as her random appearances did make me laugh.
But Dan ultimately getting the axe was a bit satisfying to me- particularly of how smug he was when getting rid of Leigh- because he’s been so busy prepping Jonah for this that he forgot to cover his own ass. And wouldn’t you know it? He makes Jonah and Richard promise not to reveal the truth about the data breach, but then, after Ben makes him promise not to tell that he’s resigning, he goes and blabs to the team, only to learn that he’s the one being removed. It’s unfortunate for Dan, but he kind of deserves it. Then again, I doubt this is the last we’ll see of him. He may not return in the same capacity, but I’m sure he’ll return.
Again, though, I do appreciate that he had a moment of human decency to him when he called out Teddy’s sexual harassment of Jonah, even though the moment evaporated when Richard arrived.
However, as Dan falls, Bill Ericsson continues to rise, as we learn that he’s the one who suggested to Selina that Dan be fired. Ericsson is very calculated with his moves and knows about the incompetency of Team Selina. Hell, he’s the one who suggested during his first meet with Selina that she get rid of Amy, Dan, Gary, and Mike. I doubt she’ll dump Gary since the two look to be back on good terms- boob brush and nonfunctioning banana aside- but he had a point and he’s slowly working his way up the totem pole of Selina’s inner circle.
Like the previous episode dealing with her popularity, “Data” touched upon what the children of politicians endure when their lives are out in the open. Catherine can’t live a normal life because she’ll be scrutinized, criticized, and analyzed by any and every news outlet out there. That’s the nature of the business: you want news, but you want to try something more sociable, so you check in on the lives of the First Kids.
But Catherine doesn’t want any of that attention. More than that, any attempts to make herself seem more relatable bring her into conflict with her own mother because Selina thinks people will think she bullied Catherine. Catherine won’t have that privacy, though. She was already the Vice President’s daughter, and now that Selina is the President, her private life will shrink even more. At the very least, I give her credit for at least trying to be personable, even if Selina tries to stop her.
As with many episodes, the jokes and funny lines don’t stop coming on Veep, whether it’s Mike talking about how HIV first came about, the one kid’s reaction to Selina being the President, or the man in the Easter Bunny costume talking about how he’d seen his friend blown to pieces by an IED in Afghanistan…that sounds horrible when I say it. Veep is funny, but it can get pretty damn dark in no time.
Though another standout had to be Kent’s defense of Leigh when he talks about seeing splashes of himself in her…until he instantly recognizes what he said before then regretting that phrase.
“Data” was another fun episode and showed how much we value our privacy. I hope our real life politicians handled data breaches a bit better than Selina Meyer did, though. There’s also been a major change in Team Selina’s staff with Dan’s firing and Leigh being removed. Again, I hope these two do return. But I learned something this week: if I come down with a disease or illness, I must do everything in my power to make sure the President never learns this.