Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
Left/Right Alliance Could End Massive Domestic Spying Program, Tucker Carlson Admits Errors, & More
Video Transcript: System Update #57
March 19, 2023
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Note From Glenn Greenwald: The following is the full show transcript, for subscribers only, of a recent episode of our System Update program, broadcast live on Friday March 3, 2023. Watch the full episode on

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A once highly controversial and radical law, enacted in 2008, that empowers the U.S. government to spy without warrants is once again up for renewal. The Biden administration is demanding that the spying law be not just renewed, but renewed with no reforms or safeguards of any kind. The entire Democratic establishment is predictably in line, as always, behind the Biden administration's demands. But what makes all this interesting and noteworthy – and potentially newsworthy – is that the same left-right populist coalition that just united to vote in favor of Matt Gaetz’s resolution to withdraw troops from Syria is starting to align again against renewal of the spying powers, meaning that, as so often happens, the establishment wings of the two parties will have to unite in defense of the U.S. Security State if Biden's demands for more powers are to be met. 

In other words, if Joe Biden is to win and get the spying powers he's demanding, he'll need Republican establishment votes, presumably in large numbers, in order to do it. We will definitely be following that debate as it unfolds but we want to give you the kind of primer and background on it tonight so that you're ready to not just watch, but hopefully participate in that. 

We will explain the brief history of the spying law, why it is so uniquely pernicious – but more interestingly – the radically changing politics that is making this demand for renewal of the spying bill once something easily accomplished in Washington now, at least, somewhat in doubt. It has to do with the way in which the Republican Party has seriously and increasingly virulent internal debates and how, finally, some members of the left flank of the Democratic Party may be willing to abandon the Democratic establishment – like they just did with the Matt Gaetz vote – and join with the right-wing populists to stop it. I'm not predicting it's going to happen. I find it still unlikely, but it's worth watching and, again, doing what we can to see if we can foster that kind of alliance. 

We'll examine the same theme of this political realignment, or at least the transformation of political opinion, with respect to several other interesting topics - kind of a rapid-fire review of some things that happened this week that I think are tied together by this common theme, including a fascinating new video clip where Tucker Carlson profoundly – and obviously genuinely – apologizes and expresses remorse for spending his career defending what were long time Republican and D.C. orthodoxies. 

We’ll also look at radically changing polling data on the role the U.S. military should be playing in the world and the decreasing appetite among young Americans on both sides of the ideological divide for more interventions. 

We'll examine the significantly changed opinions on COVID as a result of the realization that is now downing on Americans that Dr. Fauci lied to the public for almost two years on purpose and we’ll examine a particularly preposterous culture war controversy at Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton's old stomping ground, that reveals a lot about the rot at the heart of the effort to force Americans to change ideas and change the language on fundamental social reality. Sometimes the lack of cogency reveals itself and collapses onto itself. And this controversy is worth looking at briefly because it illustrates how that can happen. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now.



 So, there's an extremely new battle that is emerging regarding the ability and power of the U.S. government to spy in mass – including on American citizens – without warrants of any kind. We all learn from childhood that one of the things that is supposed to distinguish the United States from all the other bad countries – the tyrannical ones, the ones that don't give freedom like the home of the free and the brave – is that our government is not permitted to spy on our conversations, to listen to our conversations, to search our homes, to learn anything about us unless they first go and get warrants from a court, an independent court, by demonstrating there's probable cause to believe we've done something wrong. That is fundamental to the American founding; it’s reflected in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. That's a value inculcated in all of us as Americans from the time of birth. And one of the reasons I began writing about politics in 2005, in the wake of the War on Terror and the civil liberties abuses it ushered in, was because many of these core rights that we've been almost taught to take for granted as Americans were clearly under assault. One of them was the fact that the Bush administration, just about two months after I started writing about politics, got caught secretly and illegally spying on the calls of thousands of Americans without the warrants required by law. 

In 2005, The New York Times was the first to report on what the NSA was doing. There you see the headline: “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts."

There's a really interesting back story to this New York Times article, because you may be thinking, well, that was when the New York Times used to actually be adversarial to the U.S. Security State – they would actually report secrets that the U.S. public had a right to know. You'd be wrong to think that, though I understand why you think that. The New York Times won a Pulitzer for this article. They – as they always do – celebrated the bravery and courage and journalistic skill that they uniquely possessed by winning the Pulitzer. The reality, though, is if you look at the data in that article – it is December of 2005 – so, roughly a year after George Bush was reelected in 2004. And what we learned after all the heroism of The New York Times was celebrated by The New York Times, was that the two reporters who reported this story and won Pulitzers for had actually learned about this program a year and a half earlier, in mid-2004, as the Bush and Cheney administration was running for reelection. Instead of telling Americans about that program, instead of informing the American citizenry that the Bush and Cheney administration were spying on Americans without the warrants required by law – even though the law specifically required they go to the FISA court to obtain warrants before doing this – the New York Times decided it would not publish that story, but would instead conceal it because George Bush summoned the editor and publisher of The New York Times to the White House and told them, in a way that never made sense, that “if you tell Americans that we're spying on them without warrants, it will endanger the safety of American citizens and you will end up with blood on your hands in the event of a next terrorist attack.” 

And The New York Times decided that it would heed those warnings, even though it never made sense. Why would terrorists be helped by learning that the Bush administration was spying on Americans without warrants as opposed to with warrants? That argument never made any sense, but The New York Times concealed it and told the reporters they were not allowed to publish it. Bush was safely elected without Americans learning about this. Maybe he would have been elected anyway. Maybe Americans would have been glad he was doing it. I doubt it. We'll never know that counterfactual because The New York Times hid the story. 

It was only once one of the reporters, James Risen, told the New York Times that he was going to write a book and reveal this story in the book since he wasn't allowed to do it in the Times, only then, did the New York Times say, okay, we'll let you publish it in our paper – because they didn't want to be scooped by their own reporter in his book. Imagine how embarrassing that would be if Jim Risen broke the story in his book and then, it turned out everybody learned that The New York Times wouldn't let him report it in the paper itself, although we did end up learning about that. So that was the only reason The New York Times let him publish the story and they then praised themselves for their heroism, even that they were forced into it. 

When Edward Snowden came to me with the massive archive, seven or eight years later, and I asked him why he didn't go to The New York Times but came to me and then Laura Poitras, he said one of the reasons was he was very nervous that if he were to unravel his life by showing Americans that the NSA was spying on all their conversations, not just in this limited way that the New York Times revealed, but in mass, without the warrants required by law, that The New York Times would do what it did in this case, which hides most of the evidence instead of revealing it – and he would have unraveled his life for nothing. He thought that about every major corporate outlet that he knew was subservient to the U.S. Security State and unwilling to take it on. So, he believed that I would do the story much differently, that I would endure the threats of the U.S. Security State. 

I was attacked by almost everybody in the media for doing this story. I went on “Meet the Press” and David Gregory suggested I should be imprisoned along with Edward Snowden. They were absolutely doing everything possible to coerce and pressure us to stop this reporting and we gave our word to our source, Edward Snowden, that we wouldn't be like The New York Times. We would actually report the story. And we did for the next three years, we, in detail, described what these illegal spying programs were. As a result, federal courts in the United States were able to rule that these programs that we revealed as a result of our source’s courage violated not just the law, but the Constitution. 

That was the case for this spying bill. This spying program violated the law. We had a law in place after the Church Committee investigated the CIA and the NSA in the mid-seventies, that said that the government here on out is barred from spying on the calls of any Americans without first going to the FISA court and getting a warrant. That was what the law required. The Bush and Cheney administration, when they implemented the spying program, did not deny that that program was in violation of that law. They admitted it. I mean, it was clear as day, there was no argument about that. What they argued instead was under Article II of the Constitution, the president basically has unlimited power when it comes to national security even to violate laws enacted by Congress, that national security is the responsibility of the president and no law, no act of Congress, no judicial ruling can limit what he can do. It was a very radical theory of executive power enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attack. But at least back then, as much as I was opposed to it, they had the excuse that we really did actually just suffer a pretty cataclysmic attack on American soil that killed 3000 people, that brought down the World Trade Center, that flew a plane into the Pentagon. So, there was at least that; there was a real war or a real act of war that was pretty traumatic for the United States. But even then, the reason why I started writing about journalism was that I realized that this scheme, warrantless eavesdropping, was a grave threat to everything our republic was supposed to be about, to the privacy rights of American citizens – you can't have the government spying on our calls and reading our e-mails without warrants. And what The New York Times revealed and the reason I ended up devoting my first year and a half of journalism almost exclusively to this story and wrote a book on it was that it was illegal. The president broke the law. Bush and Cheney broke the law by implementing this spying program.

 But that was 2005. Nobody was willing to raise their voice too much in opposition to anything that was done in the name of stopping terrorism. And so, instead of holding Bush and Cheney accountable, impeaching them or investigating them or prosecuting them, what Congress did, on a very bipartisan basis, was enacted a new law, in 2008, that had no purpose other than to retroactively legalize the spying program Bush and Cheney implemented. To say that when the United States government is listening to the calls of people on other soil beside the United States, they're permitted to spy on those calls without warrants even if the calls involve American citizens. Obviously, it's way more common these days for American citizens to talk to foreign nationals. And what that did was essentially hand the power to the president – not just that president, but every president since – to spy on your calls with no warrant as long as they claimed that their target was a foreign national. That means that in thousands of cases every year, the U.S. government, the NSA, spies on your calls without first getting warrants, in direct contravention of the Fourth Amendment. 

At the time, Republicans were fully supportive of the War on Terror. They overwhelmingly voted for that law that the Bush administration wanted but Democrats, the majority of them, at least, voted no. A significant minority voted yes – because back then, Democrats were very supportive of this War on Terror but at least a majority of Democrats voted no. Almost every civil liberties group warned that this was a major threat to our privacy rights – the ACLU, every other major privacy group; press freedom groups because journalists can be spied on. 

So, there was a real division that Republicans were entirely united in support of this while establishment Democrats, a lot of Democrats were opposed, there was vibrant Democratic opposition. Mostly, Democrats were opposed. And I was vehemently opposed. I was writing about it at the time, as I said, I ended up writing my first book on this. 

As often happens, this was all done with the Patriot Act. When the government wants to enact a new radical law it says, “Oh, don't worry. Yes, this power seems extreme. It's completely contrary to everything you were taught about how the Republicans are supposed to function but it's just temporary. You don't have to worry. It's just temporary. Every four years, Congress has to renew it. And the only way this all will continue is if Congress comes determines the emergency is continuing. And, therefore, these powers can't be rescinded yet. 

So just like the Patriot Act, every four years since 2001 has been renewed with almost no opposition – 87 to 11 in the Senate, those kinds of votes – that's what's happened with this law as well. Even though there's basically no War on Terror anymore - no one ever talks about al-Qaida. There's no more al-Qaida or even ISIS. They've been vanquished and defeated. There have been no mass terrorist attacks on American soil in many years, certainly never of the kind which prompted it in the first place, namely 9/11. So, even if you're someone who, in 2002, thought these kinds of wars are necessary, nobody thinks there's a War on Terror of this kind now that justifies a full-scale assault on our civil liberties, especially given how many people now realize that the CIA, the FBI, the NSA cannot be trusted with these powers because they don't use them for their stated purpose, but instead use them to interfere in our domestic politics by spying on people who are their political enemies. 

And yet, during the Obama years, even though Obama ran on a platform to reverse all these things, he too demanded a renewal of this law. And the renewal, as it turned out, happened to come up right in the wake of our Snowden reporting when polls show that people on the right and the left are angry about warrantless spying, were angry about what the NSA was doing. And a bill was introduced in Congress that was extremely bipartisan in the best sense of the word. The co-sponsors were Justin Amash, who at the time was a Tea Party Republican, a libertarian – one of the staunchest opponents of American spying in the Republican Party – and John Conyers, a kind of old-school liberal. Both were from Michigan. One was black and elderly and a liberal and the other one was young and very conservative, but they were both from Michigan. 

There was this strong symbolism to this law to basically eliminate this sort of spying in the wake of the Snowden reporting and other kinds of abuses as well that we revealed. And it was clear this bill was going to pass. It was gathering a lot of steam among both Democrats and Republicans angry about the revelations of the Snowden reporting. And yet that bill ended up at the last second failing by a few votes and the person who saved it –you see her name in the headline of this Foreign Policy article from July 25, 2013 – is Nancy Pelosi: “How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Program”. 

Essentially, Barack Obama called her and said, “Nancy, we're going to lose the spying power.” Remember, this is now 12 years after 9/11 – 2013 – and still Barack Obama – who ran on a platform of not doing this – was insisting that we needed more of these spying powers. And so he called Nancy Pelosi and said, you need to do whatever you have to do - beg, give these people committee assignments, promise them pork barrel spending for their district, get enough votes in the Democratic Party to sabotage this bill. And she did. So this bill, which looked like it was on its way to passing the first-ever congressional rollback of new state powers claimed after 9/11, ended up instead being sabotaged by the Democratic Party and Nancy Pelosi. 

Here you see the explanation of what happened. It's a fascinating history, especially since Biden is now demanding a renewal of the same law, now, another decade later: 

The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Washington's shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment’s defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It's an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been on many occasions a vocal surveillance critic. But ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote […]

 That was the margin by which this extremely sweeping reform bill failed 205-217. She got about six more Democrats than she needed to make sure this failed.

[…] But ahead of the razor thin vote of 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA's ability to collect data on Americans’ telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aide with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable. “Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say”, said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it's unlikely there would have been more Democrats for the amendment. 


With 111 liberal-to-moderate Democrats voting for the amendment alongside 94 Republicans [as bipartisan as it gets], the vote in no way fell along predictable ideological fault lines. And for a particular breed of Democrat, Pelosi's overtures proved decisive, multiple sources said. “Pelosi had a big effect, on more middle-of-the-road hawkish Democrats who didn't want to be identified with a bunch of lefties (voting for the amendment), said the aide. “As for the Alexander briefings: did they hurt? No, but that was not the central force, at least among House Democrats. Nancy Pelosi's political power far outshines that of Keith Alexander's (Foreign Policy. July 25, 2013) 


That is why the U.S. government, to this very day, even in the wake of all that Snowden reporting we did and the public anger over it, that is why that bill continues to exist. 

Four years later, it was renewed again, this time in 2018. And what was remarkable about this was by 2018, Donald Trump was president. And it was very common for Democrats to call Trump a new Hitler to warn that he was attempting to install a new white supremacist dictatorship and that he was an existential threat to the republic. All the things that we still hear and heard back then about Donald Trump from Democrats. And yet, they were able to keep this bill intact – this warrantless spying power fully empowered with no reforms – because the same people who were calling Trump Hitler and a dictator – Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell –join with the Republican establishment to ensure that this bill passed and that efforts to reform it were sabotaged. 

Here is the article that I wrote at the time when the vote happened: “The Same Democrats Who Denounced Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers.” And then I asked, “How can the rhetoric about Trump from Democratic leaders be reconciled with their actions to protect his unchecked power to spy on Americans?” 

So, no matter what happens, this is all theater. The Democrats claim that Bush and Cheney are Nazis for wanting to spy on you with no warrants but then Obama gets into office and Pelosi saves the bill. Trump is in office and the Democrats claim he's Hitler and yet give Hitler the right to spy on Americans with no warrants and prevent any reforms or safeguard oversight from diluting the bill. 

So now fast forward four more years and it's time to renew this bill again. But this time, the chance that it could be renewed is not quite as high as it has been in the past. And that's true for two reasons. One, we're now 21, 22 years after the 9/11 attack. I mean, at some point, it's going to become increasingly difficult to continue to claim that all of these powers that everybody at the time admitted was radical and extreme – even the advocates – but we justified them of an aim that we face a national security emergency in the name of al-Qaida and Muslim extremism at some point. Every year that goes by – when more and more voters don't even remember, that didn't live through it, wake up every day and don't give a single thought to al-Qaida – at some point, there's going to be questioning of whether or not we really need to allow the government to continue to spy on us. And now we're 22 years later and I think it's increasingly difficult to maintain the argument that we actually still face some sort of national security emergency of the kind that should allow Joe Biden to spy on the calls and e-mails of American citizens without warrants. That's one of the reasons why there's difficulty. But the other: there's no question that the Republican Party has radically transformed on these questions. They have seen with their own eyes in the Trump era how readily and casually and aggressively and destructively the U.S. Security State abuses its power, how often it's used not to protect Americans from foreign threats, but to attack Americans for domestic political ends. And there's far greater skepticism about these powers than there ever was before within the Republican Party, which is why a significant wing of the Republican Party, namely the anti-establishment populist wing, is very likely to vote, at least in large numbers, against the Biden administration's request to renew these powers. 

The question is whether there will be now enough Democrats - who during the actual War on Terror were against this - whether they're now going to suddenly change and say, you know what, I actually like these powers, just like the U.S. Security State, even though there's no more War on Terror – imagine that: a Democratic Party that was against these powers when there was a War on Terror and now is ready to say, I'm in favor of these powers, I like these warrantless spying powers.

 But there are some progressives who have signaled that they're ready to join again with the right-wing populists to vote against it. The Biden administration, if they are going to succeed, will need to rely upon the Mitch McConnells and Lindsey Grahams and Marco Rubios and all the establishment pro-war members of the Republican Party with whom they're now currently united on the question of Ukraine and so much else – the whole crowd that got so angry when Ron DeSantis suggested that fueling a proxy war in Ukraine should not be the top priority of the United States. So, the politics have changed dramatically, largely due to changes in the Republican Party, which is more skeptical of the Security State, but also the Democratic Party, which is now much more reverent of the Security State. 

Here is a really interesting article in The Washington Monthly, which is a long-standing kind of establishment Democratic Party organ – a liberal journal, by no means a leftist journal, just an establishment, normal, ordinary Democratic Party journal – entitled “The Case for Keeping Enhanced Surveillance Authority”. Knowing that Joe Biden's request may be in jeopardy, they're already now starting pro-Democratic party pundits to publish articles on why we need these powers. The subheadline here is very interesting because it recognizes the danger: “The MAGA Trump Right and the Greenwald Left want to undo Section 702, which must be renewed this year. Normies in both parties shouldn't let them”. 

This is written by Bill Sayre, who has been a longtime supporter of the U.S. Security State. Even back in 2007, 2008, and 2013, when most Democrats were skeptical, he was a Democrat who was arguing the NSA should be allowed to do whatever they want, that it was overstated what the dangers were of that surveillance power. 

Here is his argument that he's trying to make to get Democrats ready to go to battle to keep the ability of Joe Biden to spy on Americans about the war, inspired by law, 


Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Republicans reveled in their reputation as the national security Party. President George W. Bush quickly and secretly signed an executive order allowing the NSA to eavesdrop, without warrants, on communications between Americans and foreigners with suspected links to terrorism. 


When the order was revealed by the New York Times in 2005, many Democrats and civil libertarians questioned whether it violated the law and the Constitution […] 


That's not true. Democrats and civil libertarians did not question that. They asserted that definitively because it did violate the law and the Constitution. He then says, 


Yet Congress, In a 2008 bipartisan vote, chose to retroactively give Bush's past actions a legal foundation […] 


How does that work? How do you retroactively legalize illegal behavior? 


[…] Amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act with Section 702 authority. Every House Republican but one voted for the bill, while a slight majority of House Democrats voted against it. In 2012, Obama signed a five-year extension of 702 authority, but the partisan breakdown in the House is similar to 2008, with 60% of House Democrats voting “Nay” compared to just 3% of Republicans. 


Six months later, Edward Snowden leaked a trove of NSA documents to Glenn Greenwald, then at The Guardian, and Barton Gellman, then at The Washington Post. Both publications would share a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their coverage of the leaks, even though Greenwald's contributions were particularly opinionated and sensationalized, painting a picture of a needlessly voyeuristic NSA (Washington Monthly. March 14, 2023) 


Oh, perish the thought that the NSA might abuse their secret warrantless spying powers in improper ways. 


Obama would later sign the USA Freedom Act, which mildly reformed federal surveillance programs, but that left Section 702 – not yet due for a reauthorization – in place. Strong majorities of both House Republicans and Democrats voted in favor. Snowden acolytes sought to take credit for the modest reforms, while lamenting how the surveillance state remained a colossus. Greenwald conceded the bill left “undisturbed the vast bulk of what the NSA does” (Washington Monthly. March 14, 2023)


 So that is the current state of affairs as a result of the unity between the Democratic and Republican establishments. The president continues, the White House, the executive branch, and the NSA continue to have the right to spy on your telephone communications if you're speaking to a foreign national or someone not on U.S. soil by simply asserting they believe that person may have ties to terrorist groups or foreign governments without having to get any warrants of any kind, they can just spy at will. 

If you're an American citizen, if you believe in the Constitution, you cannot possibly be comfortable with that power, especially after seeing all the years of how much abuse the U.S. Security State is willing to engage in with the powers that you give them. And yet the politics are such that there's no question; most of the Democratic Party will be united behind it. The only chance they have, as a result of at least some defections on the left flank, is that the Republican establishment joins with them and extends this power. But given polling changes with regard to the U.S. Security State and the vibrant part of the Republican Party that no longer trusts the U.S. Security State and the potential to attract enough progressives – about whom I'm very skeptical when it comes to their willingness to defy the Biden administration – not on a theatrical kind of vote where their votes don't matter, like supporting Matt Gaetz’s resolution to withdraw troops in Syria. But when their votes are needed, I don't believe progressives have the courage. AOC, Bernie, Ilhan Omar, any of them, to tell the Biden administration, I don't care if you need my vote, I'm not giving it to you. But there's at least a potential here to create some noise to be disruptive. And it depends upon the ability of these two factions, the kind of anti-interventionist, populist anti-U.S. Security State right wing of the Republican Party and the part of the left that claims to be that to work together like they just did and can potentially sabotage this bill. But the fact that the U.S., the established wings of both parties are completely united, as always, when it comes to the biggest questions, except for, you know, what we should teach kids about, trans issues in schools and abortion, kind of culture war issues that keep you forgetting about all of this – who's spying on your calls? who's bailing out what banks – when it comes to these kinds of issues, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Kevin McCarthy have a lot more in common with one another than they do with you. And that has been and continues to be the biggest challenge.


 Along the lines of this kind of very interesting realignment, there's a video that I just saw today of Tucker Carlson giving an interview to two young podcast hosts, I believe it's called the “Full Send” podcast. It was just from this week, and I managed to show you a two-minute clip of Tucker Carlson talking about the things that he regrets most in his career and the things of which he's most ashamed. And then let's talk about that in the context of what I've just been describing. 


(Video. Full Send podcast. March 10, 2023)


Tucker Carlson: I've spent my whole life in the media. My dad was in the media. That is a big part of the revelation that's changed my life is the media are part of the control apparatus. 



Full Send: Like there's no […]


Tucker Carlson: I know. Because you're younger and smarter and you're like, Yeah, 


Full Send: Yeah, 


Tucker Carlson: But what if you're me and you spent your whole life in that world and to look around and, all of a sudden, you're like, Oh, wow. Not only are they part of the problem, but I spent most of my life being part of the problem – defending the Iraq war like I actually did that. Can you mention you did that? 


Full Send: What do you think is one of your biggest regrets in your career? 


Tucker Carlson: Defending the Iraq war. 


Full Send: That is it? 


Tucker Carlson: Well, I've had a million regrets: not being more skeptical, calling people names when I should have listened to what they were saying. Look, when you when someone makes a claim, there's only one question that's important at the very beginning, which is, is the claim true or not? So, I say, you know, you committed murder or you rigged the last election. Before you attacked me as a crazy person for saying that maybe you should explain whether you did it or not. You know what I mean? (Laughs)


Full Send: Yeah. 



Let me just start there, because obviously, the part about the Iraq war got some attention. That was one of the explicit examples he gave. He's said that many, many times before, to his great credit. 

Unlike Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, whose apologies are very begrudging and only when forced because they need to win an election, Tucker, I've heard him say it privately, I've heard him say it publicly many, many times. When he talks about the shame he feels for having publicly advocated the Iraq war, he feels it in the deepest part of his soul, and he hasn't made excuses for himself. He talks about the shame he feels, but what he's describing here, in my view, is even more important. 

What he's describing here is the media's role that it actually plays, which is – independent of all the lies that they tell, which we spend many nights on the show documenting and exposing –  the real function of the corporate media is to say, “Here are the lines inside of which you must remain.” You can have some disagreements within these lines, most of which assume things about the United States and how our country functions - how great and healthy of a democracy it is, and how honest our leaders are. You can have some disagreements there, like what's the level of proper regulation or what's the right tax code, abortion, and you can have arguments about the culture war, but anything outside of those lines – about what the role of the United States in the world is, whether NATO is still ongoing and viable, a whole bunch of questions like that – those immediately get you dismissed – whether COVID came from the lab leak – as a crazy conspiracy theorist. They don't even engage in the substance. The fact that you stepped out of those lines makes you radioactive and unacceptable for a decent society. That is the media's main role. They invite people who stay within those lines. They refuse to hear from people who do not. And that, more than anything, is what they do. And, of course, that requires groupthink. It requires a refusal to think critically. It requires herd behavior, which is what corporations reward most – the ability to just follow rules, follow orders, and not make any noise. 

And what he's saying here are the media in which I work my entire career has had this primary function of dismissing people as crazy or conspiracy theorists or not worthy of attention, the minute they step outside the line, without bothering to engage on the merits and without even asking whether or not what they're saying is correct, that's the last thing that matters. All that matters is they stepped outside of tribal lines and they're now to be expelled. Let's hear the rest. 


Tucker Carlson: And for too long I participated in the culture where I was like, anyone who thinks outside these pre-prescribed lanes is crazy, is a conspiracy theorist. And I just really regret that. I'm ashamed that I did that. And partly it was age, partly was the world that I grew up in, so, when you when you look at me and you're like, yeah, “of course they're part of the means of control”, I'm like, that's obvious to you because you're 28. But I just didn't see it at all. At all. And I'm ashamed. 


Full Send: Isn't that what the media tries to do, though? 


Tucker Carlson: It's their only purpose.


Full Send:  Right. 


Tucker Carlson: They're not here to inform you, really, even on the big things that really matter, like the economy and war and COVID, like things that really matter, that will affect, you know, their job is not to inform you. They are working for the small group of people who actually run the world. They’re the servants of the petroleum guard, and we should treat them with maximum contempt because they have earned it. 



So, the media are servants of the small group of people who run the world. The media’s real function is to serve as their kind of enforcers to make sure no one's dissenting too much from the orthodoxies on which they rely to maintain their power. And as a result, Tucker Carlson says they deserve your maximum contempt because they've earned it. A point that I make endlessly on this show is that no matter how much you hate the corporate media, it's not enough. It is literally impossible to overstate not only the damage that they do but the malice with which they do it. And by malice, I don't mean that they're evil masterminds. I mean malice in the sense of the “banality of evil.” The people who go and punch the clock every day, never question what they're doing, but whose work is nonetheless incredibly toxic and harmful. They're just basically sociopathic careerists. But no matter sometimes those people can be the most destructive. 

What I find so fascinating about this clip is the generational divide. So, for someone like Tucker Carlson, who got his start in the 1980s, in the era of the Reagan administration, when the media was really trusted, when there weren't a lot of countervailing voices, where there was not even cable news, and then finally there was a little cable news, but even still, they were owned by the big media corporations that owned the same networks. There was certainly no Internet, no independent media that had a reach. It wasn't very common for people to distrust the media. The media was trusted. Most people assumed that what you got in your newspaper was more or less the truth. People realized it might have been biased, that sometimes they got things wrong, but they, by and large, trusted most institutions of authority, including the corporate media. 

But when Tucker says, “Oh my God, I realized that not only don't they deserve that trust, that they perform the exact opposite function”. You have these two hosts who are in their twenties who are looking at him like, Why are you saying that? As though that's some great epiphany when that's like the starting point? Who doesn't know that? And Tucker recognizes that generational divide, and seems happy about it, as he should be, that it really is true. 

It's one of the things which I'm most optimistic about that every year the corporate media falls into greater and greater disrepute. They are hated more and more, and most of all, people are turning them off, tuning them out and ignoring them. They're losing their audience. And few things are more important and more encouraging than that. And that is one of the vital changes that is now happening and, interestingly, the only kinds of media that are able to maintain an audience are media that despise and work to undermine the orthodoxies of corporate media: Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson and independent media like this. Go look at our numbers. Go look at Russell Brand's numbers. Go look at the numbers of the independent media and you'll see nothing but explosive growth as those media outlets failed. 

I know a lot of people think of Tucker as some sort of Republican Party hack. He's not Sean Hannity. They often have radically different views from one hour to the next. Sean Hannity does serve the Republican Party mostly. And Tucker is a dissident. So, the establishment wing of the Republican Party, he hates Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy at least as much as he hates, say, Don Lemon or the CNN executives or NBC or Chuck Schumer. And that's why his audience is as large as it is. That is where the growth is because people no longer trust their own institutions on either the right or the left. The real left, the left that is liberated from the Democratic Party. That is a major cause of encouragement and that is a byproduct of these changing dynamics. 

Let me show you some polling data that was released just this week that underscores the point even more powerfully. So, The Washington Post compiled the evolution of polling data on the question of whether people believe the coronavirus came from a lab leak or a natural transmission. 


The Washington Post. March 16, 2023

The orange bars on the left are the percentage of people who believe COVID came from a lab leak – the theory that Dr. Fauci and his colleagues early on, three months into the pandemic, dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theory, that was debunked, that only malicious disinformation agents possibly believe that the number of the percentage of Americans who believe that – and the green are the people who believe it occurred naturally, which is the theory that Dr. Fauci and those who controlled through scientific funding vehemently endorsed as early as February of 2020 in The Lancet and then in Nature journal, even though they had no proof to claim that they knew it was true. 

And you see the evolution starting in that first column, which is March of 2020, where 45% of the people believed it was naturally occurring and fewer than 30% of Americans believed it was the lab leak. And as you go across 2020 and then into 2121, that orange line is radically increasing so that by 2023 of March, the last two polls, YouGov and Quinnipiac, close to 70% of Americans – 70% – now believe the most likely theory for the origin of COVID is the lab leak, while only 1015 to 20% of Americans believe that it's naturally evolving – even though every time you turn on the television, there's Dr. Fauci trying to insist you still that it's almost impossible that it came from a lab. He always uses the same phrases designed to impress you that it's molecularly impossible, that anybody who knows about molecular virology understands it had to have come from natural evolution. 

The problem, though, is that Americans have rightly lost faith in the institutions of authority, including our health officials, and they now see that the theory, they were told by Dr. Fauci, whom they originally trusted, was a crazy conspiracy theory, namely, the lab leak, is now a theory that, in fact, major parts of the U.S. government, including the most elite scientific team of the Department of Energy, believes is the most likely theory. And they believe they were misled and lied to. And now, therefore, they believe in the theory that they were told not to believe. This is what's happening across the country. People are losing faith in institutions of authority because they know they've been lied to. They hate the media. They hate these health officials who guided them through COVID, through deceit. They hate the U.S. Security State. And that is a sign of great encouragement and optimism. If you're looking for it in a place where we don't always find it. 

The Quinnipiac poll from March 2023 presents the following breakdown by party: 64% of Americans now believe the lab leak theory is the most likely. Only 22% believe in natural transmission. 87% of Republicans believe it's a lab leak. Independents believe it's a lab leak by 67 to 23% – and now even a plurality of Democrats believe that as well: 42 to 39%. 

So, the attempt to deceive the American public on this question worked for about a year and a half. Remember, Big Tech censored. Is anybody trying to suggest it was a lab leak on the grounds that Anthony Fauci and his colleagues said it was debunked? And now what we have is yet another recognition, overwhelmingly, that people have been lied to. 

If you look at similar polling data when it comes to American wars, you're starting to see overwhelming skepticism on the part of younger Americans on both sides of the aisle. 


@EchelonInsights  March 9, 2023.


Interestingly, especially Republicans, on the question of whether or not the U.S. should go around the world fighting wars for other countries, even when it comes to the question – and it's a little vague, this question – if China were to invade Taiwan this year, do you think it would or would not be in the United States interest to help defend Taiwan? 

Overall, 49% of Americans say we should. And 51% say either we shouldn't or are unsure. So, it's pretty evenly divided. The only group that is definitive in saying that we should are people over 50 from both parties. Republicans say we should be 55% to 19%. Democrats, 52% to 15% over 50. But for younger people under 50, the most uncertain group are Republicans, young Republicans under 50, who by 42% to 42% are unsure about whether it would be in our interest to defend Taiwan from China. 

I think this is independent of the China-Taiwan issue, simply a byproduct of the fact that these younger people see that their needs as American citizens have been neglected. Billions and billions and billions of dollars go to wars across the other side of the world where they perceive that it has no impact on their lives. Billions and billions of dollars get spent to bail out banks like Silicon Valley Bank and other wealthy people when they need it. And they're faced with a mountain of generational debt, difficulty going to college and finding jobs if they do. And I think it's natural that they're starting to question the U.S. Security State as well.  

Here is a similar but even more decisive result which is “Younger Republicans say Russian victory in Ukraine would be a problem for the U.S. by a 28-point margin. Older Republicans say it would be a problem by a 36-point margin. 

But the question is if Russia were to win the war with Ukraine and take over a large part of its territory, would that be a problem for the United States or not? And while you see in the red that a majority think it would be a problem, you see in this green and gray significant numbers of Republicans, but especially under 50, who are saying either it wouldn't be a problem or they're unsure. And you see in all polls a withering away of support for the idea that the United States should continue to support the war in Ukraine, which is one of the reasons, I believe, why when Ron DeSantis was just asked, now twice, he went out of his way to make it appear that he was separating himself and the Republican establishment and the kind of Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham maximalist rhetoric that is also shared by Joe Biden, that we're in this war with Ukraine until the very end. 

And here you see just in general, younger Republicans are less likely to favor assertive foreign policy positions compared to Republicans over 50 years old. And it goes through multiple issues on every single one. Republicans between 18 and 49 are far more skeptical about the idea that the United States should be going around the world, waging all kinds of wars without having the United States first attacked. That's rhetoric that Ron Paul helped convince people of and I think tapped into, that Donald Trump then came along and noticed in the Republican Party, which is what enabled him to run confidently against Bush-Cheney foreign policy and win the primary by doing so, and is now causing Ron DeSantis, whose foreign policy posture in the House, was more or less aligned with the Republican establishment, starting to separate himself from that view because the Republican base is no longer supportive of policies of endless war and the U.S. Security State. And that is going to change politics. As I've been showing you throughout the last hour in a variety of ways. 

Just to conclude with this last issue that I mentioned.  Well, I really don't like to spend a lot of time on the culture war. I particularly hate delving into the trans debate often for a whole variety of reasons. If you want to hear about that, there are a zillion other people who go out to spend a lot of their time doing it. Mostly, it's just I think it's a distraction from the things I'd rather cover that I don't think get coverage. I'm not saying it's unimportant, but in this case, I want to talk about it because it just shows the authoritarian nature of the liberal left in the United States. 

The way that I think about the culture war – and it probably comes from the fact that I came of age in the 1980s as a gay man, a gay teenager – is that I never could understand why so many adults seemed to have this compulsion to control the lives of other adults, to decide whom people can marry, how they should date. I understand that people have every right to formulate their own moral guide, their moral code for how they live their lives. Obviously, when it comes to people affecting children or other people, we want to consent. That's, of course, an interest to all of us. But on the question of whether adult citizens should have the right to make free choices in their own lives about their consenting behavior, for me, that was a view that originally in the 1980s was more associated with the left, while the right was dominated by the Pat Robertsons and the Jerry Falwells and the moral majorities that wanted to use the force of law to coerce private moral behavior. 

And then, finally, the culture war reached a consensus– not a unanimous one, but a bipartisan one – which basically said, look, you're American, just supposed to be free in your life to make your own decisions. And that's why most same-sex marriage started attracting 70% to 75% of support, including among young conservatives because people just don't want to have the interest to dictate whom other people are marrying, whom their neighbors are dating and whom they're having sex with. It's kind of a “live and let live” society. It's part of the American ethos that I particularly appreciate. 

One of the reasons I'm resentful of the new left-wing posture on culture war issues is because it abandons that core principle. They frequently want to interfere in the private lives of adults and issue judgments about whom you date and how you have sex and whom you marry. They want to regulate it. They want to control it in ways I find increasingly creepy. But the more important thing is that they're not content to just have a societal ethic that says what you do is your own business. They want to force you to affirm beliefs whether or not you actually believe them and even use the language that they demand you believe even when it makes no sense for you to do so. That is an authoritarian impulse, and people can force you to say things that you don't believe. And especially if they can force you to say things that make no sense, no logical, cogent sense. That is real power. And I think a lot of why they keep pushing the envelope is because of that power. It has nothing to do with social justice or any of the other values they invoke. 

So, here's a story that I think illustrates that really well. It's about Wellesley College, which is a traditionally female-only university. As I said, it's where Hillary Clinton was educated, along with a lot of other well-known people – Nora Ephron, Madeleine Albright, Chelsea Clinton, of course. So, the idea is it’s a women-only college. We're only going to allow women. So, the problem now becomes, what about people who don't identify as a man or a woman, like non-binary people? And when I say it's a problem, I mean, it's a problem for these kinds of people. And then also, what about trans men, people who are born biological women who are assigned female at birth, but who now identify as men? Are they allowed to an all-woman’s college or are they allowed in all women's spaces? If you’re being to embrace the precepts of this new gender ideology that you're required to embrace, namely that a trans man is a man, period, and a trans woman is a woman, period, there are really no differences between the two – they're exactly the same. A trans woman is a woman in every sense. A trans man is a man in every sense. Trans men should not be welcomed in all women's spaces. Obviously, they're men. They're men like all other men. And yet Wellesley had a referendum among the students – it's non-binding – but likely will influence the school administration, where they now, for the first time ever, want to admit students who they say are not women. Both nonbinary students and trans men. 

So, in other words, they want to admit men, but not all men, just trans men. So let me just show you first the policy:


Wellesley College proudly proclaims itself as a place for “women who will make a difference in the world.” It boasts a long line of celebrated alumnae, including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Nora Ephron. On Tuesday, its students supported a referendum that had polarized the campus and went straight to the heart of Wellesley's identity as a women's college. The referendum also called for making the college's communications more gender inclusive – for example, using the words “students” or “alumni” instead of “women”. 


So, this women-only college now will no longer allow the word women.


The vote was in some ways definitional: What is the mission of the women's college? 


Presumably, it was to allow women students to attend, but that is no longer the case. 


Supporters said that women's colleges have always been safe havens for people facing gender discrimination and that with transpeople under attack across the country, all transgender and non-binary applicants must be able to apply to Wellesley. 


Opponents of the referendum said that if trans men or non-binary students were admitted, Wellesley would become effectively coed (The New York Times. March 14, 2023) 


Right. That has to be the case. If you believe that trans men are men, that somebody who's born female, who has a biologically female body, but whom one day wakes up and says, I identify as a man and, therefore, is now considered a trans man – without undergoing any surgeries, altering their body in any way, even taking hormones – just that self-declaration is enough. If a trans man can now enter Wellesley according to the logic of gender ideology, Wellesley now admits not only women but also men. But if Wellesley now admits men, why limit it only to trans men? Why not cis men, meaning people born as men? 

There’s supposed to be a prohibition on viewing these two categories as different: trans men here, men here. That's not a permissible distinction. Trans men are men. You are forced to adhere to that and forced to affirm that if you don't affirm that trans women are women and trans men are men, that is inherently transphobic of you. 

And yet they arrogantly told themselves that was right. That comes from nowhere. Just say we're going to allow men in, but only trans men, not cis men, which obviously is based on the distinction that you are prohibited from recognizing, which is that cis men are not really quite men. There's something different. That is a real authoritarian power. When you get to force other people to affirm equations, affirm affirmations that you yourself are free to deny whenever it's convenient to you, that is genuine power. 

That’s a point made by famed lesbian writer Katie Hertzog, whom I find to be one of the most nuanced and effective speakers and writers on this topic – I've had her on my show before. We agree on a whole bunch of concerns we have about this new gender ideology, while also thinking that a lot of the rhetoric of anti-trans activists goes way too far, especially when it comes to trying to control the private lives of adults. This is the point she made about lesbian culture. She said, 

Trans men have long been welcomed in lesbian spaces (and often in their beds) the way cis men are not. Why? Because even people who repeat the slogan tacitly acknowledge that trans men are female (March 14. 2023). 


In other words, you have a lesbian bar. Everyone knows lesbian bars are only for women. If you're a cis man and you go to a lesbian bar for any reason, they're probably going to get you expelled immediately and maybe even assaulted because lesbians do not want men in women-only spaces. And yet, as Katie says, in every lesbian bar in the country, trans men are welcomed. How does that make any sense if trans men are really men, as she said? It's based on the recognition, even among people who insist that trans men are men that, in fact, trans men are not really men. Trans men are welcome in lesbian spaces because there's at least a part of them that are actually female. 

And the only reason, as I said, that I'm interested in this is not because I want to spend any time questioning whether trans women are women and trans men are men. It's a completely boring and played-out debate. What interests me is the authoritarianism involved here, the insistence that these people on the left have the right to just force you to take an oath to ideas that you don't believe – and that they don't even believe – and that you are never allowed to question them upon pain of being declared a bigot or worse, losing your job or being excluded from the spaces. But they reserve unto themselves the right to draw the exact distinction they deny exists whenever doing so suits them. And that's what I find so offensive about it. And not just offensive but again, the reason I associated myself decades ago, as so many people did, with the left-liberal view of the culture war, was because of the idea that the point of society is to maximize your ability to self-actualize as a human, to live your life the way you want without interference. And all of this is about the opposite. It's about going into your homes, going into your communities, going into your places of worship, and forcing you to affirm ideas that you don't believe because that is where power is derived. That is what this whole movement is about, is the power to force you to do things you don't want to do. And the greatest power of all – you need real power to do it – is to force people to affirm beliefs they don't share, especially when those beliefs are completely lacking in all internal logic and cohesion. 

So, these may seem like separate stories, and in some ways, of course, they are. But there's a through line that runs all that connects them all, which is that there are very real changes in the identity of the two parties and the core defining beliefs of the factions that identify as left and right. And it's visible on almost every topic, on the Security State, even on the culture war. And while some of these trends are obviously disturbing in this kind of chaos, I find a lot of opportunity, especially the opportunity to finally get people to stop seeing the world through this archaic left-right prism or Republican versus Democrat prism. 

Throw that away and just start going from first principles and whether you trust the institutions of authority that are trying to rule your life. And if you don't, there are a lot more people who will be on your side than if you continue to grab on to these labels that are given to us by people who want to keep us divided. 


So that's our show for this evening. For those of you who've been watching and making this show a success, making our audience grow, we're very grateful to you. We think there's a lot of potential. There are ten other live, exclusive shows on Rumble, like Russell Brand and Kim Iverson and others that are coming. We're very excited about the potential and we're grateful for your watching.

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Glenn seems to be working as diligently as ever. I hope he is taking good care of himself while dealing with his recent loss. I am so grateful to Glenn for his ethics and perspective.

Thank you, Glenn, for putting on such an excellent show tonight regarding the Snowden Files. It was fascinating to hear you, Laura, and Edward relive and reflect on the experience and importance of releasing the files. It was also a touching tribute to David and his vital role in the project, as well as the salient role of Daniel Ellsberg as the model and inspiration for whistleblowing.

Last night I listened again to an excerpt taken from the film Snowden, by Oliver Stone. It reminded me how great it was for Ed to do what he did, and how great Glenn's role was. Glenn and Ed are in some ways America's greatest living heros.

Glen, your system update episodes are consistently the best reporting happening in the English language. There is no way I can put into words the enormity of my respect and gratitude for what you do. Subscribing to your channel is a moral imperative for me. It's the least I can do.

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Thoughts on Grief and the Grieving Process
The grieving process is horrible but not hopeless.

Note to Readers: Returning to more frequent written journalism is something I have been wanting to do for some time. The combination of David's 9-month hospitalization and the need to launch our nightly Rumble show during that excruciating experience made it virtually impossible to find the time and energy for that. It is something I am still eager to do -- I'm writing an article now about the life of Daniel Ellsberg and my friendship with him for Rolling Stone, as the 92-year-old Pentagon Papers whistleblower nears the end of his spectacular life due to terminal pancreatic cancer. I originally started writing the following thoughts on grief for myself, with no intention to publish it, but decided to do so in part because I know it may give comfort to others (as the article I discuss below gave to me), but also because, for reasons I can't explain, it sometimes helps to write about this for others, and my view of the grieving process has become that you should do whatever provides any help at all to get you through the next day. I realize this is not for everyone but it's what I'm capable of and what is dominating my thoughts right now. I hope to be able to return to producing more traditional written journalism soon. 


The pain, sadness, and torment of grief deepens as you move further away from the moment of the death of a loved one. It keeps getting worse – harder not easier – with each passing day and each passing week. I know that it will begin to get better or at least more manageable at some point, but that can and will happen only once the reality is internalized, a prerequisite for healing and recovery. But the internalization that someone is really dead - that there's absolutely nothing you can do to reverse that - requires ample time given its enormity. Three weeks is nowhere near sufficient.

One of the hardest challenges of grief, of the grieving process, is finding the balance between confronting the pain, loss and sometimes physically suffocating sadness – all without wallowing in it to the point that it completely consumes and then incapacitates you. But while you can't let yourself endlessly drown in it, you also can't let yourself use some mixture of distractions, work, exercise and other "return-to-normal" activities to remain in a state of denial or escapism, to avoid the pain and suffering, to deny the need to process a reality this immense and horrible, to anesthetize yourself from the mourning. The pain and suffering is going to come sooner or later, and the longer you evade or postpone it, the more damage it will do.

If you try to close yourself off to it entirety, to pretend it's not there, that attempt will fail. The pain and sadness will come at the worst times, when you're least prepared for it, in the most destructive form, and will find the unhealthiest expression. But if you force yourself to swim in those waters with too much frequency, for too much time, without maintaining a vibrant connection to the normalcy of life, to the people around you whom you love, and to the things you still cherish, it will paralyze and consume you - drain all your energy and life force and replace it with total darkness, mental paralysis and physical exhaustion: just a cold, inescapable sense of bottomless dread. 

There's no perfect sweet spot, but every day, you have to keep trying to find the right balance between confronting and avoiding. What's most daunting is realizing how long this process of processing and acceptance will be: very possibly endless. During the first week after David's death, I told both myself and our kids that the first two weeks would be hard but not the hardest, that worse days lay ahead, once the shock begins to wear off and the inescapable reality sets in, once the ceremonies were over and everyone else moved on and want back to their lives. I knew we would then be left with nothing but the reality of this enormous loss and horrific absence, and that was when the worst days would commence.

But telling yourself that is one thing; experiencing it is something completely different. Even when you think you're momentarily safeguarded from it, it can just penetrate without warning in the sharpest ways. On Thursday, I stumbled into this Guardian article about a top-secret leak in Australia and there was a description of David in the article's second paragraph, printed below, that was the first time I saw this formulation in print. It fell so heavily and jarringly – at a moment when I wasn't prepared for it – because no matter how hard you try and how much effort you devote to it, the reality of death takes a long time to fully internalize. It's just very hard to believe that the person with whom you expected and wanted to share all of your life – decades more – is instead not coming back, ever, in the only form you know, that a person so full of life and strength and force is no more:

I don't know why that phrase packed such a punch. I've seen hundreds of articles and tributes talking about David's death. But this phrase casually indicates that he is someone of the past, with no present and no future in our world. It didn't just talk about the fact that David died but referred to him as a now-and-forever dead person. That subtlety had an impact far more painful and destabilizing than I could have anticipated. It disrupted my emotional state until I could find a way to move on to something else: the central challenge of every day.


All of this is complicated -- a lot -- by the need to find this balance not only for yourself but also for your kids, whose grieving is as intense but also different. It's at least just as hard to know how much space to give them to use distractions like entertainment, sports, friends and school to find some breathing space. There's a strong temptation to encourage them to use escapism because one so eagerly -- instinctively -- wants to see one's kids smiling and laughing rather than crying and suffering.

But their own need to feel this loss, the mourning, the sadness, the pain is just as inescapable as your own. There's no avoiding it. It's coming one way or the other, so you often find yourself in the disorienting position of watching your kids cry and show pain, and you feel a form of comfort and relief from seeing it because you know it's good and healthy and necessary that they feel that, even while you are submerged in that sharp, expansive pit in the center of your being that comes from having to watch your own children suffer.

[Rio de Janeiro, March 30, 2022: four months, 1 week before David's hospitalization]

For those interested, I want to highly recommend this op-ed from last week by New York Times editor Sarah Wildman, whose 14-year-old daughter, Orli, just died after a somewhat lengthy and evidently very difficult battle with cancer. Without thinking about it, I messaged her to thank her for her article and we shared experiences, condolences and advice. One thing I did not expect was how much comfort I get from hearing from others - people I know well, people I don't know well, people I don't know at all – describe their own experiences with grief and loss. There's that old cliché that physical death is the great equalizer: the inevitable destination awaiting all of us regardless of status and station. 

That is true of death, but it's also true of grief. Unless one chooses never to love in order to avoid the pain of loss – a dreary, self-destructive, even tragic calculation – the impermanence of everything material that we love means we will all experience grief and the pain of loss until we die ourselves. There's now a substantial body of research on people's end-stage regrets: what humans who know they are dying say they wish they had done more of and less of. 

Virtually nobody nearing the end of life on earth says they wished they worked more or made more money (many say they regret working too much). Most say they wish they had spent more time with loved ones. When all is said and done, one of the few enduring things we really value and from which we derive meaningful pleasure - something we are built and have evolved to crave and need – is human connection. We're tribal and social animals. That's why isolation is one of the worst punishments society can impose, or that one can impose on oneself. And that's why, looking back over these last weeks and even during David's entire hospitalization, thoughts and notes and comments and kind gestures from so many people, to say nothing of those who took their time to write to me to share, often at great length, their own experience with long-term hospitalization of loved ones and profound grief, provided so much more comfort than I ever imagined it would have.

Wildman's op-ed is raw, moving and unsettling. She doesn't falsify or prettify anything for the sake of making her daughter's death more comfortable for others or herself. The death of someone you love at a young age is not pretty or comfortable. It's tragic and deeply sad and incomparably painful and there's no getting around that. Some of the best advice I got in the last couple of weeks was to avoid lionizing David or erecting a mythology around his life or around his death. I loved a human being, not a flawless saint or an icon or an otherworldly deity. And one of the things that moved me most about Wildman's op-ed was her frank discussion of her daughter's fear of dying. It would be so much more palatable - for yourself or others - to say and believe that the person you lost was at peace with dying. Her daughter wasn't at peace with dying, nor was David. They wanted to live and fought to live and were afraid to die.

That's a hard and painful truth that does sometimes make things much more difficult – it means you focus not only on what you lost, not only on what your kids lost, but on what the person who died lost – but one can also find beauty and grace and meaning and inspiration by confronting that rather than whitewashing it. It's disrespectful to someone's life to build mythologies about them - about their life and their death - no matter how comforting those mythologies might be. Wildman's op-ed refuses to do that, yet it leaves no doubt that her daughter inspired her and others not just in how she lived but in also in how she died: with her determination, courage and strength. 

I blocked it out and denied it at the time because I wasn't able to accept it, but David's doctors made clear in the days after he was first hospitalized in ICU last August that the probability that he would survive the week was very low. His inflammation and infection had already incapacitated his pancreas and caused full renal failure within the first 48 hours. By the end of the week he was intubated because sepsis delivered that inflammation to his lungs. Even a quick Google search reveals how dire that state of affairs is for anyone, no matter their age or overall health. 

That David fought so hard to live and return to us over nine excruciating months brought some horrifically difficult moments – watching him and his body get battered over and over every time it looked like he was possibly recovering was probably the worst thing I ever had to witness – but it also gave us and our kids some of our most moving, profound, genuine, loving and enduring moments with him and with one another that I and they will cherish forever, as I wrote about a couple months ago, in the context of gratitude, when I thought he was improving. 

It may seem at first glance that had he died a quick death in that first week, David would have spared himself and us a lot of agony. That may be true. But I am absolutely convinced that had he died in that first week without giving us and himself these opportunities, all of this would be infinitely worse. Every moment you share with someone you love - even if it's in an ICU ward with every machine imaginable connected to them - is a blessing and a gift, and David's characteristic fight gave us so many of those moments that, by all rights, we never should have had.

I really wish there some singular book or some magic phrase or some way of interpreting all of this that would make the still-growing and still-deepening pain disappear for myself, for mine and David's kids, for those who loved him, for those who love and lose anyone that matters so much in their life. There is no elixir. But that does not mean that nothing helps, that one is doomed to a life of endless pain, sadness, and dread, that it is impossible to find comfort and inspiration and even greater love in the grieving process. 


For that to happen, you need humility and an acceptance of what you cannot control. I can't bring David back - that's obvious - but I also can't find a way to entirely avoid the type of pain and sadness and despair that is sometimes utterly debilitating. I realized that very early on and so I'm no longer trying to avoid it entirely. 

Sometimes it comes when I seek or summon it, and sometimes it comes when I think I am far away from it - like happened this week when I saw the adjective "late" before his name and on a thousand other occasions when I looked at a photo of him and his eyes connected to mine, or when one of our kids shared a memory they had of him that brought him so vividly to life. When that pain comes, I don't try to fight it or drive it away. I let it come and sometimes stay in it on purpose, until I can no longer physically endure it. Other times I allow myself to be distracted: through work, though entertainment, through proximity to my kids, through conversations with them that are not directly about sharing our mutual grief over the loss of their father and of my husband.

I don't know if I returned to work too early or, instead, am sometimes succumbing too much to my desire not to work. Each day, I try to follow my instinct about what is best for me and for our kids, and to give myself a huge amount of space and forgiveness to calculate wrong and make the wrong decisions. Down every road lies sadness and even horror, but some of those paths also offer some beautiful moments of family and connection, ways to find inspiration, to embrace the spirit and passion and compassion and strength that defined David and his life.

I'm certain that one of the things that is helping most is our unified devotion to concretizing, memorializing and extending his legacy. One of David's greatest joys in life was seeing the construction and opening of the community center we built together in Jacarezinho, the community that raised him. It offers free classes in English and computers, psychological services and addiction counseling, support for animal protection and pet care, and meals for that community's homeless. We are going to create and build "The David Miranda Institute" to extend that work beyond that community. My kids are eager to assume a major role in working on this institute and community center – they know instinctively that it honors David and would make him so proud – and working on this together is one of the few things that provides us unadulterated comfort and uplifting energy. 

The grieving process is horrible but not hopeless. I'd be lying if I denied that it sometimes seems unbearable. Every day the reality that David lost his life and that we lost David in our lives gets heavier and more painful. But humans are resilient. We are adaptive. I can't prove it and there was a time in my life when I not only rejected but mocked this idea, but I believe our life has a purpose and, ultimately, so do our deaths. Each day I see that my suffering and our kids' suffering deepen and worsen for now. 

But I also see us, together, creating ways to find and remain connected to that purpose. David's life, David's spirit, David's legacy, and somehow even David's death are what is propelling us, elevating us, toward that destination. I would trade anything for David to be back with us, but since that option does not exist, getting through the pain and then finding a way to strengthen us is our overarching challenge.

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Assange With Almost No Moves Left—US Trial Could Be Imminent. Plus: Aaron Maté on New TwitterFiles Showing FBI Aided Ukraine Efforts to Silence US Journalists
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Good evening. It's Thursday, June 8th. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble. The free speech alternative to YouTube. 

Tonight: the true moment of truth is essentially coming to a head for Julian Assange and the Biden Justice Department. The WikiLeaks founder has been battling, since he was arrested in 2019 in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the efforts by the Biden Justice Department to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges – under the Espionage Act of 1917 – for apparently the crime of publishing top secret documents which revealed serious war crimes on the part of the United States and the British in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as corruption on the part of their allies. 

Shortly thereafter, the British Home Secretary signed an extradition order ordering Assange to stand trial in the United States. Assange has spent the year invoking all of the last appeals that he has, and he is essentially out of appeals. Earlier this week, a British court rejected one of his last appeals. The only appeal he has left is a last-ditch procedural one before a British court and then possibly an appeal to a European court on the grounds that his extradition would violate European human rights guarantees. But absent some highly unexpected event, Assange will find himself in a Virginia courthouse standing trial on felonies under the Espionage Act, all stemming from WikiLeaks, his 2010 publications of classified documents that WikiLeaks did not obtain but was instead provided to them by the U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning. We'll examine these possible last-minute interventions and the reason why the Biden administration may not want Assange coming to the U.S. at all. 

Then, reporting from the Twitter Files continues. The independent journalist Aaron Maté documented how the FBI worked jointly with Ukrainian authorities to pressure Twitter to censor journalists and other commentators who are deemed by Ukraine to be insufficiently supportive of the Ukrainian narrative and thus guilty of “disinformation”. Among those targeted by Ukraine and FBI access was Maté himself. 

Twitter, to its credit, recognized the threat posed to core free speech and free press rights by the Ukrainian campaign. But the fact that the Ukrainians, while now for 15 months demanding an unlimited supply of American money and arms, are yet again seeking to infringe our basic rights with all of its blacklists and demand for silencing reveals the fraud at the heart of its claims that Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials are “fighting for democracy”.

As we do every Tuesday and Thursday night, as soon as we're done with our one-hour live show here on Rumble, we will move to Locals for our interactive aftershow to take your questions and comment on your feedback. To obtain access to our aftershow, simply sign up to become a member of our Locals community. The red Join button right below the video player right here on the Rumble page enables you to access that show and the transcript for each show, as well as written journalism that we post there. And it also helps the independent journalism that we do. 

As a reminder, System Update is available in podcast form as well. You can follow us on Spotify, Apple and all other major podcasting platforms, where you can follow us, rate and review the show, which helps spread its visibility. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now. 

We have spent many shows reporting on the grave injustice and the serious danger posed by the United States effort to prosecute Julian Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917. As you may recall, the Espionage Act was a law first implemented by Woodrow Wilson, designed to do nothing other than criminalize Americans’ dissent to the idea that the U.S. should enter World War I and fight it as combatants. And indeed, many people were prosecuted under the Espionage Act for doing nothing other than opposing President Wilson's war policies in that European war. Efforts to overturn that law on the grounds that it is blatantly unconstitutional have produced some of the most notorious and shameful rulings in Supreme Court history and yet the court has protected this law. It is one of the most extreme and repressive laws in the U.S. Code, and it has basically been allowed to remain dormant for all of the 20th century. 

The one time that it was actually invoked in a high-profile case was when the Nixon administration used it to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the crime of leaking the Pentagon Papers, a volume of top-secret documents that revealed that the U.S. government was systematically lying to the American people about the Vietnam War. In other words, the U.S. government spent years insisting publicly that it was just a few months away from winning the war and vanquishing the North Vietnamese, all it needed was some more money, some more conscripts, some more authority, some more bombs, some more weapons. And yet, privately, as the Pentagon Papers revealed, the U.S. government and its top officials inside the Pentagon and war-making agencies in the U.S. security state had acknowledged, from the start of the war, that victory would be impossible, that the greatest and the best-case scenario – the best-case scenario – was a stalemate. 

Ellsberg was somebody who started at the Rand Corporation, had been an advocate of the Vietnam War, and helped plan the Vietnam War from his position in the Rand Corporation. He had access to the most sensitive secrets that the U.S. government possessed and along the way in the mid-sixties, he realized that the U.S. government was prosecuting this war based on a lie and that it was ending the lives of thousands of Americans who it did not volunteer to go to Vietnam, but instead were drafted and was also ending the lives of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians. As an act of conscience, he came forward and said, I can no longer stand by while I have the evidence in my hand that the U.S. government is lying to the American people and continue to conceal it, even though it's likely that I will go to prison for life if I reveal it. 

He first tried to get senators to read the Pentagon Papers into the record because senators under the Constitution have full immunity from prosecution for anything they do or say on the Senate floor. And not a single senator was courageous enough to do it, and some left it to Ellsberg. He finally went to The New York Times and provided these documents. The New York Times reported on it, and then the next administration dug up this archaic statute from the Wilson era and tried to use it to say that Ellsberg was guilty of espionage, even though Ellsberg's harshest critics acknowledged that he was not acting on behalf of a foreign government. They tried for a while to claim he was a Kremlin agent, but nobody believed that. He went to a journalist and leaked this information in order to inform the American people what the truth was. 

The Nixon administration ultimately was unsuccessful in its efforts to prosecute him because they had gotten caught engaged in all sorts of serious misconduct – this is 1971 – including ordering a break into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in order to find incriminating psychosexual secrets that would discredit him. And that misconduct resulted in the dismissal of the criminal case against him. Had that not happened, he almost certainly would have spent the rest of his life in prison. Ellsberg is now 93. He is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and has weeks if not less, to live. But that was one of the things that he did in history, was reminded the U.S. government about the existence of this very repressive law and the reason it became such a valuable tool in the hands of the U.S. government – because Ellsberg, his plan all along was he wanted to come forward and identify himself as the leaker of the Pentagon Papers. He didn't want to hide behind it in the media. He decided he owed it to the American people to come forward and identify himself and explain why he leaked these documents, even though they were marked top secret. And his plan was to go to trial and convince a jury of his peers that even though the law prohibited him from doing what he had done, his actions were morally justified, he was obligated to do it, ethically, because the evil of forcing him to remain silent while watching the government lie to the population about something so significant outweighed the imperatives of the law. But what ended up happening was he went up on the stand and he began to explain to the jury, ‘Yes, I did this, but I was justified in doing so, and here's why” and the judge immediately shot him down and ruled that the Espionage Act, unlike most laws, is a strict liability statute – Meaning: it doesn't matter what motive you had when you violated it; if you are authorized to receive classified information and then you publish classified information or disclose it to someone who's unauthorized, to receive it, you are automatically guilty of felonies under the Espionage Act of 1917, and there is no defense available to you. And when the judge ruled that, it showed the U.S. government – the CIA, the FBI. Homeland Security didn't exist then, that was created in 2002, the NSA, and the rest of the U.S. security state agencies – ‘Look at this incredibly powerful weapon you have in your hand.’ It means you can take any document that exists – including revealing and proving that you've committed grave crimes or that you've lied to the American people – all you have to do is mark that document “classified “or secret or top-secret and it becomes a felony – years, if not decades in prison, is the punishment for anyone to take that document and reveal it to the world. Even if you've abused your powers by marking them secret with the intention of concealing your own crimes and your own deceit. That was the effect of that ruling and what the Espionage Act of 1917 meant. 

The Espionage Act was not used after that by any president through the Ford administration, the Reagan administration, fighting the Cold War, fighting the wars in Central America, nor was it used during the Clinton years, or even by George Bush and Dick Cheney under the War on Terror. That statute was picked up and was aggressively weaponized under the Obama administration to punish and criminalize anybody who leaked information, even whistleblowers who were exposing government crimes. In fact, the Obama administration, the Obama Justice Department under Eric Holder prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all previous presidents combined. So, we went from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush, and there was a grand total of two prosecutions under the Espionage Act, one of which was Daniel Ellsberg. We get to the Obama administration and remember, Barack Obama ran on promises of restoring transparency to government – uprooting the excesses of secrecy abuses and civil liberties abuses carried out by George Bush and Dick Cheney and the War on Terror – and instead, he did the opposite. In so many instances, he strengthened and expanded those abuses of George Bush and Dick Cheney, including by re-weaponizing the Espionage Act and using it to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. 

That was the statute under which Edward Snowden was prosecuted and still is being charged. And I remember so well when Edward Snowden sought asylum in Russia after the Obama administration purposely trapped him there when he was transiting on his way to Latin America to get asylum. John Kerry and other Obama officials, and Hillary Clinton would constantly go to the media and say, ‘Oh, if Edward Snowden really believes in what he's saying, that he was justified in doing what he did, he should “man up” – those were the words of John Kerry – and go back to the United States and argue to a jury of his peers that he was, in fact, justified to do what he did. They were deliberately deceiving the public because they very well knew that under the Espionage Act of 1917, there is no such defense available. You cannot go before a jury of your peers and argue that what you did was justified, the way you can with so many other crimes where you can argue you didn't have the requisite ill-intent or malicious intent necessary to be turned into a criminal. The Espionage Act is a strict liability law, according to the ruling in that Ellsberg trial. And so, people charged under this law are essentially consigned, inevitably, to being found guilty, as long as it can be proven that they published classified information without authorization. 

The other thing that makes the Espionage Act of 1917 also dangerous is that it can actually be used against not just whistleblowers or sources, meaning people who work inside the U.S. government and took an oath to maintain secrecy the way Daniel Ellsberg did, the way Edward Snowden did, the way Chelsea Manning did, the way all the other people charged by the Obama Justice Department did. It can also be used to prosecute people who never worked for the U.S. government in their lives and therefore are under no obligation to maintain the secrecy of these documents. In other words, it can be used to prosecute journalists, who receive information that is classified, from a source, and then publish it. If you read the language of the Espionage Act, it doesn't confine itself just to sources. It essentially says anyone is guilty of a felony if they publish classified information – not only people who have an oath to keep it secret. So, in the language of the Espionage Act, you can actually criminalize journalists. 

The question has always been, if you were to try to use the Espionage Act against journalists and prosecute journalists, even though they're under no obligation to maintain classified documents in secret, would you run afoul of the First Amendment guarantee of a free press? The U.S. government has never wanted to test that because they liked having this weapon to hang over the heads of journalists. During the Snowden reporting, they constantly threatened us publicly and privately with prosecution because they were hoping that it would scare us, that we would think in any kind of difficult case, ‘Well, maybe it's no longer worth publishing because the government always has the option to prosecute prosecutors under the Espionage Act.’ Or maybe, ‘Look, we won all the awards. We've gotten all these plaudits. Maybe it's time to stop. Maybe we should just not report all the stories in the archive that the public has a right to know’ – out of fear that the Justice Department might prosecute us. They like having this weapon hang over your head, and they use it aggressively. And they don't want to risk losing it by having a court ruling where they prosecute a journalist and the journalist successfully raises a free press defense. 

Now we get to the case of Julian Assange. The Obama administration desperately wanted to prosecute Julian Assange of the Espionage Act. They convened a grand jury, they spent years investigating Assange and they knew from the start that they couldn't charge Assange with crimes simply for publishing these documents because Assange worked in partnership with some of the leading media outlets in the world that published these same documents, including The New York Times and The Guardian and El País and all sorts of other media outlets around the world. So, the question always was, how can you criminalize Julian Assange and his publication of these top-secret documents but not criminalize and prosecute The New York Times, The Guardian, and all the other newspapers that published the same material? And so, the challenge for the Obama Justice Department was to find something that Assange did that went beyond merely receiving these documents from Chelsea Manning and then publishing them, to say that he somehow became part of the criminal acts themselves beyond just publication. The Obama administration has, then, searched and searched and searched for years using grand juries. They subpoenaed people. They subpoenaed documents and witnesses, and they could find nothing. And the Obama administration concluded, as a result, that even though it wanted to, it could not and would not prosecute Julian Assange and it never indicted Julian Assange under the Espionage Act because it could not find anything he did that went beyond mere publishing. 

Enter the Trump administration, and especially Mike Pompeo, who was Trump's first director of the CIA and Pompeo, I think most Trump supporters now realize was completely deceitful in presenting himself as some sort of populist or some sort of adherent to MAGA ideology – he was pure neocon from the start. If you look at his voting record when he was in the House of Representatives, he supported every single U.S. war, including the Obama administration's covert war to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a war that even Ron DeSantis, when he was a member of the House, opposed, even though he had a pretty standard pro-war record as a Republican House member. And Mike Pompeo stood up as CIA director in 2017 and gave one of the creepiest and most menacing speeches I've ever heard from a top official in which he vowed he would do everything in his power, tirelessly to work to destroy WikiLeaks, he said “WikiLeaks believes they have the right to First Amendment free press and free speech rights, but they do not, and the time for them to abuse our Constitution has come to an end.’ And Pompeo worked tirelessly to get the Trump Justice Department to indict Julian Assange. And they did. And they charged him with crimes under the Espionage Act of 1917. 

If you read the indictment and I just want to be clear, nothing in the indictment has anything to do with what Assange did in 2016, with publishing documents relating to the Hillary Clinton campaign or John Podesta's emails – that is the reason Democrats hate him. That is the reason the Biden Justice Department is pursuing Assange. They hate him because they still blame him for helping Hillary Clinton lose the 2016 election because Julian Assange did what is the job of journalists: to obtain material and relevant documents in the form of those emails and published them to enable us to know the truth about Hillary Clinton in her campaign – you may remember that that reporting was so convincing that it forced the top five officials of the Democratic National Committee, including Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair, to resign in disgrace, in the middle of the 2016 campaign, because they got caught cheating on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the primary because they were fearful that Bernie Sanders was going to become the nominee. And it revealed all sorts of other things about Hillary Clinton, including what she was saying to Goldman Sachs – when she was making $500,000 or $750,000 in private speeches for which she refused to provide the transcript – and all the other things that got revealed. That's why Democrats hate him. That's why the Biden Department of Justice is pursuing him so much. It is a political motive, but the indictment itself is about the 2010 publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan war files, which, as you may recall, included things like a video showing U.S. forces in Iraq shooting indiscriminately at civilians, including two Reuters journalists whom they killed. And when people came to rescue the dead civilians, they shot at them, and all kinds of documents that revealed other war crimes committed by the U.S. and the UK and all sorts of corruption throughout the world, including in the Arab world, on the part of American allies. In fact, Bill Keller, the editor-in-chief of the New York Times back then, credited those publications with helping to spark the Arab Spring, that it made the corruption of leaders in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar so manifest that it caused protest movements to break out all over the Arab world. That's the impact this reporting had. It was journalism more impactful, more consequential than anything anybody in the corporate media could ever hope to get close to, even if they lived to be a thousand years old. And I can assure you the fact that Assange is one of the most accomplished journalists of his generation, if not the most accomplished, is a major reason why there's so much support in the U.S. media for prosecuting him under the Espionage Act. 

Now, in 2019, when this indictment was unsealed and then when it was amended, there is a claim in the indictment that Assange went beyond merely passively receiving these documents from Chelsea Manning and then publishing them. But the indictment acknowledges that at the time that WikiLeaks got all of those documents, Assange played no role in their acquisition. Chelsea Manning was court-martialed and sentenced to eight years in prison or actually longer. Obama ended up commuting her sentence after she served seven years, and the facts of how she got these documents were demonstrated in that proceeding. She went in, she had gone to Iraq, and she became very disturbed by things that the U.S. government was doing to Iraqi dissidents. She thought we were there to fight them up for democracy and she found that people were being summarily imprisoned, that media outlets were being shut down – just like Daniel Ellsberg working inside the Rand Corporation and just like Edward Snowden working inside the NSA, in the CIA – she became convinced that the mythology she bought into was actually false and that the U.S. government's actions were, on balance, a net harm. And she went in and downloaded all of those materials by herself and sent them to Julian Assange. Even the government admits that. 

So how then does this indictment claim that Julian Assange did something beyond publishing? Because when Assange got these materials like any good journalist would, he did two things. Number one, he wanted her to get more so that they could report more, and he encouraged her to go back into the system and download other materials that she could send to him so that he could report on. Every single investigative journalist in the world – if you have a source come to you and says, ‘Here, I have material I want to provide you,’ that journalist is going to say: ‘Oh, but you also have this? You also have this?’ ‘It'd be great if we could have this.’ ‘Are you able to get that?’ Every single journalist in the world does that – encourages the source to give them more material. So, one of the two things Assange is accused of doing that makes him more than just a mere passive recipient of classified information, and then a publisher of it was encouraging her to go and get more. Even though she never did. And then the other thing he's accused of doing was trying to help her crack a password so that she could use the system without detection. In other words, he was trying to help her, his source, evade detection. 

It turns out this password-cracking effort was unsuccessful. She was never able to do it. Contrary to what you may have heard, to what the media has tried to depict, Assange is not even accused of being the one who hacked into these files and took these materials. He didn't need to hack into them. Chelsea Manning had access to them as a U.S. Army private. That was part of her job, and she used that access to download these materials, none of which, by the way, was top secret. They were all at a very low level of secrecy designation, classified or secret. None of them was top secret because she was just a U.S. Army private who shouldn't even have access to the most secretive material the way Edward Snowden did, the way Daniel Ellsberg did. So those are the two things he's accused of doing, encouraging a source to get more material and giving her tips on how she might avoid getting caught. 

The irony is, in 2019, when that indictment was unveiled, I went to The Washington Post and I wrote an op-ed, they had asked me to do so, arguing that every single journalist, no matter your views of Julian Assange, should be vehemently opposed to this indictment. And my argument was it creates a blueprint for any government anywhere in the world to criminalize investigative journalism of every kind. As I just got done explaining here, what I argued there is that every single investigative journalist does regularly, what the entire indictment hinges on, namely encourages their sources to get more information and helps their source evade detection. So, for example, if a source calls you on the telephone, on an open telephone line, and says, ‘I have very important sensitive secrets to give you that reveal high-level corruption and deceit that I think you should report,’ the first thing a responsible journalist is going to say to that source is, ‘Don't call me in an open phone line. Use encryption. Call me on Signal or Telegram or some other means. Use a Dropbox of the kind that the Freedom of the Press Foundation and other press freedom groups have given to newsrooms to enable sources not to get caught.’ Every responsible journalist not only has the right but the duty to give their source instructions on how not to get caught. If that becomes criminalized, if that makes a journalist become a conspirator with the source – to do nothing other than ask the source to get more documents and help them evade detection – it means that every single investigative journalist on this planet who really does investigative journalism, meaning something more than just writing out what the CIA told you to say – which I realize excludes most members of media – but people who do actual investigative journalism are susceptible under this precedent to being prosecuted and criminalized. And that was why I argued in The Washington Post, it's so vital to oppose it. 

Ironically, I wrote that article in April 2018. It turned out to be just a few weeks before I was contacted by a source in Brazil who had hacked into the telephone chats of some of the most powerful prosecutors and judges in Brazil and sent me an archive of those materials that I then used to report – and it changed the course of Brazilian history. It revealed that the anti-corruption probe here in Brazil was actually driven by corruption. It reversed the convictions of numerous high-level politicians, including Lula da Silva, and it had a big impact. And eight months later, after I started that reporting, Brazilian prosecutors loyal to the judge, whose corruption I had exposed indicted me, and charged me with multiple felony counts. The theory they used to try to criminalize my work was a verbatim copy of the indictment filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Julian Assange, namely, they acknowledged that by the time the source came to me, they had already hacked all this information – but I didn't participate in any way in the hack – but they claim that at some point, when the source asked me, ‘Should I keep hold of the chats you and I are having?’ and I said to him, ‘You don't need to because we're going to keep copies ourselves’ that was an implicit instruction to the source to destroy the chats he was having with me. And according to the Brazilian prosecutors, that was my becoming part of the conspiracy by trying to help the source evade detection. And when I did that, according to the prosecution, I became part of the criminal conspiracy I was charged with, I don't know, 182 felony counts facing 346 years in prison. The Brazilian courts quickly dismissed the charges in the indictment because there had been a Supreme Court ruling from Brazil banning any attempt to retaliate against me for the reporting on the grounds that doing so would violate the Brazilian free press clause. 

The warning that I issued in The Washington Post that this could criminalize any investigative journalist was something that just months later I experienced firsthand. And so, to describe this indictment as dangerous is to severely overstate the case. And yet, the Biden administration is very close to having Julian Assange be forcibly extradited to the United States, a country he has barely visited, I believe, one time for four days. He's not an American citizen. He never worked in the U.S. government. He has no legal duty to keep secrets of the United States government. And yet they want to physically bring him here onto American soil and put him on trial in a Virginia courtroom where they know the jury will be composed of U.S. security state agents, people who work for defense contractors and try him under the Espionage Act of 1917, which, as I said, is a strict liability law, you have almost no chance of acquittal – if you are tried under that law, you have no right even to argue that what you did was justified, as long as they can prove, and of course, he admits, that he published material that the U.S. government wanted to be kept secret. 

Assange basically has been fighting this extradition ever since he was arrested in London when the Ecuadorians withdrew the asylum they had granted to him and the London police came into the embassy and dragged him out in that very dramatic footage. He's lost at every level except the first. The first court to ever hear his objections to being extradited ruled in his favor, but only on the grounds that his mental health was so fragile that it could not withstand the rigors and hardships of a maximum-security prison in the United States. The British court cited reports from human rights groups that maximum security prisons in the United States are uniquely harsh and violative of core human rights. But the U.S. government came in and provided assurances that Assange wouldn't be kept under those harshest of conditions and so the British courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of the Biden administration and ruled that Assange has to be extradited.

Last year, after the substantive appeals were exhausted, the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, signed an extradition order. There you see, from The Guardian, in June 2020, the headline “Julian Assange's Extradition from UK to U.S. Approved by Home Secretary.” So, the extradition order is already signed. As the article says, 


Priti Patel has approved the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, a decision the organization immediately said it would appeal against in the high court.

The case passed to the British home secretary last month after the UK supreme court ruled that there were no legal questions over assurances given by US authorities on Assange’s likely treatment. (The Guardian. June 17, 2022)

So, he had almost no chance left, but he pursued it anyway because he is very scared of going to the United States and being disappeared into the U.S. prison system, as anybody rational would be. And one of the last few appeals he had left was just rejected. This week here you see from the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, the headline, “Julian Assange dangerously close to extradition following the high court rejection of appeal.” 


In a three-page written decision issued on 6 June, a single judge, Justice Swift, rejected all eight grounds of Assange’s appeal against the extradition order signed by then-UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in June 2022. 


This leaves only one final step in the UK courts, as the defense has five working days to submit an appeal of only 20 pages to a panel of two judges, who will convene a public hearing. Further appeals will not be possible at the domestic level, but Assange could bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights.


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply concerned by the UK High Court’s decision rejecting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s appeal against his extradition order, bringing him dangerously close to being extradited to the United States, where he could face the rest of his life in prison for publishing leaked classified documents in 2010. 


“It is absurd that a single judge can issue a three-page decision that could land Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life and permanently impact the climate for journalism around the world. 


The historical weight of what happens next cannot be overstated; it is time to put a stop to this relentless targeting of Assange and act instead to protect journalism and press freedom. Our call on President Biden is now more urgent than ever: drop these charges, close the case against Assange, and allow for his release without further delay.


Rebecca Vincent

RSF’s Director of Campaigns   #FreeAssange



In a tweet earlier today, Assange's wife, Stella Assange, vowed that her husband will make a renewed application to the high court. She said it's going to be before two high court judges. She said she's optimistic that they will prevail, but the reality is he's almost certain to lose that appeal and he may have no appeals left or maybe just one to a European court. 

So, the question now becomes: does the Biden justice department, just Joe Biden, really want Julian Assange to come in the United States standing trial outside of a courthouse where almost certainly protesters in Assange's defense proclaiming him a hero will gather? Imagine what that's going to look like to the world. The U.S. and its media outlets love to condemn all sorts of other governments for attacking journalists, and yet, right on American soil, there will be the image to the entire world that they are putting on trial and attempting to prison for life. Under an espionage statute of 1917, the most consequential pioneering journalist of his generation. 

One of the only ways out of this is that Australia, the country where Assange was born, the only country in which he is a citizen, he has never been a citizen of the United States. I'm amazed when I see Liberals justifying his prosecution by saying he's guilty of treason. Treason to whom? I think they think everyone on the planet, even if you're not an American citizen, owes a duty of loyalty to the American government. Australia is a pretty subservient junior partner of the United States. It has been very meek and mute in defense of its own citizen’s rights until very recently. The Australian prime minister, who's pretty new, has been becoming more vocal about the fact that he thinks it's time for the Biden administration to stop its prosecution of Assange.

Here from Associated Press, in May, “Australian Prime Minister says he is working effectively to free WikiLeaks founder.” The article says:


 Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was working in the “most effective way possible” to secure the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange but declined an invitation Monday to meet the Australian citizen’s wife.


Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie asked Albanese if he would meet Assange’s wife Stella Assange, who was watching Parliament from the public gallery. Albanese said a meeting with Stella Assange wouldn’t help her 51-year-old husband who is in a London prison fighting extradition to the United States.


“A priority for us isn’t doing something that is a demonstration, it’s actually doing something that produces an outcome,” Albanese told Parliament. “And that’s my focus, not grandstanding.”


Albanese said he appreciated opposition leader Peter Dutton’s recent comments that he agreed with the government that Assange should be released.


“I’ve made it very clear to the U.S. administration and also to the U.K. administration of the Australian government’s view and I appreciate the fact that that is now a bipartisan view … that enough is enough,” Albanese said.


“Nothing is served from the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange. What I have done … is to act in the most effective way possible,” he said. “What I have done is act diplomatically in order to maximize the opportunity that is there of breaking through an issue which has gone on for far too long.” (AP News. May 22, 2023)


That is a way out, but it's very difficult because imagine what would happen if the Biden administration, which kept Assange in prison for four years – starting with the Trump administration and now the Biden administration, the U.S. government – kept Assange in prison for four years, even though he's been convicted of no crime other than bail jumping for which he had an 11-month term that he long ago served and he's been kept in prison simply because they say he's a “flight risk.” – To avoid extradition. So, he's been in prison for four years with no conviction, right at the moment of truth, when it's finally time for the Biden administration to put him on trial and present the evidence that he's actually guilty, for them to come forward and say, ‘You know what? Never mind. Just let him go back to Australia. We don't really want to prosecute him.’ That would vindicate the theory that I certainly have long had, which is that the only thing the United States wanted all along was to destroy Assange, both physically and mentally, and according to Assange's positions, eight years or nine years in the Ecuadorian embassy without ever once going outside and now, on top of that, four years in a very harsh British prison that the BBC, in 2004, called the British Guantanamo has severely physically and mentally addled him. and it's possible he will never recover and that WikiLeaks will be smashed all without ever having to prove that he committed any crime beyond bail jumping. 

But that is one way out for the Biden administration. I think their other option, which is to bring them to U.S. soil and to have this whole spectacle in front of the world, having to prosecute a journalist who has broken more major stories than almost everybody in the corporate media will be cheering combined it's also not very palatable. Just to underscore how rogue the United States and the UK governments are here, world leaders have called Assange a hero, and have demanded his release, but so too have almost every single civil liberty and press freedom group in the West. It's very difficult to unite them on anything but on the question of Assange, they are.


From the New York Times in February 2021, there's the headline: “Civil Liberties Groups Ask Biden Justice Department to Drop Julian Assange Case.


A coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups urged the Biden administration on Monday to drop efforts to extradite the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain and prosecute him, calling the Trump-era case against him “a grave threat to press freedom.”


The coalition sent a letter urging a change in course before a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to file a brief in a London court. American prosecutors are due to explain in detail their decision — formally lodged on Jan. 19, the last full day of the Trump administration — to appeal a ruling blocking their request to extradite Mr. Assange.


Democrats like the new Biden team are no fan of Mr. Assange, whose publication in 2016 of Democratic emails stolen by Russia aided Donald J. Trump’s narrow victory over Hillary Clinton. 


But the charges center instead on his 2010 publication of American military and diplomatic documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, and they raise profound First Amendment issues.


“The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do,” the letter said, adding: 


“News organizations frequently and necessarily publish classified information in order to inform the public of matters of profound public significance.”

The Freedom of the Press Foundation organized the letter. Other signers — about two dozen groups — included the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the Project on Government Oversight and Reporters Without Borders.


“Most of the charges against Assange concern activities that are no different from those used by investigative journalists around the world every day,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a separate statement. 

“President Biden should avoid setting a terrible precedent by criminalizing key tools of independent journalism that are essential for a healthy democracy.” (The New York Times. Feb 8, 2021)


It is incredibly striking to me that the U.S. media loves to point the finger at foreign governments. Look over there, it's Russia and China and Iran and this government and that government that doesn't respect journalists, that is imprisoning journalists, that's attacking for press freedom. And yet right under their nose, their own government is poised to create one of the most dangerous presidents ever for press freedom. And in seeking to imprison, whether you like them or not, a person responsible for more major scoops than all of them combined – and yet their reaction ranges from indifference to overt support. 

Whatever else is true, things like Donald Trump going on Twitter and insulting Chuck Todd or Wolf Blitzer are not threats to press freedom, but attempting to create a precedent that would criminalize the core activities of investigative journalism is the gravest press freedom I have seen in my lifetime and that is what the extradition of Julian Assange is all about. We will continue to keep you posted on these developments as they continue. It is very close to the time when Assange will have to come to the United States and we'll see how this plays out. 

The Interview: Aaron Maté


Aaron Maté is an independent journalist who has been one of the leading skeptics of the fraud that became known as the Russiagate scandal. For that skepticism, he was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Independent Journalism and the Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media. You can find his work at the “Gray Zone” as well as on the “Jimmy George Show,” where he's a frequent guest host, and on his own Substack, where just this week he has reported two extremely important stories and we are delighted to have him here in order to speak to him about those and other issues as well, including Ukraine.

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Chris Licht Out at CNN—The Latest Casualty of a Dying Medium, Tucker’s Explosive Return on Twitter, Ukraine’s Terrorist Attack on Russian Dam
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Good evening. It's Wednesday, June 7th. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

CNN's top executive barely lasted a year on the job. Chris Licht, who was brought in by the Most Trusted Name in News in the wake of multiple ethical scandals and collapsing ratings that drove out his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, was fired today. Most of the corporate press barely disguised their delight over his firing. One of Licht's primary directives was that the only way to save CNN and find a way to again attract an audience was to have CNN cease being little more than a messaging clearing house for the Democratic Party. 

Nothing enraged corporate media employees more than the idea that a news outlet should be independent rather than held in captivity to establishment neoliberalism. One of the few weapons they have left is ensuring that these media corporations remain a dissent-free sector of liberal propaganda, and Licht explicitly vowed to liberate CNN from that grim task. The reality is that cable news as a medium is dying, and CNN is close to irretrievably dead, so it hardly matters who captains that rotted ship as it deservedly crashes and then finally sinks. But the story is nonetheless worth covering because the media reaction to Licht, and their determination to keep every media corporation in line with Democratic Party ideology, reveals a great deal about their ongoing function.

Then: while CNN collapses, Tucker Carlson – the most successful cable host in the history of that medium – launched his show last night on Twitter, in scaled-down form for now. But there was no denying that the launch was a success. While view counts on Twitter are less than models of clarity and reliability, to understate the case, it is clear that millions watched Carlson's first monologue about Ukraine. That Carlson is able to find such a big audience without Fox, and that he's already obviously feeling far less constrained now that he's independent, are both highly encouraging signs for the future of independent media, and highly discouraging signs for the future of corporate media.

And then, finally: Russia once again suffered a major attack on key infrastructure: a huge dam in Russia-controlled Southern Ukraine. Despite the fact that its destruction would deprive Crimea of water, both Ukraine and leading U.S. and European elites are declaring as though it is proven fact that Russia is responsible for this attack – all this, despite the fact that we have repeatedly been subjected to lies and propaganda falsely assigning blame to Russia in the past, including claims that they blew up their own pipeline, exploded a cafe in St. Petersburg that kill a Russian nationalist journalist and injured 19 other Russians in attendance and that Russia even attacked the Kremlin with drones. 

We'll attempt to sort this all out - as well as analyze these other stories - with the most independent of independent journalists, Michael Tracey, who will join us shortly.

As a reminder, our System Update is available in podcast form 12 hours after the show first airs live here on Rumble. Simply follow us on Spotify, Apple and every other major podcasting platform. You can rate and review the show and help spread its availability.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting now. 

Most of you don't likely know who Chris Licht is and there's really no reason for you to have known him. He was brought in roughly a year ago as the chief executive of CNN after his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, suffered all kinds of ethical scandals, including claims that he was involved in a consensual adult relationship with another CNN executive, that he was helping Chris Cuomo combat allegations against that CNN host, that he, too, had been engaged in improper conduct in helping his brother, the governor of New York, fend off assault allegations and all sorts of other problems at the network, including the fact that nobody was watching the network. It was simply a collapsing disaster. 

Chris Licht was brought in and one of the things that he immediately did and tried to implement was the idea that one of the reasons CNN is falling and failing is because nobody trusted it any longer. And the reason nobody trusted it any longer is that it is openly and blatantly little more than a messaging machine for the Democratic Party – and anybody who wants that already has MSNBC to give it to them. There's no reason anybody would go to CNN in order to get it. They became addicted to the ratings high, which was nothing more than a sugar high that they got that was actually ushered in by Donald Trump and by talking about Trump 24 hours a day. They staved off collapse but with Trump gone, there was simply no reason for anybody else to tune in to CNN any longer and their ratings continued to collapse. 

What makes this story interesting is not the fact that now they're going to bring in somebody else to oversee CNN's inevitable and well-deserved collapse. What's interesting is the reaction among most of the corporate media, both inside CNN and out, who are celebrating Licht’s demise solely because he wanted to transform that network away from being shills to the Democratic Party and into the independent news network that it once was. That really reveals how the corporate media sees itself in general and the fact that they wanted his head on a pike and now have it now are celebrating even while they know that it hardly matters who supervises or runs CNN, that cable news is dying along with much of the corporate media. That's the really revealing part. 

So, let's look first at what the story is from The New York Times today. It says, “Chris Licht is Out at CNN, Leaving Network at a Crossroads. Mr. Licht turbulent time running the 24-hour news organization lasted slightly more than a year.” 


Chris Licht, the former television producer who oversaw a brief and chaotic run as the chairman of CNN, is out at the network.


David Zaslav, the chief executive of CNN’s parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, informed staff on Wednesday morning that he had met with Mr. Licht and that he was leaving, effective immediately.


Mr. Licht’s 13-month run at CNN was marked by one controversy after another. He got off to a bumpy start even before he had officially started when he oversaw the shuttering of the costly CNN+ streaming service at the request of its network’s new owners, who were skeptical about a stand-alone digital product. The cuts resulted in scores of layoffs. (The New York Times. June 7, 2023) 


Let's take a moment to remember that because it was one of the funniest things to ever happen to media prior to Chris Licht's arrival. CNN and their bosses, including Jeff Zucker, had decided that one way to save CNN was to create a streaming service that you had to pay for. And on the streaming service, they were going to offer the same host whom you can already watch for free but – like everybody else in the country – you were choosing not to because you had no interest in what they were saying. So, they were essentially saying, here are all these people who, if you want, you can watch for free and you're choosing not to. Nobody watches them. And so, our genius idea is we're now going to make you pay to watch them so that we can generate profit for ourselves and you will pay to watch the people you've already made clear you have no interest in. It lasted a grand total of 21 days. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, on marketing and publicity and trumpeting the arrival of this exciting streaming service. And then Chris Licht brought it in. They ordered him to kill it. After 21 days, it was dead. And as The New York Times says, the cuts resulted in scores of layoffs for which he was blamed. It goes on:


Ratings plummeted during Mr. Licht’s management and a series of programming miscues — including an il-fated morning show co-anchored by Don Lemon, as well as organizing a town hall featuring former President Donald J. Trump that was subject to withering criticism — did little to shore up support with his colleagues. (The New York Times. June 7, 2023) 


I think this is the really important part. The straw that broke the camel's back for Chris Licht was his decision to take the presidential candidate who was leading in all the polls – not only to become the Republican nominee but to be the next president – he's winning virtually all polls against Joe Biden if he were to get the nomination and leading all polls by 20 or 35, 30 points over the next leading candidate, Ron DeSantis. So, needless to say, by definition, Donald Trump has a very good chance to become the next president. He also happened to be the president just two years ago. And yet the idea that CNN should interview him, should allow him to go on their airwaves and let the American people hear what he has to say in response to questions being asked of him by a reporter who was told to and is fully capable of responding to whatever he says, fact-checking him if she thinks it's merited as she did. This idea was so controversial inside CNN. In fact, it was worse than controversial. It provoked large amounts of indignation among CNN staffers to the point that people like Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour went on the air and criticized CNN for the crime of interviewing Donald Trump. This is how institutionally rotted that network is. They really do believe that their only mission is to promote the Democratic Party, or at the very least, do everything possible to sabotage Donald Trump and his movement. They are overtly an activist organization, and that activism is all about promoting the Democratic Party and ensuring the Trump movement never obtains power again, even if the American people decide to vote for Donald Trump. 

And so, putting him on the air in that town hall that they had with him was by far their biggest rating night in a long, long time: it got over 3 million viewers, which is a different universe for what CNN ever gets. They just had a similar town hall with Nikki Haley, who's another GOP presidential candidate with Jake Tapper and they got a grand total of 550,000 people watching – only 100,000 or 150,000 people in the so-called demo. The only thing that matters, really, the age group that advertisers care about, which is 25 to 54, they could barely get half a million people to watch a town hall with Nikki Haley. So, the only time that ever anyone watches CNN still is when they got Donald Trump to come on their network. And it becomes so ingrained in the culture and the ethos of American corporate media is the idea that their singular mission is to ensure the victory and success of the Democratic Party, CNN journalists were outraged about Chris Licht's decision to allow Donald Trump to vandalize their airwaves. That is how far gone the corporate media is in the United States. And it's not just CNN journalists who thought that way, most of the corporate media did. 


Things deteriorated last week when The Atlantic published a 15,000-word profile extensively documenting Mr. Licht’s stormy tenure, including criticism of the network’s pandemic coverage that rankled the network’s rank-and-file. (The New York Times. June 7, 2023)


The entire media was out to get Chris Licht for no reason other than the fact that he wanted to prevent CNN from continuing to act as a servant to the Democratic Party, not for ideological reasons but just because CNN was failing and collapsing by trying to be that – nobody was watching,


Further worsening matters was CNN’s financial performance. The network generated $750 million in profit last year, including one-time losses from the CNN+ streaming service, down from $1.25 billion the year before. (The New York Times. June 7, 2023)


You may wonder how CNN makes that much profit when nobody watches and the answer is twofold. One is they still do attract a lot of attention to things like their website. But the bigger reason is that CNN is on every cable network and is on every cable package. Cable companies pay CNN to include their network in their cable packages because they assume, even though it seems to be quite untrue, that people who pay for cable want CNN – they never watch it but that's where CNN's profit comes from: cable companies pay them for the right to include them in the cable package, even though nobody watches them. The article goes on: 


Mr. Licht’s abrupt departure, earlier reported by Puck, represents the latest hit in a tumultuous era for the network.


In December 2021, the prime-time anchor Chris Cuomo was fired amid an ethics scandal involving his brother, the former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. 


Two months later, the network’s longtime chief executive, Jeff Zucker, was let go for failing to disclose a relationship with a colleague, the senior executive Allison Gollust, who was likewise pushed out within weeks of Mr. Zucker’s departure.


It did not help matters for Mr. Licht that Mr. Zucker enjoyed wide loyalty from top anchors as well as rank-and-file workers, even after his exit. Once employees began souring on Mr. Licht, Mr. Zucker turned into a quasi-grievance switchboard for frustrated staff members.


One of Mr. Licht’s first big programming moves was to reassign Mr. Lemon from his prime-time perch to a new morning show. Mr. Licht said the show, which Mr. Lemon would anchor with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, would “set the tone for the news organization.”


Instead, “CNN This Morning,” which debuted in November, was marred by low ratings and tensions on and off the set. Two months after Mr. Lemon said that a woman over the age of 50 was not “in her prime,” he was fired, effectively blowing up the show that had been Mr. Licht’s signature project.


That was not the only misstep. Mr. Licht took his time — Warner Bros. Discovery executives believed far too much time — to figure out a prime-time lineup as it was rapidly losing viewers. 


To the shock of many CNN staff members, the network began last month to occasionally lose to Newsmax in total viewers in prime time. And the Trump town hall, which aired on May 10, was excoriated both outside and within CNN. (The New York Times. June 7, 2023)


In other words, that was really the last straw – the fact that he dared put a Republican – not just any Republican, but Donald Trump – on CNN's airwaves. They simply do not believe that media outlets any longer should report on people who disagree with Democratic Party ideology or who in any way have any relationship to Donald Trump or to his campaign. 

Now, a serious historical revision is going on in a way that only our media can do. What they're trying to say is that this is proof that any attempt to liberate media outlets from Democratic Party servitude or to suggest that the media outlets have a responsibility to do something other than just advance American liberalism is likely to fail. In other words, they're trying to say CNN was this model of great success until Chris Licht came in and caused it all to fail. 

Here, for example, is a tweet today from a former Washington Post journalist, and then he went to The Atlantic, Lowery: 


Chris Licht: the latest in a line of media leaders who burn their own house down with their determination to be anti-woke and prove their “independence” from liberals who criticize them on Twitter. (@Wesleylowery June 7, 2023)


So that's the narrative that they're trying to create – that CNN failed under Chris Licht because he had the audacity to say that news outlets should be independent and that they should be immune from the demands of liberals on Twitter, that they only adhere to liberal ideology. That is as explicit as it gets about what their views are and what media outlets should do. 

The reality is this is all a fairy tale. Long before Chris Licht came in to run CNN, CNN's ratings were already in total decline, in free fall, precisely because nobody trusted them, precisely because everybody knew they were a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. 

Here from Forbes in February 2022, so just days before Chris Licht was hired and Jeff Zucker was fired. There you see the headlines: “CNN's Ratings Collapse: Prime Time Down Nearly 70% In The Key Demo” – 70%. CNN's ratings were described as in collapse before Chris Licht came on board. And in great part, that was due to the fact that CNN lost all of the trust it had built up over several decades by turning itself into a pro-Democratic party, anti-Trump outlet during the Trump years. 

Here, too, from The Daily Beast in December 2021, a couple of months before Jeff Zucker was fired and Chris was brought in. “CNN bottomed out in 2021: Will viewers come back? The network reigned supreme at the end of the Trump era but has fallen back to earth. What happened?” 

That I think is the most important thing to note here: the reason these media outlets are collapsing is because people no longer trust them. And how you rebuild trust? There's only one way to do that, and that is to prove that you are not captive to either one of these parties, but instead are independent and willing to report things honestly. 

A major reason, according to Chris Licht, that CNN had lost faith among the public, that nobody trusted them any longer was because of their constantly hysterical COVID coverage. You probably remember when Donald Trump was president, they constantly had a clock or a chart counting in this gruesome, dreary way the number of people who died of COVID, as though each one of those corpses was a direct fault of Donald Trump. And then suddenly, when Joe Biden came in, CNN totally lost interest in how many people were dying of COVID, even though more people died of COVID under Joe Biden than under Donald Trump – despite the fact that Trump ushered in the vaccine that CNN told everybody to take. And obviously, when you do things like that, when you so blatantly exploit a pandemic for purely partisan and political ends, of course, the public will lose trust in you. 

Here is from the new media outlet Semafor which reports a lot on media. Its editor-in-chief is Ben Smith, who is a longtime media columnist for The New York Times. This is by Max Tanny on June 2023: “CNN Lost Trust Over COVID Coverage, Internal Report Found.” 


The Atlantic’s Friday profile of the embattled CEO profile Chris Licht drew cringes at Hudson Yards — but also anger over Licht’s criticism of the network’s award-winning pandemic coverage.


“In the beginning, it was a trusted source – this crazy thing, no one understands it, help us make sense of it. What’s going on?” Licht said. “And I think then it got to a place where, ‘Oh wow, we gotta keep getting those ratings. We gotta keep getting the sense of urgency.’”


“People walked outside and they go, ‘This is not my life. This is not my reality. You guys are just saying this because you need the ratings, you need the clicks. I don’t trust you,’” he said.


The network won multiple prizes for its coverage of Covid-19, including the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Cronkite/Jackson Prize, which was awarded to Dr. Sanjay Gupta for his coverage “correcting Covid-19 misinformation.”


But Licht’s criticism was drawn from CNN’s own research.


Last year, CNN commissioned a survey examining viewer trust and the places where CNN was succeeding and falling short with viewers across the ideological spectrum. According to a partial copy of the report, which hasn’t been revealed before, CNN’s coverage of Covid-19 was the third leading cause of distrust in the network behind liberal bias and “the Chris Cuomo situation.”


Survey respondents of all ideological stripes criticized the network’s "overly dramatic and sensational" and "dire" reporting, the report said. (Semafor. June 5, 2023)


So, this is the reality – the reason, trust and faith in media outlets and corporate media outlets are in freefall at exactly the time people are turning to independent media more and more as we're about to show you in the next segment – regarding Tucker Carlson’s return show on Twitter – is precisely because people understand that in the Trump years, these media outlets devoted themselves to the destruction of one party and the advancement of another. They also got extremely irresponsible with hysterical and false reporting on things like Russiagate and COVID. They are widely perceived to have a liberal bias and therefore nobody trusts them any longer. And so, with the exception of a couple of media giants like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, pretty much every sector of media is failing. Fox News is now failing because it got rid of Tucker Carlson, and its ratings have been in decline ever since because people understand that if you're a news network that fires your most popular host because he won't promote your ideology, you're not really a news network, you're an ideological activist outlet, and people no longer trust those. And that's why people are turning more and more to independent media. And the fact that the corporate media, almost all of them, reacted with such anger toward Chris Licht's attempt to make CNN just a little bit more independent, and to say that it should no longer be this outlet of partisan captivity in the Democratic Party, shows you that the corporate media believes, even if it means they're going to fail, that their overarching mission is to advance the Democratic Party and ensure the defeat of the Republican Party. People already see this. Polls overwhelmingly show that they see it. And the reason we decided to cover this somewhat amusing episode is not that it matters who steers the ship of any of these declining organizations. It doesn't. But because the reaction of the rest of the media is so revealing about how they see their own function. 

As I said in just a second after this little break, we're going to be back. We have Michael Tracey, come on. We're going to talk about Carlson's new program and the reaction to it and also the destruction of a dam in Ukraine that yet again, American the European elites are saying with no evidence, was carried out by Russia. We'll be right back. 


We, at System Update, would like to thank Field of Greens for being a great sponsor of the show. Field of Greens has allowed us to stay independent in our journalism. It’s a trusted brand of Glenn’s and he takes their fruit and vegetable supplement everyday. Visit and use promo code: GLENN for 15% off your first order and 10% more for recurring orders. Thank you Field of Greens and let’s get back to the show. 

Tucker Carlson was fired from Fox News on April 24, just about six weeks ago, despite the fact that he had long been and continues to be the most-watched host on any cable network. And the question is, why would Fox News fire its most popular and most-watched cable host? That is still a mystery that has not really been answered, although I think we're starting to get a lot of clues about part of the reason being ideological, the fact that Tucker Carlson was increasingly out of step with Republican establishment ideology. His most frequent targets, along with the CIA and the FBI, were leading Republican figures like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, much more so often than even Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer on the most central priority of the CIA and the U.S. security state, Joe Biden's War in Ukraine – Tucker Carlson was one of the leading opponents of that war, even though most of the GOP establishment is fully on board with it and vehemently supports it. 

Just like what happened with Glenn Beck roughly a decade earlier, when he was certainly the most-watched host in the history of cable at the 5 p.m. slot, and yet Fox News fired him. Part of the reason is ideological that no matter how many viewers you get watching your show, if what you're convincing them of is contrary to the political views or the interests of the owners of that network, you will only last for so long. And that's the reason why corporate media really cannot be trusted. There are people doing good work in corporate media. I certainly think Tucker Carlson did good work while he was at FOX, there are a couple of other people at Fox who I think are doing their best within those constraints. The reality, however, is that you can only do so much because as long as people are paying your paycheck and controlling what it is that you can and can't say, eventually – if you step over too many lines ideologically – it doesn't matter how successful you are, you will end up being fired. That was something I obviously discovered myself when I was at The Intercept, my own media outlet that I founded. And yet, because I wanted to report on Joe Biden in a way that was incriminating of him just a couple of weeks before the election, the senior editorial staff of The Intercept, even though my contract prohibited them from doing so, interfered with my editorial process, prohibited me from publishing my own article at the media outlet that was founded on my name because they had ideological lines that could not be crossed – specifically anything that might have helped Donald Trump win the election, even if it was good reporting, was something that could not be done. It was only once I left that I realized the full extent to which I had been constrained, even subliminally or subconsciously, by the fact that I was working within a corporate structure and a media controlled by other people. And obviously, Tucker Carlson has found that out firsthand as well. I can see it in how he left and now how he is speaking in a different way already with the first episode of a show that appeared on Twitter last night. 

Here you see it. He entitled it episode one. It is a scaled-down version of his show for now. He doesn't have any guests yet. It's only a 10 to 12-minute monologue similar to the kind that he would begin his show with when he was at Fox. I think probably the most important and popular part of his show was this monologue. So, for now, until they're capable and ready and up and running to have remote guests on, this is what the show is going to be, the monologue. And as I said, I don't think Twitter’s metrics are particularly reliable. It says here that it's been watched by 87.6 million people. I doubt 87.6 million people watched this monologue. I highly doubt that. In fact, if so, that would be the most-watched television event in the history of TV or for at least several decades, that essentially one-third or one-fourth of the American population. I think what happens a lot is if this gets retweeted into your feed, that counts to the View as if you scrolled by its account. But what clearly is the case, just based on the number of retweets alone, we don't have that here, but it's something like 270,000 retweets, close to a million likes. Yeah, it's 186,000 retweets and 700,000 likes already; 40,000 bookmarks, 21,000, quote-tweets. Clearly, more than a million people, well over a million people watched this monologue, which already makes it more successful than pretty much any show on CNN or MSNBC. And we'll see how once the awareness builds up the Tucker Show is on Twitter, remember, only 20% to 25% of Americans use Twitter regularly. So, he has a lot of ceiling left to fill. We'll see how many people end up watching it. But clearly, this is a successful debut. 

Now, before we bring Michael Tracey on to talk about this and most importantly, the content of what Tucker said in his monologue and the way in which it is characterized by the media, I want to just show you the media reaction to it. It was as predictable as it was negative, but the point in which they were angry over specific things that he said I think is incredibly interesting. So here, just take a couple of examples. 

CNN, which would kill to have that many people watching any of their programs when they don't have Donald Trump on, reports: “Tucker Carlson launches first episode of a low budget Twitter show after Fox News firing.


Nearly a month after vowing a return to right-wing commentary through a show on Elon Musk’s Twitter, the fired Fox News host made good on his promise Tuesday evening and posted a 10-minute monologue to the social media platform. 

The commentary, which appeared next to a “Tucker on Twitter” logo at the corner of the screen, was in the same style as viewers have come to expect from Carlson, a conspiracy-peddling talk show host who gave voice to some of the most extreme ideas in right-wing politics. (CNN. June 6, 2023)


What is that style, CNN, that viewers have come to expect from Carlson, “a conspiracy-pedaling” talk show host?


The NYT’s Katie Robertson and Jeremy Peters summarized the first episode like this: “He expressed sympathy for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and mocked President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. He accused the mainstream media of lying. (CNN. June 6, 2023)


Oh, perish the thought. Apparently, only right-wing people mock President Zelenskyy and accuse the mainstream media of lying, which, by the way, is what the right-wing means now that if you don't trust institutions of power, mainstream institutions of power, the CIA, the FBI, Big Tech and large media outlets, that is how you get labeled right wing. Nothing else is required.


He wrapped up by declaring that UFOs and extraterrestrial life are ‘actually real.’” (CNN. June 6, 2023)


Just to try to make him seem crazy. Even though there are a lot of scientists, a lot of people who study extraterrestrial life, who believe that there is now evidence that it exists. But this whole article is just kind of an exercise in empty labels tossed around to signal the people that you're supposed to hate. Even though he focused his entire monologue on something that many, many Americans support, which is opposition to the U.S. role in the proxy war in Ukraine. 

According to The Guardian, their headline is “Tucker Carlson Peddles Conspiracy Theories on Twitter Debut From His Barn.” So, this is all part of the mockery. It's low budget, there were people noting that he operated his own teleprompter, he did it from his barn. Why is this bad? In order to be credible as a journalist, do you have to work for a gigantic media corporation and have a team of 100 people around you to operate every little device that you use? The sub-headline here is “Ex-Fox News host backs Russia and Insults Ukraine's Zelenskyy in a ten-minute monologue greeted with widespread derision”. 

Widespread derision among whom? Here's what they say: “Tucker Carlson's debut on Twitter was greeted with widespread derision.” It was watched by millions of people way more than would ever read a Guardian article. This “widespread derision” means the liberal part of the corporate media that nobody watches. 


Tucker Carlson’s debut on Twitter was greeted with widespread derision, as the former Fox News host backed Russia in its war with Ukraine, abused the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, invoked conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Jeffrey Epstein and mused on the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial life.


“Tucker Carlson’s lies cost Fox $800m,” said Anne Applebaum, a historian of authoritarianism, referring to the $787.5m settlement the network signed with Dominion Voting Systems over its broadcast of Donald Trump’s election lies, shortly before Carlson was fired. “Now he is still lying, and Twitter will eventually pay the price too”. (The Guardian. June 7, 2023)


That paragraph is itself a lie. Tucker Carlson was not one of the people spreading the claims about Dominion voting machines. Not even the lawsuit alleged that. In fact, Tucker was one of the people going on the air at the time, as we showed you on an entire show we did examining this, telling his audience that didn't want to hear it, that the claims of Sidney Powell and others that Dominion had engaged in voter fraud lacked evidence and until that evidence was presented, you shouldn't believe it. So, the idea that Tucker Carlson cost Fox $800 million, which is what The Guardian said quoting Anne Applebaum, is a lie.  

But who is Anne Applebaum? Anne Applebaum is a neoconservative who was one of the people who told the American public that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. She was a vocal advocate of the war in Iraq. She was a vocal advocate of the regime change operation in Syria to remove Bashar al-Assad that destroyed Syria. She was a vocal advocate of the regime change war in Libya that turned Libya into a hellhole of ISIS and slave markets and anarchy. And of course, she was one of the people pushing every version of Russiagate, including the Steele dossier and all the ones that got proven to be lies. The fact that she's held up as this paragon of truth, while The Guardian says that it was Tucker Carlson who spread conspiracy theories and lies, shows you how just utterly manipulated these terms are. The article goes on. 


The first taste of what that audience can expect included claims that Ukraine blew up the Kakhovka dam, not Russia, and lewd insinuations about the Republican senator Lindsey Graham. Carlson said Graham was “attracted” to the “rat-like” Zelenskiy and “aroused” by “the aroma of death”. (The Guardian. June 7, 2023)


How is that not true? Like Anne Applebaum, Lindsey Graham has also supported every single American war, including Joe Biden's war in Ukraine. It's very reasonable to conclude that they are indeed “aroused by the aroma of death” as they spend their lives dedicating themselves to urging more and more wars. 


Carlson also called Zelenskiy “sweaty” […] a “comedian turned oligarch”, a “persecutor of Christians”. (The Guardian. June 7, 2023)


And he was referring there to the fact that President Zelenskyy ordered closed some of the oldest Russian Orthodox churches in Ukraine because of suspicions of their loyalty.


Carlson also said: “What exactly happened on 9/11? Well, it’s still classified. How did Jeffrey Epstein make all that money? How did he die? How about JFK? And so endlessly on”. (The Guardian. June 7, 2023)


Meaning “We're constantly being lied to by institutions of authority and power that use classified documents to hide the truth and hide what they do” – mainstream media outlets which are supposed to be devoted to being adversarial to those institutions. The only Pulitzer Prize The Guardian ever won into this long in history was when we published classified material showing the NSA was lying. And yet now, they want to stigmatize the idea that anybody who is skeptical of the pronouncements of leading institutions of authority or the idea that whatever Ukraine and the Ukrainian government say we have to accept on faith, that person is a conspiracy theorist. Why do they quote Anne Applebaum, one of the leading advocates of the Iraq war, and every other lie told to justify American wars since then, as the expert on what is and is not disinformation? This is the game they play all the time. 

All right. Let's bring Michael Tracey on. I know he's, as always, very eager, filled with all sorts of insights and all kinds of wisdom that he's dying to share with us. 

G. Greenwald: Mike, are you there? There you are. So good to see you. 


Michael Tracey: By the way, I'm now going by the title Historian of Authoritarianism. 


(They laugh)


G. Greenwald: I mean, it's just so funny that they invent these titles of expertise they just assign whomever they want to be the authority on something. How is she a historian of authoritarianism or the person whom you bring on to say what is a lie and what is not?  

So first of all, I just showed you the media's reaction to Tucker's return. They, like mocked a bunch of that kind of stylistic stuff but the reaction to the substance of what he said, which is really just 10 minutes of urging skepticism about the pronouncements of leading institutions of authority, is kind of amazing, given that's supposed to be their job, and yet now they stigmatize it. 


Michael Tracey: Well, yeah, I especially like that passive-voice ridicule in the Guardian article where they said that the show was greeted with widespread derision. That just means we at the Guardian hereby wish to deride Tucker Carlson. I mean, are they referring to other than themselves? But then just phrasing it as this passive-voiced little dig […] 


G. Greenwald: And like CNN journalist on Twitter and like other liberal journalists on Twitter, that's what they mean, the little, tiny incestuous world to which they pay attention and that they think is the only one that matters and that exists. 


Michael Tracey: Yeah, clearly the presumption on their part is that if they're going to deride the show no matter what – now, I think 87.6 million is a bit inflated of a number that would make the viewership of the Tucker debut on Twitter a notch below the Super Bowl – but regardless, there is the potential for this kind of broadcasting methodology to gain traction, and that would be a threat to the established interests of people who run these media institutions. I don't know if that's the exact kind of causal motivator for why they're going out of their way to just blindly spew the same kind of ridicule that they always did. But there you have it.  

Insofar as the content that Tucker touched upon in that monologue, it's true that he went fairly. – he took a hard line on Ukraine in a way that you wouldn't see virtually anywhere else in the media. But that was also roughly the case when he was at Fox. I mean, just a month or so after the invasion started, I happened to be in Poland doing reporting and I had to be on the show and not to touch that. But he helped confirm me. And Tucker's position was ‘help me confirm a story with the Pentagon.’ They got confirmation from the Pentagon that the Pentagon had imposed a gag order on all U.S. military personnel in Poland to prohibit them from speaking to the media because they didn't want any information to be publicized as to their activities right across the border from Ukraine and Poland. And that was at a time when there was even more of an intractable consensus around the Ukraine issue and deviating from that consensus was even more probably of a risky move. So, I think that's actually what's admirable about Tucker if you want to kind of find a way to praise him, is that what he said in the monologue, that was relatively almost entirely, I would say, consistent with what you might have expected him to say on Fox. In other words, he's not kind of dramatically modifying what he's saying based on the medium or the audience, which I would contend is actually a marker of intellectual consistency. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, I think and, you know, it's very hard to say because we're talking about subtleties and gradations, but I think when you have 10 minutes and you pack in not just a news story about Ukraine and you don't hear skepticism, but you pretty much say we're being lied to – it's not that we don't know; it's almost certainly the case that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, that did that. And then you got to just throw in for good measure what happened on 9/11 and where did Jeffrey Epstein get his money and how did Jeffrey Epstein die? And what about those UFOs? You're pretty much staking a position in the ground where you're saying this show is going to be very unflinching in its refusal to accept as good faith or reliable the claims about anything that comes from the leading institutions we're told to trust, even going so far as to question the narrative about 9/11 and Jeffrey Epstein. So, I think you can point to times in his show where he did talk about Jeffrey Epstein skeptically, the claim that he committed suicide. 


Michael Tracey: Yeah He talked about all those issues. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, absolutely. 


Michael Tracey: Other than 9/11, which I'm not sure yet. 


G. Greenwald: Not 9/11. And I think the way that he packed it all in and used very like –even this language about Zelenskiy, you know, being like rat-faced and sweaty and Lindsey Graham having an attraction to him. I think a lot of this stuff is maybe just a slightly more unleashed version of Tucker as compared to how he was on Fox. So, I agree with you. You know, I said you can't really prove it. It's one show, it's 10 minutes. But to me, having heard Tucker talk about these things a lot on the air, this seems a little bit more aggressive. And I would hope that he would because he doesn't have to be [...] 


Michael Tracey: Yeah, and maybe I should retract my statement. It was probably a bit more audacious than you might expect from just a typical broadcast of the Tucker Carlson Show on Fox. Not that I was a regular viewer and I sat around watching it all day, but to the extent that was familiar with the contents, this would strike me as probably a bit more audacious. And I think maybe one way to think about it is, even if it's not a deliberate kind of substantive modification of one's content, if you're on the 8 p.m. slot on Fox News each night, you have to be mindful – or you inevitably are going to be mindful – that a huge segment of your audience is just going to kind of default FOX viewers who haven't actively sought you out personally and maybe don't watch your content or consume what you say because they have a particular ideological affinity with you. They just have made a habit of watching Fox, including at your hour. Maybe they like you incidentally, but it's not like they're actively seeking you out. Whereas if you're not speaking to an audience that has in a much greater sense sought you out directly because they're going onto Twitter, they're taking certain steps that they wouldn't have taken if they were just consuming passively your show on Fox, then maybe there is a bit more of a latitude that you have to be totally sort of unrestrained in what you put out there. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, well, I think there are two other aspects to this, which is that –I'm getting back to personal experience here – so, one is and I alluded to this earlier, when you are attached to a media corporation or a news organization that has corporate bosses and senior editors and you have a bunch of colleagues, and especially when you're kind of one of the leading faces of it, the way Tucker was with Fox, the way I was when I was at The Intercept, there is a kind of subliminal constraint or sort of constraint it imposes on you, which are not even really conscious, but you just always know that if you're going to go to a certain place that provokes a lot of controversies, that's going to affect not only you but the entire organization. And it could […] 


Michael Tracey: It helps not know that. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, well, I'm saying it kind of gets embedded into your head so that even if you're not consciously interrogating that in that way, that it's […] 


Michael Tracey: You are like a fish. It's literally the water you're swimming in like a fish. 


G. Greenwald: Exactly. And so, once I left The Intercept, I realized how kind of liberated I was in ways that I wasn't even aware had been constrained to me before and I guarantee you that's going to happen way more so with Tucker, who was under a lot more pressure in terms of having this gigantic news corporation, and the Murdochs, hanging above his head. But the other thing I think that is almost certainly going to happen, and that's definitely happened to me, is when I got to The Intercept into the circumstance that I did and I realized that I had become victimized by this genuinely illiberal and repressive climate, it wasn't something I was describing any longer. It was something [that] had affected me negatively and restricted my ability to speak. You become a little bit more radicalized about just how corrupted these institutions are, and you want to – or you're able to – speak more clearly about them because you've now kind of personally experienced it. Tucker got fired despite being the most-watched show on that network, very abruptly and very suddenly, in a way, I'm certain he feels betrayed by and angry about and kind of thinks it is unjust. And that has to affect going forward how he speaks about a lot of these institutions, including media corporations. 


Michael Tracey: Yeah, And I would think that what you also inevitably would have to sublimate is that there's a ton of money that is invested in your position in the institution. So, it's not just you on the line that requires you to maybe stay within the confines of a certain set of expectations as to what content you're going to publicize or put out. In other words, it's not just your own interest that you have to be mindful of, and even financially, it's a whole conglomeration of people's interests that are dependent on you. And even if you put up guardrails to kind of insulate yourselves from whatever pressures or potential corrupting influences that present and you can be the most genuine person in the world in wanting to kind of prevent those influences from having any influence on you. It seems like it's just an inevitable fact of life that it suffuses your world in such a way that it's just impossible to fully do away with those influences. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah. So, I don't know if you saw this news, but I want to get to the substance of the issue with Ukraine and who blew up the dam, which was the topic of his monologue and then something I want to go over with you. But just one last thing on this Tucker issue and Fox: people were a little confused when he said he was going to bring his show to Twitter because it wasn't necessarily the most natural place for him to go. And especially that was the case when it became clear that he had no contract with Twitter. Twitter's not paying him to be on Twitter. And the reason, as it turns out, is because Fox, his view of their relationship is that Fox has not terminated their contract with Tucker. He's still an employee of Fox News. According to Fox, he's still bound by his contract. They're still paying him under that contract. And it's a lot of money, $15 million to $20 million a year. So, if you're taking out $1.5 million, $2 million every single month that Fox pays to Tucker, every month, $1.5 million, and their view is, because he's still an employee of Fox, he is prohibited from going anywhere else and working for one of our competitors. So, I think the idea with Tucker was, well, I'm going to just go on Twitter, I have no contract, nobody can say that I've taken a job at CNN or even Rumble, I'm not competing with Fox, I'm just speaking out on Twitter the way anybody else uses social media to speak out on. There's no way they can interpret that as breaching my contract or trying to silence me there. And yet, right before we were on the air, Axios reported that Fox News regards Tucker Carlson as in breach of his contract as a result of him doing a show on Twitter, even though he's not being paid by Twitter, not making any money. Their view is that for the duration of the contract, which is through 2025, apparently, he's barred from being heard publicly in any way, even on social media. And I have to think there's something ideological about that, that Fox is trying to realign the Republican Party with the old-school establishment ideology that it had always been attached to – all this time the Murdochs were promoting it until Donald Trump came along – and they see Tucker as this hardcore establishment, the anti-establishment voice, who in some ways seems so ideologically threatening to the Republican Party and to the Fox News executives who are now trying to kind of have a rapprochement with the Republican Party, that they want to use this contract to silence him entirely. Don't you find that very strange? 


Michael Tracey: Yeah. I mean, I guess it would depend on the actual wording of the relevant clause in the contract, but it would be strange to say that Twitter was one of the competitors that the drafters of the contract had in mind when they inserted that clause prohibiting Tucker from going on the platform of a competitor to Fox. If anything, Twitter is a supplement to Fox in that Fox, just like every other media outlet, uses Twitter to promote their content and they cite Twitter in their content on broadcast and so forth. So, it's interesting to see how that argument hashes out. But yeah, I mean, I guess this does potentially lend itself to the theory that there is more of an ideological motivator that maybe some had suspected when he was fired. That was a popular theory initially that I was a bit more skeptical of, just insofar, given the ambiguities of the circumstances of the firing, it seemed to me that there was probably kind of a more banal explanation that was ultimately at play for it. And the ideological explanation might have been a bit more sort of emotionally satisfying, I didn't see a whole lot of evidence for it, given that, like just as I said before, Tucker was going even more against the grain, given the political climate at the time, last year, a year ago, than it would have been in April. So, it just didn't add up to me. But, you know, I have to be open to evidence. And if it's established or if there's an accumulation of evidence that they are seeking to just prevent him from engaging on the public platform at all, even if it couldn't really be conceivably argued to be in breach of that contract – they're still trying to make that argument. I don't know. I guess it's possible but, at the same time, I do think that these corporate lawyers are pretty vengeful. So even if they have to stretch the argument to claim that Twitter's a competitor, maybe they just want to do it just to test their own ability to enforce the law. 




G. Greenwald: I think Fox has clearly lost a lot by getting rid of Tucker. I mean, you can see it in the ratings. Did you see it? They used to get 3 million viewers a night starting at 8 p. m., and then it would kind of go down a little bit, but not much. And now they start off with one and a half million. They apparently are ahead of MSNBC ever since Tucker's firing. They're kind of, you know, really brought down a huge peg. And I would think the last thing Fox would want to do, having angered their viewership to this extent by firing Tucker, is now going to war against him in a way that seems very vindictive unless there's a real ideological motive. And I think this has been so overlooked because the liberal wing of the corporate media has been incapable of understanding this. I think they hate Tucker and his show without really watching it. It is a very unusual situation to have such radically different agendas from the 8 p.m. show in primetime on Fox to the 9 p.m. show with the second biggest star on Fox, Sean Hannity, where, you know, Sean Hannity is doing what he's always done, which is kissing the ass of every Republican Party leader, cheering on the war in Ukraine, calling everybody a traitor and a Kremlin agent who's against it. And you have Tucker, who is probably the leading voice of everything Sean Hannity is criticizing. The Murdochs clearly have a political agenda. There are politicians they support, there are ideologies that they hate and they like, and to have such a radical split between your two biggest hosts is pretty much unsustainable unless you're only running Fox News as a business and not as a political project. But I don't think anyone has ever thought of the Murdochs as just apolitical, profit-mongers. I mean, they clearly have a political agenda, and I think a political agenda is tied to the establishment in the Republican Party, and they very much want Trump not to be the standard bearer of the Republican Party any longer. And I think they see […] 


Michael Tracey: That as although Trump was on Hannity show again this week. I mean, it's not as though that Trump has been banished from Fox. If anything, Hannity is solidifying his ties with Trump. 


(Voices overlap)


G. Greenwald: Yeah, I mean […] 


Michael Tracey: […] the election clearly […] 


G. Greenwald: […] Has come to their senses on. I mean, they clearly want to elevate DeSantis. I think like, I mean, at the end of the day, they fired Tucker and hired Sean Hannity. 


Michael Tracey: […] Trump is going on the daily every week for a very friendly and lovable town hall. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, but at the end of the day, Michael, they did fire Tucker and they did not fire Sean Hannity. And he's there are reports now that Laura Ingraham, the only other voice on there who's really an opponent of the war in Ukraine is also on her way out or at least leaving the primetime lineup. You know at some point the proof is in the pudding about who they like and who they don't. And all of these people are doing fine in the ratings. The thing that differentiates them is their ideological disposition. And it's hard not to believe that that wasn't a factor at all, given how these decisions seem to align with that. 


Michael Tracey: No, I think that could probably have been a factor. Don't really know how Trump himself factors into that, because there was hardly a bigger and more devoted booster of Trump throughout Trump's presidency than Sean Hannity. Again, as I said. Sean Hannity appeared at campaign events on stage with Trump and campaigned with him actively. So, I just don't know how. 


 (Voices overlap)


G. Greenwald: But that’s right that was the standard bearer of the Republican party that Trump […] 


Michael Tracey: That they're trying to get rid of Trump. 


G. Greenwald: No, but that's because Trump was the standard bearer of the Republican Party. There was no way to go against Trump and keep a Republican Party audience. You couldn't be openly opposed to Trump and during the Trump years, or even during the campaign, I mean, he dominated the campaign and then became the Republican Party nominee and then was the president. So, Sean Hannity was doing what he always does, which is sycophanticly hug whoever the standard bearer of the Republican Party is, I think remains to be seen what Fox's posture is, what Sean Hannity's posture is to run DeSantis […] 


(Voices overlap)


Michael Tracey: Certainly not, he’s doing the same thing last week with Trump. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah […] 


Michael Tracey: As I just told you, Trump was on Hannity Show. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, sure. And Hannity is never going to be openly hostile to Trump. But I think Fox and the network are clearly aligning themselves more with the establishment wing of the Republican Party. And that is where all the establishment is going, behind Ron DeSantis. All the money that was behind Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in 2016 is now going to Ron DeSantis. And even though DeSantis has to position himself as this kind of anti-establishment figure, I think most people in the establishment see him as their best choice for sinking Trump. And I think Fox is on that side, they do not want Trump to be the ongoing leader of the Republican Party and Tucker Carlson was the single most effective advocate of populist, anti-establishment politics within the Republican Party, a much better advocate even than Trump. And now he's out there and they're trying to keep him silent, even away from Fox. And I think the evidence is pretty compelling that that's part of the reason. 


Michael Tracey: Well, I think you're wrong in that DeSantis most certainly is anti-establishment. I mean, if the establishment is woke excess on college campus. Then, you know, I had never seen anybody who's more anti-establishment […] 


G. Greenwald: Right. Super exciting […] 


Michael Tracey: That's the emblem of the establishment. It's just, you know, college kids doing stupid stuff. I know that can be a legitimate story at times. But like, if your entire political persona is built around combating that particular scourge and nothing else, then it's amazing to now try to cast that as “anti-establishment" as other art factions of the establishment that are “anti-woke.” Maybe they have been stifled somewhat in the past few years, but to kind of make it. 


G. Greenwald: At the end of the day, nothing serves the establishment’s interests more than keeping everybody focused on the culture war. Because when you’re focusing on the culture war, I'm not saying it's unimportant, it means you're not focused on how financial power, how corporate power, how intelligence and military agencies continue to dominate Washington. It only focuses on things like, you know, the trans issue to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. That's a very good way to like kind of rile people up and make them think they're doing something radical. But in reality, staying away from establishment powers. 


(Voices overlap)


Michael Tracey: Yeah, true anti-establishment [...] 


G. Greenwald: It’s why it’s so popular on the left [...]  


Michael Tracey: 24/7 [...] 


G. Greenwald: It is the only thing people on the left are left with [...] 


Michael Tracey: 24/7 on this transition and nothing else […] 


G. Greenwald: Totally, totally. There are people on the left, the same way they know they can't challenge and don't want to challenge any establishment orthodoxy. So fighting Republicans on trans issues […] 


Michael Tracey: They don't care about anything else. 

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