Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
Week in Review: Kremlin Bombing “False Flag” Allegation, Fox/Tucker Fallout, & Dems Rig Election for Biden, w/ Michael Tracey
Video Transcript
May 12, 2023
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Good evening. It's May 5. 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, we have a week-in-review show, one we regularly do on Friday night, where we examine several of the most important stories of the week to extract their overlooked significance. And we'll be joined by a frequent guest, the very and sometimes maddeningly independent journalist Michael Tracey, to help us do it. 

We'll begin with what was undoubtedly the most important event of the week, the explosion that took place over the Kremlin during the middle of the night, Moscow time, on Wednesday. Russian officials insist that the attack was an attempted assassination aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin and that it was orchestrated by the United States and its proxy in Kyiv. The U.S., for its part, not only vehemently denies that accusation, but just as is true when the Russian German Nord Stream pipeline was blown up in March, has media outlets throughout the West strongly suggesting that – for some unknown reason – the culprit behind the attack on Russia was Russia. Apparently, according to our very responsible media, which combats disinformation, Russia first blew up its own critical natural gas infrastructure and now bombed itself. 

Then, despite early polling showing that almost 20% of Democratic voters prefer Robert Kennedy Jr. as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2024, with another 8% supporting Marianne Williamson – in other words, almost one out of every three Democratic voters are making clear that they want to vote for a candidate other than Joe Biden – Democratic Party apparatchiks are emphasizing that there will be no debates, no fair process, basically no opportunity to have an election of any kind. Joe Biden is the nominee and that is the end of the story, whether Democrats like it or not. 

The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, the leader of the country of which Julian Assange is and always has been a citizen, has expressed his most assertive frustration yet at the refusal of the Biden administration to cease its attempts to prosecute and extradite the groundbreaking journalist. “Enough is enough,” said the Prime Minister of Australia about the Biden persecution of the Australian citizen, Julian Assange. Will this matter? 

And finally, Fox News’s one-sided war on Tucker Carlson continues, as does the collapse of Fox News's primetime ratings. We'll examine whether this really spells the genuine demise of Fox's three-decade dominance of cable news primetime, or whether its loyal viewers will forgive the network for what it's doing to the most popular host in the history of cable news and return to the network. We’ll also look at what this reveals about ongoing ideological divisions within the Republican Party and the American right. 

As a reminder, System Update is also available in podcast form. The show post 12 hours after our live broadcast here on Rumble. You can follow us on all major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Apple and others. Simply rate and review the show, which helps the visibility of the program.

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


As our government and media tell it, something very strange is happening in the war in Ukraine. For some very unclear reason, Russia continuously does the job of Ukraine and of the United States and NATO attacking itself, constantly destroying its most vital resources and bombing its most critical infrastructure. 

Back in March, as you likely remember, the pipeline that connects Russia to Germany – the most vital interest to the Russians, it is a permit for Russia to sell cheap natural gas to Western Europe through Germany – exploded and it was one of the most devastating environmental disasters in the history of humanity. For some reason, people who claim that climate catastrophes are the most existential threat we face cared very little about this episode or who did it. And almost immediately, Western officials dispatched Western media to announce that the most likely candidate for bombing the Russian pipeline was… the Kremlin. And for days, in fact, weeks, this claim that this was a false flag operation, that it was the Russians who actually blew up their own pipeline, persisted even as the United States had for months explicitly and openly threatened that it would do exactly that if the Russians invaded Ukraine. And even as the United States celebrated the explosion of the pipeline, Western media outlets, and American media outlets as well, continued to try and convince you that the Russians were the ones who did it. 

Now we're seeing exactly the same thing happen with this drone attack on the Kremlin. On Wednesday night, we showed you the video right on the day that it happened, where you could see the explosion right above the Kremlin. It's an obviously dangerous thing to detonate a bomb from a drone in the middle of Moscow where government buildings and government officials reside, including the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. That's exactly what happened. The Russians did what you would expect them to do – what I think all-natural, rational people would assume – which is accuse the country with whom they're at war, Ukraine, of having attacked the explicit direction of the paymasters of the war for Kyiv, which is the United States government. The U.S. government vehemently denied those allegations, and again, Western media outlets are insisting that the most likely suspect for having detonated a bomb in the skies above Moscow was Russia – not rogue elements, anti-Putin elements within Russia – but the Russian government itself attacked itself. 

Here are just a couple of examples here. First, from Fox News, we have it with Bill Hemmer, on May 4. Listen to what it is that they want you to believe. This is with General Jack Keane. 


(Video. Fox News. May 4, 2023)


Robert O'Brien: Well, it has the hallmarks of a Russian false flag operation. And keep in mind […] 


Let me just stop there for one second. That phrase triggers me. “Hallmarks of a Russian operation.” That was exactly the phrase that these same people, the people inside the U.S. intelligence community invoked when they tried, before the 2020 election, to convince you to ignore the revelations based on the Hunter Biden laptop because, according to the letter that 51 former intelligence officials signed – which we now know was initiated by former Obama CIA Director Mike Morrell – that had “the hallmarks of Russian disinformation.” They weren't even willing to say that it was Russian disinformation. They left it to the media to do that, and the media promptly did. But they used that exact phrase. It's a way of being able to assert things without having to present any evidence. It kind of looks like the kind of thing Russia would do. Russia often attacks itself. They constantly blow up their own infrastructure. This is a very Russian thing to do. This is how they try and phrase it. So, let's listen to this explanation. 


(Video. Fox News. May 4, 2023)


Robert O'Brien: Well, it has the hallmarks of a Russian false flag operation. And keep in mind, that's for a couple of reasons. One, the Russians just launched a massive drone attack on civilians in Ukraine, and they've been roundly criticized for it. 


So, another point worth noting here about this idea that these are the hallmarks of the Russian government is this attack was carried out by a drone, which is a hallmark, as I understand it, of another country, not Russia, trying to think of the country…. Oh, right. The United States – that during the Obama administration attacked eight different countries using drones, and since then, under the Trump administration, attacked several more and continues to attack at will using drones whenever it wants. I think, in fact, that if one sees a drone dropping a bomb in the middle of the night, in another country, one might say it is a hallmark of the behavior of a particular country. I would not, though, say that it's a hallmark of Russia, but instead, the country that uses drones to bomb other countries more than any other by far, which is the United States. 


(Video. Fox News. May 4, 2023)


Robert O'Brien: […] And I think this is maybe their way of trying to say, oh, no, the Ukrainians did this to us as well. Number two, it's inconsistent with the way Ukraine has fought the war so far. I mean, Ukraine could engage in guerilla activity in Moscow and other major Russian cities. It has not done so. It's had limited attacks on the Russian Federation, just limited to power stations on the border, which, again, they deny. So, this is inconsistent with how Ukraine has fought the war. And number three, if they're trying to make a splash and hit the Kremlin or assassinate Vladimir Putin, this – based on the photos that we're watching – it's a small drone with a small conventional charge and the Kremlin is a massive facility for those. You know, you've been there, Bill. It's a massive facility. Hitting it with a small drone with a limited conventional charge wasn't going to kill Vladimir Putin or do any real damage to the Kremlin. So, it's hard to believe that the Ukrainians would risk the backlash of that sort of attack. So, I would take this, as one time where I'll agree with Secretary Blinken, that you can take this with a grain of salt from the Russians. 


First of all, the suggestion that it's “somehow unusual” – there's an agreement between the Biden administration and these militaries from the Republican Party who often appear on Fox. It is a joke. They have complete agreement on most major foreign policy issues, including the war in Ukraine itself and the U.S. support for it. It's not oh, “this is the one time I'm going to go ahead and agree with Secretary Blinken.” But here they are in full agreement constantly on all these questions all the time. There is one hour on Fox where there was disagreement expressed at this war that was called The Tucker Carlson Show or Tucker Carlson Tonight, which no longer exists. There are still a couple of pockets here and there. A Jesse Morton show and Laura Ingraham Show. But by and large, Fox News during the day, the kind of people they put on are in full agreement with the Biden administration, just like the Republican Party establishment is in full agreement as well. But here they are just trying to look into the camera like it's the most normal thing in the world, like the most obvious explanation here, so obvious, is that Russia attacked itself. They're not saying that maybe we should investigate that possibility. Hold open. They're saying, obviously, that this is what it is. All signs point to Russia attacking itself. 

Here on CNN, the same thing is taking place with the former Obama CIA Director, Leon Panetta. It's not just the Republican and Democratic Party that come together and offer the same messaging we could show you 15, 20, 30 of these videos from Fox, MSNBC, CNN, from the news outlets in print in NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, all of which will just constantly bombard you with the same messaging over and over and over. They print whatever the U.S. security state feeds them. The language, when they tried to tell you that the Russians pulled up their own Pipeline back in March, was virtually identical and now, just with no evidence whatsoever, it just floods the airwaves and floods the pages of our mainstream media outlets with this notion that it was most likely the Russians who blew up this pipeline. 

I'm about to bring Michael Tracey on. Before we do, let me show you this video from Jake Tapper so you can hear what was said on CNN and how identical it was to what was said on Fox and almost every other network and former CIA. 


(Video. “The Lead”. CNN. May 4, 2023)


J. Tapper: Secretary Panetta, sources tell CNN that U.S. officials had no warning that an attack like this was coming and that the Ukrainians assure them privately they had nothing to do with it. What's your take? 


Secretary Panetta: I think this really does smell like a false flag operation on the part of the Russians. A diversion, if you will. And if somebody was really trying to make an effort at an assassination attempt, it was pretty far-fetched. I've been to the Kremlin. The Kremlin is a fortress, and Putin doesn't exactly take walks around the Kremlin. There's no Rose Garden at the Kremlin. So, this is clearly an allegation that is false. I don't think there's a lot of truth to it and, at most, it probably is one of these diversionary things that kind of marks the beginning of the spring offensives that we're going to see pretty soon. 

Do you see who is constantly on these networks telling you what to think about world events on the news? Former heads of the CIA, former generals, senior officials at the Pentagon. These are the people in the United States who have commandeered control of our major news outlets and who constantly are telling you what it is that you should think, how it is that you should understand world events, like the most natural thing in the world: “In order to understand what happened, let's bring on the former CIA director and he's going to tell you who really is behind this.” And with no evidence at all, they just use this phrase “false flag” that if you use in any other context to suggest that maybe the United States government is responsible for an attack, that they're blaming on others, you will be instantly relegated to the fringes of conspiracy, as a conspiracy theorist. You will have your career destroyed for even suggesting there may be such a thing as a false flag operation when carried out by the United States government. But look at how casually they assert that when it comes to Russia. 

I'm going to show you a couple of examples here before we bring on the increasingly agitated Michael Tracey, whom I see in my peripheral vision getting all irritated because he has so much more important things to say and he can't believe I'm talking so long while he has to wait here.

 For example, from Newsweek, in February 2023, they compiled an entire long list of all the times that our media accused Russia of “planning ‘false flag’ attacks on the eve of the Ukraine war anniversary.” 

From The New York Post, in November 2022, the headline “Russia planning false Flag Attacks on ally Belarus to drag it into war: Ukraine Intel.” So, Ukrainian Intelligence officials told The New York Post that Russia was going to attack Belarus, pretending Ukraine did it to drag them into the war and then it makes the media and they treat it as something serious. 

The Daily Beast in October 2022, “Russia’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Warnings Slammed as ‘False Flag’.” An entire article says that Russia is preparing the world to attack itself with a radiological weapon that they will blame on Ukraine but, in reality, it will actually come from Russia. 

And then finally here, from the Associated Press, February 2022, “U.S. says new intel shows Russia plotting false flag attack.” 

So, it's just a constant barrage of allegations that Russia is preparing to attack itself, has attacked itself, destroying its own infrastructure but, of course, any kind of even implication or questioning or suggestion that the United States might do that will destroy your career and has destroyed many people's careers for having suggested that as well. 



All right. It's time to bring Michael Tracey on. I can see that he's not doing well over there, off-camera. 


G. Greenwald: Michael, thank you so much for joining us. It's always great to see you. 


Michael Tracey: Well, thank you so much, Glenn, for needling me while I was hamstrung from responding. That really helped me. 


G. Greenwald: That's the best part of having your own show. I mean, if I didn't do that, I'd be squandering the main value. So let me ask you. 


Michael Tracey: I'm envious of that. 


G. Greenwald: We just listened to CNN bring on senior national security officials who act like – it's just awesome – to raise it basically, like the most obvious explanation is Russia attacked itself just like they did with the pipeline. What do you make of this explosion that happened over the Kremlin on Wednesday night? 


Michael Tracey: Well, it wasn't even just the pipeline. I mean, there's been a litany of accusations thrust out into the information space, making this claim that Russia was imminently on the verge of carrying out some sort of “false flag” attack. Remember, there was an utter conviction on the part of people that Russia was shelling the nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia that its own forces were occupying. So, it was shelling a unit of its own military in order to, I don't know, kill them via radiation poisoning or something. And then, lo and behold, a couple of months later, the Times of London, for whatever reason – before that, I guess – they gave a fairly exhaustive firsthand account of how “No, there was no Russian kind of deception in that they decided to bomb themselves. It was a Ukraine offensive where there was a Ukraine combat mission to strike the nuclear plant.” But anyway, I had to respond to that or had to address Robert O'Brien. I hadn't heard that particular clip. Robert O'Brien, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, is either lying or is so wildly misinformed that he should probably consider a career change, where he's not running around bandying about the title of former national security adviser. I should advise it like Tiddledy Winks or Hopscotch or something a little bit more within his wheelhouse because I just pulled up the New York Times from December of 2022, as I was listening to that, just to make sure I had this 100% right. Does Robert O'Brien not read The New York Times? You know, you kind of have to do it on occasion if you want to get some information that otherwise you may not be privy to, because they are the recipients of tons of these leaks and so forth. But this one wasn't even a leak. This was just The New York Times in a news article, which is – and this is rare for them – saying “Ukraine executed its most brazen attack into Russian territory in the nine-month war on Monday, targeting two military bases hundreds of miles inside the country with drones.” Robert O'Brien said, oh, yeah, they might do a few attacks here and there on the border, which, by the way, would also contravene the assurances that have been given by the Biden administration as to whether the U.S. was going to countenance attacks inside territorial Russia. But leaving that aside, it's just demonstrably false in the most straightforward possible ways that we have it on record and U.S. officials confirm this – that Ukraine has committed very long-range strikes in Russia. 


G. Greenwald: Not only that. Well, let me just interject there, just to give you a couple of other examples as well. Just a month ago, a leading pro-war nationalist journalist was killed, was murdered, when a bomb that was handed to him detonated in a cafe in St Petersburg, a completely civilian infrastructure, and blew up and killed him and injured 17 other people. The Ukrainians openly celebrated it. Several months earlier, there was a terrorist attack on a car carried out, with the target being a similar type of nationalist, pro-war, influential journalist inside Russia. His car was blown up. He was not in the car. His daughter was. The Ukrainians celebrated that as well. So, the idea that it's somehow out of character for the Ukrainians to try and carry out attacks on Russian soil as part of this war is, as you say, just an absolute brazen lie. And yet it was the linchpin of his argument on [CNN] about why we should believe that it's most likely Ukraine or the Russians who did this attack while Bill Hemmer sat there and just nodded mindlessly. 


Michael Tracey: And that attack on the daughter of Dugin, so Dugina was the daughter's name, 26 or 27, in her twenties, blown up, blown to bits in a car by a car-bomb assassination in the outskirts of Moscow. Initially, Ukraine government officials vociferously denied that they carried out that attack. One of them said that Ukraine is not a terrorist state, therefore, how could you possibly ever believe that we might have carried out this attack? A few weeks later, the New York Times receives a leak from anonymous sources, which you got to take with a grain of salt but this was an admission against interest, right? Because what the anonymous sources were desperately pleading with The New York Times to disseminate was effectively a warning that the United States had concluded or that the intelligence services had concluded that factions of the Ukraine state actually carried out that assassination car bombing, which its public representatives in Ukraine had denounced the idea that they could be accused of doing because it would mean that they were a terrorist state. And this goes on and on and on. Before the invasion was launched in February of last year, there was an amazing clip – I don't know if you remember this – Matt Leigh, the Associated Press journalist, was questioning, I think it was Ned Price. 


G. Greenwald: Ned Price. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. 


Michael Tracey: And Matt Leigh, I'm paraphrasing, said something like, “You know, you're making this extremely jarring allegation about Russia being on the verge of committing a false flag attack and you're not providing any evidence for it. So how are we as journalists supposed to process this information and report on it with any semblance of like epistemic scruples?” And Lee even characterized the claims at that point coming out of the Biden administration as verging on “Alex Jones territory” because it is true that by and large, before 2022, people who are serious journalists or pundits or think tankers or whatever wouldn't get caught dead uttering the phrase ‘false flag’ because it was […] 


G. Greenwald: It is a staple of Alex Jones’ program. I mean, it's also something that radicals on the left and the right who are very critical of U.S. foreign policy, frequently accuse the United States of doing in order to create a just cause for some sort of, you know, use of chemical weapons in Syria that might provoke the United States government or justify the United States government to bomb Assad even further, and then become their surfaced allegations that it's likely the United States that are behind it. And anyone who dares suggest that the United States government, the CIA, would ever do a false flag operation to advance its own interests is immediately and permanently discredited as a crazed conspiracy theorist, the mere utterance of that phrase, as you say, was the providence of Alex Jones, and people who were kind of extremists on the left and the right who get booted off every mainstream platform. And here these people are with the most, I mean, brazen and casual posture, asserting that this is so – even though Michael, we showed this last night, I don't know if you've seen this – the Ukrainians commissioned a stamp commemorating the attack with a Ukrainian soldier sticking his middle finger up at the Kremlin while it's on fire. You would think if the Ukrainians were really eager to avoid the perception that they were behind the attack on the Kremlin, they would not be issuing commemorative stamps celebrating this attack. But none of this gets included in the discourse. 


Michael Tracey: Here's what I think is the most critical point. That question that was posed by Matt Lee to Ned Price in February 2022, a few weeks before the invasion commenced – he was referring to claims that were then being pumped out into the media about some imminent Russian false flag. Those claims proved false. There was no Russian false flag, as was being alleged at the time by U.S. government officials and as was being then transmitted across the informational landscape, as though it were some sort of established fact or as though it had enough credibility to just be incredulously propagated. I'm not aware of a single instance in which U.S. government officials, think tankers, or people who feel like they have some sort of amateur intelligence and analysis expertise, that any single time that these allegations have been made since the beginning of last year, have they actually been borne out and has Russia committed the false flag attack that we're being told they are sure to be on the verge of coming out – just hasn't happened. For better or worse, probably worse if you're not fond of the war having started, but Putin didn't engineer some kind of phony pretext to launch the war. He laid out his rationale for why he felt the war was justified. And it wasn't as though some sort of, like staged atrocity needed to be, you know, confabulated or something. And this happens over and over and over. And one of the main sources of this constant peddling of false flag allegations is the Institute for the Study of War, which is the think tank in Washington, D.C., founded in 2007, specifically to furnish to the George W. Bush administration an intellectual underpinning for them carrying out the surge, meaning the escalation of the Iraq war in 2006-2007. 


G. Greenwald: [Let’s] explain that for a little bit. So, in 2006, there was a very growing sentiment against the war in Iraq because the promise was it would last weeks. That was Bill Kristol's promise. That was the promise of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and all those people at the time. And 2006 was, you know, three, three and a half full years of hardcore, heavy combat, and a serious insurgency that had trapped the United States inside Iraq, we were nowhere near close to achieving our goals. There were thousands of U.S. soldiers being killed, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis being killed. And the Democrats successfully won the 2006 midterm election by promising to cut off funding for the Iraq war, which, of course, they promptly abandoned the minute that Nancy Pelosi ascended to the speakership. When the Democrats won that mid-term election. 


Michael Tracey: Glenn! Quickly parallel there to what the Republicans are doing under Kevin McCarthy. 


G. Greenwald: Absolutely. Kevin McCarthy, before the midterm, tried to send out signals to convince his base that he was going to impose some limits on Biden's funding of the war in Ukraine. And the minute the Republicans squeaked by and won that election and then Kevin McCarthy got enough votes just barely to become speaker, he basically turned around and said, “Of course, I didn't believe any of that. Of course, I've always been a hardcore supporter of the war in Ukraine, and I intend to fully fund Joe Biden's war and proxy war in Ukraine exactly the way Nancy Pelosi funded it in 2006.” Although Pelosi really was against the war – she voted against it from the start, arguing against it – but they wanted the war to continue because they wanted to be able to run against the war in 2008 because they knew it would help them win, which it did. That was a major reason why Obama was able to beat John McCain, which is almost more cynical and disgusting. But the argument that year before the Surge was the answer of the foreign policy establishment and the neoconservatives to say, “We know you hate this war, we know you're sick of it, we know you think that we can't win but we have this theory now, it's called The Surge, we're going to just send – I don't know how many it was – 70,000-80,000 more soldiers into Iraq. They're going to, you know, just kind of amplify the force to such an extent that we're going to destroy the insurgency and finally install the democratic regime in Iraq, that had long been promised, and the think tank that was created to create, as you say, the intellectual underpinning for that strategy. So, tell us about who this think tank is. They're still around and they're now fueling the war in Ukraine with the same kind of theoretical justification. So, tell us a little bit about that think tank and what they're doing. 


Michael Tracey: Right. And it's not that they're just still around, they're probably more prominent than ever. 


G. Greenwald: Yeah, certainly. Yeah, 


Michael Tracey: Of course, David Petraeus was the general who was appointed by Bush to execute that so-called Surge in Iraq. And guess who sits on the board as we speak of the Institute for the Study of War? That's right! David Petraeus, along with Bill Kristol, along with Jack Keane, along with Joe Lieberman, I mean, some of the most […] 


G. Greenwald: Michael, just a word on David Petraeus as well. David Petraeus’s career ended because he took – I don't just mean classified documents, I don't mean top secret documents of the kind this Discord leaker leaked, like just ordinary top secret documents – I mean, like the genuinely most sensitive documents in the United States pantheon, top secret documents, and handed it to his mistress to allow her to write a hagiography of him and got caught doing it, got a slap on the wrist, didn't spend a single day in prison, and is now on all these boards and the faculty of Harvard making enormous sums of money. Even though the leaks and the breaches of classified information that he was responsible for were infinitely more serious than all of these people who go to prison for years at a time. You're provoking me with all this history. But I think it's important to remember this because is the case that, as you get older, you realize that what you think is common knowledge because you lived through it. Increasingly, every year that goes by, there are more and more people who don't know about it and didn't live through it. And therefore, it's really worth revisiting. But go ahead with this thing. 


Michael Tracey: Somebody who's like 24 years old today, who wouldn't have necessarily known that Petraeus had resigned from the CIA when he was director for these classified information breaches. If you're 23 today and you're 24 today, you would've been like, you know, 13 […]


G. Greenwald: Let alone all the stuff about the Iraq war, you know, which is now 20 years old.


Michael Tracey: Right. This is a slight tangent, but I'll make it brief. David Petraeus told me personally recently – and maybe I shouldn't divulge this, but I can't restrain myself because I was going to be saving it for something – that he is functioning as a conduit of the Biden administration, because he's a former official, to issue statements as a quasi-administration figure, because oftentimes those who are in government actively cannot be quite as fulsome in what they want to put out there in the public domain. And so, if you recall or if you don't recall this, you should go look it up, in October of last year, David Petraeus was on the ABC Sunday Show and made a shocking statement, which is that if, he warned, if Russia commits any kind of nuclear attack inside Ukraine, even if it doesn't intend, on any NATO member state, even if it's a small the smallest of tactical nuclear weapons, I'm saying that that wouldn't be a catastrophe, probably but this is what he was emphasizing. It doesn't matter the scale of the attack, what will happen straight away, according to Petraeus. And he was just saying this as fact, as though he was reciting a formal policy document. He was saying that the U.S. will launch a massive kinetic strike on the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea, on all their force presences in Ukraine, and basically – eventually start World War III. That's what David Petraeus was saying had been relayed to Putin by U.S. government officials as to what the consequence would be in the event of some sort of incident in Ukraine. And so, David Petraeus, a decade before, got booted out of the CIA as a director because he was so careless with his possession of classified material, and yet, I'm pretty sure that whatever he was communicating in public probably had its genesis in some rather classified material. 


G. Greenwald: Right. Although probably dispatched to deliver this message. 

Now, this is what I need to know. I want to get to the think tank and just create the context for it, because that's where we were started and we kind of got off on multiple tangents. I would say the fall was 70% yours, 30% mine, maybe 80/20. But the think tank itself is so notable because like […] 


Michael Tracey: I’m going to poll your viewers and see if they agree with that. 


G. Greenwald: I got excited by the Surge and not by David Petraeus. I think one of the things that are so vital to realize is that all those people responsible for all of those horrific abuses and policy disasters that followed the 9/11 attack for years were the people who had abandoned themselves largely to the Republican Party. A lot of them were very cooperative with the Democrats. There were all kinds of Democrats, obviously, on board with the war in Iraq – Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, the most prominent Democrats, in fact, there were people who were supportive of all these classified programs that became so controversial, like Guantanamo and torture and NSA spying and the rest. But it was largely the Republican Party that was the primary vessel for carrying out these policies. They got completely discredited. The election of Obama was facilitated in large part based on a promise to uproot all of these promises of the War on Terror, none of which happened. But the people responsible, these neocons, these hard-core militaries did get sufficiently discredited to the point where they haven't won another election since. In 2016, Trump ran by running opposition to them, by condemning them, and that's what drove them back into the Democratic Party, which is where they now reside and where they continue, as you said, to exert more influence than ever. They just switched parties to the party that became more hospitable to them so that no matter who they vote for, they thought they were voting for Obama to get rid of these people. And yet, under Obama, the person who was running Ukraine was Victoria Nuland, who first worked for Hillary Clinton's State Department and then for John Kerry’s State Department, even though she was Cheney's senior adviser for the war in Iraq. So, what is the relationship of this think tank to the new Victoria Nuland and to the entire neocon world? 

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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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