Glenn Greenwald
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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
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UPDATE: Alan Dershowitz vs. Glenn Greenwald at The Soho Forum
16 hours ago

I’m impressed with how well informed and how IFORMING some of the audience here is! Someone offered a list of reports from Al Jesera that includes a report on the current use of the floating aid port and how it’s being received from the perspective of Gaza and the international community. It’s really important to know about! Thanks to who did this!

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As the Daily Wire Publicly Negotiated a Debate with Candace Owens, it Secretly Sought -- and Obtained -- a Gag Order Against Her
Due to a prior restraint order against Owens, the much-anticipated Israel debate with Ben Shapiro appears to be off.

On April 5, Candace Owens publicly invited her former Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro to a debate about "Israel and the current definition of antisemitism." It was Owens' criticisms of U.S. financing of Israel, and her criticisms of Israel's war in Gaza, that caused her departure from the Daily Wire two weeks earlier.

Both Shapiro and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing responded by saying they would like to arrange the debate requested by Owens. That night, Shapiro appeared to accept her offer, writing on X: "Sure, Candace. I texted you on February 29th offering this very thing." The Daily Wire co-founder added: "Let's do it on my show this Monday at 5pm at our studios in Nashville; 90 minutes, live-streamed."

After Owens objected to the format and timing, she and Boreing exchanged several tweets in which they appeared to be negotiating, and then agreeing to, the terms and format for the debate. Owens had suggested the debate be moderated by Joe Rogan or Lex Fridman. Shaprio said he wanted no moderator. They ultimately agreed to the terms, with Boreing offering a series of conditions, including a no-moderator debate, and with Owens publicly accepting

Two weeks later, many readers of both Shapiro and Owens noticed, and complained, that the debate had not yet happened. On April 24, Owens addressed those inquiries by explaining that the Daily Wire had yet to propose dates, while reiterating her strong desire to ensure the debate happened.

But the debate was never going to happen. That is because the Daily Wire -- in secret and unbeknownst to its readers -- sought a gag order to be placed on Owens after she had called for a debate. They did this under the cover of secrecy, before a private arbitrator, at exactly the same time that they were claiming in public that they wanted this debate and were even negotiating the terms with her. To this date, the Daily Wire has not informed its readers, seeking to understand why the much-anticipated debate had not yet happened, that they had sought and obtained a gag order against Owens.

When seeking a gag order to be imposed on Owens, the Daily Wire accused her of violating the non-disparagement clause of her agreement with the company. To substantiate this accusation, the company specifically cited Owens' initial tweet requesting a debate with Shapiro as proof of this disparagement, along with concerns she voiced that Shapiro appeared to be violating the confidentiality agreement between them by publicly maligning Owens's views to explain her departure from the company. While the company claimed before the arbitrator that it did not object in principle to a "healthy debate," it urged the imposition of a gag order on Owens by claiming that the way she requested the debate constituted disparagement of Shapiro and the site.

To justify the gag order it wanted, the company also cited various criticisms of the Daily Wire and Shapiro on X that Owens had "liked." This proceeding took place as part of an exchange of legal threats between the parties after the public agreement to debate about Israel was solidified. Those threats arose from the fact that various Daily Wire executives and hosts, in both public and private, were castigating Owens as an anti-Semite. On March 22, Daily Wire host Andrew Klaven published a one-hour video that hurled multiple accusations, including anti-Semitism, at Owens. The Daily Wire cited Owens' response to that video -- her defense of herself from those multiple accusations -- as further proof that she needed to be gagged.

The initial tweet from Owens not only requested a debate, but also included a video from the popular comedian Andrew Schulz, who had mocked the Daily Wire for firing Owens over disagreements regarding Israel, and specifically mocked Shapiro for his willingness to debate only undergraduate students. The tweet underneath Owens's original debate request included a summary of Schulz's mockery of Shapiro which stated: Schulz now "realizes Ben Shapiro is only good at debating college liberals & can’t win debates against serious competition." 

After the prior restraint hearing sought by the Daily Wire and Shapiro, the arbitrator sided with them and against Owens. The arbitrator agreed with the Daily Wire that Owens' call to debate Shapiro, and her follow-up negotiations of the debate, constituted "disparagement" of the company and Shapiro. The company argued that any further attempt by Owens to debate, as well her suggesting that the debate would expose the Daily Wire's real "priorities," constituted criticisms of the site and of Shapiro, criticisms that the arbitrator concluded Owens was barred from expressing under her contract with the company.

The arbitrator thus imposed a gag order of prior restraint on Owens. Among other things, the order banned Owens from saying or doing anything in the future which could tarnish or harm the reputation of the Daily Wire and/or Ben Shapiro. Given that the Daily Wire had argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that Owens' offers to debate Shapiro about Israel and anti-semitism were themselves "disparaging," the Daily Wire has ensured that the debate with Owens that they publicly claimed to want could not, in fact, take place. Any such debate would be in conflict with the gag order they obtained on Owens from expressing any criticisms of the site or of Shapiro.

When asked for comment to be included this story, Owens replied: I "wish I could comment on this but I can’t." She added: "can neither confirm nor deny."

Boreing said: "your story is inaccurate to the point of being false," though he did not specify a single inaccuracy, nor did he deny that the Daily Wire had sought and obtained a gag order on Owens at the same time they were publicly posturing as wanting a debate with her. The confirmation we obtained of all these facts is indisputable. Boreing added: "I’m sure you can appreciate how fraught a high profile break-up like this is. For that reason, we are trying to resolve our issues with Candace privately."

It certainly seems true that the Daily Wire is attempting to achieve all of this "privately." Nonetheless, Ben Shapiro has constructed his very lucrative media brand and persona based on his supposed superiority in debating, a reputation cultivated largely as a result of numerous appearances at undergraduate schools around the country where he intrepidly engages with students who are often in their teens or early twenties. Both Shapiro and the Daily Wire have also predicated their collective media brand on an eagerness to engage in free and open debate with anyone, and to vehemently oppose any efforts to silence people, especially those in media, from expressing their political views.

It was the imperatives of this media branding that presumably led the Daily Wire and Shapiro to publicly agree to a debate with Owens over Israel and anti-semitism in the first place. Indeed, when it became apparent early after the start of Israel's war in Gaza that Owens had major differences with Shapiro, Boering responded to calls from Israel supporters for Owens to be fired by proclaiming in November: 

[E]ven if we could, we would not fire Candace because of another thing we have in common - a desire not to regulate the speech of our hosts, even when we disagree with them. Candace is paid to give her opinion, not mine or Ben’s. Unless those opinions run afoul of the law or she violates the terms of her contract in some way, her job is secure and she is welcome at Daily Wire.

But a mere four months later, Owens, despite being of one of the company's most popular hosts, was out. The company had concluded that her increasingly vocal criticisms of Israel, opposition to U.S. financing of it, and her views on anti-semitism were incompatible with the Daily Wire's policies.

All of those issues would likely have been the subject of the public debate that Owens sought, and that the Daily Wire claimed to want. Instead, the Daily Wire has succeeded in obtaining a gag order that, on its face, prevents Owens, in advance, from questioning or criticizing both the Daily Wire or Shapiro in any way.



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Jen Psaki's Lies Expose the Fraud of "Disinformation"; Israelis Endanger Americans and Block Humanitarian Aid

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Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

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House Prioritizes Israel Over Funding U.S. Government; Seinfeld Commencement Debacle Fuels Antisemitism Panic; PLUS: China and Hungary's Close Ties Explained

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House Prioritized Israel Over U.S. (16:19)

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INTERVIEW: Professor Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine's Failures, Israel's War in Gaza, China, and More

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Interview with Professor Jeffrey Sachs [13:12 - 1:10:23]

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
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