Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
Rand Paul Blocks Authoritarian “Anti-TikTok” Bill. Plus: Darren Beattie on Douglass Mackey Guilty Verdict, Trump Indictment
Video Transcript: System Update #64
April 04, 2023
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The indictment of President Trump is obviously a massive story, which is why we devoted our entire show to it last night, a full 90-minute episode, but it's important that we not let it distract us from everything else the government is attempting to do, beginning with two bills in Congress that are being justified in the name of banning the social media app TikTok: one called the Data Act, the other the Restrict Act that would, in fact, do far, far more than just ban TikTok. They would empower the Biden administration and future presidents to ban any social media app or platform if they decide, in their sole discretion, that the app in some way poses a threat to national security. 

Earlier this week, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky blocked one such bill offered by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and others that those senators hoped to fast track with bipartisan support and send to the White House with very little debate or deliberation. We'll report on the issues raised by that debate in the Senate, why Sen. Paul opposes this bill and why, even if you were eager to banish TikTok from the United States, higher levels of skepticism and scrutiny are urgent in the face of any attempts by the U.S. government to claim the power to regulate and specially to ban the Internet and entire social media platforms. 

Then, in the interview segment, we'll speak with Darren Beattie, the independent journalist at Revolver News and the former Trump White House speechwriter, about those pending bills justified in the name of banning TikTok, as well as the indictment of former President Trump obtained and the conviction by a jury just this afternoon, just a few hours ago, in a Brooklyn courthouse of the pro-Trump social media influencer Douglass Mackey, better known as Ricky Vaughn, whom prosecutors claim deliberately deceived people into not voting by use of his Twitter meme. He now faces many years in prison. 

Before we get into tonight's show: we prepared our show last night very quickly because the Trump indictment was announced only a few hours before we aired. And there, as a result, we didn't have quite the same time for preparation as we normally do. There were two statements I made that were incorrect and we wanted to correct them very prominently. First, the Stormy Daniels story that I mentioned and talked a lot about had been reported by a few websites prior to the 2016 election but was not widely known until 2018, and I suggested it was widely known before the election. Secondly, in the context of pointing out the effort by liberals to suppress any discussion of George Soros, his support for Alvin Bragg's candidacy, the D.A. who obtained Trump's indictment, I highlighted how Democrats have spent years alleging that the GOP were the puppets of the Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, yet now, suddenly want to ban any discussion of George Soros talking about Soros’ spending as anti-Semitic. During that discussion, I said that Adelson was a citizen of both the United States and Israel. That was incorrect. He is in fact, or was, in fact, only a citizen of the United States and not Israel. So those are the two corrections from last night’s show.

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



In the world of politics, it's very easy to forget what has happened before some massive event. That's certainly the case with yesterday's indictment of President Trump which landed without much warning and obviously is a great shock. It's a historic event to have the first ever former president of the United States, and more importantly, in my view, the current frontrunner for the presidential race in 2024, criminally indicted, for the first time in American history. But it's important not to let the shock of that event and the magnitude of it let us get distracted from what was taking place and what we were focused on previously, namely a whole variety of issues but the issue that I think was getting the most attention, rightfully so, why is the argument supported by the Biden White House and the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in both houses of Congress, that it was urgent that either TikTok, the social media platform that has become the most popular among American teenagers and American youth, or one of the most popular among all Americans – according to the company's data, 150 million Americans voluntarily use that app – that it's urgent that either they be forced to sell the app to American interest or American companies, and if not to actually ban the app entirely, to banish it, to make it illegal for anyone in the United States to use it. 

Obviously, there is a major debate that we ought to be having in general over how to view China, over whether we should view China as an irredeemable enemy, as an adversary, or a competitor, and what steps we should take once we make that decision about what it is that we ought to do in response to what is clearly the second most powerful country on the planet, a nuclear power, like Russia. These are extremely important decisions and I would hope and expect that the debate does not simply consist of ‘we hate China and therefore we're going to say yes to everything the United States government wants to do in the name of stopping it’. That instead, whatever steps we take when it comes to how we treat the question of China be at least undertaken with a lot of deliberative thought, because whatever steps we take will have very serious consequences. It can have very serious economic consequences – the United States and Wall Street, in particular, are very reliant on the Chinese, and we can punish the Chinese in all sorts of ways, and the Chinese can punish American companies and the American economy in all sorts of ways – but obviously militaristically, talking about the country, which has the second most powerful military in the world and, as I said, a nuclear-armed power. And so, if we're going to undertake a decades-long Cold War with China of the kind that we had with the Soviet Union for five or six decades during the 20th century, one that led to multiple wars around the planet and the explosion of the U.S. Security State – that was all done under the Cold War – then we ought to – at least – have an open debate. I think people ought to be able to participate in that debate and question things without being accused of being puppets of China or servants of the Chinese Communist Party, like with Russiagate, people were accused of being servants of the Kremlin, or assets of the Russian government or Vladimir Putin for questioning things the government or the U.S. Security State was saying be done there. In other words, the debate itself is crucial. 

Earlier this week, we devoted an entire show to the question of whether TikTok should be banned. We did it on the day the TikTok CEO appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We reported on some of the key exchanges that took place at that committee. We talked about the different aspects of the policy question of whether TikTok should be banned, and I don’t want to revisit that or repeat that. I want to instead, for those of you who already watched it, – and even if you didn't, you can watch that show and that's what we covered – I want to instead raise a couple of related issues that we didn't really talk much about as part of that show, in part, because there are new developments, but also because these things extend way beyond the question of whether you should ban TikTok. In other words, if you in your mind already have a position fixed about whether you want the U.S. government to ban TikTok, what's the position of the Biden administration, there's still a lot to think about in terms of the bills that are pending in Congress, because those bills do far, far more than just allow the government to ban TikTok. They empower the Biden White House and then future administrations to ban any social media platform, not just TikTok – that is owned by a foreign entity that the government deems, at its discretion, threatens national security for reasons such as interfering in our politics the way that the U.S. government Democratic Party claims Twitter and Facebook and YouTube did in the 2016 election – or any platform that is designed to serve the interest of a foreign country, which is how the U.S. government regards dissent over the U.S. proxy war in Russia. 

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Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

For years, U.S. officials and their media allies accused Russia, China and Iran of tyranny for demanding censorship as a condition for Big Tech access. Now, the U.S. is doing the same to TikTok. Listen below.

Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

What is going on here:
Iowa has the first-in-the-nation caucus, where Iowans will gather to pick who they want to see as their party's Presidential candidate. But things are a bit different this year. Learn more about what will happen on caucus night - Monday, January 15, 2024 (at 7 pm).

Only Republicans will pick and announce their Presidential choice that night. Iowa Democrats will still hold a caucus to conduct party business (like setting the party's issue priorities), but they will pick their preferred Presidential candidate using a mail-in preference card that can be requested now through February 19, 2024. Mail-in ballots will begin hitting your mailboxes on January 12, 2024.

I think Dave Rubin tried to associate himself with Eric Weinstein’s analysis, as a way of providing a response to being called out for his hypocrisy… his use of the word “we” and “people like us” is pretty funny and pathetic… as well as staged/pre planned

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Good Morning SYSTEM UPDATE Community,

Welcome to the SYSTEM UPDATE recap, your weekend digest featuring everything we’ve covered throughout the previous week. 



Prefer to listen to your daily news analysis? Reminder that FULL episodes of SYSTEM UPDATE are available anywhere you listen to podcasts🎙️



Elon Meets Netanyahu in Israel—Why? Vivek Ramaswamy on Free Speech Debates, Ukraine, & More. Plus: CNN & Senate Dems Demand More Censorship Over Israel

Full transcript available for paid supporters here.




Intro (6:48)

Censorship Demands Continue (13:37)

Elon Visits Israel (32:09)

Interview with Vivek Ramaswamy (1:11:06)

Ending (1:34:58)



Americans Fired Since Oct. 7—What They Really Said. Is TikTok Censoring for China or the US? 

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Intro (9:38)

Canceling Israel’s Critics (14:58)

Who Does TikTok Really Serve? (55:29)

Ending (1:29:18)


Supporters-Only After Show for Tuesday, November 28

We moved to Locals for our supporters-only, interactive after show, where Glenn shared his thoughts on some burning audience questions:



Almost none of the Arab countries will back up the Palestinian cause with any impactful political actions. And if a certain Arab country does decide to, they get destroyed literally or metaphorically. How can the Palestinians have any chance of statehood if these geopolitical conditions and order remains?  



Irish viewer here. Do you have any thoughts on the ongoing Irish hate speech legislation? Have you ever considered having MEP Clare Daly on the show? 


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Leading Palestine Expert Rashid Khalidi on Israel-Gaza, College Campuses, & More. Plus: Elon Musk’s Defiant Message to Disney

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Intro (4:18)

Elon’s Defiant Message to Disney (9:35)

Interview with Rashid Khalidi (24:53)

Ending (1:15:21)



The Murderous Life & Legacy of Henry Kissinger: Perfect Symbol of the Rotted US Security State

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Intro (10:40)

Henry Kissinger: A Murderous Legacy (16:30)

Ending (1:38:24)


Supporters-Only After Show for Thursday, November 30

We moved to Locals for our supporters-only, interactive after show, where Glenn shared his thoughts on some burning audience questions:  



Your shows on free speech have been very informative. You distinguished between state action and private company decisions in the context of firings for example. I’ve been wondering how to think about free speech at universities and in particular whether the rules are different for private vs. public/state universities. And even for private universities whether it matters if they receive government funding. Thanks.



Glenn, can we get a deep look at some of these 3rd party corporations involved in "Trust and Safety" i.e. censorship? Seems like platforms are outsourcing more and more censorship to 3rd parties and it is a massively booming business model.


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Taibbi/Shellenberger Clash with Censorship Regime in Congress (Again). DEBATE: Glenn & Israel Supporter, Max Abrahms Discuss War in Gaza

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Intro (7:34)

Facing the Censorship Regime (12:04)

Interview with Max Abrahms (37:21)

Ending (1:48:26)


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