Discover more from Glenn Greenwald
Democrats Abandon Free Speech
Video Transcript: Plus, an interview with Matt Taibbi on his reporting of the Twitter files
Watch System Update Episode #1 here on Rumble.
Note From Glenn Greenwald: The following is the full show transcript, for subscribers only, of the debut episode of our System Update program, broadcast live on Rumble on Monday, December 12, 2022. As I indicated last week, we now have a service in place that will produce full transcripts of all the live shows we do – Monday through Friday, live on Rumble, at 7:00 pm ET – for our subscribers here.
We have a backlog of the first ten episodes from the first two weeks of shows that we'll post here over the next five days. We will be off from Wednesday, December 28 until Sunday, January 1. We'll be back live on Monday, January 2, 2023, and will start publishing full transcripts of every show here within the next 24 hours for those we prefer to read the program rather than watch.
We begin this episode with an examination of how free speech has fallen from the place it had always occupied in U.S. history, a universally held value, to one that half the country now aggressively rejects. We will then speak with the independent journalist at the heart of one of this year's most important stories, Matt Taibbi, and we will conclude the program with a specific look at a glaring and common conflict of interest and how a major journalistic outlet has been covering what it incessantly claims is Twitter's imminent downfall.
Now, while this is our debut show on Rumble, and we could not be more excited to share it with you, we have spent the last several weeks broadcasting test episodes on Locals, Rumble's community-based platform I just mentioned. During those past episodes, a common theme emerged. We are immersed in one of the most radical changes in American political life in decades, if not longer. Namely, one of the most significant and powerful factions in the United States, the Democratic Party and the left-liberals who support it, the faction that dominates Washington, Hollywood, media, academia and increasingly the largest sectors of corporate power, simply no longer believes in free speech, either as a societal value or even as a constitutional doctrine.
So many of our most recent intense political controversies are driven by their central degradation. It is the most significant dynamic driving so many of our most vitriolic debates. That is certainly what explains, for instance, the deranged, intense rage among liberal media employees over Elon Musk's vow to restore just a modicum of greater political free expression to Twitter, and even more so, their unified indignation over the reporting done by the independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, in which, whatever else you think of them, they did what journalists are supposed to do: they brought transparency to one of the nation's most powerful corporations by shining light on the internal censorship regime that had governed Twitter until very recently.
Americans disagreeing with one another is nothing new. This country has always been composed of a politically polarized citizenry. That is likely an inevitable byproduct of creating a democratic republic that guarantees core civil liberties by giving millions of people, then tens of millions, then hundreds of millions, the freedom to express themselves, to organize, to petition their government for redress. You're basically ensuring intense pluralism rather than uniformity of thought. The more authoritarian a society is, the more conformity there will be. Conversely, the freer it is, the more conflict of ideas and beliefs one will encounter. That's normal and healthy to be expected. Indeed, that is the aspirational design of the United States.
I've always seen the Constitution as a psychological and sociological document as much as it is a political one. That's because its framing fundamentally relies upon…
…the founders post-Enlightenment understanding of human nature, of our natural tendency to see the world differently, to simultaneously seek higher hierarchies but forge independence from them, to desire different outcomes based on our different interests, to factionalize into like-minded tribes and groups, to divide and fracture based on what most influences us. In other words, they understood that the nature of human beings is that we are going to disagree often fervently.
A society can deal with those inevitable disagreements by crushing them through the power of an authoritarian ruler, the dynamic under which the founders found themselves and then waged a revolutionary war to free themselves of. Or we can instead allow ourselves to argue about these differences and then attempt to mediate them through free debate with one another and agree to a set of rules that govern democratic decision-making, where majorities ultimately are free to enact their preferences provided they stay within the confines of constitutional limits. The founders chose that second model, one of democracy safeguarded by liberty, which in turn meant conflict, argument, debate, division, and factional polarization. And that's what American history has largely been driven by.
But despite this centuries-old cacophony of political disagreements, there are certain political values to which most Americans, almost by definition, have always subscribed. These are our foundational or definitional values, hallmarks not of left or right, conservative, or liberal, or belonging to this party or that one, but of being American -- the values which bestow that term American with something more than just a mere signifier of geography. Without question, one of those historically shared values, arguably the most cohesive one is a belief in free speech, the once revolutionary and still inspiring notion that individuals have the right to form their own views and opinions and to express them without being forced by some centralized Internet or corporate authority to recite things they do not believe, to suppress what they actually think, or, worst of all, to be punished for stating their beliefs.
Like most Americans growing up in the 20th century, these values were inculcated in me from childhood. We were all taught that despite the imperfections of our country, one reason to see ourselves as fortunate to live in the U.S. was that it provides a guarantee of core civic freedoms denied to most other nations: the right to practice one's religion freely and to be free of a state religion, to enjoy a free press, to have a government barred from seizing our liberty or property or life without due process and most of all the right to express our views no matter how at odds they are with the decrees of authority without being punished for doing so.
In that first test episode I mentioned that we ran on Locals I recounted the first time I ever really noticed, and then wrote about, the way in which a belief in free speech occupies a rare and unique position in American political life as one of those very, very few values which all of us reflexively support without regard to where we fall in a political spectrum or to which political party we maintain allegiance.
I began writing about politics in late 2005. Very shortly thereafter, a British historian named David Irving, long notorious for Holocaust revisionism and then denialism, was convicted in a criminal court in Austria, in 2006. His crime: he delivered two speeches 17 years earlier in which he denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers and other atrocities. He admitted he delivered those speeches but insisted he no longer believed what he had said.
No matter, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Three years in prison for giving two speeches. Now, this happened during the second term of the Bush-Cheney administration just a few years after the 9/11 attack, with the Iraq war still raging, just months after Democrats allege that George W. Bush purposely let New Orleans drown in Hurricane Katrina because, in the words of Kanye West, George Bush doesn't care about black people. To say that the U.S. was plagued by extreme political polarization at the time is an understatement.
The left and the right hated each other, and that's what made it so conspicuous to me that the reaction in the United States to David Irving's criminal conviction in Austria was so unified and harmonious, basically unanimous. Americans from the left to the right and everything in between didn't need to think about or debate this. Being an American meant that as repugnant as Irving's speech might be, of course, it's oppressive and wrong for the State to determine truth and falsity and then imprison him for his ideas.
That's because we don't trust the State or any centralized institution of authority to decide historical truth for us or to punish us because we reject its decrees. On that old free blog on Google's blogging platform that I used back then, I wrote an article about all of this with the headline, quote, "Are there American political values that transcend ideology?" and my answer to that question was a resounding yes. Free speech was one such value, and this is how I explained it back then, 17 years ago: "Every American blogger whom I found discussing the David Irving conviction -- from the left wing to the far right and everything in between -- was in complete agreement regarding this event.
They all unambiguously expressed the opinion that while those who deny or downplay the Holocaust are deplorable, nobody should be imprisoned or prosecuted by the State for expressing an idea, no matter how repugnant the idea might be. That sort of trans-ideological consensus is almost unheard of these days with regard to any issue", I wrote.
One engrained American political principle is that citizens cannot and must not be punished by the State for expressing ideas and opinions, no matter how reprehensible, repulsive, or even dangerous the opinions are. This is not something which most Americans even need to contemplate or debate. It's ingrained on a visceral, almost instinctive level, such that reading an article that reports on someone's imprisonment for expressing an idea provokes an immediate reflexive revulsion.
Even back then, in 2006, I did acknowledge that, quote: "There are handfuls of people on the far left who will defend free speech restrictions of this sort on the ground that the right of people to be free from feelings of intimidation or discomfort outweighs the rights and virtues of free expression". But then quickly added: "Outside of these fringes and aberrational viewpoints, reading about a government somewhere punishing people for their ideas simply violates core American beliefs about the proper role of government and what is or is not a legitimate exercise of state power."
It is amazing and alarming how much has changed since 2006 when I wrote that. Not even 20 years ago! There is now no question that free speech has been ejected violently from the pantheon of shared American values, which most of us support simply by virtue of being American. In fact, I'm not even sure there are any more such values. Due process, the idea that we only assume people's guilt or punish them without providing evidence of their guilt, has long been jettisoned from left-liberal culture.
We witnessed how casually they accuse Matt Gates of being a pedophile or Julian Assange of being a rapist, even though neither has ever been accused, let alone convicted of those crimes. Or how much glee liberals take in the harsh imprisonment of January 6 defendants: months of harsh pretrial solitary confinement, even for those not accused of using violence on that day. That there is so much left-liberal support for the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange now in his fourth year in a harsh British prison, despite having been convicted of no crime beyond a misdemeanor count of bail jumping, proves how basic press freedoms are even no longer universally shared by Americans either. But it is their utter abandonment of free speech as both a constraint on government power and as an aspirational value we use to resolve disputes that is most visible and most destructive.
We see this in the unbridled wrath directed by Democratic Party officials and their liberal servants in the corporate media toward Elon Musk, solely for the crime of promising a mild restoration of free speech to the one social media platform they may no longer be able to control. And we see it even more in the intense contempt channeled toward independent journalist Matt Taibbi for the crime of exposing Twitter's corrupted old censorship regime.
Democrats and liberals as a cultural attribute and as their political dogma no longer believe in free speech. That is not hyperbole. Democrats in Congress have spent the last two years abusing their majoritarian power in Washington by explicitly threatening big tech CEOs that, unless they censor more political content, which Democrats dislike or find offensive, then these companies will suffer legal and retaliatory and regulatory punishment from the U.S. government. I've spent much of the last two years reporting on the various ways they have done so.
But these comments I'm about to show you from Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts uttered during one of the many hearings, where big tech CEOs were summoned and explicitly ordered to censor more, perfectly reveals the mindset of the Democratic Party. Listen with your own ears to their own words. They're telling you what they want:
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): Problem. The issue is not that the companies before us today are taking too many posts down. The issue is that they're leaving too many dangerous posts up.
Now, so accustomed are Democratic politicians to ordering around social media companies that way with censorship orders that they now just publicly issued their threats as if it's normal for the U.S. Government and Democratic Party lawmakers to dictate to private actors how to censor. Because in left-liberal political culture that is now normal.
On Thursday, Congressman Adam Schiff, who gets a lot of justified credit for being the most dishonest member of Congress, but not nearly enough credit for also being its most authoritarian, invoked the framework of identity politics to justify his power to interfere in Musk's decision making about what must be censored on Twitter. The California Democrat issued this decree, quote: "On Elon Musk Twitter slurs against black people have tripled. Slurs against women are up 33%. Slurs against Jewish people up 61%. And slurs against gay men are up 58%. These numbers are abysmal and unacceptable".
"Today, congressman Mark Takano", his fellow California House Democrat, "and I are demanding action". Oh, they're demanding action. Who cares? To begin with these statistics, though, now, gospel among level journalists, are completely fabricated. Where do they come from? Who measured that and how? I have no doubt they came from this newly baptized priesthood called "online safety experts", which basically consists of a few parasocial friends, which left-liberal journalists made on Twitter. But much more importantly, who is Adam Schiff to issue dictates to private social media companies regarding how they must censor more aggressively? In what conceivable way is it appropriate for members of Congress who wield significant power over tech companies to be demanding which people and viewpoints must be silenced?
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the First Amendment is violated not only when government officials like Schiff enact laws explicitly censoring content they dislike, but also when they use their power to threaten or coerce private actors such as Twitter to censor for them, exactly as Democrats have been doing.
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that Rhode Island legislators had violated the Constitution's free speech clause when they began pressuring bookstores -- not legally requiring, just pressuring bookstores -- to remove books those lawmakers had deemed inappropriate. The Court in Bantam Books v. Sullivan rejected their excuse, the same one Democrats like Adam Schiff offer now, namely, our programs, quote, "do not regulate or suppress the content, but simply exhort booksellers to comply as though it's voluntary".
But the Supreme Court recognized the obvious reality here when powerful politicians with the ability to regulate or harm your business suggest repeatedly that you censor, of course, that will be understood as an order to do so and thus violates the Constitution. As the Court explained:
People do not lightly disregard public officials’ thinly veiled threats to institute criminal proceedings against them if they do not come around... The operation of these legislators was, in fact, a scheme of state censorship effectuated by extra-legal sanctions. They acted as an agency not to advise, but to suppress.
The relentless threats over the last two years of congressional Democrats and even sometimes from White House officials to big tech platforms to either censor more or else face punishment threats they are now issuing to Elon Musk, due to his refusal to obey their censorship orders, far exceeds -- exceeds -- what the 1963 Court found to constitute unconstitutional coercion to censor.
And the 1963 case, the punishment was implicit but today's Democratic officials, they are very explicit about their intentions. When I first reported on the Democrats' escalating pressure campaign to force big tech to censor, Ben Wizner, the director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told me: "For the same reasons that the Constitution prohibits the government from dictating what information we can see and read, and also prohibits the government from using its immense authority to coerce private actors into censoring on its behalf.
Now, at some point, a judicial ruling will be required on whether the Democrats' years-long threat to censor more similarly violates the First Amendment, but what we now know for sure, from documents obtained by The Intercept in late October and from Matt Taibbi's reporting last week, is that it is not just the Democratic Party, but far worse the U.S. Security State that is heavily involved in determining which information is censored over the Internet and which information American citizens are and are not allowed to hear.
Indeed, as Taibbi's reporting revealed, Twitter's chief censor, Yoel Roth, reveled in the fact that he met weekly -- weekly -- not only with the FBI but also with agents of Homeland Security. A more alarming and I will say fascistic scheme is hard to imagine. Democrats have largely succeeded in constructing an extra-legal framework where they have harnessed the power to commandeer big tech's control of our discourse, all while injecting the menacing presence of the U.S. Security State and its trained disinformation agents to further control the information flow to which the American public has access.
Or they at least had that control in power until Elon Musk took it away from them by buying Twitter, taking it private, and immediately vowing that he would largely defy their orders. And this and this alone is what accounts for their rage, their need to do something, anything, to make Elon Musk pay from their sputtering threats to investigate him for something or other to their pathetically seeking refuge in some barely functioning, competing social media site they are far too old and inept to figure out. Here's the mastodon account I'm using now. Follow me there or their creepy and vindictive attempts to exploit liberal advocacy groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League to pressure their allies, and corporate America to cease advertising on Twitter.
But the most disturbing component of all of this is not the government functionaries like Adam Schiff and Homeland Security agents want the power to censor and control the information which we can and cannot have access to. That despotic craving to censor is as old as time. It's the reason the First Amendment was appended to the Constitution to outlaw it.
Far more alarming, far more alarming, is the support that this authoritarian censorship scheme is given by the vast majority of followers of the Democratic Party. And the reason for their support is as toxic as it is easily proven establishment left liberals are now among the millions of new Americans who simply no longer believe in free speech as a reflexive, foundational, defining American value. They do not want free speech to exist. They are against it. Unlike that consensus I celebrated back in 2006, modern-day liberals want the government to unite with corporate power to deny basic free speech rights to their political adversaries, and to know that you don't need to listen to me but to them.
In the first thousands of emails that Matt Taibbi released, he published one from Carl Szabo of the research firm Net Choice. Szabo was tasked with surveying the reaction of members of the House Judiciary Committee to Twitter's decision, right before the 2020 election, to brute censor any discussions of the New York Post's reporting based on documents from on Hunter Biden's laptop, regarding Joe Biden's business activities in China and Ukraine.
In his report to Twitter executives who made the truly extraordinary decision to censor that reporting, Szabo made clear how much Democrats want more censorship from big tech. His report to Twitter executives read as follows: "The Democrats were in agreement that social media needs to moderate more because they're corrupting democracy and making all truth relative". When these Democrats were pushed on how the government might possibly insist on that consistent with the First Amendment, they demurred: "I guess the First Amendment isn't absolute". That's the official position of the Democratic Party. They want more censorship. They do not believe in the First Amendment. And they make that as clear and explicit as possible.
That's why I regard this Pew poll from last year, and there are many with similar findings, to be one of the most important and revealing reflections of the current iteration of our politics. It shows that the vast majority of Democrats, 76%, more than three out of every four Democrats, believe that top companies should take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of information.
Far more alarmingly, almost as many Democrats 65% of Democrats, two out of every three Democrats in the United States want the State, the government, to take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of information. Two-thirds of Democrats want the United States government to limit what can and cannot be said on the Internet by having the government be the binding and final arbiter of truth and falsity.
And that is why liberal journalists united to label the reporting from Matt Taibbi to be trivial, "nothing burgers", even corrupted --- even though Taibbi's reporting revealed how Twitter had constructed a censorship regime run by caricatured left-liberal fanatics that routinely crush dissent from liberal orthodoxy; how the chiefs of that censorship regime regularly met with operatives of the U.S. Security State as they were deciding what to censor and how this censorship regime resulted in the banning from our most influential social media sites, not only multiple members of Congress, but the sitting president of the United States?
That's because mainstream Democratic Party liberals and the journalists who are their allies, simply no longer believe in free speech. They believe in censorship: censorship imposed by corporate power in unison with the government designed to silence those who disagree with them. Free speech is no longer a universal American value. Worse, in the mainstream left-liberal circles, we are now rapidly approaching the point where the real universally accepted value is State and corporate censorship.
For our first interview segment on our debut episode, we are genuinely thrilled to have the journalist who first broke the Twitter files and thus became, depending on who you listen to, even the journalist responsible for one of the most important stories of the year, or, in the bizarrely identical hive mind words of virtually every left-liberal employee of a media corporation, the promoter of a nothing burger, who humiliated himself by doing PR work for the world's richest man. We'll talk next to Matt Taibbi.
Matt Taibbi on Twitter Files
G.G. - So, Matt, thank you so much for joining us on our daily show, and congratulations on breaking such a big story. Thanks for being with us.
M.T. - Now, of course, I'm very glad to be on the debut show. This is exciting for me.
G.G. - Yeah, it was supposed to be the first-ever interview you've done since the Twitter files, you cheated on us at the last second, with Russell Brand, but we're still extremely excited to have you. At least you cheated on another Rumble show, so we're happy about that. So let me start by asking you, you know, you've obviously been an extremely busy journalist over the past seven days. You've reported on an enormous amount of information, I know, from having been involved in stories where that happens, that I always like being asked by journalists, what are the two or three most significant revelations that you were able to report because sometimes it is hard for the public to process so much information. So, let me begin by asking you that question: what do you consider to be the top three say revelations of what you've shown?
M.T. - Well, number one for me definitely is, you know, the first time that we saw emails that said concretely, they are not even emails, slacks that said the FBI flagged this for us, the DHS flagged this for us... And we were able to follow the thread of, you know, basically requests for moderation from the government and see how that process worked on the back, and we're still working out the whole mechanics of it, but basically, the fact that the government is now provably in the business of monitoring speech at a pretty micro level and flagging it for moderation. I think that's the biggest news that we've broken so far. There's obviously other stuff in there, and we're starting to get the outlines of some things that are really interesting. Also, I would say this is the thing that Bari covered on day to day.
G.G. - Bari Weiss was the other reporter who reported the story.
M.T. - Yeah. Bari Weiss, the second installment of the Twitter files was about what most people would call shadow banning, what they call visibility filtering, which we've learned a lot about and she published, among other things, a big screenshot of an account that just has a notation on it that says Search Blacklist. Right? So, you can see that they have an enormous range of, they have basically the total ability to control how visible one person or one account is versus another. And so, they can no longer say they don't do that.
G.G. - I want to focus on the first part of that answer for just a second because if I had to name the most significant revelation, I would also name that one, namely the very direct, ongoing, and regular participation of the U.S. Security State in this process of having private companies decide what information we get.
Shortly before you began doing this reporting Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang got ahold of documents at The Intercept showing that Homeland Security has a major plan, much of which they've implemented, to insinuate themselves into that process. And now we have your being able to show that not only is there just open communication, but you also were able to show that Yoel Roth, one of the chief censors at Twitter, was almost gleeful about how frequently he was meeting with representatives of the FBI and Homeland Security. Why do you consider that so significant? Why should people care about that?
M.T. - Because it had only been speculated about before what we're seeing -- and there's a huge difference between, let's say, the FBI meeting regularly with the head of Trust and Safety at Twitter and making recommendations in a general way. There's a big difference between that and what is actually happening, which is this huge in bulk operation of reports that are coming from a number of agencies asking for things to what -- they're not -- we don't know how the ask works yet, but they're definitely flagging things for moderation and we're seeing how that works. So, rather than it being speculative now, we now know the government is in the business of mass censoring, essentially.
G.G. - So as you probably have heard, there were some criticisms of you being voiced among your fellow colleagues in the media profession and others. And one of those was all sorts of wild conspiracy theories about the conditions to which they believed you must have agreed or that were imposed unilaterally by Elon Musk in order for you to do the reporting.
One of those conditions you've acknowledged and was very obvious was that he wanted this reporting to be done on his platform and part of his effort to make Twitter a place where reporting is done. Others that people just asserted were things like you were paid by him, he told you what you can and can't say, he gave you certain kinds of access, but not others. Are any of those things true? What were these conditions beyond the requirement that this be published in the first instance on Twitter?
M.T. - Yeah, I outlined this on my site last night. There were two conditions: one of them was an attribution, sources are Twitter, and the other one was it has to be done on Twitter. So that's it. And I was actually hesitant about the Twitter aspect of it because I'm a writer. I like doing long-form and explaining things, but I actually think it wouldn't work otherwise. And there's also a sort of delicious irony to using Twitter to basically defenestrate Twitter, and then also to sort of drop this enormous, fetid stink bomb in the middle of what used to be the private garden of mainstream journalists. It wouldn't have had the same impact if it would have been done anywhere else.
G.G. - Well, let me ask you about just one aspect of that, one other aspect of the criticism, which was, you know, there was this striking component was that they all used the same language like they were all part of the same hive mind. You know, the phrase they almost all used -- journalist, activist, every left liberal on Twitter -- seemingly was that you were doing, quote, "PR work for the world's richest man" and so they were like an AI machine that kind of just spit that out. I feel like, yeah, I feel like a lot of this comes from the fact that these kinds of people don't ever do real reporting and have no experience in how to work with sources.
In my experience, it's very common for sources to say things like "I'm giving you this information", "I'm allowing you to report these things", "I want you to keep these things off the record", "I want you to promise to protect lives by going through these processes". Is that something that even happened in this case and how did it happen? Is that, in your experience as a journalist, unusual for a source to say, "I'm going to give you this information, but only on the following set of these conditions"?
M.T. - No. Every single report, literally every single reported story has negotiations in it. I think, you know that, right? And our job as journalists is we're trying to get the best deals that we can for readers, in exchange for the information. In this case, the information that was being held it was historic. It was unique. It's, you know, it's every reporter's dream to be able to go through this kind of material. And I think, you know, even my subscribers who were the real injured party in this whole business because they didn't get the first access to it, they are all for it. They just want to see the stuff they want to see what's in there. So, you know, none of that is unusual. You're always making deals with sources every single time. In fact, the degree to which everybody made a big deal... this made me wonder if they've ever actually done any reporting before.
G.G. - They don't. They don't really do any reporting. I think that it's so obvious that so much of the criticism came from an ignorance of the journalistic process. Let me focus on one of the... on the substance, part of the reporting, which for me is probably the single greatest journalistic scandal of the last several years. I left my job over this story. For me, it was such a red line when Twitter and Facebook both united, two weeks before Americans went to choose the president, to ban this reporting that The New York Post did from the Hunter Biden laptop on Joe Biden's business interests in China and Ukraine. Talk about the excuse that Twitter used at the time to justify this brute censorship unlike we've ever seen. And what your reporting revealed about that excuse.
M.T. - Well, first of all, they used an excuse that I don't think they even belie...I haven't been able to find a person who actually believed it. The internal justification for stopping the story was the, quote/unquote, "hacked materials policy" at Twitter, which is a thing that they have used before on a couple of occasions, not allowed material that was hacked. That wouldn't happen in a newspaper. You're allowed to publish hacked material, as you very well know, and it's legal to do that, but within the first couple of hours, there were all sorts of people within the company saying, we can't really do this like it's not going to happen. Especially the columns people were saying, we can't keep saying this because no one believes it. So, they eventually reversed course. But the internal justification for this, when you really drill down to it, and you can see it in exchanges with people like Yoel Roth was "we're afraid of what happened in 2016". The Bruce story hit the Internet and hit the major mainstream media and affected the election. So, they were, essentially, I think, afraid of an explosive news story impacting the election in a way they wouldn't like. That's really all comes down to.
G.G. - Well, let me ask you about that. You know, one of the experiences I've had as a journalist working with large archives is that there's almost no better way to get to know people than reading through their communications that they assume at the time will be private and always will be private. It's sort of like what people say when they think nobody's watching is who they really are. So, two of the figures that you were able to do an extraordinary amount of reporting on, were Yoel Roth and Vijaya Gade, who was the general counsel of Twitter. Not just kind of, you know, mid-level Twitter moderators. These people are extremely powerful and wealthy Twitter executives who are able to wield enormous power over our political discourse, what Americans heard and didn't hear, and how we think about things. What can you, how would you describe kind of the mindset, the mentality, the ideology of those two people, in particular, having spent so much time reading through how they think and how they communicate?
M.T. - Well, I think it's pretty clear that their political inclinations are in a certain direction. That's not a secret. They've been pretty open about that. And look, at Twitter, it's not a secret that, you know, 98% or 99% of the political donations coming from that company all in one direction. It's not necessarily unusual, but there's a lot of political unanimity there. But more than that, there is a kind of groupthink that settles in and, in this environment, where the people that... that somebody like Roth or Gade, they're hanging out with and spending all their time with, it's the Aspen Institute people. It's Stanford's, you know, Center for Election, you know, Intellectual Security or whatever it is. It's the FBI. It's the DHS. It's the DNI. They're in a very, very closed universe of people who kind of all think the same way and that comes through in these messages where they're making in-jokes that would only be funny to a certain kind of person. And that certainly impacted their moderation decisions.
G.G. - Yeah. So just let me ask you as the last question. I referenced earlier, the very intense backlash and rage and anger on a very personal nature that erupted on Twitter and then elsewhere right away toward you, even though you were really doing nothing than what journalism is supposed to be about, which is bringing transparency to the world's most powerful actors, which Twitter is obviously one of. Obviously, people can critique how you've done that. That's totally normal. But the vitriol and the intensity of the rage, the personal nature of it, it's something we see reserved only for a small number of people -- typically, it got directed at you. Talk a little bit about what that was like, but also, what do you think explains that? Really, what is it in this kind of left-liberal hegemonic media culture? What dynamics are there that would make them react with so much rage towards you for doing nothing other than what any journalist seemingly would want to do, which is look at secret documents of one of the most powerful corporations in the world?
M.T. - Well, I think you and I know this, and we've talked about this, that there is a disease of sort of credentialism that's rampant in our business, and if you're not part of the club, you're not, you know, a legitimate person in their eyes. The idea of doing any kind of story that crosses what they believe to be an acceptable message is an affront that is unacceptable. Not only that, the idea that they can't control the reaction to it, that they can't prevent people from being interested in it. I mean, you know, my follower account doubled, but they're saying it's a nothing burger, right? I really doubt that that's the case. Right? If it was that uninteresting, it wouldn't get that much attention. But more than that, it's just this very insular group of people who are not used to having somebody else do the work. I mean, we had people working for Bloomberg and Washington Post giving me a hard time about doing PR for the richest man on earth. You know, I think about how the lack of self-awareness you would have to have to tweet that line if you work for Michael Bloomberg or Jeff Bezos, it's unbelievable. But, you know, that's what this is like. And you and I both know once upon a time journalists weren't like this. They were kind of, you know, cowboys and they wanted to stick it to the man a little bit. There is none of that in this community.
G.G. - Yeah and I think people are aware of that and, you know, that's why if you look at Substack, there are very few writers who are able to kind of command the kinds of large audiences that follow them from place to place, because people want to read those independent writers. You're one of them. People lead The New York Times who are supposedly star columnists, and nobody goes and follows them on Substack because they all say the same thing, and no one has any interest in hearing what they have to say. They know they're part of a failing industry. They know they're widely despised. And anyone who is in this kind of sector of independent journalism enrages them. And the more successful it becomes, the more outraged they get which is why I'm so glad that you're so devoted to this sector of independent journalism and just broke a major story within it. So, congratulations again and thanks for joining us on our debut show.
M.T. - No, thank you so much. And I hope all your viewers keep tuning in because we've got a lot of stuff that's still coming in and it's pretty cool.
G.G. - We'll be harassing you for more appearances soon. Matt, thank you once again so much for joining us on our debut show.
Next up one of the overlooked dynamics in corporate media corruption is how often their reporting is laden with all sorts of old-fashioned conflicts of interest that they refuse to disclose. We obtained some documents that shed quite significant and interesting light on what is motivating much of the media to attack Twitter and what seem to be some very deranged ways, but which are often very calculated means of advancing their own interests. And we'll show you those documents, in respect to one particular media outlet. Up next.
Up next: MSM Conflict of Interest
Since Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, the social media platform that was once known for tranquility and respect, uniform civility, and a deep, abiding commitment to protecting so-called marginalized groups has instantly transformed virtually overnight into a cesspool of hate and bigotry, a dark and despotic sewer of demons, Nazis and ghouls from the underworld. That's if you believe a curiously well-coordinated set of messaging from top Democratic politicians and liberal establishment influencers and celebrities, and, most of all, from the corporate press.
On November 24th, the Washington Post published a suitably neurotic and unstable headline to sit atop the article by its supremely neurotic and unstable columnist, Taylor Arends, that warned, and I'm not joking, that Musk's purchase of Twitter meant we were, quote, "opening the gates of hell". That same message has been strongly echoed and reinforced in almost every sector of the liberal corporate media, with the New York Times running a story earlier this month headlined, quote, "Hate Speeches Rise on Twitter is unprecedented, researchers find". As we showed you in our opening monologue, Adam Schiff demanded some kind of unspecified action based on the same unsubstantiated claim that Twitter was now exploding in hate speech.
The message implicit, often explicit, in this narrative cannot be clearer. A Musk-owned Twitter needs more government scrutiny and censorship, and corporate advertisers should abstain from spending their ad dollars on such a radioactive platform until Musk falls into line. Now, we hope this doesn't shock you, but sometimes corporate media narratives may be motivated by something other than a magnanimous concern for your safety and well-being. After all, the finance departments of these corporate media outlets themselves desperately compete for these same corporate advertisers that, with their purported journalism they are trying to demonstrate, cannot allow their brands to be associated with Twitter's new status as a virtual Nazi newspaper.
We have obtained some exclusive documents from one particular news outlet providing a revealing example of just how compromised and corrupted the mainstream corporate media can be, not necessarily in ideological ways, but even in very banal ways when reporting on stories.
The story revolves around Axios, a medium company founded in 2016 by two former Washington Post reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, who first went on to found the very commercialized Politico before leaving to found the similarly commercialized Axios where, as was and is true of Politico, there's virtually no article that appears that doesn't have corporate sponsorship adorning it from the very institutions of power they report to report on. Mike Allen has claimed he has no ideology whatsoever and the two have billed Axios as a totally nonpartizan alternative to traditional news media, offering short, barebones articles in the form of newsletters. Upon founding the site, Jim VandeHei even stated that he wanted his company to be, quote, "a mix between The Economist and Twitter".
Now it's clear that Axios still sees at least some significant overlap between itself and Twitter, because shortly after Elon Musk take over the company, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei began privately trying to poach Twitter advertisers by pitching his company as a, quote, "brand-safe alternative to Twitter". Insinuating that Twitter had become too inhospitable and too risky for advertisers to safely be associated with. But at the same time that Axios was making this pitch in these emails, it was using its journalistic platform to publish one piece after the next on Twitter, depicting it as unsafe in various ways, especially for corporate advertisers, without once disclosing the glaring conflict of interest and how these journalistic attacks on Twitter were helping in secret attempts to induce Twitter's advertisers to leave Twitter for Axios.
As soon as this narrative emerged that Twitter was no longer safe for corporate advertisers, VandeHei began citing that narrative that Axios helped create to urge leading corporations to leave Twitter. His email read, quote, "Hey, Jim VandeHei here, CEO of Axios. I love to hop on the phone to walk you through how our platform is a well-lit alternative to Twitter.” Then he went on to explain all the things that his media outlet was saying, quote:
Most big companies advertise aggressively on Axios because we reach millions of smart, engaged professionals with top shelf content. We prohibit all opinion content because it's too toxic and polarizing, making our platform an extremely brand-safe environment. Our smart brevity ads consistently outperform our rivals because we work with companies like yours to pick the perfect headline, story and visual to engage our lead audience.
In other words, telling corporate advertisers they will conform, Axios is reporting to make it the perfect environment for corporate advertisers to be welcome. Just a day before that email was sent, Axios ran a piece slamming Elon Musk's advertiser push. Explicitly criticizing Musk must lay off decisions, including from a battery of critical marketing executives who were concerned that Musk wasn't sufficiently, quote, "committing to content, moderation, policies and enforcements". The article said, quote, "Ad agencies executives told Axios that in the wake of reports about an uptick of hate speech on the platform, they are advising clients to pause advertising for now".
Going out of their way to ensure the cards are stacked against Musk, they're strictly, quote, "nonpartisan reporting" declared, quote, "The bottom line: it's Musk's behavior, more than activist pressure on its own, that's driving marketers to proceed cautiously with Twitter". The next day, it was these very same marketers that Axios CEO Jim VandeHei sought to quote, "hop on the phone with" to explain how Axios and its marketing subsidiary could serve as a, quote, "well-lit alternative to Twitter.”
Shamelessly, with article after article over the next month, Axios did its very best to paint Twitter and its new management in the most negative light possible, casting the platform as a glitch-ridden mess and always paying special attention to unsatisfied advertisers, claiming, quote, "Advertisers are especially worried about a lack of oversight from trusted safety teams that monitored hate speech and misinformation on the platform" and emphasizing, quote, "reports beginning to emerge,” suggesting that Twitter's back end technology isn't working right. They frequently echo claims of, quote," lives being at risk" of Musk's decision to reinstate accounts that had broken the law or engaged in spam. Axios warned the policy was, quote, "another risky bet by Twitter's free speech espousing owner" that he can dial back enforcement of content rules without releasing a torrent of racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-LGBTQ speech that could further erode the service's already shaky advertising base. Never missing a chance to drum up more advertising panic and then turning around and using that panic to lure advertisers away from Twitter to Axios. Just today, Axios tweeted out an article entitled "Elon Musk's Year of Losing", which described Twitter under Musk as a, quote, "trainwreck".
Axios did not respond to our request for comment on this glaring conflict of interest in its journalism, where they were simultaneously sending out emails to corporate advertisers, tracking their exact journalistic narrative about how Twitter can no longer safely accommodate advertisers. Oftentimes, corporate media outlets feed you narratives, deceitful narratives, or purely ideological ends. But it's good to remember that other times they have deeply hidden motives. They're about nothing other than their own interests.
So this concludes our first debut show exclusively here on Rumble, which we strongly believe is going to be the free speech alternative to YouTube. It already is. It is growing, rapidly, in audience size and growth. We're watching the numbers tonight and it's an amazing debut given that we decided to wait until January for advertising, a reminder that after each one-hour show that will always appear on Rumble here, Monday through Friday, we will go to Locals, for our subscribers only, and have a 20 to 30-minute aftershow that's interactive in nature, where we will take your feedback. To sign up for that, click JOIN in the upper right-hand corner of the page and you can become a Locals member and have full access to that and much else in our community.
For now, we hope you really enjoyed our debut show. We look forward to having you come back tomorrow night and every night right here on Rumble, Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern. Have a great evening.