Glenn Greenwald
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Is Claudine Gay’s Ouster Really a Victory for the Right? PLUS: Biden Illegally Arms Israel—And Pushes for a Cataclysmic Clash w/ Yemen & Iran [Part 1 of 2]
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January 04, 2024
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Good evening. It's January 3, 2024. Happy New Year to everyone. 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 Ramble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

Tonight: less than a month after the University of Pennsylvania forced the resignation of its university president, Liz McGill, Harvard yesterday fired its president, Claudine Gay. Exactly like McGill, Gay became the target of intense public pressure campaigns after both of them, along with MIT President Sally Kornbluth, were hauled before Congress to be interrogated about allegations of rising bigotry on their campuses. Not just any bigotry, but anti-Semitism in particular. In the wake of that congressional testimony, which was condemned not only by pro-Israel conservatives but also by Democratic Party elected officials and even the Biden White House, they all agreed, apparently, in Washington, that these university presidents had done an extremely poor and even disgraceful job in answering questions about Israel and anti-Semitism. A campaign was lodged demanding the firing of all three of them. 

Gay's resignation yesterday came after conservative journalists and activists proved persuasively that Gay had committed serious plagiarism. But one has to be extremely naive to believe that that was the reason Gay was forced to resign, and even more naive to believe that this concern about integrity in academic writing was what motivated the campaign against her. Indeed, McGill, the Penn president, was forced out by the very same faction, despite no plagiarism allegations of any kind. Now, the leader of this campaign, the real leader, the billionaire hedge fund manager and fanatical Israel supporter Bill Ackman, is already targeting Kornbluth who, like McGill at Penn, also does not have a plagiarism scandal, but she does have an Israel and anti-Semitism scandal. 

American elites occupying prestigious positions are known for many things. Accountability is not one of them. It is extremely rare that someone who occupies such a lofty height in American institutions of authority is brought down this way, let alone two in less than a month. And it is rarer still for that to happen due to some kind of ethical transgression. Anyone paying even minimal attention to events in the United States over the past couple of decades would tackle with laughter the suggestion that the people at the helm of the country's most powerful institutions get fired or ousted because they are guilty of ethical misconduct. 

What elites do lose their job over, however, are two things: offending those with even greater power than they have, such as the billionaire Bill Ackman and his friends, or crossing or appearing to cross ideological red lines that are the real taboos in American society. Many people on the right are celebrating because they seem to have convinced themselves that they scored some grand victory for their side by taking out the presidents of these two universities. But is this really a victory for the American right or is this simply yet another victory for the sectors of American political and financial establishment power? His views on Israel happened to fully align with the majority of American conservatives in this case who have succeeded in imposing even more robust limits on the range of views that may and may not be expressed on college campuses in the United States. We'll look at all the relevant events and the facts to answer that question. 

Then: from the start of Israel's war in Gaza, the weapons and bombs that Israel has been using have been not just paid for by the United States and therefore by American citizens but have been furnished directly from the Pentagon stockpiles—a stockpile already heavily depleted due to the U.S. spending 18 months financing and arming the war in Ukraine. Remember that war? Regardless of one's views on having the U.S. fund Israel's wars or not, there are laws barring presidents from transferring lethal arms of this kind without congressional approval. There are also laws requiring congressional approval for a president to deploy military force in a region like the Middle East, as the Biden administration has been doing in the Red Sea while it threatens Yemen as retaliation for attacks on commercial ships. 

I know from experience that when it comes to war, some people get very excited whenever it comes time for the U.S. to bomb things and blow things up. Questions of legality and constitutionality seem boring and beside the point. But there are reasons, important ones, why the Constitution vests these war powers in Congress, and we should not tolerate a president simply ignoring constitutional limits in the law, especially when it comes to war—even if doing so in one case may be beneficial to Israel. 

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

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On evenings when Glenn doesn't have a show, is it possible for the community to watch documentaries together on the SU channel with the chat enabled? The following documentary is the type of documentary which I have in mind:

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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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THE WEEKLY UPDATE: MAY 13-17
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We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week on SYSTEM UPDATE. 

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: May 13-17
Weekly Recap

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

 

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MONDAY, MAY 13 - EPISODE 269

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

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:26)

Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

Outro (1:12:12)

 

TUESDAY, MAY 14 - EPISODE 270

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

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

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Intro (10:29)

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

Media Meltdown (48:28)

Hungary and China Strengthen Ties (57:50)

Outro (1:17:07)

 

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 15 - EPISODE 271

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

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WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (6:31)

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

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
  • Israel (48:34 - 58:40)
  • Columbia Student Protests (58:45 - 1:03:23)
  • China (1:03:24 - 1:10:23)

Outro (1:10:24)

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