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
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.