Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Hello, friends, welcome to the show, this episode, the podcast is brought to you by Woop Woop is a fitness tracker, the best fitness tracker in the known universe, and I wear it every single day.
It's fucking awesome. I love it.
Attracts your heart rate, resting heart rate, heart rate variability. It tells you how well you're performing, how well you're sleeping, how well you're recovering and it measures my sleep.
And that's one of the best things. It makes me accountable how much I'm sleeping and it gives me a recovery score in the morning based on how well I slept and how well my body's recovered from my workout. Again, it's based on your heart rate variability. It's based on what's actually happening in your body.
So instead of going I feel kind of good, I can check my woop woop.
I will say, dude, you're good to go.
You set target exertion goals and you set them based on your recovery. So you know how hard your workout should be. This is in the strain, coach, and based out how intense your day should be. And it lets you know how much sleep your body is going to need to recover from those workouts.
It's the best fitness tracker of ever use. I love it because it gives me real feedback that I can use and it tells me how.
Well, well, first of all, I'm in sober October this month, which I'm noticing. It's much easier to recover when you're not out there boozing.
But other things like whether I'm taking CBD, how well I'm eating all those things factor into how your body responds and how your body recovers. And with woop, you get actionable, real, live information that you can use to make great decisions. And for all listeners, this podcast group is offering 15 percent off all memberships, give up a shot. And if it's not for you, they offer a 30 day return policy. No questions asked. So head over to Woop.
That's W o p dotcom and tarragon our program at checkout and say fifteen percent off. Join Wub today and sleep better, recover faster and train smarter. We're also brought to you by CB DMD and their fantastic CBD products. This is an easy ad for me. I use their shit every single day. This morning I got up, ate some of their CBD gummies. I love their CBD gummies because it's like eating candy, but it's actually good for you.
I love their CBD balms. I love their Rickover bomb. It combines CBD with the blood flow enhancing compound histamine di hydrochloride to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and give you support you need where it matters most. If reduces some inflammation, it makes you feel groove.
I love their CBDs freeze with menthol, and I'm one of the things I love about it comes in a squeeze too, but it also comes in a row long.
I prefer the ROLLAN because I use it like a massage thing and I just dig it into my muscles. They just make great shit. I love their CBDs p.m. I love their CBD oil. I am a giant fan of CBD. It's one of the very best things that I've ever found to reduce inflammation. For me, it reduces anxiety. It makes me feel great. I just love it. I think it's fantastic for your body. There's a lot of evidence to back that up and to make it even easier for you to try their amazing tropicals and everything else CBD MD has to offer.
They're offering Jarry listeners twenty five percent off your next order when you use the promo code rogard at checkout. So that's CBD M.D. Dotcom. Use the promo code. Rogan for twenty five percent off your purchase. They're fucking amazing CBD products that CBD MD. We're also brought to you by Policy Genius. It's Halloween this month and Policy Genius would like to mark the occasion by making something less scary. Life insurance. Shopping for life insurance can seem like a daunting task, but policy genius makes it easy.
They combine a cutting edge insurance marketplace with help from licensed experts to save you time and money. And right now you can say 50 percent or more using policy genius to compare life insurance. And when you're shopping for a policy that could last more than a decade, those savings really start to add up.
And here's how it works.
First, you had the policy genius dotcom. In minutes, you can work out how much coverage you need and compare quotes from top insurers to find your best price policy genius. We'll compare policies starting at as little as one dollar a day, and you might even be eligible to skip the in-person medical exam. And once you apply, the policy genius team will handle all the paperwork and all the red tape. And the best part is they work for you, not the insurance company.
So if you hit any speed bumps during the application process, they'll take care of everything. And that kind of service has earned policy genius, a five star rating across over sixteen hundred reviews on Trust pilot and Google. So if you need life insurance, head to policy genius right now and get started, you could save fifty. Let me say that again because I didn't say Paul's genius dotcom.
So if you need life insurance, head to policy genius dotcom right now to get started, you could save fifty percent or more by comparing quotes policy genius when it comes to insurance. It's nice to get it right. We're also brought to you by athletic. Green's Athletic Greens is a fantastic supplement that I take on a regular basis. It's awesome. I'm one of the things I love about it is that you just mix it in a bottle, water, shake it up and you're good to go.
And it's filled with nutrients.
Athletic greens is super greens powder that contains 75 vitamins, minerals and whole foods sourced ingredients. And it's designed to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet with added prebiotics probiotics, adapted genes, digestive enzymes, super foods and more athletic greens is one of the most complete products on the market. And it tastes good. It's easy to take. I rip open a packet I poured in the water. I'm going to drink water anyway. And this way I've got my nutritional needs covered.
I've got my insurance, my nutritional insurance covered and athletic greens has been developed over ten years.
Is there fifty third iteration that continue to improve this one product? And they're very meticulous. It's all NSF certified for sport. I mean, they take their product very seriously. They're consistently testing it and auditing it to make sure that's what's on the label is actually in there.
It's lifestyle friendly, whether you eat keto, paleo vegan, dairy free, gluten free, there's no harmful chemicals, no GMOs, no funny additives.
It's great stuff. And again, it tastes good. It's not a struggle. Just rip it open, poured in there, shake it up and I'm good to go. And one thing that I always supplement with, particularly right now, is vitamin D. A lot of health experts are noting the importance of vitamin D and more studies are surfacing around its direct impact on supporting the immune system. Well, athletic greens is including up to a year's supply of their vitamin D liquid dropper with your first purchase.
It's an awesome company. They have a fantastic product. And if you are interested in upping your daily health routine and you want to use something that's easy to maintain as a daily habit, you want athletic greens, they deliver straight to your door. It tastes great.
It's super hard for high quality fuck cunt bag. I was so close. Let me just do that part again, so if you're interested in upgrading your daily health routine, you want to use something that's easy to maintain is a daily habit. You want athletic greens. They deliver it straight to your door. It tastes great. It's super high quality. And you'll be hard pressed to find a more complete formula, whether you're in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe or the U.K., jump on over to athletic Greens Dotcom Rogan and claim a special offer today and get their vitamin D liquid dropper for free with your first purchase.
That's up to a year's supply of immune boosting vitamin D. Combined with their daily greens, some serious nutritional insurance again, go to athletic Greens Dotcom Slash Rogen to claim this special offer today. My guest today is one of my personal favorite journalists. He's an American journalist who now lives in Brazil, is a former attorney and is probably best known for the Edward Snowden case.
He is the guy that released that story.
He is the great and powerful Glenn Greenwald government podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, trained by Joe and podcast by night all day.
Hello, Glenn. Hello, Joe Rogan.
How are you? I'm great, man. It's great to finally make your acquaintance acquaintance, digitally at least. Yeah, yeah, we've been trying for a while I would for the pandemic, so I'm glad we're at least finally able to do this version of it.
Yeah, I hope we do it in person eventually. That would be nice for sure. What's it like down in Brazil? In general, I've been everything that's going on, like right now, I've been to Brazil multiple times, I love it down there. Yeah, I mean, so obviously, it's a fraught situation politically because the country in twenty eighteen elected, you know, a genuine fanatic, someone who explicitly prefers the military dictatorship that ruled the country until nineteen eighty five as opposed to democracy, which succeeded it gyroball scenario.
And then beyond that, the coronavirus has hit this country almost harder than any other, probably just right after the United States. But because of extreme poverty here and income inequality, you could probably make the case that it's hit this country harder than any other. So politically, in terms of the pandemic and then, of course, economically, things are pretty bleak. But at the same time, Brazil, which is what made me fall in love with it in the first place, is always this country is you know, if you visited so bursting full of vibrancy and energy and potential and uniqueness, that I'm always kind of optimistic about it.
No matter how grim things seem to be, they're very, very friendly people. I really love it down there. It's I first went there in 2003 for the Abu Dhabi World Jujitsu Championships and so. Right.
Yeah, because I guess through the fighting that you like is super popular here. Right. There are a lot of Brazilian. Oh yeah. Fighters and. Oh yeah.
The original UFC fighter was always crazy, who's a member of the famous Gracy clan that came out of Rio. So yeah, I've been going there for 17 years. I really do love it down there.
You know, it's funny, they it is I mean, it's a culture, as you say, where things are, where the people are super nice. And before I lived here, I lived in Manhattan where I lived and worked, which is pretty much the exact polar opposite of Brazil in terms of the mentality. The people I remember, you know, I used to come to Rio when I first started coming here, you would go to the grocery store or the supermarket and there'd be a line of like eight people.
And the people in line would just stop and chat with the cashier for like three minutes. And I would be ready to have an aneurysm because I'd come from Manhattan where, you know, like you're behind somebody in the ATM line and they, like, accidentally put the wrong button or the wrong password. Do you want to murder them for wasting four seconds of your life? And then after a while, you know, I started realizing, look, if I'm going to live here, I need to accept that kind of cultural vibe.
And it really just taught me a lot about the need not to have to maximize the utility of every moment.
Yeah, I have a friend who moved down there from Los Angeles to do jujitsu, and he said the first thing you have to accept is that your own Brazil time, they are just so late. If you need anything to get done, if you need a plumber and he's supposed to be there at ten, he might not be there till one. And when he's there, he's going to be real casual about it. And it might not get done for weeks and weeks.
Something that you can get done in L.A. in a couple of hours. It's just it is what it is. You just got to accept it. They're just more laid back. They're not in a rush.
Yeah, I asked many people, many Brazilians here, why do you bother having the word for fast in Portuguese? And so it applies to nothing.
And yeah, it's true. And you can decide that that's what you hate about it. For me, just the complete lack of organization or urgency in terms of time is one of the things I love about it.
So being there and you were there living there when you broke the Snowden interview, the Snowden.
Yeah, I've been living here right. Since 2005. So the Snowden story was twenty thirteen. Did that did you feel this is what I've always wanted to ask you about this. Did you feel physically in danger when that was happening? Because that was such a gigantic moment and so terrifying for most Americans that we're now sure that the government had access to our e-mails and our phone records and and it was all broken by by you and Snowden. And I wondered, like, were you worried for your your safety?
Yeah, for sure, I mean, for one thing, you know, at the time we were living in a part of Rio that was very isolated, we were living literally on a mountain in the middle of the woods. And, you know, I had with me at all times physically on my person 14 or 15 thumb drives that contained hundreds of thousands, if not more. I've never quantified it on purpose.
You know, of the most sensitive documents possessed by the most powerful government on the planet, the most secretive agency within that government. And I would carry them on my person at all times. You know, I would go to the supermarket and just start laughing because on my back would be a backpack filled with top secret CIA and NSA documents. And obviously, there were a lot of people who wanted to get their hands on those documents, not just the US government, to take them back, or they realized at some point that that would be impossible.
But other governments, non-government actors. But then on top of that, you know, every story that we were doing was affecting markets.
It was affecting diplomatic relations. So there was obviously a big, big interest and a lot of intelligence agencies around the world. And what I was doing and, you know, felt monitored all the time because I was, you know, not like the kind of paranoid feeling of monitoring, but the actual being monitored, as has been confirmed by a lot of different ways. But, you know, the biggest concern at the time was that the US government, being the U.S. government, got very bullying and very threatening and was explicitly and implicitly both in public and private, making clear that if I left Brazil, there was a good chance that they would try and arrest me.
I mean, remember how extreme they were with Snowden? They brought down the plane of the president of Bolivia when he was coming back from Moscow on the suspicion that he might have been taking Snowden with them.
And, of course, he wasn't. But that's how extreme they were. So I had to I stayed in Brazil for about 10 months and didn't feel safe leaving. The Justice Department was telling my lawyers if he leaves and shows up at any airport, we're going to arrest him. And the Brazilian government was super protective of us because a lot of that Snowden reporting revealed how the NSA and the UK and Canada were spying on Brazilian institutions, Brazilian oil companies, the president of Brazil, Dilma Dilma Rousseff, half the population.
So in Brazil, this reporting was looked at very favorably. And so the government, the Senate offered a lot of protection. So I just felt very safe in Brazil and very unsafe elsewhere.
Well, it's very nice that you felt safe in Brazil. It's very nice that they were protecting you. Do they have a history of monitoring their people the same way the United States does? Well, so, you know, as I referenced earlier, the history of Brazil, the recent political history is a really dark one, but relevant to the US and they came from the 1950s, early 1960s. They were building the first really vibrant democracy in Latin America, and they were steadfastly attempting to remain neutral in the endless Soviet Union, U.S. Cold War.
But in 1963 and 64, they had this kind of center left president that the U.S. thought was becoming a little too close to Moscow, a little bit too socialist, you know, nothing communist, but just very kind of mild reforms like rent control and land reform and some nationalization of companies to try and assuage the really brutal income inequality that has plagued the country forever. And so the US government, first under John Kennedy and then under Lyndon Johnson, worked with right wing Brazilian generals to overthrow that democratically elected government violently.
And they imposed a military dictatorship for the next 21 years, of which the current Brazilian president gyroball scenario was apart as an Army captain.
And those are really dark days. You know, dissidents were murdered, journalists were killed and exiled. Everybody was spied upon with the help of the CIA and MI5 and MI6 and the U.K. And so a lot of that kind of endures that relationship between the CIA and the Brazilian government. But since 1985, when it democratized, it's kind of it's become once again a model of liberal democracy. So, no, I don't know. Government in the world is obsessed with spying on the world like the US is.
But, yeah, there's a pretty dark underbelly like there is in any major country in Brazil of kind of like a deep state or an intelligence community, whatever you want to call it. That definitely, you know, uses the dark arts to maintain control over the population.
When you hit send, when you finally released, when you when you put that story out, what was the feeling like? Was there ever a, oh, shit, what have I done moment?
No, there's probably should have been.
And if I were like healthier from a mental health perspective, there would have been a bigger one of those.
But, you know, it was we were I was in Hong Kong, first of all, you know, we had flown there to meet to meet Snowden.
And I wasn't sleeping at all. I mean, obviously, I knew it was going to be one of the biggest stories of of that generation, if not the biggest. And I had spent years, Joe, you know, like writing about the NSA and, you know, kind of trying to warn people that it seemed like it was being a lot more invasive and a lot more aggressive about monitoring our private communications and our private activities domestically than either the law permitted or anyone knew.
But it was very difficult to sound that alarm because everything was done behind a wall of secrecy. And so when I finally got these documents in my hand, you know, it was like the dream, right? It's why you go into journalism, especially for me to be able to show the world that everything was so much more extreme than even I thought, that I just wanted to get them out in the world as soon as possible, like any delay at all on the part of The Guardian, which was the newspaper with which I was working at the time and reporting, you know, drove me into a rage.
I just felt like the world deserved to see these documents.
And also, you know, I was so inspired by by by Snowden. I mean, you've talked to him, I think, twice now. So, you know, like, you know, he's just twenty nine year old kid at the time who pretty much gambled, we thought.
Ninety five percent likelihood he was going to end up in prison, not for a few years, but for the rest of his life and like not in a nice prison, but in the kind of person that you go and when they accuse you of jeopardizing American national security.
But he did it because he believed in the cause. Like that was not the bullshit reason, like not the movie script or anything like that was his genuine, which shocked me. Right. I was this jaded reporter who kept looking for the real motive, but that was it. There was no other motive. And so I just felt like I owed him such a duty and kind of inspired by his example. I thought, you know, if he's willing to go to prison for the rest of his life and he chose me to work with him, you know, I kind of courage kind of became infectious.
And we kind of adopted this trench bunker mentality, like we were in this together and we were going to fight everybody. And that became the energy much more. And that kind of drowned out the fears that probably were irrational for us to have. I felt very honored and very, very fortunate to be able to talk to him. And I think he's a very noble person, unusually noble. And you in long form conversations, if if there was any hint of something different, I really believe it would have leaked out.
He really is that guy. And I think history, when we look upon this case, I mean, the documentary was pretty excellent that showed. Although the moments leading up to you releasing the story, but I think these conversations with him, I just feel very fortunate to have that platform where he's willing to come on and talk for hours at a time and express his thoughts on just on spying in general, national security issues and all these situations that he faced up to.
And now currently because of that, he's. It's a it's a very it's embarrassing that this is the world that we live in and this is the country that we live in, that that man who I really genuinely believe is a hero is now a Russian citizen forever. Yeah, I mean, hopefully there's an opportunity just because of all the bizarre, vindictive impulses that Trump has and the fact that by complete coincidence, the people who want Snowden to be in Russia forever or to rot in prison happen to be Trump's enemies as well, that I'm hoping there's an opportunity to persuade Trump after the election, particularly if he loses.
But even if he doesn't, that he should follow through on what he's now twice bizarrely raised on his own, which was the prospect of pardoning Snowden. It's something and probably my top priority in the world at the moment.
And the reason is, is what you just said, which is, you know, we were so accustomed to people doing things for just misguided reasons, corrupted reasons, people lying and deceiving about why they're doing things about presenting a false version of who they are. And that's the thing is, you know, you talk to him for those hours. When I got to Hong Kong, you know, before becoming a journalist, I was a litigator in Manhattan.
And I use those skills, you know, I mean, I kind of created a little mini Guantanamo where I just, like, put them in front of me and just crush them for eight hours straight, three different, you know, three straight days without letting you even have a glass of water or go to the bathroom, because I really wanted to know what was actually motivating him. Who was this person to whom I was about to tie myself and my reputation and credibility internally.
And he really is somebody who, you know and like to think about it, too, is like that. So amazing about it is that oftentimes people who leak secrets or who become a source that, you know, wants to expose secrets and are willing to go to prison are often kind of fucked up. People right there like alienated from society. They feel persecuted and mistreated. They don't have much going on in their lives and therefore don't feel like they have a lot to risk.
Snowden was exactly the opposite. You know, he had at the time this incredibly beautiful and brilliant girlfriend who today is his wife. They had been together for years. And in order to do what he did, he had to deceive her. He had to leave the country and not tell her what he was doing because he wanted to make certain that when the government knocked on her door, she could truthfully say she knew nothing about it because he knew they would go after her if if they could tie her to it.
He had a great job. He was making a lot of money. You know, he was a high school dropout, but had taught himself these really coveted skills.
So he had a great career ahead of him, a mother and a father who both love him, very stable home life. He had none of those traits, you know, that typically are used to demonize people who do this, which is why I knew he was going to be gold from a media perspective and to be able to prevent the government from demonizing him in the way they like to do. But more importantly, in that, like leaving aside all the perception stuff and all the PR and media stuff, you know, he's probably the person or one of the people certainly I admire most in this world in all the time I've lived.
And what's so unbelievable, you know, people always say to me, oh, poor Snowden, he's trapped in Russia.
He can't come home. He's facing multiple felony charges.
He's been separated from his, all of which is true.
But like I also always say that he's the person who I know in this world who when he puts his head down on his pillow at night, he falls asleep most easily because there's something about knowing that you you face this dangerous choice and you chose the right thing. I mean, in Hong Kong, as I said, we were never I was never sleeping. My colleague or purchase was never sleeping like an hour or two with the aid, a very strong sleep narcotics.
And, you know, he would say like at nine thirty, he would yawn. He would say, OK, guys, I think I'm going to hit the hay like he had no care in the world. And that was I was like, what the fuck? And you would like sleep for eight hours. You know what? He would like to have a little coffee, but that's what that, you know, clean conscience does to a person, even with a clean conscience.
I just don't understand the weight of the stress that he was under, how I don't understand how he could be so calm. He I mean, he didn't have stress. That's what's so bizarre. I mean, you saw in the film, right, in the documentary Citizen Four, where like, you know, because we had no idea what the CIA knew, we had no idea what the Chinese government we knew. We had no idea what the Hong Kong authorities knew.
We were waiting. I was always waiting for the door to be kicked in at any moment, you know, and for him at least, if not the rest of us, in order to be taken away. And like I said, I mean, our working assumption the whole time was that there was as excited as I was, the one thing that was kind of a dark cloud that hovered over it all the time was that this person who I had now become connected with and developed an admiration for, I was certain at any moment he was going to be in the hands of the US government and the next time I would see him would be on television in an orange jumpsuit and shackles and a courtroom getting ready to be sentenced to like 50 years in prison.
And one of those hellholes that the US specializes in, where you spend twenty three and a half hours a day alone in your cell and you have 30 days, 30 minutes a day where you get to walk in a little room in the sun to satisfy legal requirements. And that was going to be him for the rest of his life. He got very lucky. I mean, he almost did end up that way. So for me, I was concerned for him, stress for him.
And but he was at peace with the fact that that was the path he chose. I mean, it wasn't like, you know, and that was really important for me to know that he had thought through all the likely consequences. I didn't want to feel like I was using somebodies work product who hadn't given full thought to what it is that they had gotten themselves into. And it was only once I became very you know, he he could cite the statutes with which they were going to charge him and what the legal defenses that were available were.
So he had given extreme thought to this. He's an adult and he made that choice. And it was amazing to this very day. He's completely at peace with it.
It's stunning. It's also stunning the lack of anger from the American people, the apathy and the sort of just acceptance that even though it has been deemed illegal, what the NSA was doing, that he exposed illegal activity, that they still would punish him if they caught him. And everybody's like, you know, so like, what is government then? If government is a group of people that are allowed to do something that has absolutely been deemed illegal by the courts.
And if you catch them doing this illegal thing and then reported and everyone agrees that it's wrong, everyone agrees it's unconstitutional, but yet if they get you, they will still put you in jail, like, what the fuck is government? What is government? Right. But not only that. Right.
Not only is the person who exposes what are crimes, what courts have said our crime is, not only is that person punished as though they've done something wrong, when in reality they're owed the gratitude. Right. Of the entire country for stopping criminals spying by the government on our population domestically, which was one of the primary preoccupations of the American Revolution. That was what the founding was about. It was about, you know, the king not being able to send his goons into your house and into your neighborhoods and search through your papers unless they had a proven reason to do so.
Approved by a court. That's what Snowden demonstrated, told all of us the government was doing to us, not to the terrorists, not to all of us.
Yeah. Not only is it that he's been punished for having blown the whistle on criminality when he deserves a parade down Fifth Avenue, what's so much worse is that the people who broke the law haven't paid any price.
They're not they don't have charges against them, nothing. In fact, they remain in government.
The thing that made Snowden finally commit the last kind of a straw that broke is his his back as as as as it were it was when James Clapper, President Obama's senior national security official, he ran the entire national security apparatus as director of national intelligence, went before the Senate and was asked explicitly, does the US government, does the NSA collect dossiers and tons of information on millions of Americans?
And he looked at the senator who asked him that and said, no, sir, not wittingly. That's a crime.
That's a felony. Just a lot of the Senate, let alone to do it. And not only was James Clapper never prosecuted, he was never fired. He served out his term as President Obama's senior national security official.
And you know where he works now? He works at CNN disseminating the news to the American public after he got caught fucking lying about the most important question he's ever been asked, that, you know, that's how you know that you live. In a country that, despite the facade of democracy has gone very, very of course, you know, the one thing that I always think about is like if you if you kind of start from scratch and think about what a healthy government would be in a healthy government, the population would know everything about what the government is doing.
Right. That's just basic transparency. We would we need to know what the government is doing with the power the public power would place in their hands with very rare exceptions. Right. Like we should know what movements they're planning. If they're in a war with troops, they have a right to something secret. But the overwhelming amount of things they do should be public and transparent and they should know nothing about us. Right. That's why we have a right to privacy.
We're private citizens. They're the public sector. That's what the basic foundation of a healthy society would be. The United States has completely reversed that, not just the US, but the West generally since world, since the 9/11 attacks, where everything that they do is presumptively secret.
We know almost nothing about what they do except what they tried to tell us. Most of what they do is marked classified in secret and hidden well is because of the spying apparatus that they built. They know everything about what we do. They know with whom we communicate. They know what we say. They know where we go. It's completely reversed what a free and healthy society ought to be. And that, more than anything, is what Snowden exposed.
And what's stunning to me is that he's now a citizen of Russia. He lives over there.
They've accepted him and they've give him he's not to say he's still he's still a US citizen, but he has permanent resident. Permanent resident. He has I got the equivalent of a green card, but he's still he's very emphatic that he's still a U.S. citizen and intends always to be.
And it's sort of out of the public consciousness. I mean, unless he does an interview with you or with me or some other publication or something. And then briefly, it's in the public's eye for a moment, but no one seems to be outraged. It's a small amount of people that seem to be outraged, a small population also that are outraged that Julian Assange, if they do extradite him to America, they plan on putting him in a supermax prison for, again, exposing crime, doing what a journalist is supposed to do.
I mean, and everyone's apathetic about it. It's it's it's very bizarre. And it speaks to the lack of trust that we have in mainstream media today because they're not up in arms about this. There's there's no giant pieces on CNN running on a daily basis. This is not something that everybody has got on their news feed, on their phone every day. And it should be it really should be, because if you can't expose crime in the government, you don't really have a government.
You have a dictatorship that's dressed up like a government. Exactly, and you know what? You know what, you know what is done to to obscure that fact that you just described accurately, there's like a pretense of dissent, right?
So you have CNN or MSNBC or like the op ed pages of The New York Times in The Washington Post, where people ostensibly express different opinions and have debates and arguments, but they're in extremely constrained ranges of opinion that are permitted. Right. Like you're allowed to say the Democrats are good or you're allowed to say the Republicans are bad or vice versa. And that's pretty much it.
Actual dissidents, people who expose what the government is doing in reality. Right. Like not the bullshit daily kind of trivial chatter that creates this illusion of the elites fighting with one another. But the actual underbelly of what the US government does in the world, people who criticize that and especially people who are exposed to people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, they're not they don't have the freedom to be dissidents.
They're the US government has succeeded in keeping Julian Assange in prison for a year and a half now. There's no chance he's going to get out of a British prison, even if he wins every one of his appeals and hearings for at least another two to three years. And if he doesn't, he'll be extradited to the US and go to prison for the rest of his life. And absent a pardon by by by Trump, Snowden will be in exile for the rest of his life.
And if the US government could get their hands on him, they would put him in the same place that they want to put Julian Assange, because in reality, actual dissidents, actual activism against the US government and its power centres is barred and prohibited and punished.
That I mean, that is just the reality of the United States and it is tyrannical.
But so many people like the other thing I just want to say is the worst scumbags on all of this, like isn't necessarily the population, right? Like, I don't really blame people who, you know, have to go to work and work two jobs and have kids and are barely scraping by, which is the majority of the population, especially now, for not thinking much about Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. The court cases are complicated. Are legal issues involved?
And there's huge globs of propaganda to which they're subjected. You know, like one example is, you know, Snowden is in Russia. You know why he's in Russia? Because the US government forced him to be there by invalidating his passport when he tried to leave and by Joe Biden bullying every other country that he applied for asylum with. They trapped him in Russia. He never chose to be there. He was planning on transiting through. And then they use the fact that he's in Russia to say, oh, look, he's a traitor, otherwise, why would he be in Russia?
So there's really effective propaganda. So I don't blame the population. The people I blame are journalist. It is the job of journalist to defend the people who expose the truth. If you don't do that as a journalist, what is your fucking purpose? Why are you a journalist? And not only don't journalists care much about what's being done to Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, most of them, if you actually ask them and talk to them about it, will justify and defend the fact that they ought to be in prison because what they really are servants of the government and not what they pretend to be.
So Joe Biden was responsible for blocking his asylum to other countries.
Yeah, Joe Biden and John Kerry. I mean, you know, I'm not it's not like they were uniquely bad. I mean, they were carrying out the the policy of the Obama administration. But it was Joe Biden who took the lead. He one of the first things that he did was when Snowden left Hong Kong, he the ticket that he had was Moscow, Havana. And then he was going to go to Ecuador, where he was going to get asylum.
And Joe Biden called the Cuban government and said, if you allow him safe passage, was that already granted him, you're going to suffer consequences like you've never experienced from the US government before.
So they withdrew their safe passage guarantee and then he applied to countries like that that frequently grant asylum to whistleblowers like Sweden, Finland, even Germany and France, where there were also a lot of revelations that were look favorably upon favorably because he was showing that those populations how the NSA was spying on them. And then at the last minute, his lawyers would get a call from the consulate of those countries and say Joe Biden called and said that they'll start a trade war with us or they'll withdraw from this treaty or they'll do this or that if we grant asylum.
And I'm sorry, we just can't.
When Obama was running, you remember the Hope and Change website, and I do it expressly talked about very, very clearly talked about protecting whistleblowers. And this is a big part of what he was running on. What do you think happens when you get in office? You have I mean, I'm a fan of the way Obama communicates. I'm a fan of what he represents as a president. He was just so. So eloquent and such a great statesman, and everyone had so much hope for what he was going to do once he got into office, but his administration was one of the worst for whistleblowers ever.
What do you think happens when you get in there? I mean, do you think it's like the Bill Hicks bit where they show you an angle of the Kennedy assassination that you've never seen before and they ask you, are there any questions? You know, like. Right.
Well, I mean, I don't want to you know, I don't want to be the I don't want to be too maximalist in the in like the conspiracy theorizing. But I'll just give you a quick vignette, a little anecdote, a little anecdote just to like introduce my view of this, which is in January of twenty seventeen days before Trump was inaugurated, Chuck Schumer went on The Rachel Maddow Show. You can find this clip. It's online. It's amazing.
And Trump had been posting a bunch of shocking stuff on Twitter mocking the CIA for having gotten arock so wrong, which they did because he was angry at them because they were essentially leaking against his administration before it even began. And we're blaming Russia for his election victory, which he felt was delegitimizing him. So he started criticizing the CIA. And Rachel and Chuck Schumer went on Rachel Maddow Show and she asked him about it and he said morality and ethics aside of doing that for a hard nosed businessman like Trump claims to be, you have to be the biggest imbecile in the world to stand up to and challenge and attack the intelligence community because nobody has more weapons to destroy you if you do that than they do.
And it was kind of like a throwaway line, but in reality, it was one of the most important and candid admissions of how the government actually works that has ever been broadcast, certainly on that shitty network, but really like on TV ever, because he was essentially saying there's this permanent power faction which Dwight Eisenhower warned about, you know, in 1961 when he was leaving the presidency, called it the military industrial complex. But there's this power, there's permanent power faction that is much power, more powerful than the officials we elect and who stay in Washington and exert power regardless of the outcome of elections, who you can't challenge or impede because they'll destroy you.
And so, you know, Obama, despite the lofty rhetoric and like the visionary posturing, which I also don't want to say fell for, but was kind of inspired by in 2007, has always been a very shrewd pragmatist. You know, he's always known Al from his time at Harvard when he became the editor in chief of the Law Review, How to Appease Institutional Authority. And so I think when he got into Washington, he he he thought to himself, I have these ambitious agenda items like health care and other things, and I only can get them done if I'm not going to be provoking the ire of the CIA, which is why, for example, he also said during the campaign he would consider prosecuting the people in the CIA who tortured helpless detainees and then quickly said, I'm going to give them all immunity because I didn't want to be at war with the CIA.
So I think that's part of it. Right. Like when someone like Julian Assange, someone like Edward Snowden leaks these secrets, it's not Obama necessarily, but it's the CIA, the Justice Department, the NSA, the FBI demanding saying this is our priority. You need to punish. These people are beginning to have an endless series of leaks. So part of it is just that kind of calculation, like a very pragmatic calculation, like, look, I may be president, but I'm not actually the only one who wields a lot of power in this town.
And then I think the other part of it is when you become president, you're sitting in that chair and you have kind of the unprecedented, incomparable power of the U.S. government at your disposal. If you think if you believe too much in your own righteousness, if you believe that you're a benevolent and noble person using that power for benevolent and noble ends, then you start to believe that anyone who stand in your way and is impeding you is somebody who inherently is ill intentioned or at least engaged in misconduct that ought to be sanctioned and punished.
And I think that kind of became part of Obama's worldview, too.
Like it's one thing to champion whistleblowers when they're exposing George Bush and Dick Cheney secrets, but when they're exposing Eric Holder and Barack Obama and Joe Biden and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton's secrets, it seems a lot less benevolent to somebody from Obama's sitting in his place.
It is amazing that Schumer would make that statement on television. Really? Have you seen it? No, I haven't. You see it and show it. It's amazing.
Jamie just pulled it up right here. Trump really dumb. The fight with intelligence agency. It just seems like he would know better. And to say that publicly, specifically to say that publicly on television. Yeah, I mean, I guess when you're Chuck Schumer and you're just like a creature who's lived in that sewer for decades and barely ever emerges, you know, to, like, breathe human air, like those things that, you know, are just part of your world, so embedded in it that everyone knows you forget that it's supposed to be hidden.
That is kind of shocking to other people.
Yeah. I'll give you an example. Like my husband, I see rescue dogs. So we have twenty five dogs at our house. So we go out to dinner and I know it's happened. So we go out to dinner and someone will say like, hey, you know, you guys love dogs. How many dogs you have on big. Oh twenty five. Like it's the most natural thing in the world. And of course like every person we say that to thinks we're fucking crazy.
Right. Like they think we're those like cat lady order people because we forget that what's so normal to us is actually insane to other people. We have to remind ourselves, like we have to ease them into that. I think that's what happened. Like if you work in Washington, you just for decades, you just know, you don't fuck with the CIA. And he saw Trump doing that because Trump wasn't a creature of Washington and was kind of saying, like, he's being stupid.
Well, Trump has such a tremendous ego, too. It doesn't seem like anybody is out of bounds for him. Like it seems like he he feels like he can shit on anyone, like anyone he's in some sort of conflict with is is going to get the wrath of his ire. It just doesn't seem like he feels anyone is above him or beyond reproach, which I think was probably the primary factor in why a lot of people found him appealing in 2016.
Sixteen. Yeah, right. So if you have a lot of anger, you know, a lot of just ambient rage towards institutions, not Democratic or Republican or left and right or right, just the power elite.
And you have somebody who just, you know, dumps on with such contempt and doesn't have the slightest regard for any of it. It's kind of cathartic. You know, you want to side with that person because he hates the same things you hate.
Well, I remember when he started using the term fake news and I really thought it was a cop out. I thought, well, this is just a really sad way to delegitimize all these criticisms against him and all of the things that they were bringing up, at least seemingly were factual. But now the more time goes on and the more the more you pay attention to the difference between left wing reporting and right wing reporting. And you try to find like what's where's the reality in this?
Someone's biased. There's something going wrong here when particularly when you see the coverage that we're currently dealing with with with Biden. And, you know, you rightly have been extremely critical of Twitter and Facebook and these social media giants that have chosen to censor the New York Post article and that they've literally blocked the White House press secretary from Twitter because she posted a link to a story from a newspaper that's you know, it's a 200 year old plus newspaper, I believe is the oldest newspaper currently running in America.
This is the fourth largest, the fourth largest. It's insanity. I mean, literally, they're locked.
They're locked out of their Twitter account. They're locked out of their day in the week leading up to the election, the fourth largest newspaper. And I don't know if it's the oldest, but it's one of the oldest for sure. It was founded by Alexander Hamilton, is barred by Twitter, like the primary source of information for most people in journalism and politics. From posting information. It's bizarre. It's madness. It's so bizarre. It's madness. Yeah.
And I think, you know, go ahead. I was going to say you don't the coverage that you you hear about, like if you pay attention to CNN, which I, I read CNN online pretty much every day, I just want to see what they're saying. At least I used to read it for the news. And now I go, what was their take? You don't see. Yeah, it's like the Hunter Biden story is completely illegitimate.
It's not worth our time. But Elon's mean. Did you know Elon's mean, she's still mean. Here's another story about Ellen being mean. It's a fucking straight. This person broke up. You know, this rapper broke up with his girlfriend. Well, these two are getting back together. Front page of CNN. You don't hear a fucking peep about the revelations that are coming out of this laptop where it ever came from. Jamie actually had a really good point.
I want to bring it up to you to see this is possible.
So I've heard of people being able to hack into it like an iCloud account from time to time. And if you had that ability to have the account hacked, you would need to clone it to a computer to then be able to decipher this material and then turn that into somewhere because you need to you can't say you hacked the iCloud account. Is that possible? That doesn't. Then put it on a MacBook, turn it in and say, oh, look what's on this, Mac.
But they do have emails behind the scenes from Hunter Biden that's supposedly, supposedly, but they haven't denied that this is his laptop, which would be the first thing that's true. That's the key point. So, you know, when we reported the Snowden archive, you know, like when we hit send that first time, like you asked me earlier, you know, there were millions of documents.
There was we had a high degree of confidence in their authenticity because we had verified a lot of them. Use your intuition. You examine them from a kind of metadata perspective to see if there's indicia of forgery or alteration. But you can never prove the negative that none of the documents has been altered or forged by Snowden or by somebody else. Right. Like, you just don't know for sure with 100 percent certainty until you hit publish. And the way that you ultimately find out for sure is if you publish that first report and the people that you're reporting about, don't come back and say, what the fuck are you talking about?
That's not a real document. We didn't ever do that. That's not our that's forged. And it was when the NSA didn't say that, that we I mean, I don't think I've ever been so happy in my career, in my life because that was proof that the archive was real because, of course, they would have said it. Same thing last year in Brazil, we reported this series of exposes where my source had hacked the telephones of the highest and most powerful officials in Brazil and the boss in our government and gave me the text conversations that they were having that revealed a lot of corruption.
Same thing. Of course, those people wouldn't verify or confirmed to me that they were real before I published. They wanted me to be in doubt. And then once we publish and they didn't say those those are my conversations.
Those are fabricated. We knew they were real. And we. So the just the fact alone that Biden has never denied either that the conversations are real or that Hunter actually brought his laptop to that Delaware repair store. And, you know, we've submitted questions I have submitted questions to the Biden campaign and to Hunter Biden asking that question specifically. And they won't answer because, of course, they're fucking real.
But the them it was the the journalists, the media outlets like CNN that took the lead first and saying that this was Russian disinformation. Yeah. You know, like the standard way to get rid of information that they don't want the public to believe. They just lied about that. They just made that up. There was never any evidence that Russia had the slightest thing to do with it. You know, and as to your question, the provenance is a little unclear.
Like that is kind of a bizarre story, right? That like Hunter, Biden brought in three laptops, never bothered to pick them up. The store owner, out of curiosity, looked in them once. No one picked them up, saw that there was all this evidence of corruption and gave it to the FBI and Rudy Giuliani. I'm kind of skeptical, skeptical of that story myself. But why isn't the Biden campaign denying that and saying, no, Hunter never has been to that store in his life?
That's a complete lie and case. It's because it's probably true. But it's definitely true that these documents are authentic.
It sounds like a crazy thing to do until you factor in smoking crack.
Once you factor it is a factor. That's a factor. Once you factor in smoking crack, you're like you probably leave shit all over the place, like you're out of your mind, like and I don't blame him for that, you know.
I mean, he's obviously had a drug problem. And when you're smoking crack, you leave laptops at repair shops. You don't pay for him. That's it seems normal. Right, right, I mean, that's the least of what you do, right, like if you're struggling with substance abuse. That does make it a lot more credible.
But here's the thing like this is why I don't think I've ever been disgusted with my colleagues in my profession as I have in the last three weeks because of this story.
And I'll tell you why. In general, journalists do not care about where material comes from, if it's A, authentic and B, newsworthy. For example, in twenty sixteen, somebody mailed a copy of Donald Trump's TAPS tax copy of Donald Trump's tax returns to The New York Times. Just dropped it in the mail and sent it to their newsroom. They got it.
To this day, they have no idea who sent it to them, let alone what the motives of that person were or what they had to do to get them. Did they break in and commit crimes? Did they hack? Was it the Russians? Was it Iran? The New York Times has no idea. But they of course, they reported on the content, as they should, because that's what journalists do. And when asked when their lead reporter who's won two Pulitzers was asked by NPR, how can you report on a document when you don't even know who gave it to you or what their motives were?
He said what I would say and what all journalists should say, which is I don't give a shit about the sources motives.
Sometimes you get great documents from sources who have terrible motives. You know, like they want to get vengeance on somebody. They feel, you know, like Deep Throat leaked about the Nixon administration to The Washington Post, not because he was a Snowden, not because he was noble, but because he was resentful that Nixon passed him over to be the director of the FBI.
So that so this idea that journalists are using it go, oh, my God, this might have come from Russia.
Therefore, we shouldn't report it as a complete corruption of the journalistic function. But the reality show like, why are we even talking about this? Like everyone knows the reality. I work in journalism. I have lots of colleagues that I work with. I have tons of friends in every news outlet up the east and up and down the East Coast from New York to Washington and then on the West Coast. The reason is, is because they're all desperate for Trump to lose.
That's the reality. They all want Biden to win. And so they don't want to report any information or any stories that might help Biden lose, in part because they want Biden to win, but also because in their social circles, everybody essentially is anti Trump and pro Biden. And they don't want to spend four years being accused of having helped. Trump won like they were in twenty sixteen when they reported on those emails that were leaked by the WikiLeaks.
And it's just fear. They don't want to be yelled out. They don't want to be scorned in their social circles. And so they're willing to abdicate their journalistic function, which is reporting on one of the most powerful people in the world, and Joe Biden in part because they want to manipulate and tinker with the election using journalism, but a much bigger part because they're scared of being yelled at on Twitter. It's fucking pathetic. And it's going to ruin people's faith in journalism for a long time, even more so than it already is ruined for good reason.
I now defend people who say fake news is you were saying even though in twenty sixteen I didn't like it either.
Because it's just true. It's just true. They will lie, they will print things that they have no idea whether or not they're true at the CIA tells them to or if they think they can get attention from it about from for it or a pause from their colleagues on Twitter. And I don't blame, you know, if you have faith in mainstream news institutions, you're really irrational.
I'm so glad you said that. A lot of them are not printing things because they're worried about being yelled at on Twitter because it really is the case. And self-censorship is one of the more eerie aspects of knowing that you can get these platformed off of Twitter for things and knowing that you can get yelled at and you can get Twitter mobbed because of your beliefs, because of standing up for something that may be correct, but unpopular. This is I mean, what journalism is supposed to be is telling people what the facts are, giving people unbiased perspectives, objective perspectives on what is happening in the news and how this could possibly relate to their real lives.
This is what it's supposed to be. It doesn't seem like it's supposed to be that at all right now during these elections. It's scary. No one is. You're supposed to not pay any attention to all the crazy gaffes. You're not supposed to pay any attention to the very real concerns that Joe Biden is losing his mind. And if you say that you are an asshole and people will attack you, they'll say you don't understand. He stutters. And this is all because he called Trump Bush yesterday.
He called him George. Did you see that? He said we don't want another four more years of George. This is standard. Like this is we. What do you remember when when what was his name? Howard Dean yelled that. I remember that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. After Iowa, when he got his third place finish in Iowa, he was trying to like. Excite is young, disappointed supporters, and he did that like weird primal scream and they run him over it. It was it was a yell, though, that he did. If you've ever talked in front of a live audience, when people scream and cheer, it's so loud, you yell and you can't even hear your voice because it's like you don't even realize how crazy it sounds.
But then when you isolate that sound and you take it just from the microphone, it sounds crazy. And that's what it sounded to him in the moment. Probably didn't sound crazy at all, but that was enough. And I remember it being all over all these newspapers and every every television show that read him, that ruined him, that were that destroyed his candidacy.
And like, remember, to the context of that was he was running for president in 2004. So it was 2003, you know, and then into early 2004 that when the primaries where he was leading in the polls by like 30 points all year long, and he was the only one at the time, you know, Howard Dean has turned into like a complete sleazy lobbyists piece of garbage. But like at the time, he was one of the only people willing to stand up and say, you know, George Bush and Dick Cheney have lied us into a murderous war.
We're on endless war posture. The government is constantly lying.
So he he was so off that track from what the bipartisan consensus was that they were out to destroy him. And you're absolutely right. Look what they were able to do, that scream.
All it was, was, you know, he was kind of like from the Eugene McCarthy 1968 candidacy that was supported largely by young college kids excited by an anti-war candidate that was Howard Dean. Supporters were and they were traveling all over the country, going door to door on his behalf. And when he came in third place in Iowa, they were really disappointed. He was trying to cheer them up. That was it. Yeah. And they basically just manipulating that footage, you know, turned him overnight into someone who was mentally unstable and he never recovered from that.
It's crazy to see and it's crazy to see the difference between the way they're treating Biden. They're treating Biden with the most gentle caressing hands. They're treating him with the the like. I've never seen more bias, like more complete ignoring of some real problems with the way he communicates with the things he says, with the lies that he says. Like, for instance, like during the debate, him saying that he never said that he was going to ban fracking.
Like, that's just not true. And you don't see it anywhere. You don't see any of these liberal media pages.
You know, it's so first of all, if you go and watch, like the the very few interviews that he's given, I'm not saying this for a factor like to to to use hyperbole to make a point.
I'm saying this because it's literally true. I don't think he's been asked a single hard question. This is somebody who's been in public life for 50 years. He was elected as a senator in nineteen seventy two. He had to drop out of his first presidential race because of serial lying and plagiarism about his college record and about his academic accomplishments.
He's somebody who has sponsored the worst, most destructive policies over the last 20 years from the Iraq war to the crime bill that has made the US the biggest prison state in the world. He was part of an administration, as you were alluding to earlier, that has, you know, persecuted whistleblowers more than any other. There's a ton of things to ask him about. But in the interviews they had, you know, that like, I don't know, you probably have had that experience when you go in, like you visit an old relative, like one of your grandparents is like in a nursing home.
And, you know, you go in and kind of like soften your voice so you don't like you don't want to be like you feel like scare them or like feel abrasive and like if they make kind of anything resembling a joke, like you sort of fake laugh, right. Like you're like, oh that that's like that's how they talk to him. Interviewers on television, they like treat him like an old ailing grandparent, one who is beloved. And like this is the thing about this is the most amazing thing about this whole thing with cognitive decline, which anyone who watches him for 15 minutes knows is true.
The people who were the first ones to disseminate that storyline were not supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Once the primary got down to Biden and Bernie, it was in twenty eighteen and into twenty nineteen when Biden was by far the leading Democratic candidate because of his name recognition and because of his eight years as vice president. Standing next to Obama, it was Democratic establishment operatives, strategists, consultants, just like that whole D.C. professional Democratic Party class, which was petrified that he was going to get the nomination because of his name recognition, because of the favorable sentiment within the party toward him, because of Obama and.
They were the ones and you can go find these clips, I actually read an article about it once when I started talking about cognitive decline and people started saying this is a shitty low blow. You're just doing this to sabotage his campaign, to help Bernie. And I was like, are you fucking crazy? Like, you're the ones who have spent the last year and a half on Morning Joe in The Washington Post op ed pages. You got it was I don't know if you remember, but there was a CNN debate when all the Democratic candidates were still part of the process, when Julian Castro interrupted Biden and accused him of having contradicted what he had said three seconds ago.
And he was like, Joe, did you just forget what you said 20 seconds ago? And then they interviewed Cory Booker and he said, yeah, you know, if you listen to Joe Biden, you really wonder whether he's capable of carrying the football over, that they were the ones petrified that he wouldn't be able to withstand the rigors of a campaign. The only thing that saved him was the Korona pandemic coronavirus pandemic, which let him sit at home.
But had it not been for that, their fears would have become true. And now they've declared what we can all see with our own eyes and what they themselves are saying all this time. It's declared off limits to say it, even though they're the ones who recognize first that it was true. And that's the kind of stuff that gets really creepy when they have the power to manipulate and control and dictate the discourse to that extent.
Well, it's like they've accepted the fact that people are putting out information and saving information for a very specific October surprise. So they're saying, OK, well, we're going to do is we're going to deny this information. And when you're talking about the cognitive decline of Joe Biden and to highlight it and to make a series of, you know, a compilation of these gaffes, that would be bad for his campaign and we don't want him to lose. We want Trump to win.
So we're just going to ignore it, even though it's news, we're just going to ignore it. But so then fake news is fake news. So then it really is fake. And this is where we're finding ourselves in 2020. We're like, we're a person without a country. We don't we don't know who to trust. We don't know when we're trying to find the news. We can't go to Twitter because Twitter's blocking things now. Well, Twitter was the only thing that we trusted before because Twitter was if an independent journalist was able to leak a story and put something out, at least no one could stop them from putting it on Twitter.
At least they didn't have to have the blessing of The Washington Post or The New York Times or anything else. They could just put something out there. And if it was verified that that story could spread. Well, now, it can't even be the case because of Twitter decides that that is dangerous to the person that they want to win for president. They'll just pull the story.
And this is where we're at and it's terrifying. It's just it's really, you know, well, I mean, you know, I talk to people about the kind of independent media that's thriving, right. Your success drives a lot of journalists really crazy. And it's not just you, though. It's if you look at the podcasts that are succeeding and the way they succeed is that, you know, they don't just occupy a place on your TV that you accidentally stumble into.
You have to actually go and find it, decide you're going to listen to it. And a lot of times, most of the time pay for it. That's what makes it successful. Why? What is it that's thriving? What is it that's succeeding?
It is the people who have no interest in being part of that hegemonic media blob, who aren't concerned with affirming their pieties and their orthodoxies, and in fact, are in a lot of ways hostile to it, or at least skeptical of it and eager to explore whether or not what they're saying is true because they don't trust any longer what they're hearing. And, you know, it is like if you go back to the Snowden story, right. One of the reasons Snowden did what he did, one of the reasons he was so horrified by this mass indiscriminate secret surveillance is because the idea of the Internet, the promise of it, if you go back and read what Internet enthusiasts were saying in the mid 90s and into the beginning of the century was this is going to be the most unprecedented tool of liberation and empowerment of people who don't have voices because it's going to enable people to communicate and disseminate information without having to rely on corporate structures that can afford printing presses or satellites for networks.
And that was true.
And the problem became, if you allow the government to turn it into, you know, this kind of tyrannical realm of surveillance, you run, you gut what is promising about it, and in fact, you degrade it into this threatening weapon. That's exactly how I see censorship by Facebook and Twitter. And what's amazing about this censorship by Silicon Valley.
Now, I've talked to Jack Dorsey quite a bit about this because he's someone who's a really interesting guy, who seeks out a lot of voices to hear from and to get input about. He cares about, you know, trying to make Twitter a positive force in the society. And he's turning a lot of different directions by people demanding different things of him. But it's true of Twitter. It's true of Facebook. It's true of Google. They never wanted this censorship role, not for noble reasons, but because it was just it's better for their business if they get to say, you know what, we don't regulate content.
We're like AT&T. Right? Like if somebody calls someone on AT&T telephone lines and plans a neo-Nazi rally or spreads Holocaust denialism, nobody expects AT&T to intervene and terminate that person's service or cut off the call. AT&T is a content neutral platform. They just say we provide the ability for human beings to communicate and we don't control or censor or monitor. And that's better for AT&T. They don't spend the money to monitor, censor. They don't have to get yelled at about doing it while we're doing it poorly and they make more money because more people.
That's the model that Silicon Valley wanted. The reason why they ended up censoring is because mostly liberal activist and journalist demanded that they did.
So they started saying to Facebook, how can you allow Alex Jones or Michael Anapolis? Or then it became once they were kicked off, you know, kind of more mainstream, but still out of the norm kind of people. And increasingly, they're just expanding the range of demands that they have for who needs to be silenced and threatening congressional regulation if they don't do it, threatening all kinds of recriminations that this responsibility to censor was foisted on these companies. But now that they're doing it, it's only going to grow.
And I think this, you know, attempt by Twitter and Facebook to block this New York Post story is one of the most alarming things that has happened in years from a perspective of free discourse and free dissemination. The guy from Facebook who announced that the New York Post story was going to be suppressed spent the last 15 or 20 years before going to Facebook, working as a Democratic Party operative in Washington.
He worked for Senator Barbara Boxer and then the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He was a he's a Democratic operative and he walks on to Twitter and says we at Facebook are going to be suppressing this story, pending our own investigation to determine who would want Silicon Valley overlords unaccountable outside of the democratic process, Silicon Valley overlords to control our discourse. The answer is liberals do and journalists do, and that's why they're doing it.
It's just so stunning because liberals have always been synonymous with free speech in the First Amendment. The ACLU has always been a. I mean, if you think about a liberal organization, the ACLU is probably one of the most liberal organizers, you know, iconic liberal organizations, they've always been about supporting free speech, even if it's terrible support, even neo-Nazis ability to have free speech. I mean, this it's been something that it's been highly controversial to some people, but it's always been people on the left understood the value and importance, the significance of free speech, the ability to accurately tell the truth, the ability to express yourself freely, the ability to tell all the facts.
And now they're the ones that are suppressing it because they don't like the guy who's in power, because we have this guy who's such a perfect symbol of all that is wrong with power.
All that is wrong with someone being the president with ego and, you know, lies and all the various things that people pin on Trump and a lot of them accurate. But he's become this enemy. And it's he's such an iconic enemy that they've justified all these ways of combating him, using principles that violate everything they supposedly stood for. Yeah, you know, he really he I think Trump has broken the brains of so many people. Yes. Not in a temporary way where it's all going to just, you know, recover instantly upon his departure, but it's going to endure permanently.
And there's first of all, you know, when I was growing up, kind of what shaped my political outlook, where a lot of the censorship debates in the 1980s, you know, I was growing up as a gay kid in the suburbs in the Reagan years and with the Moral Majority.
And, you know, I remember like one big censorship controversy with Janet O'Connor went on Saturday Night Live and she ripped up a picture of the pope, which is what the left and, you know, growing out of the 60s, it was like that's where the transgressive values were like whatever the institutions of authority described as being sacred and can't be said, people on the left push those those those limits and said, we're not going to obey your dictates. We're going to say exactly that, which is taboo if for no other reason than just to establish our right to say it.
And that became the framework for how these freedom of speech and freedom of expression conflicts played out. There's a new film out by a new documentary about IRA Glasser, who is the executive director of the ACLU from 1978 until 2001. And his first controversy was when the ACLU, which, you know, largely was filled with Jewish lawyers and supported by Jewish donors because it came out of this tradition of Jewish leftism in the United States that believed in free speech and civil liberties because as a vulnerable minority, they knew that allowing the state to acquire the power of censorship would eventually be turned on them.
And so one of the most controversial cases they ever did is you just alluded to was they represented the right of neo-Nazis, actual Nazis wearing swastika armbands who applied for a permit to have a march in Skokie, Illinois, which was a town filled not just with Jews, but with tons of Holocaust survivors, actual people who were in Auschwitz and book involved in the camps and had tattoos on their arm, you know, the number of tattoos of survivors.
And they said we don't we don't want to be traumatized by watching Nazis march down our street with that uniform that terrorized us for all those years in the ACLU, the Jewish lawyers and directors of the ACLU defended them.
And there's a film out and I just interviewed him actually, where he says that, you know, not only was Jewish leftism supportive of free speech, but a lot of his closest allies at the time defending his decision to defend the right of white supremacist neo-Nazis to march and to speak freely without government censorship or civil rights leaders, African-American civil rights leaders who also knew that if these precedents were permitted to take root against white supremacists first, the government would then turn.
The state of Alabama would say, we're not going to allow the NAACP to march through our streets, their rabble rousers, and they incite violence.
And that was the tradition on the left that is being completely abandoned, not just, you know, in like standard mainstream liberal institutions, but even in the ACLU, which has a slew of new lawyers under 30 under thirty five millennials, Gen Z activists who just don't believe in the core values of free speech in every institution. Joe, like in political activism, in media, for sure. Obviously in academia is being riven with this dispute between people who insist on the right to express views without being constrained or prevented or controlled by others, and people who believe that free speech is just not even close to the highest value and that when other values are in conflict with it, free speech has to give way.
It is one of the, if not the most kind of tumultuous conflicts of our time.
It's so disturbing how little understanding they have of where this plays out and that censorship in any form, whether you censor someone who you don't like, like Michael you and not your anapolis, it will eventually lead to someone who's less offensive than him and then the less offensive than them and the less offensive and end it'll go to you, it will come for you, it will eventually come for you.
You will say something wrong.
You will you will you will support something that they don't agree with.
And whoever has the power to censor will do platform you. They will remove you if we allow this. And we're in this weird place in America where a lot of people are looking at these social media companies and saying this is not as simple as this is a private company and they have the ability to choose who does and who doesn't use their platform. These things are like a public square. These things are like a utility. It's like electricity or water.
And it's something that everyone should have access to because it literally changes the way human. Beings view the world, it changes with people's contributions and with people's ability to express themselves. It changes the information that you gather. It changes the weather, not someone's perspective resonates with you or not. If you don't get access to that perspective, you don't get to see it. You don't get to understand their point of view. And it changes the overall view of the world.
And this is where we are. We're in this weird place where these groups of people who are largely on the left have decided to abandon those values that you talked about, the original ACLU values, and they've chosen to instead be ideological and and completely biased to their own personal position, to the point where they're willing to abandon free speech. And it's terrifying because I don't think they understand where this leads. I don't think they've done the math. I don't think they've extrapolated.
They can't think two seconds in front of their faces. You know, one of the things that's so bizarre is if you if you asked, you know, like a random leftist, what do you think of Facebook? They'll say, oh, I think Mark Zuckerberg is a fascist piece of shit. And then you say, like, what do you think of the federal court in the United States? And they'll say, oh, it's completely repressive. They're like filled with right wing judges, which is true.
When you say like, what do you think of the US government? Oh, the U.S. government is basically a fascist dictatorship. It's run by Donald Trump. And then you say, are you in favor of giving those institutions, Facebook, the federal courts, the U.S. government, greater power to censor ideas and information that you don't like? And they'll say, yeah, absolutely. It's critical that hate speech not be circulated and they never fucking think for one second, why are these institutions that I hate and I think are fascist and repressive and authoritarian institutions that I'm willing to vast the power in to control the flow of information?
And the one of the problems is that everyone, you know, for the most part thinks in terms of right versus left.
So this is the only prism through which people can understand at least the political component of the world. And it's a very stunted prism because it excludes so much. So they think that if you can induce social media companies to start censoring and excluding right wing speech and deleting the pages of right wing ideologues or right wing activist, that that's a victory. But that isn't how it works. They're not censoring it because it's right wing. They're censoring it because it's outside of the mainstream.
They're always, always, always, always. Views that adhere to mainstream orthodoxies are going to be permitted. Censorship is always directed at those who are somehow outside of the realm of what's considered acceptable by power centers. That, by definition, is where censorship goes and it's going to go to the right and the left equally. It's not going to go to one or the other. It's the most, aside from the morality and the ethics of wanting people with whom you disagree, silenced by tech monopolies.
It's it's just incredibly fucking stupid from a strategic perspective because it is going to be turned on you without doubt. It already is. There's already censorship of left wing pages. If if the Israeli government, for example, goes to Facebook and says that Palestinian media outlet or this Gazan activist is inciting terrorism, Facebook will in almost every case accept the request of the Israelis to censor them because the Israelis are much more powerful than the Palestinians. And that's how corporations operate.
This is the model, the framework that the left is empowering without realizing how self destructive it is. It's maddening and it is terrifying because all human history, the entire history of human intellect is nothing but humans believing that they found some absolute truth and then a subsequent generation realizing that it's not just erroneous but morally rotten. And if you preclude the ability of human beings to question and challenge every precept, every principle, including here, especially the ones that have been declared most sacred, the the ones that have been declared most unchallengeable, true, you've deprived humanity of one of its most important weapons and probably its most important one for fostering progress, for combating despotism, for questioning the pronouncements of institutions of authority.
And that's what people who think there are antiauthoritarian are doing.
I'm so glad you're out there, because guys like you are one of the few that are willing to take this chance and speak like this and challenge.
All of these institutions openly and I think there's so many people out there that, as you said, are worried about being yelled at on Twitter and worried about not being able to get a job, worried about, you know, your there's so many folks that are dependent upon these large institutions, whether it's newspapers or television shows or whatever it is, and they can't freely express their concern with the way things are going, because in many people's eyes, that's insignificant compared to get Donald Trump out of office.
So everything everything goes by the wayside. Get Donald Trump out of office. That's that's that's number one. After that, we can concentrate on all those other things. But whatever you have to do to get Donald Trump out of office, save democracy, someone someone actually sent me a message, someone I really like. And they sent me a message saying that they could get me an interview, but they want me to vote for Joe Biden. Come on, save democracy.
This was the message that I got. And I was looking at this message. I'm like, what the fuck is is there a virus going on besides the coronavirus? Is there something that's like infecting people's minds and like snipping wires and disconnecting trains of thought? Like, what the fuck is happening? It's but guys like you guys like Matt Taibbi, there's there's a few people out there that are sticking their neck out. And it gives me hope. It gives me hope that people are listening to you and people are reading your words and people are paying attention.
And hopefully it's resonating. And hopefully some of these people that are doing this are realizing with shame that they're part of this really disgraceful act, that they're part of this cowardly way of thinking and not calling out all this shit. And if Joe Biden does get in office and they do see it declining even further and sliding even further down, this disgusting trend that we find ourselves on right now, I hope they realize the error of their ways. But by then it might be.
But here's here's the problem. Here's what's worrying me the most, which is, you know, instinctively that is something that you can kind of put your hope in, right. Is to say, well, look, I mean, there's an election in a week or a few days. And all the polls suggest Biden is likely to win. And once Trump is out of the way, a lot of this insanity is going to disappear and things are going to kind of return to some degree of normalcy.
And here's why I don't think that's true. So many institutions are profiting.
I don't just mean financially, but in terms of power and control, from elevating fear levels over right wing fascism, over white supremacists, domestic terrorism, whatever you want to call it.
And obviously, I mean, it's not doesn't take a lot of insight to observe that historically, the way you consolidate your powers, if you can put people in fear, you know, during the Cold War, you make everybody fear that the Russians and the communists are coming to take away your right to believe in God.
And everybody says, you know, build up a huge nuclear arsenal and don't use the money for our schools and our communities. Use it for, you know, the greatest military in the world and spy on everybody and whatever you need to do to defeat this existential threat to do it. Obviously, after 9/11, that was the strategy of the Bush-Cheney administration. It's the way they consolidate a lot of power by elevating people's perceptions way beyond what was real of the threat of Islamic terrorism, to allow them to do essentially everything they did.
The same exact thing is happening now, which is people in media have had their careers saved. I know cable host who are on the verge of being fired because nobody was fucking listening to their dumb shows in 2007 and 2008 when all they were doing is talking about how great Obama was, because who wants to listen to that Trump word? Twenty fifteen, rather. Trump was a godsend to them because Trump enabled them to elevate everybody's fear level and say, this man who's coming isn't just another president.
He's a grave threat to everything that's good in our lives. And it's not just him, but his entire movement behind him, hundreds of tens of millions of people who are racist, who are hardcore white supremacists, white supremacy, domestic terrorists, and caused MSNBC in The New York Times to explode with money.
It caused the CIA and the FBI and tons of those neocon scumbags to rehabilitate their reputation and get back within the halls of power. Even if Trump loses the election, they're not going to just go back to now talking about Joe Biden because they know people are going to cancel their subscriptions and turn the TV channel again. They're going to continue to say not maybe Trump or at least his movement still pose this existential threat.
You know, they're out there plotting to kill people and impose white supremacy.
And it's not that it's not true. There's no it's not like there's not a kernel of truth to it. There are people doing that, but they're going to inflate it wildly so that any questioning of Joe Biden, even with Trump out of the picture, is still going to be depicted, as you know, in. During American Liberty is helping fascism as serving the agenda of the Kremlin and the need for censorship as a result is going to be accepted by more and more people because of that fear that these media outlets and government institutions with whom they partner are going to be still instilling in people for their own benefit, for their own aim.
I think you're 100 percent accurate and I'm concerned as well. But my my real concern is I don't see a way out of this. I don't see, like, a clear like, oh, we got to go that way. I don't I don't see a path. I don't see it. I'm worried. I'm worried that we already have the brakes off of this truck and we're headed downhill.
Well, what what meaning do you derive from the fact that you've built this massive audience? I mean, I don't think that's bereft of meaning or significance.
I think there's a reason for it. What what reason do you think explains that?
That's a very good question. And I specifically go out of my way to not answer it personally to me myself. I mean, to myself, not not not explain it to someone like you. But I don't think about it. And one of the reasons why is because I feel like if I start thinking about what it does, I'll stop doing it the way I do it. And it won't be the same thing. I started doing this podcast with my friend Brian were smoking weed and talking on a laptop in 2009, answering questions from like one hundred people on Twitter, just having fun.
You look at the early ones on News Stream to this day, they have like a thousand views, two thousand views. Nobody gave a shit. I never promoted this podcast. I never took out an ad for it. I never went on a television show or anything else saying, please watch my podcast, please listen to my podcast. It organically became what it is. I have no idea how it happened. I never planned it. It was all I.
I did it at just for fun forever and then all of a sudden it became this giant business. So I'm like, well, I still have to do it the same way, because if I don't do it the same way, then it becomes something different. And I can't think about what it is. I just when I when I meet people and they say they love it, I go, thanks not hi, that's it. Just keep going.
Just keep moving. And I've developed these ways of compartmentalizing my life and compartmentalizing what the podcast is. And I keep it. What it is, what it is, is just a place where I go and talk to people. The people that I talk to, I only talk to who I'm interested in talking to. I have zero agenda. I go, Oh, I want to talk to Glenn Greenwald. He seems cool. Oh, I want to talk to Graham Hancock.
Oh, that scientists that just came back from the space station. Let's see if we can talk to him. What the fuck is that like? You know, all this guy just got back from, you know, trekking across Europe with snow shoes. Let's talk to that guy like that's all it is. And until I do the day I say I don't want to do this anymore. It's going to remain that because it's the only way I can keep doing it the way it is.
So the fact that it's become insanely influential is beyond bizarre to me, because I feel like as much as I'm the host of this thing, I'm like an antenna. I just sort of plug in and then it's got a life of its own and it sort of does its own work. But I it's not actually so bizarre to me, you know, and I actually, you know, I think, you know, I wrote an article about it and then I did a show I interviewed a former campaign official from from the 2008 Obama campaign who's an avid listener of yours and who's written about your show.
And he's actually the one who encouraged me to start listening because before I started listening, you know, I just kind of heard in the ether things about your show. You know, I didn't necessarily believe adamantly, but it seemed were basically true. And then I started watching and so I went through it was. But, you know, I think that exactly the way that you began, you know, when I the way I began my journalism career, I didn't go to Columbia Journalism School and then go and, you know, get a job with, like some local newspaper and then work my way up to The New York Times.
So I wasn't inculcated with all the institutional code and regulations of how you can speak and the tone that you use and how you can describe the world. I just started my blog one day because I felt like I had things to say and nobody was reading it. And I gradually built up a readership. And then I just from there have always done it that way. Right. Like it's kind of like what you were just saying. And I think that the reason that you've attracted so many people watching your show who like it, and I don't want to analyze it for you if you don't want to hear an analysis, because I don't want to, like, infect your ability to just do it organically.
But you were saying, like, what is the solution to all of this?
What's like the way out? And I think that you can look at your show as kind of a microcosm of what one answer might be, which is exactly that. Like, I think I know a lot of people who listen to your show who don't agree with a lot of what you say or don't or who hate some of the guests that you have on. But what they know is that you're.
Doing this because you don't have to say anything that you don't believe, and that's a huge asset for people who don't trust people that they're hearing in the media and don't believe anything that they're saying is, look, that guy may not be an expert in things and everything that he's talking about or even much of what he's talking about. And maybe sometimes he platforms people who are bad and says some things that are misguided. But at least I believe that he's being honest, like he's just kind of like trying to figure the world out for no reason other than to figure it out.
And I think that there are huge numbers of people, huge numbers of people like you. I think you're just tapping into the kind of tip of it who crave discourse that is emancipated from these repressive, you know, principles of how the media speaks and conducts itself and how people are forced to express themselves. And that is that does give me a lot of hope.
I think it gives me a lot of hope as well. And I think one of the things that we hope the Internet would be would be this place where people had access to information that they would never have had previously and this this avenue for free expression that just really never existed before. There's never been a time in history where I mean, we really have a skeleton crew. I mean, right now it's me and my friend Jamie, the producer, and it reaches hundreds of millions of people.
And that's just really never existed before. I mean, there's a couple of video editors and some other people that work for the the podcast behind the scenes. But that's basically it, which is why journalist hate you, right?
Like they you know, they went to all the best journalism schools and they like sat in their editorial meetings for 20 years and they go and speak on YouTube. They're going to be watched by fifteen thousand people. And they think it's outrageous that you have this audience to which you're not entitled.
Well, they're they're entitled to their own thoughts, but they could have this audience, too. They just have to be interesting enough to gather it and they have to grind. The thing is, like, you don't get it right away and you don't get it right away just because you work for The New York Times, people will listen and they'll go, well, I don't like this or this is boring or, you know, for whatever reason it resonates or it doesn't resonate.
And it's it's a free path for everybody. And the beauty of it is you don't have to be connected to The Washington Post or The New York Times or any other institution. But the people that think that that was the path and they worked all their life thinking that this is the path. And then they've been shown that they've kind of maybe spun their wheels, not not only spun their wheels and wasted some time, but gotten on a bad path ideologically where they've thought in these these tight grooves that were previously previously established for them.
They've been given these conglomeration of opinions to adopt and they have adopted them faithfully. And then all of a sudden they realize, like, well, you know, look at this fucking meathead pot smoking, you know, UFC commentator has all these people paying attention to them. What the fuck is going on and why is Bernie Sanders on his show and why all these other people on a show like you could do that to like anybody could do? This is just putting in the time.
It's just having this perspective where you want to look at things, what they really are. Don't be beholden to ideologies and put in the time that that should be. Yeah. Purging to people. Yeah. Yeah. That if you have something interesting and unique to offer that people want to hear, the Internet enables you to reach them without having this mediation necessary of big corporations. I think that is that is encouraging.
The thing that though is discouraging is that one of the problems about why this freedom of expression in the media in particular, where it's more necessary than anywhere. Right. For journalists to be able to say things that provoke people's anger, that poke and prod at consensus rather than just reciting it, is that when you're a young journalist and you get a job and you're not being paid very well, but at least you're getting paid enough income to survive. And so many of your friends with whom you went to college, you get out of college and are loaded with tons of debt, don't even have jobs, and you at least got one.
And you look around in industry, which is journalism, where you see jobs disappearing by the thousands. The last thing you want to do is stick your head up and say something that makes people in your newsroom or your editors angry because you've questioned or dissented from one of their sacred convictions. And I've seen how that works. That really is fostering a huge amount of conformity. I remember all the time, you know, during the Rush gate bullshit when Matt Taibbi and I and maybe a couple of others were out there saying this is a bullshit scandal.
There's. No evidence that any of this happened, not that Russia didn't do the hacking, but that Trump and Russia colluded criminally or that Russia was infiltrating the United States in control. You know that this is all conspiratorial garbage. I was hearing all the time from journalists at The Washington Post and CNN and the Times and cable networks who were saying, thank you, guys, so glad you and Matt are doing this. I wish I could, but I really don't feel I can.
I feel like I would lose my job and probably not get another one. That is really that that the the lack of a viable economic model in journalism is suffocating whatever little ability there was for journalists to kind of express themselves freely.
Yeah, it's terrifying for them because they don't have protection. And to to stick your neck out and to try a podcast and to say something on a podcast that is controversial or is outside the orthodoxy and to get fired for that or cancelled for that or to get ostracized or be labeled this or that, it's terrifying. You could lose your ability to make an income. And there's no guarantee that your podcast will be successful, particularly now. You know, when I started the podcast in 2009, I don't know how many there were then, but now there's close to a million of them, which is insane.
That means like one out of 300 people, it was just in the United States. I'm sure it's worldwide. But if it was just in the United States, one out of one out of like a million podcasts is one out of 300 people in the United States. Imagine three hundred people and one of them has a podcast. I mean, what is it going to be like five years from now? Is it going to be 50 percent of the people have a podcast?
I mean, it's the numbers are so insurmountable, it's almost impossible for anybody to break through unless you get help from the other people that are inside the network. So if you're one of those people that has a popular podcast, one of the beautiful things about it is that you can kind of help other people get seen and get recognized. And it's one of the more generous communities. The good thing about podcasting is that when you have this group of people that have gotten through and this sort of unorthodox way, a lot of them encourage other people to do it as well.
And a lot of them are. I'm very encouraging of it. Maybe to a fault. I'm constantly telling people they should do a podcast because I really think it doesn't take that much of your time. And if you just invest enough time in it, you develop a fan base and it exponentially increases. People tell people, they tell their friends you have an episode that resonates and then it could go viral or, you know, it can get shared and you can get to a point where you can have a sustainable business that's completely independent.
And it's possible it is possible to do. But if you're a person who is also trying to work in journalism, you're also trying to get hired by a major institution. And you say something in this other form of media, this podcast form that can get you fired from that. It will inhibit your ability to express yourself. So in that case, it will also inhibit the ability of the podcast to resonate. So it's such a catch 22 because you kind of have to you kind of have to toe the line.
You kind of have to be full.
I'll tell you what, this this this experience I had recently that I found horrifying and like, really illuminated for me how repressive things had become. I went to New York, as I often do because of the media that I founded, is based there. And I had dinner with two colleagues who work in journalism and who are actually pretty well established in their careers. They're not, you know, junior level journalists who are clinging to a job there, people who have climbed up the editorial and journalistic ladder.
And one of that, they both live in Brooklyn and one of them has a 15 year old daughter whose best friend is a trans boy who has had top surgery.
So he has had his breast removed and poses on Instagram with his shirt off. And then my other friend with whom I was dining that night, it was pretty recently, like maybe within the last year, has a 17 year old daughter who's dating a trans boy, who's 17, who's also had various gender reassignment surgeries.
And we were talking just, you know, his friends about how young people these days are who are making this choice to identify as trans and to pursue gender reassignment surgery, have permanent alterations to their body. That will never be reversible, even if later on in life they decide that they had misdiagnosed themselves or been misdiagnosed. And both of them were expressing serious concerns about as parents of teenagers, about a, how pervasive this was becoming and whether there was kind of something in the culture encouraging or even pressuring kids to reach these conclusions and parents.
To kind of push them into it for their own reasons, not anything malicious, but just kind of a cultural encouragement that might be leading people to be misdiagnosed or misdiagnosing themselves. And also, secondly, the capacity of someone of the age of 14 or 15 to make decisions about their lives, of that magnitude that would be irreversible, biologically or anatomically irreversible. And it was a really interesting conversation. We talked about we explored the issue. It was, you know, a really interesting discussion.
We probably talked about 45 minutes or an hour. I got back to Brazil and I realized that that discussion that we had, they would never, ever, in a million years in their column, on a podcast, on their show, admit to having those thoughts.
They would never be willing to explore publicly those questions that we were all raising with one another and thinking about in a really interesting way, because they're petrified of being scorned for it or being condemned.
And that is a sickness in our culture that is only going to get worse, but that has toxic effects that I don't think can be overstated.
It's whenever there's a subject that you can't talk about, whenever there's a when there's a subject that can't be breached, that's you've you've you're in a religion now. You're in a cult like you can't discuss things like you must adhere to the rigid ideology that's been established that you have to say this. If someone decides that they're trans at three or five or 19 or whatever it is, that there can be no questions. My question has always been, have there been people who have had gender reassignment who regret it?
The answer is yes. Yeah, of course. Of course. And are there people who have had gender reassignment who are happy? The answer is yes. Obviously, human beings are insanely malleable. That's why cults exist. That's why evangelists are able to gather so much money. That's why people decide to be typically unique. Right. Like how many people are there? Rebels. But the rebels in a mold. Right. It's human beings love to fit into forms that they find to be appealing, that they find to resonate with the current Zygi, whatever it is.
And this is one area where we've decided, no, that's not the case. No. And when it comes to children recognizing as trans, there is no way there can be no errors. It is it is all in. And I mean, many, many of these people are rightfully looking at it in the way that people who are trans are maligned by society. They they they don't feel like they're accepted. They feel like they're discriminated against. So these people who are sensitive, kind people look at them, they want to embrace them at all costs.
But by doing so, you've you've ignored reality. The reality that we know that humans we're weird creatures, we're weird creatures. We have very strange ideas about things that go left and right. I mean, how many people do you know that are there lifelong Democrats? And also when they become a Republican and they're fucking pro-life and they get crazy like people are weird, we shift our opinions on all sorts of things. People like Cat Stevens, becomes a Muslim, changed his name to Yusuf Islam because people change.
But the idea that they don't do that with gender, that the only thing they do that with is is is religion. And these other things that the genders specifically the one thing that there's no confusion about whatsoever. Well, that's crazy because people are confused all the time about everything. And the other thing I brought up to a friend, I said, do you know that many, especially trans women, if they don't have this reassignment, it's been shown that they become gay men.
So is it homophobic to want that person to only be trans? Like, is it to to have a rigid idea of what a trans person is like and to say that that this rigid idea applies to all people who who have issues with who they are or issues with their sexuality or issues with gender identity like there there's clearly a spectrum here.
And the spectrum not only not not only is there a spectrum, but, you know, one of the objectives of modern feminism, of modern day feminism was to expand the range of how women could express themselves, that they didn't have to have long hair and makeup on and wear high heels, that they could have a masculine component to them and cut their hair short and wear jeans and. A sports, and that's why a lot of feminists feel like this, there's this kind of incursion into womanhood where now the idea is if you're if that's the form of expression that you find is a female, that you ought to be encouraged to identify as a trans man instead of just kind of a center of masculine, of center female.
But I think, you know, one of the things that that concerns me about it and that always strikes me so much is, you know, as I mentioned, like one of the formative political experiences of my life obviously was growing up gay in the 80s and into the 90s, where there were lots of debates about that were raging, about what is the role of homosexuality and how should it be viewed by civic society and by government and by law. And one of the reasons why gay people largely won that that debate and not just won it, but won it so radically and so rapidly is because we were constantly looking for ways to engage that discussion with people who hadn't been persuaded.
I mean, I remember I read all the time, you know, if I heard someone say, well, how does this work in your relationship? Like, who is the man and who's the woman and how do you fuck? And instead of saying, like, you're a disgusting bigot and how dare you and condemn them and denounce them and banish them away, I would be eager to engage in that discussion, as were so many people. And that's what ultimately change minds was the more you engage people, the more you persuade them, the more you convinced them, the more you explain to them why these radical social changes that you advocate are justifiable, the harder it is to demonize you and to feel alienated by you and to be repelled by you.
You break down that dehumanization through engagement, through discourse and dialogue, not through demanding and coercing and trying to force people to accept views that they don't yet hold.
And so many current social movements are based on that kind of tyranny of either you affirm these truths as I see them or you're going to be punished in scorn. There's no debate or engagement or questioning permitted.
Yeah, that's that's a really accurate way depicting it. And it's it's confusing. I mean, it's it's confusing for people that don't want to be punished. And so they they adhere to these opinions, too. They just they just jump on board, you know. And I had a conversation with a friend. We was talking about how being trans is more accepted in other countries. And he brought up Iran. And I said, do you know why there's so many trans people in Iran?
It's because if you're gay, they'll put you in jail. Do you understand that? Like in some countries in the Middle East, they literally you have no options. Like if you're a homosexual and you want to be with men and you happen to be a man, many of them choose to become women just so that they can have these relationships that they want. Like it's a real weird box. And I think ideologically, when you force someone to have an opinion that you hold and punish them for just even questioning things, you create this really weird scenario that we find ourselves in right now and to the point where oftentimes biological women are the ones that especially when it comes to sports, they're the ones that are the victims of this ideology.
When you have track and field athletes who are competing as female, who all have to do is identify in certain high schools as being female, they don't even necessarily have to have gender reassignment surgery or even to take estrogen. And it's it's crazy. But if you if you question it, you're a bigot. And these there's a reason why we've had male and female sports that men and women don't compete against each other as because we've agreed. OK, there are obviously huge differences between men.
There's a spectrum of, you know, there's very athletic men, non-athletic men and a huge spectrum of women, very athletic women and non-athletic women. But we agree that it seems to be a big advantage to be male when it comes to physical sports. So we're going to separate them. But if you have male versus female sports, as long as the male identifies as a female, we're supposed to go, well, you know, what are you going to do?
You know, it's amazing. You know, it's amazing. One of my childhood heroes growing up was the tennis player, Martina Navratilova and I, which is a weird childhood hero for me to have for a lot of different reasons. It's just not an obvious childhood here for me to have. Like Dan Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker, is a much more obvious one who was mine.
But she was a weird one. And but I was obsessed with. Her, you know, I used to watch her tennis matches against Chris Evert religiously and when I grew up and and actually when I started doing the Snowden reporting, she started following me on Twitter. And then I remember like the first time she ever sent me a tweet, I acted like some, you know, 12 year old whose favorite boy band do you like, touched their skin or something.
I called my friends all giddy. I talked to famous people all the time. I don't give the slightest shit, but with her, I was just, like, overwhelmed.
And so one of my friends said, you know, that's so fascinating how important she is to you. Why is that? And I started thinking about it. And so I was going to do a film about it. And I like partnered with with Reese Witherspoon. She was going to produce it. She was very into it. And we had a big budget for it. And then right in the middle, as we were getting ready to kind of do the project and the project was going to be, you know, examining why she was so important to me, what it said about her life and mine and how it intersected in the ability of people in very unpredictable ways to influence others.
She had this huge controversy where, you know, Martina was like, you know, she was one of the great pioneers of female athletics. And Sports Illustrated did a list of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. She was number 19, you know, like right behind Joe Montana, ahead of Ty Cobb. I mean, she was a huge, important figure in female athletics and female professional female sports. And she thought, you know, for years, along with like Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, to ensure that women had massive prize money on the on par with men in sponsorship opportunity.
So our life's work has been ensuring that women could make a huge living and be justly rewarded on equal terms with male athletes. So she was on Twitter and she saw some photo of a trans woman who had just won a cycling race and she was in the middle of the trans woman, was next to two CIS women, and she was hovering over them with like this huge muscle mass that these two women didn't have with the gold medal, smiling with the arms around these two women.
And Martina learned that the woman who won the gold medal had not had any gender reassignment surgery, meaning she still has a penis and her testicles and therefore the ability to impregnate a woman. And Martina went on Twitter and just very innocently said, wait, I don't understand. If a woman if a man declares himself to be a woman, they can now compete in professional sports, the professional sports that I worked so hard my whole life to build. And they can win all the prize money and all the the the the the the trophies and then just decide to go back to living as a man, impregnate women and live as a suburban life as the father of children.
That doesn't seem fair. And she was fucking mauled for it. And people were saying, you're ignorant, you have it doesn't matter if you have a penis. What matters is if you go through hormonal treatments that render your body anatomically or biologically identical for purposes of athletics to the male body or the female body, the female body. And she said, OK, I'm sorry, I'm going to delete my tweet. I'm going to go and research this.
I shouldn't have spoken about it without first studying it. And that didn't stop them for three weeks. Four weeks they were. Martina Navratilova is a bigot. She's hateful. And not only was she a pioneer, women's athletics, she was one of the only openly gay celebrities on the planet in the late 1970s. Early 90s was one of the reasons why she was my hero. She also hired a trans coach, Dr. Rene Richards, who she traveled the world with and put on national TV, you know, like BBC and NBC during Wimbledon have.
I'd say there's Martina Navratilova box. That's her coach. Her name used to be Richard Raskin. It's now Dr. Rene Richards, you know, and kind of glide over it. But at least like she did more for trans visibility than almost anybody, Martina went away. But because she was being so mild and with no understanding, she came back. She wrote an op ed in the Sunday Times and she said, I've studied this. And what I've concluded is that there is never a way that somebody who's gone through puberty as a male, no matter how many hormones that they take, can render their body similar to a female body such that competing with naturally born females can be anything other than cheating.
And for that opinion, Martina Navratilova, who did more for LGBT visibility, trans visibility, female athletics, got expelled, literally expelled from LGBT athletic athlete groups. And I couldn't I ended up not being able to make my film because the director that we had was a trans woman who didn't feel comfortable and felt like the whole film had gotten too complicated. It's amazing that if you're I mean, if the enemy of your movement is Martina Navratilova, if that somebody that you're declaring to be a hateful bigot, not welcome in decent company, who are your fucking allies?
Yeah, it's it's an interesting proving ground for this ideological dilemma. Right. Female sports big. As you know, my friend Tony Hinchcliffe actually has a comedy bit about this, he's like, you don't see a whole lot of women declaring themselves to be biologically male and then competing against men. It's it's trans women that are competing in these sports and dominating them. I got into the fray unwittingly because there was a female MMA fighter that didn't tell her opponents that she was male for 30 years and started competing two years after transitioning.
And I was like, this is fucking crazy, because now you're you're in my wheelhouse. And I didn't mean to get in the front. I never really had opinions on trans people other than do whatever you want to do as long as you're an adult. But then once that came up and I was attacked for it, I was like, this is the hell I'll die on because you people are out of your fucking mind. I'm a martial arts expert.
I know what I'm talking about. Like the difference between the way a man can generate power and a woman is really significant. It's a big difference, the ability to be violent reaction, time co-ordination, shape of the hips, shape of the shoulders, size of the hands. There's so many big differences. And people were unwilling to budge. They they wanted to look at this in terms of this. You must be a bigot if you feel this way.
And I'm like, no, I'm not.
Well, like, it's so it's so it's so obvious that there are complex scientific questions, like, I don't know how I feel about it, in part because I don't understand the science well enough. And I don't believe the science has offered definitive answers, like maybe there are hormonal protocols that you can take for a long enough period of time. Maybe there are new hormonal treatments that are being developed that can actually make it roughly fair and can turn a body that was born biologically male into the equivalent of a female body sufficient to make it a fair competition.
I don't know the answer to that. Maybe some of the rape, but like or maybe now I don't know.
I mean, I like, you know, women's tennis. You know, if you win the U.S. Open or Wimbledon in women's tennis, you're going to win. The prize is now four million dollars. Right. Like the Williams sisters are among the richest athletes on the planet. If it were that easy for a male tennis player to just go win that amount of money by declaring himself a female, they would be doing it. And we don't really see that.
So I'm open to the question of whether this can be done fairly. But to declare the question itself off limits can force everybody to just accept it. That's and like the thing is, it's not just like we're talking about it in this issue, because I know you've had issues with that. I've had my own experiences with it, with that film. But this is the mentality that is replicating itself in issue after issue after issue. Yes.
And I want to be really clear. One of the things that I've said is I have no problem with a woman choosing to compete against a trans woman if she knows that it's a trans woman. My my issue is entirely that this person decided that it was a medical issue and that she did not have to disclose that she was a male for thirty years. And it just recently transitioned to being a woman. And I that's where I stepped in. I said, this is bullshit because there's rules on taking steroids.
Right? It's illegal. They test. So if someone took steroids for 30 years, for 30 years, took the equivalent of a male bodies, steroids and worked out constantly lifted weights and did so to the point where change their anatomy and then choose to get off the steroids and then compete, I get run fucking to you. Everyone would be saying that person's a cheater. They shouldn't be allowed to compete because that person changed their body through illegal means.
That's just a fact. I'm in favor of anybody doing anything as long as all the information's on the table. If a woman chooses to compete against a trans woman in mixed martial arts and and knows in advance, I'm 100 percent in favor of that. I have no problem with look, women have fought men before, some really talented. Well, there's a woman who competes in the UFC germane to randomise. She's a multiple world champion in Muay Thai and she fought a man and knocked him unconscious in a fight.
And you could watch it on YouTube. She's an amazing athlete, an amazing fighter. But she chose to fight that man, knowing that he's a man and knowing that her skills were enough, that she had a reasonable chance and actually did win. I'm 100 percent in favor of that. Like I'm in favor of everybody doing anything that's dangerous. Do whatever you want. I'm in favor of people riding motorcycles without a helmet. I'm in favor. You bungee jumping, you choose whatever you want.
You're an adult. But yeah, but the idea that this person didn't have to disclose that she was a man for thirty years was very offensive to me.
And that was your entry into this controversy? That's how I got into it. That's how I got into it. I'm like this. Well, not only that, the damages to our. Opponents were really significant, fractured skull, like she she broke the bones in her face like it was it's like real big stuff. It's not it wasn't a small deal. And if you watch the fight, right, it's horrific.
I mean, I think I think ultimately it kind of ties back to what you were saying earlier about human beings oftentimes evolving in ways that are seemingly inexplicable. One of the things that makes life interesting, that makes the world worth investigating are these complexities. I mean, gender is and how it relates to biology and how it shapes our identity and what different hormones can do externally injected into our bodies. These are fascinating questions that we don't really have clear answers for.
And that's true regardless of almost any debate that you choose. And that's what I was saying earlier, is that, you know, if you look at Newtonian physics, people for a long time believed that that was the ultimate truth. And then that becomes something that people realize actually has fundamental errors.
I mean, you have to like what always amazes me about not just people who support censorship, but about people who want to close off debate or who say that it's immoral to even speak to people who have views that are sufficiently different that they're supposed to be radioactive is what always amazes me is the level of hubris needed to believe not just that you're right about something, because I believe I'm right about a lot of things, but to believe that you're so right that your view should never should not be even permitted to be questioned, let alone rejected or negated or refuted, and that people who have different views than you are people that you should never be in.
It's such a glum, grim, bleak, depressing view of the world, and it's authoritarian and tyrannical as well to just constantly be flattening all of the complexities of life that make things interesting to explore and debate and discuss and think about.
Yeah, it really is complex and it really is interesting. And I agree with you and I hope that one day we can get past all this stuff.
And I think because it's such it's really weird that it's so fresh in our culture that I mean, being trans has been around for a long, long time. But for whatever reason, it's dominated the zeitgeist over the last, you know, decade or so. And I don't I don't really know what's happening. You know, Douglas Murray is a very interesting take on it. He you know, I was talking to him and he was saying that towards the end of civilizations, when civilizations starting to collapse, one of the things that happens is, is blurring the lines of genders.
And he's like, I don't know what that is or why that exists. But he said it existed in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. And I wonder I wonder if that's just it's just a natural course of progression that civilizations go through when the wheels are falling off, that they get obsessed with these subjects. But obviously, these are very interesting things to discuss and talk about it. Just because you discuss and talk about them doesn't make you a bigot.
And I think that we have to make that distinction because if we don't make that distinction, you're always going to have people that are speaking about it one way publicly, as you're saying, with your friends or privately, excuse me, and then another way publicly where they're just there.
And that's why I think that if you if you're somebody who has been fortunate enough to construct a platform that is secure and relatively immune from being canceled or being, you know, declared off limits, I mean, people have certainly been trying with me for many years. And I think they're starting to reach the conclusion that it's futile and they're never going to be rid of me. So I think if you're able to kind of create an independent platform for yourself, one of the obligations that I do think you have is to create that space and kind of take those arrows so that other people who don't enjoy that same independence, that same security, feel at least marginally freer to wander around and asking, yeah, look, discussions are important.
It's how we figure things out. Talking about things is important. I need to know how you think to be able to consider it. When when I talk to someone, whether it's you or anyone, I want to know how you feel about things genuinely and when you're terrified to express your honest opinion because. You're worried about the blowback then I'd never really know. Not only do I never know who you really are and how you really think, I never know that there's people who think the way you think because you don't express it.
And then we have a distorted perception of the landscape and it takes too long to work through ideas and problems that we have in our society. I understand why people would be protective of trans people, of anybody and any any maligned any any marginalized group. I understand it. I totally do. But to discuss it does not mean bigotry. It just doesn't. And when you're talking about sports, whether it's when you decide that Martina Navratilova is a bigot, you've got a real problem.
You fucked up like there's there's something.
Yeah. Yeah. What if something went really wrong in The Matrix? Yeah. The Matrix produced a very erroneous outcome there.
And I, you know, I, I, I, I, I, you know, I think part of the the problem though is that whoever does wield this ability to impose orthodoxies has a certain form of power.
There's a lot of power that comes from that, from forcibly suppressing views that you've declared to be erroneous. And that is why I think it becomes addictive, especially when it starts to become a form of mob behavior. But, you know, this this ability to to to engage in dialogue, you know, I go on Fox News a lot. I go on Tucker Carlson specifically quite a bit. And obviously, people who are long term readers of mine who are on the left, a lot of them are befuddled by that, if not enraged by it.
And one of the things that has happened because I do that, is that I get emails all the time from people saying, wow, for a decade I always thought you were this insane leftist. I thought you are a communist. I thought you hated the United States. I never paid any attention to anything that you said. But now that I hear you on the show saying things that I trust, I'm now listening to anything that you say with an open mind, because I believe that you're honest.
And it doesn't mean that I now agree with you on everything you're saying. I don't I still disagree with, but at least I like forged a channel of communication with people who I might have written off before as some kind of a caricature or who have written me off before as some kind of a character like I did with you. But someone had asked me two years ago before I have to listen to your show, you know, what do you think of Joe Rodman?
I probably would have said I don't know much about him, but I know he talks to, like, a lot of alt right assholes and fascists and seems to hate trans people because that's what I had been told. Right. That was like in the ether. And so that's what I absorb. And, you know, I think that, you know, everybody loves to lament polarization and strife and conflict in the world and aggression and war, which are all terrible things.
And yet one of the only solutions we have as human beings to any of that is the ability to try and speak to each other as humans, past our differences so that we can at least develop a common respect that enables us to navigate those differences without resorting to force. And this is more and more of what is being written off. This this climate of censorship and repression is doing damage to every single one of our institutions. And I don't see it ending at all.
I see it growing. And I, I don't really quite know how it can be arrested.
Well, I'm hoping there'll be a tipping point and I'm hoping to tidal pull back. And I'm hoping that podcast's and long form communication and conversations like this will be a part of that. But, you know, I agree with you. And when you say you don't agree with everything I say I'm happy because I don't agree with everything I say. There's a lot of shit we're thinking in real time. And sometimes I'll say something on a podcast and then I'll think about it, you know, an hour later.
And I'm like, what the fuck was I saying? Why don't even think about it that way? Because you're talking, you know, like right now, like, I don't know the next word out of my fucking mouth. Right. This is what podcasts are. This is what these things are. And sometimes you're going down roads or you express an opinion and it's not that thought out. And that's the danger of these weird long form communications, these unstructured podcasts are.
But that's also why it's interesting to people, because it's so it's so raw because, you know, this isn't there's no strategy here. There's no this isn't this hasn't been planned out. There's no there's no adherence to a script. And through that, you get a sense of humans. You get because this is. How people think and talk in real life, you know, and most of them, you talk and you talk and uncertainties right like that.
And that I think that's a big difference is, you know, if you go on cable, if I go on cable, some any show or even like some Sunday news show here in Brazil or in the US, everyone knows in advance what's going to be said. I know what I'm going to be asked. They know what I'm going to answer. And they're inviting me on specifically because they know I'm going to say something with certainty. Yeah, right.
I'm not going to go on and say I don't really know the answer to that, because if you do that, you're not fulfilling your function. That is not the normal way that people navigate through the world with certainties. They navigate it with uncertainties. They have an opinion one minute and then they listen to somebody who persuades them to think differently another. And then they kind of move in that direction and then maybe they move a little bit back. But the problem is that in a climate where if you're not constantly affirming unequivocally what has deemed to be what is deemed to be the mandatory opinions, you really can not if you're a coward, but just if you're rational, create a lot of problems for yourself in your work and your society, in your culture.
And that's why people avoid it.
Yeah. And that's why I've gravitated towards it. Ironically, I think that you have to talk to people that you disagree with. You have to talk to people. And I also I'm not married to my ideas. If you tell me if I have a specific notion in my mind about the way something works and I talk to you, I, I am happy when you can get me to change my mind. I enjoy it. I don't believe any of the things that I, I espouse or that I am locked into that these are chiseled in stone.
There's a few I believe in that, that where I'm a legitimate expert in. But very few most of the things I'm open to someone correcting me. I like that. I'm also interested in how people think incorrectly. If I'm talking to like I don't have as many alt right assholes as you say on the podcast anymore. I kind of grew tired of it, you know, like but. Yeah, but I had a lot in the earlier days, maybe even before I understood what the podcast really was becoming.
I just want to talk to them, like see how they feel about things. And some of them, like Milo, I always found humorous. I think he's kind of a character. And if you talk to him off air, he's a very different human being. They talk to him. They're very easy to communicate with.
Very. Yeah, it's a character he plays. He's playing a character. He created a character that that did well.
I mean, I'm sure some of it has some roots in reality, but he's a provocateur. But yeah, I, I want to know why people make these jumps and why they think the way they think. And with a lot of them, what they're doing is signaling to this group that they've gotten support from, that they're on that that side. They're they're doing this thing where they're they're saying words and express themselves in certain ways that they know that certain groups are going to go, oh, he's on board, he's on this team.
He's saying all the things that I want to hear.
And then which is which is a very which is a very natural human desire. Right. We we are social animals and we evolved in tribe. Right. And being scorned by a group or not belonging to a group. Right. Wasn't just unpleasant and didn't just produce unhappiness that could actually jeopardize your survival. Right. You know, thousands and thousands of years ago.
But even now, we still need to belong. Yeah, but like with any instinct, we have to kind of purposely combat it. Right. Like we might have an instinct to kill people that we feel angry toward, but we combat that instinct because it produces bad outcomes.
So the tribalism in us, you know, is probably something that sometimes occasionally is healthy. It makes us be part of communities and the like, and that fulfills psychological necessities. But it can lead us really astray, too.
And you have to kind of be willing sometimes if you're feeling embraced too much by a group to kind of give them something almost to show you that you're not attached to it, to show yourself that you're not attached to it so you don't become captive to it.
Well, I think we have to be really careful in how we lean into love. And what I mean by that is lean into praise, lean into attention, lean into like there's a lot of people that become a victim of their own audience. And because if you're if you're a rebellious sort, right, if you've got this idea that goes against the mainstream, the other people that like things that go against the mainstream, they're very vocal about it. The very excited by it and their attention to you is magnified.
It's. Much different than the attention that you get if you sort of support the mainstream, you support the mainstream. It's a very it's a lukewarm slingin.
You blend in. Yeah. You blend in like a CNN correspondent.
If you're Mylo or one of these people that was becoming very successful, being one of these provocateurs in the past, you get a rabid response where people are so excited to see you. And then you see, I've seen it with comedians where they'll they'll tell jokes that like a certain group of people like and they'll lean into that like, you know, they'll become like a right wing comic because these right wing people are the ones that have given them attention.
And they they know when they're saying things, even if they don't understand that it's disingenuous or that they're playing a character, they're they're saying it knowing that it's going to get this disproportionate reaction from that group and they lean into it. And one of the reasons why I like talking to people like that is I wanted to see that thing in them. I wanted to I wanted to hear what they're saying, that even if I disagree with it, I want to know what what makes them think that way?
Why do they go this way? What what what about them is is what what gravity is pull them in this direction. It's weird.
Yeah, I mean, I guess I guess the argument is that as your platform grows and you become more influential, just to play devil's advocate for a moment, by putting someone on your show who advocates ideas that are harmful or toxic or hateful, even if you're doing it just to satisfy your curiosity, not because you actually agree with them that you're nonetheless still letting millions of people be exposed to hearing them speak for two or three hours in a way that kind of signals that at the very least, their ideas are worth listening to, whether that's your intention or not, with the message that you're conveying.
I agree with that criticism. I really do. And that's one of the reasons why I've avoided a large number of those people that do have very questionable belief systems and and do espouse hate.
There's a lot of fucking assholes that want to be on the show that I haven't had on for that very reason. But there's some that I find interesting, you know, and it's not because of hate. It's because some of them have ideas that are at least mildly intriguing. And I'm over that now. But when I was interviewing a lot of those people in the past, the one of the things that I wanted to do is I wanted to try to hear what they were saying and poke holes in it.
And I wanted to I wanted to know why they leaned so hard in this direction and what is and it's like when you're talking to anyone that's really into anything, you could fill in the blank with whatever the subject is there there's certain aspects of them where you're talking to them and they go, oh, I've seen you before. I know what I. I know a lot of people like you. I know I know what you're doing.
You've found like this, you know, some songs sound real similar, like, oh, you were a fan of Stone Temple Pilots and you guys sort of built like you get that with them. They have the sort of way of, well, you know, the left has this view of things and the left and they start talking like a pundit. They start talking like someone who they've seen be successful with these ideas. And it's intriguing to me as a as a person, as a comic, you always have to be sort of a student of human beings and behavior and thoughts.
That's what comedy's all about. It's analyzing those things and poking holes in them. And when I see someone that is really into any weird or any any any like real clear ideology, I feel that way about like superduper lefties. Like I've had some, like, blind ideological lefties on my show before to where we wrote down if we had a column. What do you agree with and disagree with? I would have way more on the agree with column with them than I do on the disagree with.
But the disagree ones are so they're so blatant sometimes where you haven't thought about this shit at all. You just don't want to oppose it because you know, if you oppose it, you'll be out of the club like Martina Navratilova. Right.
Who you know, I think in retrospect, the reason why she was my childhood hero was precisely because she was always so fucking defiant and transgressive, you know, and probably why she was so competitive, too.
Oh, for sure.
I mean, that she just like was constantly and, you know, like she didn't give a shit about what she was told about how females were supposed to look. She spent hours in the gym building this huge muscle mass, which made her physically dominant. You know, whatever categories you tried to impose on her were ones that she just disregarded. That was just the nature of her personality. And in that lies a lot of power and a lot of freedom.
And in reality, that's the same thing that led to her, even though it made a lot of it, converted a lot of her former fans into enemies, into challenging these pieties about trans issues. Right. Is if you tell Martina you're not allowed to do this and you're not allowed to think and you're not allowed to say that she's going to make a beeline exactly toward those things. That's why she fucking fled communist Czechoslovakia. Right. Was because they were telling her just don't do anything to draw attention to yourself.
And she knew that was going to limit her greatness as an athlete and her greatness as a human being. And, you know, that's like that ultimately. I think that, you know, it's so easy to a lot of times people adopt a certain posture. Then they show you, you know, as you were saying, that kind of pundit voice. Or if they go on a show where they get to speak for nine minutes instead of two and a half hours, they're manipulating their image on purpose.
And the more that you dig into it, the deeper you dig into it, the more you kind of try and excavate what really is underneath it. A lot of times you uncover truths that you wouldn't have previously seen about who they really are and what they really think and someone who seems like they're. Hateful really isn't a lot of times, though, they are. Yeah, a lot of times they are and a lot of times they've become that because that's that's been the way they get the best attention or the most attention or, you know, sometimes they'll pretend to not be that way to sort of weasel their way in.
And then once they become popular, you find out all you really do have nefarious ideas. You really are a shithead, you know, and.
Right. And I understand the only way, you know is if you talk to them. Right. Like, if you just ignored them, they don't disappear.
Yeah. And I understand people's concern with platforming those people, but I really do think that you have to talk to a wide group of people to get an understanding of humans. And if you don't know any hateful people, you won't be able to recognize hateful behavior like really recognize it. I think you have to see it. You have to talk to them. And, you know, if you don't know, I mean, you have to really understand loving, compassionate, generous people.
You have to be around them. You have to hear them talk. And when you are around them and you do hear them talk, you, it changes your perspective on what's possible with people you recognize, like, oh, that's the kind of person to like. One of my friends is Justin Ratten. He's a it's a very unlikely story, but he's a guy who was bullied when he was a child, like horribly to the point he was suicidal, became a UFC fighter.
And now he runs a charity called Fight for the Forgotten, where he builds wells for the pigmies in the Congo. He is the nicest, most charitable human being I've ever met in my life. He's so kind and so gentle and so sweet and goes to the Congo and spends months out of the year there. He's got malaria three times. I mean, it's just it's it's crazy. Until I met him, until I spent tons of time with him and talk to him, I didn't know that someone was that selfless, that someone could be that kind and gentle, but yet also being elite, mixed martial arts fighter and an enormous an enormous man.
I mean, he's such a contradiction, but he's so kind. He's so nice. I mean, to everyone I've been around him. He's just so sweet to everyone. And you need to know that there's a guy like that out, that when I whenever I think about people, about kindness and about about generosity, selflessness, I think of that guy because I know he's real, because I know him. He's changed my spectrum like the spectrum of with right.
And people. Well, you know, we started off talking about about Snowden. Right. And, you know, as a journalist, people expect me to just keep this critical distance of him from him as the way you're supposed to talk about your source when you're a journalist in and almost in every speech that I give. And, you know, obviously, Snowden is not just a source to me. He's a very close friend and someone they carry a huge amount about.
We went through something really intense and extraordinary together that will bond us, you know, for life and after even. But it's I feel exactly the same way. You know, we were talking about how exceptional of an example it is, what he did. And he shows you a kind of human possibility that you don't previously know existed, then starts opening up your own conception of what's possible in terms of your own choices in life. And you only can have that happen if you're willing to connect with people who aren't like you.
Yeah, and you I mean, one of the beautiful things about these long form conversations is that you can allow someone to express themselves without restraint and you can find out what's really going on. And you you know, you can expose people this way in a way that I mean, I think people have been exposed on my podcast in a way where if someone really wants to know who they are, they can go watch a clip and they'll go, oh, this is what happens when this motherfucker hits the fire, like they fall apart.
Like this is what happens when their ideas are challenges. What happens when someone says, why do you think that? And what makes you what? Why do you say that? Why are you saying it that way? And you let them give them all the rope in the world and then you see them hanging around because you can't you can't you can't control yourself for three hours.
You know, it's kind of like I've had this experience before. I don't know if you've had this where, you know, if a magazine wants to profile you, they'll send a reporter to follow you around for a week. Because if you just sit down for a 40 minute interview or an hour interview, you can be very controlling about what it is that you present and what you let them see. But if they start riding in the car with you and you're driving your kids to school or going out to dinner with you, you start forgetting that it's an interview and you start thinking about this person is just someone who's in your life that you're talking to and you end up saying things that if you are being completely controlled, you never would have said the same.
Just experiencing this now, doing your show, you know most. Shows are at most 45 minutes at most, right, where you can just get through it and be very conscious of every word here when you have no there's your producer doesn't say what you want to talk about ahead of time. I had no idea what we were going to talk about ahead of time. It just kind of meanders into this natural space. And you do forget that you're being recorded.
You do forget that a lot of people are going to see it, which is a very liberating feeling to have. Right, because you don't have to use that voice, that public voice that you feel compelled to use if you're being too self-conscious about the fact that you're being watched and listened to. It's sort of like how being surveilled and monitored alters your behavior, right? If you know that you're being watched and are conscious of it, your range of choices that you're willing to engage in diminishes greatly.
That's why privacy and having a private realm is so important. That's where creativity and dissent reside is the same thing here. It's like if you do a format and you kind of like let yourself free, unconstrained with the knowledge that you're actually in an interview that people are going to be watching, you just end up speaking a much more naturally, much more freely and don't monitor every word.
Yeah, and by the way, this was not by design. I can't take credit for the fact that this podcast is that sort of thing. I just didn't want to edit it like one of my good friend, my good friend and I enjoy talking to people.
One of my good friend, Ari Shapiro, is one of his worst and most famous pieces of advice to me is like, you got your podcast. I go, why? He goes, no one wants to listen to it for that long. I go with then they don't have to listen. I'm like, I don't give a fuck. Yeah, you're you're slop produced.
So really that's literally what it is.
But you want to speak about what you were just saying, because there's a great example, and that's Michael Hastings where he was trapped. It was in Iraq or Afghanistan where he was Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan. He was trapped over there because of the volcano in Iceland.
That was I think so I don't remember the detail there. It's been a long time.
Well, there was a volcano erupted and it prohibited air travel. And during that time, he was embedded with the troops and they were communicating in a way that was he they got way too comfortable with him. And he they I guess they thought with General McChrystal.
With General McChrystal. Yeah. General McChrystal said some disparaging things about Barack Obama and wound up being fired. And then Hastings was terrified for his life and wound up in this really weird conspiracy theory scenario where his car goes one hundred miles an hour into a tree and the engine winds up flying away from the car and the car explodes and he dies. And people are speculating like, was he killed? Did they did they use some sort of software to manipulate his vehicle and have him do that?
Or was this suicide?
And that was I mean, it was a it's a I don't know. First of all, what are your thoughts on that? Did you are you fully aware of that story or have you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was a pretty good was a pretty good friend of mine. Um, I'm a little hesitant to talk too much about it because it was like privacy issues with him and his wife. But I will say, like, his wife was pretty adamant, his wife at first, of course, you know, being a loving wife was very open to the prospect that it wasn't an accident and that somebody had caused his car to crash because he was a great investigative journalist who didn't give the slightest fuck who he was angering, as evidenced by the fact that he he ended General McChrystal's career by publishing the things that he said that were newsworthy and not off the record, which is what a good journalist would do.
And he was mauled by other journalists who said, this is you know, you're rooting the ability of journalists to get generals to speak freely with you in a war zone. That's not how it works. And he said General McChrystal wasn't my fucking friend. He was someone really powerful in the military. And my job was to tell the public what he was saying, that they had a right to know, which is what he did. That was Michael's personality.
But I was the same time Michael ended up for the last six months or a year of his life being pretty troubled, I think, in large part because of the trauma he had from spending a lot of time in war zones. I know I have a lot of friends who are journalists who have spent time in war zones, and almost every single one of them end up fucked up for good reasons. It's a really fucked up thing to see. And he had substance abuse issues that he was struggling with.
I think the last time I saw Michael actually was in L.A. just like a week or two before he died. I think it was that Oliver Stone's house or something. And he was definitely inebriated, so. And I know a lot of people are concerned about that and whether he was kind of engaging in self-destructive behavior, I don't know, Joe, to be honest, but I know that his wife reached the conclusion that she thought those more interesting theories about intrigue and murder was a disservice to his memory, for whatever that's worth.
Well, I respect that if that's how she felt about it. But the real concern that journalists have and this is what we started off the podcast talking to you about, about your own safety. The Jamal Khashoggi story, of course, is like the worst example of what could potentially happen to a journalist. And when we're talking about the safety of people who do take the risks to put out information that people want to hear and then they become the target of very powerful people.
It's it's I mean, it must be one of the most frightening aspects of your job. Yeah, I mean, I know we talked about the Snowden case, for me, the much more difficult and dangerous case was the reporting I did last year in Brazil, starting in June of twenty nineteen, going into the beginning of this year where we were publishing the hacked telephone conversations of the most powerful people in Brazil and the ball's in our government and revealed really serious corruption and.
It led to the release from prison of the former Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, because we were able to show that his prosecution was corrupt and a lot of other pretty destabilizing events.
And as a result of that. You know, there was a huge right, there's a huge right wing movement in Brazil, that electable scenario, and there is really kind of you know, they're all armed. They believe in the military dictatorship. They have the police and the intelligence agencies on their side and the type of threats that we were getting. And it also had related a lot as well to my husband, my husband as a member of Congress.
He's a socialist member of Congress, the only openly gay member of the Brazilian Congress. In a country where both scenarios stimulated a lot of anti LGBT animus is a powerful political tool. We haven't left our house in about a year and two months without armed guards and armored vehicles, because the level of specificity of the threats that we get with people who know our address and sent pictures of our cars with the license plates to be as terrorizing as possible are really severe.
And, you know, for about six months, every day on Twitter, in Brazilian Twitter, my name is at the top of the trending topics. Glenn is a traitor. Deport Glenn. Glenn belongs in prison. And they did try actually at the beginning of this year, they indicted me criminally and a judge threw it out on free press grounds.
But that's just part of the job, you know, and that was what made Michael such a great journalist, was he was fearless when it came to those kinds of things.
And that's why when I go and give speeches and then, you know, some in the Q&A part of the event, some journalists, student or someone thinking about going to journalism, ask me what my advice is for them. That's when I tell them. I say, first of all, don't go into the profession unless you think you have something unique to offer, because if you don't, then it's kind of just worthless. You're just going to be a drone in the beehive, you know, like you were saying earlier, it's going to fade into the mainstream.
But the other thing I say is if this if you have a desire to be beloved by powerful people or to be safe, this is definitely the wrong profession for you. It's only worthwhile journalism is if you're exposing exactly that information, which the people who wield the greatest power most desperately want to be concealed. That's your job. And if you do that, like, you know, everyone loves to talk about speaking truth to power and confronting power, but we, like people very rarely talk about what that means, what is power and what does it mean for people to be powerful?
It's really simple.
Ultimately, like what it means to be powerful is that you have the ability to bestow rewards on people who serve your interests and to inflict punishment and pain on those who impede them or defy them.
That's all really that's really all it means to be powerful. And so if you're really a journalist and you're really challenging power, defying it or impeding the agenda of the powerful, you're inherently going to be in danger. That's just intrinsic to the job. And I think that you pretty much need to have either the kind of personality that in some ways seeks that for whatever reasons or at least feels like the cause is just enough and righteous enough that you're willing to subject yourself to it.
I'm certain that through your work, you've inspired other people to get into journalism, I'm certain. And I wondered what what does that feel like to you? Because there has to be young people that have read your work and seen what you've done and seen the documentary with Snowden and heard you speak that say, I want that courage of conviction. I want to be that person. I want to be that person that does express myself honestly and bravely and expose the world to these truths that the powers that be want hidden.
I mean, it sounds banal, probably, but honestly, there's nothing more gratifying to me than that because that's how I feel like I'm actually making a mark on the world and changing it in a positive way, however limited that might be. It doesn't matter. You know, it's it's I do hear that a lot. And the fact that it's not just that I'm inspiring just someone to go into journalism, it's that I'm inspiring them to go into journalism, to do the kind of journalism that I've done and shown them by example can be done and have advocated for.
And so it makes me feel like I'm almost like reproducing, you know, like a little army of, you know, when you hear from, like a twenty two year old who says that you are the one who has shaped what they want to do in life and they kind of want to follow in your example, it's so rewarding. You know, you feel like you've touched somebody and and and shown them something inside of themselves, a power and ability or a talent or purpose that they might not have discovered.
And it's incredibly fulfilling. It's a huge responsibility, too.
But, yeah, that to me is what's exciting about the future. I'm hoping that there are enough young people that do see that, like, you can be one of those people that just drowns into the hive, or you could be like Glenn Greenwald, that is possible. And that you will inspire a bunch of people to to communicate and to express themselves the way you do so fearlessly. I'm hoping the same can be said about podcasts. I'm hoping the same can be said about a lot of independent media, that there's enough of us out there that that don't want to blend into the hive, that the young people coming up recognize the flaws in these patterns and they recognize the traps that they see by becoming a part of these institutions and by becoming a part of these orthodoxies, by becoming a part of these groups that demand compliance, 100 percent compliance to their ideology.
And they realize what this crazy that's not how people are. And then there's so many pitfalls and holes in that that way of life.
Yeah, I mean, that, you know, you asked me before you, I think, made the observation before you weren't sure what the solution was to these growing pathologies we had been assessing in the discourse and in the political culture.
And that was why I pointed to your show just as an example of what I think is possible.
But more than that, I think it illustrates this craving that exists that's being unfulfilled by mainstream news outlets, by entertainment products, by really prominent voices. There's an unfulfilled craving. And what excites me the most about it is that it's not definable by either right or left. I love the people who get confused by the fact that you said that you love Bernie and Tulsi and then are going to vote for Trump. And if you're like a political junkie, that makes no fucking sense.
It's like saying two plus two equals five.
And that's not what I said and that's not what I said. Well, you said you said you are Bernie and you love Tulsi. And then when it was Biden and Trump, I think you said you were going to you prefer Trump because you felt like Biden was cognitively incapable.
But I never said I never said I'd vote for Trump. What I said was I would vote for Trump before I'd vote for Biden. I never said I'd vote for.
OK, so. But they're not in the way that. Oh, you're a Trump supporter now, Mike. That is not what I said. It's not. OK, good.
I'm glad you clarified that, because I. I even. I got to see from that. Yeah. But nonetheless, like even that doesn't make sense to people. Right. Like but in the real world there were millions of people, millions, millions, not hundreds or thousands but millions who voted twice for Barack Obama and then voted in twenty sixteen for Donald Trump. And if you're, you know, like somebody who's just a political junkie, who sits on political and journalist Twitter all day and sees the world first in like Fox versus MSNBC or Democrat, it doesn't make any sense.
But like to most of the people out there, that's not the language they're speaking. And podcasts like the one you're doing and a lot of other ones, too, are finally speaking in the language of huge numbers of people who never before identified with anything. And I do think that's exciting because it is breaking that mold. That's what's so interesting about it, is it's kind of it's just a new normal, unconstrained and dogmatic way of trying to understand the world.
And I do find that, you know, hope inspiring, hope inducing.
Yeah, it does come with responsibilities that I never anticipated and that that is a concern. And I never thought that I would be influential. I never, never anticipated it. And I never I didn't plan for it. You know, just like all of a sudden people like, what are you doing with your influence? I'm like, oh fuck, I've got influence.
And it's not just cultural influence, it's political influence, which is like probably even more surprising and like even more of a burden.
Well, it's worse because I don't know shit about politics. I'm I mean, I've said over and over again, if you're taking your opinions on politics from me, you're already fucking up. And I try to offer so many different solutions, so many different people to try to get your information from valid, unbiased political sources like the Hill or Kyle Kolinsky or Jimmy Dorje. Many of the other people that I admire, I'm like, go to them. Don't, don't, don't go to me.
I'm not the guy.
Yeah, those are all great people to listen to. You know, you can find out, you know, there's like there are great podcasts now where people are just trying to figure things out. Really smart, interesting, funny people. I love the hell I'm on there all the time with with Sagarin and Crystal. I know you. I love them very different.
They're so important because they're both they're both on different sides of the fence politically, but they're both honest and objective. And they don't agree on things a lot of the time. But they're very respectful. They're friendly. They're they're they're not impaired by their ideology. They communicate. Yeah.
And they're both kind of the best of their respective side, you know, like so. Yeah. And obviously, Kyle Kolinsky is is someone he's built up in an amazing I mean, I know Kyle for years, like when he was just a little kid, you know, and he was just like kind of screaming into a microphone with I think maybe like three thousand views or something. And now he's become this powerhouse.
We're doing Election Night Show, a live election night show. He and I.
Yeah, he mentioned that to me. He said, don't go on and talk about that because he'll kill me. I'm not a lot of talk about it. I'm glad you were the one who spilled the beans and not me. But yeah, he's fantastic. And there's so much new talent like that is discoverable that way. And so, you know, I like for all the problems in kind of bleak scenarios that we spent a lot of time. Dissecting it is good to end on a note of figuring out a way out of that, because it's not just some rosy thing that you say to make yourself and others feel better.
It's really it's real. And obviously, the success of your show, the ridiculous audiences that you have that grew so organically with no corporate backing is just proof that, you know, by speaking honestly and without dogma and script, you can attract a lot of people.
Yeah. And I just want people to know that Arkansas and I do understand that I have an influence now. And I am I'm aware of it, you know, and that's kept me from having a lot of douchebags on the show. And, you know, but unfortunately, I think it's important to have some I think it's important to have some questionable people. I think it is. I think what made the show great is that it's kind of wild and that I talk to people that I want to talk to and I'm going to continue to do that.
Even if people get mad who the guests are, there's no way I can. I mean, if I want to talk to somebody, I'm going to talk to them.
But I am the minute you start the minute you start tailoring your guest list to avoid making people angry is the minute you're going to start gutting the thing that has made your show interesting in the first place. Exactly right. Which isn't to say that you shouldn't be cognizant of that responsibility that you're now obviously aware of and have described. But, you know, there is going in the other direction, XSLT also and you know, there's no Joe Rogan podcast if you're not at points making people angry.
It was also I understand that if I do have someone questionable and I have to challenge them on their ideas, I can't just let people just rant and say, I think if I was, it was just me and my friends, like nine years ago, 10 years ago.
And we were getting high and sit around and someone would say some crazy shit. I would just start laughing at it. And I didn't think, oh, this. Now they think that I'm agreeing with what this person is saying. But the just the absurdity of what people were saying would make me laugh. Now I go, oh, Jesus Christ, all these people are listening. I can't just laugh. I can't because I can't assume people know that.
I think this is preposterous. I have to jump in now and I go, OK, what are you saying? There's a giant audience. What what why are you saying this? And what do you really believe? Why do you believe that? And that's not true. And this is why it's not true. Like that's where I understand that I have a responsibility that I wish. Right. I wish sometimes I didn't have.
Yeah, but but. But you do whether you want it or not, you know. And I thought I thought I thought one really interesting episode that happened recently was that you was, you know, maybe like a month ago or six. We couldn't remember exactly when you claimed that. What was it that left wing anti fat activists had started some of the fires in the West Coast, which wasn't true. It was an inflammatory claim. And instead of doubling down or just like you said it, you immediately issued a statement that was, you know, self flagellating and its admission of error.
It was like I completely fucked up. I said something reckless.
It's why it was so stunning to see, because you never, ever, ever see major news outlets doing anything of the sort. Even when they say something that's much more destructive, that's false. You know, they'll like stealth, edit their errors. They'll add what they call a clarification. Everything is just like wormy and designed to avoid just saying, like, I fucked up. And ironically, nothing builds confidence in somebody more than acknowledging that in that way, that kind of unflinching way, like, yeah, I definitely fucked up, but I was really reckless and what I did and I'm going to try and avoid doing that again.
Well, there was no there was no no one telling me to do that.
This is one important thing a lot of people think of. Spotify told me to do that. They didn't even know about it. No. Yeah. I came in and Jamie told me, you know, that thing you said about the left wing people starting for as far as turns out to not be true. And I'm like, fuck, really? And so he shows me this thing and I'm like, well, I read and I was thinking about all the different people that I read on Twitter.
There were pointing it out. It turns out there was like one Black Lives Matter protester or activist that was caught lighting fires. And most of it was crazy people and there was a lot of arson. But it's hard to attribute that to any particular ideology. Ideology. Yes, exactly. So, yeah, I said, OK, I fucked up. And I knew also that I was going to go on vacation. I couldn't just let it sit.
So there was no consideration at all. I said, well, what do I do? And Jamie and I were talking about I go, I said, I should just make a video or I'm going to make a video and put it on Instagram. So I just grabbed my phone. I put it in front of my face. I said how I felt. And then I uploaded it. And then I did the podcast. That was it. And I said, that's the only way I can do.
If I make a mistake, I have to correct it. And I'm not. Again, I'm. Look, I'm going to make mistakes, I'm not married to my mistakes, I'm not married to anything I've already said if I made a mistake and I know it's not true, I know I'm incorrect, I must say that I made a mistake.
We all do that. We all do that like ten minutes ago. Right. I was purporting to describe your perspective about the twenty twenty election based on what I've heard and. Right. You know, around. Right. And I misstated it. I described it inaccurately. And you interjected and said that's not actually what I said. I wasn't because I was purposely mischaracterizing it. It's just we're human and we like gather information, especially with the amount of information that is surrounding us all the time and an incomplete way, or we remember it wrong or we interpret it incorrectly or reprocess it.
I remember Barry Weiss, who I used to be sworn enemies with, and now I'm like slowly developing kind of a friendship with her. When she was on your show once and she said and I talked to her about this, she said, you told me for some reason was brought up and she said, oh, I don't really like Tulsi. And you said, why not? And she said, because she's a total of aside. And you said what she is like, what's your basis for that?
And she couldn't give you one. She was like, what do you mean? Every that's what people say. Everybody knows that it's complete bullshit. Right? Like that is something a lot of people say about Tulsi, but there's no basis for that no matter. And, you know, Barry's a very smart person. She's reading constantly. I love her. She has a lot of expertise in those. Yeah. In those areas. But, you know, she just said something derogatory about someone that was untrue.
We ought not because she was deliberate, because our brains are imperfect. And if we don't recognize that that, you know, I don't think we can have any value. No. And that's one of the we're just like blowhards.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
I mean, you can if, you know, you fucked up and then you deny that, you know, you fucked up, you won't have any self-respect. You won't you won't appreciate your you're not going to ever respect yourself. You're not going to appreciate your thoughts.
You're always going to know you're a phony like me, because deep down you're going to know deep down you could have doubled down, you could double down and said, no, here's someone who said this, fuck all of you. And you would have been fine. But like, deep down, you would have known that you just, like, vomited on your integrity.
Never. I would never do that. I don't have that. Yeah. I just don't if I if I make mistakes, I'm sorry. And if I'm sorry, I say I'm sorry. Just how it is. I don't think there's any other way. But this is that's the only way you get good at things. You know, this comes from my martial arts background. So to get good at martial arts, you can't pretend you're good at things.
You have to find out what you're doing wrong and you have to correct it. If you don't correct it, you leave vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities. They equal pain cause you get hurt like you write, you lose. You know, you get hit, you get strangled. Whatever it is that applies, that's that that way of looking at the world, because I learned it at such a young age, because I grew up doing martial arts. So as I've become an adult, that's what I apply to everything.
I don't ever allow myself to bullshit myself and I won't bullshit other people. I'm not interested in it. I don't want anybody to think of me in any way other than who I am. I'm not interested in publicity. I'm not interested in in an image. I don't I don't. I am who I am. That's it. And if I fuck up, I tell you I'm sorry. Right.
And do you see how can you think of a time that you've seen The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, CNN issue an acknowledgement of error, but not even remotely in the same universe like that.
I know. But I also think that's a problem when you have an enormous organization that thinks about the consequences of an apology and the consequences of admitting error and that, you know, the scrutiny that comes with that. Of all the other things you said as well, like we don't have I mean, our business meeting, our big sit down was me literally walking in and talking to my friend Jamie and him showing me this article. And I'm going to shit.
I got to say something. All right. Let me say something right now. And the whole interaction took three minutes. And then I pull up my phone and I just make an apology. I mean, there's no people to run it by. I don't have to have a meeting where, you know, the executives sit down and say, listen, this could be very consequential to our ad revenue. This could really become a problem with people respecting your opinion on other things.
Just let it go. It'll go away. Don't talk about it. It'll go away.
But the reality but the reality is one derives benefit from doing it. I don't think the reason institutions avoid doing it is because they fear the consequences. Unless, you know, it's possible. If you defame somebody, then, of course, you're going to be lawyered up and be really constrained in what you can say.
But absent that, I think the reason is, is because they're so. Convinced of their own infallibility, and they want to always make sure that they're constantly affirming the fact that they are an institution of authority because they know people are listening less and less to them.
They constantly want to defend their own expertise and saying, hey, I fucked up. Yeah. In the in their warped, you know, thought process is something that's credibility eroding when in fact it's credibility and and saying, yeah, I think what you're talking about is what the the issue with their thought process.
That's really critical because like I said before, I, I have gone out of my way to make sure that I'm not married to my thoughts and I don't equate me with my ideas. I am you know, I'm just a human being in my ideas or some things that I embrace or don't. And they come in and out and I, I have ethics and morals and values. But my ideas, what I believe and don't believe, especially pertaining to events that I'm not even witness of, I don't I'm not married to those.
I think part of the problem is with many people being right or being wrong becomes a game and they're trying to win that game. It's one of the real problems with people when it comes to conversations where they're not when they're arguing with things, they become married to their ideas and they're not willing to concede that you have good points. I find it a virtue that if you're having a conversation with a person and they say something that shows you right away that you're not correct to be able to say, oh, yeah, you're right to be able to say it, because that's where for most people don't like doing that.
It's hard. No, it takes courage. It's it's you have to be vulnerable. You do that right. To say, I fucked up, I was reckless. That's that's it's exposing yourself in a very public way. But but I think that, you know, because I'm not I'm certainly not the person who does that best. I have difficulty myself, you know, acknowledging error in that way.
And I think one of the reasons that it's hard is because if you have a public platform, and especially with so much of our politics and discourse being conducted on social media, which is so toxic and brings out the worst and not the best in people, almost by design, anything where you show vulnerability is going to be used against you.
It's going to be used to attack you. I actually I remember when you when you did that, I observed it. I said, hey, look, for all you journalists who scorn him. When is the last time you've issued a correction, this unflinching. Right, this like just naked and it's acknowledgement of error with no attempt to justify your bullshit or adorn it with caveats. And a lot of people said to me, oh, fuck him. You know, look at the damage he did with disseminating this dangerous slander against the left.
You know how dangerous that is. He did it on purpose. No one heard his correction. You put yourself in a position where you're going to be mauled and the incentive is all the time to kind of protect yourself. Right. Like to be involved. It's like it's an incentive that we learn from the time we're children. Yeah. Is the way you protect yourself in life is by always being the strongest, by conveying strength and not vulnerability. And especially when you're in like the, you know, pit of political and journalistic war.
Doing that, it's difficult for a good reason.
Well, sometimes you have to tap out. You have to take the el, you know, when you fuck up. Yeah. And that's yeah. That's one of those moments. And I think you're great. I mean, I hate to call it work because it's hardly work, but the greater body of what you put out there speaks for itself. If someone wants to extract individual things out of context and try to draw a conclusion that that's who you are, there's one individual error, like when you fucked up about the fires, that's you.
That's you, that's you forever. Fuck you like that. Yeah, they're playing a game themselves. And, you know, that's that's a lack of accepting of nuance, a lack of appreciation of that. Human beings are these weird, flawed creatures that that maintain contradicting ideas all the time and that have fucked up thoughts and express themselves incorrectly and make errors and to deny that, well, you're playing a game now. You know, you're and it's oftentimes people that want to be want to pretend that they're so compassionate.
Those are the ones that often are the ones that are the most vicious doing that. And it's kind of weird. It's one of the things that I find about a lot of people that are a part of the ideological left. A lot of them were bullied and now they've become bullies, but they've become bullies in a non-physical way. They've become bullies in a cyber way. And they're they love the pylon. They love the gang up. And they become a part of it.
And they they find comfort in it.
Oh, for sure. I mean, I. Think, though, one of the things that I think we always have to be mindful, though, of is if you look at mental health data, if you look at things like depression and anxiety disorders and suicide rates there sky high. Right. Which is a paradox because the Internet was supposed to be this instrument of connectivity. It was supposed to connect us to one another more than we've ever been connected before.
And in a lot of ways, it's actually isolated us because now it's kind of kept us in our house, always looking at each other through the screen. It's separated. And then the pandemic obviously has made it way worse. And so what you have a lot of times people who are attacking you online so viciously trying to show their moral superiority to you, part of it is definitely what you've been saying, which is like this desire to feel power and strength because they felt like they lacked it as children and got picked on.
And so now they're going to get back to the world.
But part of it is just people are really frustrated and unhappy and angry in life for pretty valid reasons. Yes. And a lot of times you just become kind of the vessel for them to expel that. It's often very, very often not about you at all, but about them.
And it takes a while to internalize that, not to take that personally, because so often it's really those attacks are just kind of a vehicle for them to compensate for the deprivation that they have in life on so many different levels.
I think that's very accurate. And I think Twitter exacerbates that more than any other form of social media. This very Alan Innervates had a great way of putting it that it's processed information and it's bad for you the same way processed food is bad for you. It's not the way you're supposed to get information. It's not the way you're supposed to communicate. It's supposed to communicate. Looking at people in front of them, you're supposed to be seeing each other.
I mean, that's that's when we're at our best. And I think that the way people communicate on Twitter, it it exacerbates mental illness. It exacerbates anxiety and exacerbates depression. And certainly being isolated and being trapped because of the pandemic and being stuck at home exacerbates that as well. But I think I don't think it's healthy to argue with people that way. And the way people are willing to argue on Twitter, they would never communicate like that in person.
They're a fucking psychopath, right?
Never. Never. Joe, do you know, like, any time I sign on to the Internet at any second of any of the day, three thirty in the morning, 2:00 in the afternoon, whatever it is, I can find thousands of people saying the worst possible shit about me, like I was worse than Hitler in the 15 years that I've been doing this work, except for one old lady who was like rich in eighty five years old.
And I was walking down the street after a protest last year in Brazil at the height of the controversial reporting I was doing. And she opened her window and started cursing at me and telling me that I deserved to be imprisoned. Other than that crazy old lady, every single time somebody on the street has walked up to me because they recognize me from my work, it's been to say, I think your work is awesome. Congratulations on what you've done. It inspires me.
I really am a fan of yours.
Where are all the people who, you know, are saying, I am a white supremacist, that I'm sick and evil, that, you know, where are they that you don't they're in real life. They don't materialize. And that's why I think that so much of it is just that that thing that people have inside of them, that modern society creates through deprivation, that at least being anonymous and spewing hatred online enables them to some extent to expel.
And also you being a very high profile journalist, you become a target in that you're not even a normal person. Like it's it's easy to take free shots at you, like it's easy to justify those free shots. Like he's Glenn Greenwald. Fuck him, that guy. You know what the fuck? That guy. I don't even know you, right? Yeah.
Or yeah. People read about how much money you make or, you know, what success you've had and then you just become this like pixellated target and your humanity is, is, is drained for them. They don't see you at that as a human. They see you as this kind of object.
Well, I felt it ramp up considerably. There was a Forbes article like a year ago about how much I made and that ramped it up. And then the Spotify deal ramped it way up. It's like it's force free shots. It's just like you're at the carnival dunk tank and people want to throw it away. But I get it.
I end up saying nothing is fucking nothing is fucking free in life. Yeah. Like anything that you get that is a benefit will come with a cause. I don't know why the universe works that way, but it absolutely does. Like everything stays in balance. It does.
But it's also a challenge for you personally to sort of immunize yourself from that kind of hate and to also to to structure your life in a way that you're not bathing in it. You're not on Twitter reading comments and going back and forth with people like I see some celebrities do. And I've had conversations with friends that have like real mental health problems because of that. And I've called them up and I go. Man, stop doing that, stop reading comments, but it's an addiction, it's built to be an addiction, and I'm one of those fucking idiots who has tried often but failed to avoid that, in part because I do like the back and forth, like the vibrancy of exchange.
Like one of the things I always liked about new media versus old media is that journalists did ask to hear from critics and engage with them as opposed to speaking from the mountaintop. But like any drug that can start off really good and really pleasurable and open up like new experiences for you, it becomes when it becomes a kind of addiction, it becomes toxic and destructive, which is what it's become for me. But, you know, I think the other side of it is the same.
Like you can't get attached to the people who hate you, but you also can't see too much and placed too much importance on the admiration. Yes. Yeah, right. Because that it's kind of just the opposite side of the same coin. It's just like those people who were expressing hate toward you don't really hate you because they don't know you. The people who say they love you, don't love you. Right. Like they love your work. And that's a big, big difference.
And just like this also sounds banal, but like one of the things that I realized, you know, I never wanted to be a father. My husband, I adopted kids, two kids, two brothers, three years ago and last year, at the height of the Brazeau reporting when the right in Brazil hated me and the left loved me, they had this huge event which is in defense of my press freedom. After Bosna threatened to imprison me, it was like a hall filled with like 6000 people.
People had my, you know, signed like my name on it. It was just too much. It was like all the press was there. I did a press conference first, and before I went into that event, I was sitting in this kind of room that they put me in with my two kids. My husband already got on stage and my kids, who are 11 and nine at No. 10 and eight at the time, picked up like these little pieces of paper and put them in their mouth and found a straw and just started like spitting spitballs at my head.
So and then I go look over at them and they would like, just fucking giggle like I was the biggest douchebag on the planet. So like I was in this event, there was like historic in nature, like people chanting my name and carrying my signs. And I love I of course, I wanted to fucking strangle my kids because they were like shooting spitballs at my head. But at the same time, I was so grateful for them because they were treating me like, you know, just some, like, dumb, stupid dad who they were mocking.
And it just reminded me, like, all that other stuff is so fake, you know, it just it that's not the stuff that matters. It doesn't ultimately it doesn't really touch who you are.
That's one of the beautiful things about having comedian friends. They never let you slide. They're always fuck no.
Reverend, this is no reverend. I'm sure they just fucking torture you. We torture each other all the time, but it keeps us safe. But there's love in it. Like one of my friends roasts me and, you know, they send something me on Twitter, I start laughing or on my text message, rather, I just start laughing like I'm in a text thread with a bunch of comedian friends. And it's horrific shit.
But it's funny, but it's funny, you know, even if it's got. Yeah. Pointed towards you, it's it's what we were talking about earlier about these aren't right. People that lean towards the attention that they get and it ultimately becomes toxic. And I think they recognize the folly in that when when it goes away and they realize where where are those people? And I lean towards them and maybe express myself in a disingenuous way to try to get their love.
And now I find myself the victim of that. Yeah, yeah, I mean, it's like, you know, it's like anything anything in excess can can destroy you, including success or admiration or hatred or anything. It's it's really important to keep that balance.
Well, you look at how many celebrities lose their fucking minds and what I mean, it's almost commonplace. We expect it. We expect them people that that gain massive amounts of fame and adulation to lose their minds. It's normal like we do.
I mean, yeah, I watch like two biopics in a row by accident, like the Michael Jackson one, where they just included his accusers, which, believe them or not, like Michael Jackson and all kinds of fucked up things in his life and died at 50. And then Freddie Mercury, who had a not entirely identical but still similar trajectory. All the fame, all the money, all the adulation that you could possibly want in the world and all the like, most fucked up pathologies that ultimately killed them as well.
That came with it. They were completely intertwined.
Yeah, my favorite example is Elvis, because Elvis is one of the first I mean, when when Elvis became that famous in the 1950s, in the 60s, there was really no one like that before him or very few people that he could mirror, like he could say, you know, like I could call you Dave Chappelle. And, you know, I've got some weird shit about being famous is fucking with me. I can call him and maybe at least we find common ground.
And I feel like, OK, I'm not the only one out there that feels weird about all this. Who the fuck was Elvis going to call? You know, Elvis wasn't going to call anyone.
There was no Elvis before Elvis. Look how Elvis wound up all piled up and fat, fucked up and confused.
And he pretty much he probably he pretty much like, ruined himself. Like he took what made him famous, his good looks, his body, his like ability to dance. And he just he got fat and bloated. And then he killed himself. Right. Like he was at war with it. Yeah, he was at war with it.
Yeah. And I don't I don't think it's tenable. I don't think anybody could really manage it at that scale. I think when you get to that Michael Jackson level, you get to that Elvis level. It's like there is no normal and there is no one you can measure. There's no one who's going to understand what you're going through. Your your you recognizable in every square inch of the planet. And it's it's madness. You become mad. And, you know, Elvis is one of the best examples of that.
But I think there's a little bit that we can all anybody that's in the public eye can learn from those examples. And you need something that grounds you you need you've got to find something, whether it's meditation or yoga or or marathon running. You've got to have something that's a real thing. That's a real struggle. That's a real thing that you have to have energy and focus and and that can ground you and can you can you can use the tools and the the mental fortitude that you gather from that.
And it can help you survive the bullshit from the other things.
Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I, I do yoga. Meditation has saved my life on multiple occasions, precisely for that reason that, you know, even independent of like whether you're well known or or were successful in your career. Think like you need some escape from just materiality. Yeah. From like the constant pressures and and in this like one dimensional form of evaluating yourself like that spirituality that you can't get if you don't have religion, as most of us these days don't in the West, you don't need religion, but you do need spirituality of some kind, like just some purpose, some connection to something beyond just your immediate material desires.
And I do think if you deny yourself that, you're going to get off kilter at best. And yeah, I think I think that's because we create purpose and making money or being famous or doing well in your career isn't purpose. It's something that can enable purpose. It's something that can help you fulfill your purpose. But it in itself is not purpose. And if that's all you're pursuing to the exclusion of other things are all that's defining you. Yeah, I don't think you're going to end up very good.
Because there's something that comes with too much success is a lack of lessons. You know, there's just too much adulation and love and too many people are holding doors open for you and tell you how great you are. And you don't you don't learn from those lessons. There's no lessons there. The lessons come from failure and from struggle. And without that, it's very hard to define yourself. I couldn't agree more, Glenn. I'm glad we did this.
Next time, I'm going to be in that cool little red studio they've built for you there. All right, man. Beautiful. Well, I hope that's great. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you. Great talking to you, Joe. I really appreciate it, too. All right.
Take care. Bye. Thank you, friends, for tuning in to the show. And thank you to athletic greens. If you are interested in upgrading your daily health routine and you want to use something that's easy to maintain is a daily habit. You want athletic greens, they deliver it straight to your door. It tastes great. It's super high quality and you'll be hard pressed to find a more complete formula. So whether you're here in the U.S., whether you're in Canada, Australia, Europe or the U.K., jump on over to athletic Greens, Dotcom Rogan and claim a special offer today and get their vitamin D liquid dropper for free with your first purchase.
That's up to a year's supply of immune boosting vitamin D combined with their daily greens. It's some serious nutritional insurance. Again, head to athletic Greens Dotcom Rogan and claim this special offer. Today, we're also brought to you by CBD M.D. and their fantastic CBD products that I take every single day. I love the products and to make it even easier for you to try any of their amazing tropicals and everything else that CBD has to offer, they are offering Jarry listeners 25 percent off your next order when you use the promo code Rogan at checkout.
So once again, that CBD M.D. Dotcom used the promo code Rogan for 25 percent off your purchase of their superior CBD products from CBD, MD were also brought to you by policy genius. If you need life insurance, head to policy genius Dotcom. Right now to get started, you could save 50 percent or more by comparing quotes policy genius when it comes to insurance. It's nice to get it right. And we're brought to you by the fitness tracker that I wear on my wrist every single day.
I sleep with it, I work out with it. It is the best fitness tracker I've ever used. And Wub wants to hook you up. They're offering 15 percent off all memberships, give up a shot. And if it's not for you, they offer a 30 day return policy. No questions asked. So head on over to w h o o p dotcom. Enter our program at checkout and say 15 percent off. Join Wub today and sleep better, recover faster and train smarter with group.
Thank you friends. Thanks for tuned in to show much. Love to you all. Bye bye.