Everyone Condemns Big Tech—Who Is Fighting It? DOJ/Google, Crowder/Shapiro, Brazil, & Mor
Note From Glenn Greenwald:The following is the full show transcript, for subscribers only, of a recent episodeof our System Update program, broadcast live on Rumble on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. Going forward, every new transcript will be sent out by email and posted to our Locals page,where you'll find the transcripts for previous shows.
WatchSystem Update Episode #28 Here on Rumble.
Many people in politics and journalism love to tell how angry they are at Big Tech, how much contempt they harbor for it, and how devoted they are to subverting, weakening, and undermining it. And while some of them do mean that, many of them do not. When everyone is watching and the cameras are rolling, they strut around posturing as threatening and menacing enemies of Big Tech but when the cameras are off and nobody is looking, many of them suddenly lose interest in what they are claiming is such a passionate cause for them, while others do something much more cynical, and more destructive: they work to fortify and benefit from the very system of Big Tech they claim to despise.
This is a topic that can lend itself to moral posturing, sanctimony, and hectoring but I think it's both too nuanced and too important to lose time with any of that. We’re going to try and do our best to examine what is actually a challenging and an interesting question: faced with a very small group of corporate giants who have used anti-competitive practices to make themselves virtually unchallengeable and inescapable, how can one shrewdly subvert their power without sacrificing one's integrity, or, worse, cynically exploiting the sincere anger of the public toward Big Tech for one's own personal aggrandizement?
We'll use several recent stories in the news – including the ugly and vitriolic dispute between YouTuber Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire, The filing of a new lawsuit yesterday by the Biden DOJ against Google, Rumble’s various battles against Big Tech censorship, and the growing censorship crisis in Brazil – to understand who those are who are attempting to foster free speech on the Internet and who is fraudulently pretending to do so.
For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now.
One of the easiest and surest ways to win applause in right-wing media and political circles is to raise your fist in condemnation of Big Tech. Indeed, along with the Deep State and left-wing cultural dogma, Big Tech has, for good reasons, become such a consensus villain for conservatives that expressing contempt for it is virtually a prerequisite for acceptance in right-wing politics. That's not a surprise, since polls show that 80% of conservative Republicans believe Big Tech is in fact biased against them and favors liberal views.
But as we all learned at a very young age, actions speak louder than words, and that's because words are easy and actions are much harder. Put another way, words can have an impact but are generally harmless. Actions, however, can subvert, and disrupt, and transform and overthrow. And that's why they're much more important than words are now.
Corporate lobbyists in Washington certainly understand the difference between words and actions. They know, for instance, that in order for Democratic Party politicians to have any chance to win elections – especially Democratic Party primaries, but increasingly general elections as well – it's necessary for Democrats like Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to rail against the evils of Wall Street and vow to attack structural income and wealth inequality if they win, and even go after Wall Street tycoons and finally hold them accountable.
And that is why we so often see what looks to be a paradox, namely that Democratic politicians, like Joe Biden, who rage against the Wall Street machine and pound their fists on the table in anger over the unfairness of income inequality and large corporate bonuses, nonetheless, end up drowning in campaign cash from Wall Street and their lobbyists, far more so than their opponents. That's because Wall Street lobbyists are sophisticated enough to know that Democrats – when their foreheads bulge with anger on the campaign trail, as they scream about the wretched corruption of banks – do not actually mean a word of what they're saying.
Both Democrats and their corporate donors know that this is all theater, designed to trick voters into voting for them so that they can then acquire power and use that power to serve the interests of the Wall Street barons they pretend to loathe. It's all a game. Everyone inside the Beltway understands the game; the marks are the voters.
This deceitful game is by no means confined to Democratic politicians or politicians generally. Many companies, media personalities, and government agencies love to drape themselves in the costumes of popular values or causes that they do not actually support and sometimes actively oppose and despise. And that is definitely true of vocal opposition to Big Tech, opposition that produces great benefits to those who express it – votes for politicians, clicks and subscriptions, and advertising dollars for media companies – yet are often accompanied either by total inaction or, worse, by fortifying Big Tech’s structures when nobody is looking.
I don't want to pretend that this is always a clean and easy issue. When I left The Intercept, I decided that I would only work with and bring my audience to platforms that I believe are truly devoted to creating free speech zones on the Internet and defining and fighting against various pressures and even legal coercion to censor unpopular and anti-establishment voices offline – which is why I've spent the last two years publishing my written journalism at Substack, my video broadcast exclusively on Rumble and my podcasts on the Callin app.
But I realize not everyone has the same luxury that I have. I've spent 15 years or so building a large and portable audience that will read or watch my journalism wherever I go. But for younger journalists or commentators just starting out and trying to make their way, I completely understand that compromises are sometimes necessary.
Indeed, the crux of the Big Tech problem is that they are – according to the official position of the House Antitrust Subcommittee – monopolies in the classic and legal sense of that word. That means, by definition, that Big Tech corporations engage in anti-competitive practices, making it all but impossible for any competitors to emerge.
That also means that they have the power to unify, to crush any competitors that begin challenging their hegemony – as we saw them do quite brazenly back in January 2021, when the Free Speech app Parler – remember them? – became the number-one most downloaded app in the country – ahead of TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram – following the banning of the sitting president, Donald Trump, by Twitter and Facebook, only for Democratic politicians to quickly demand that Apple and Google remove Parler from its stores, which had the effect of crippling Parler by preventing new users and impeding functionality for existing users by making updates impossible, followed by Amazon's refusal and rejection of the platform from their dominant hosting services. So within 48 hours, Parler went from being the most downloaded app in the country to barely existing on life support, and it never really recovered. If that didn't illustrate to you the virtually unchallengeable dominance and hegemony of Big Tech, I can't imagine what would.
All of this also means that it is close to impossible to find an audience, a new audience in particular, without in some way using Big Tech’s platforms. So even though I was able to make the choice to only work with and for free speech alternatives to Big Tech, I still use Big Tech to promote the journalism we do. I use Twitter to make myself heard and ensure I can influence political conversations. And since we launched our new show, this show, last month, we have used and continue to use all Big Tech platforms – Facebook, Google's YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – to promote the show in the hopes of reaching new viewers, which is one of the goals of this show. So, as devoted as I am to this cause of free speech and crushing Big Tech's power to censor political speech off the Internet – and that cause is, if not my overarching cause, certainly one of my primary ones – it would be close to impossible for me to avoid Big Tech platforms entirely if I want to have any actual impact on our politics of our country, and the broader political and cultural conversation.
And if that's true for someone like myself, who has been able to build one of the most independent and reliable independent media platforms in the country, it's certainly true of others who are younger, less established, and still looking for ways to bring attention to their work. So I appreciate the nuances of these challenges and don't intend to approach this with a posture of sanctimonious hectoring, or moral superiority. I believe everyone should be expected to act with integrity in accordance with their stated principles. That's for sure. But complete purity is a luxury reserved for poets and artists or those who are born into great familial wealth. And even for that lofty group, a type of fanatical purity would still make it close to impossible to be heard in our current politics.
But while recognizing those intricacies, I think it's important to nonetheless examine who is cynically exploiting the cause of liberating us from Big Tech and reconstructing the Internet as a venue where free speech and free inquiry can flourish. And while most cases may be borderline or morally ambiguous, some are not.
Let's take the case of Congressman Jim Jordan, of Ohio, who is one of the most talented speakers and most skilled rhetorical advocates in all of Congress. When Congressman Jordan goes on Fox News or speaks before the crowds of the conservative and MAGA faithful, few can rile them up as he can. He rolls up his sleeves, he gets very angry and very vocal and very passionate. He's easily one of the five most powerful and influential members of the House Republican Caucus, in part because of his defiant and aggressive anti-Big Tech posture that he loves to show and is so good at expressing. But in larger part because of his great skill at raising huge amounts of corporate cash that fuels the Republican machine. And that professed cause of his – fighting Big Tech – is often directly at odds with the base of his power inside Congress, namely his prowess at raising large amounts of corporate cash.
But how has Jim Jordan used this great power inside Congress to advance what he claims is his passionate cause of fighting Big Tech? If you ask those whose specialty is working on anti-Big Tech legislation – as I have – they will struggle to give you an answer.
And while it's tempting to say that they're just doing nothing, that's actually not true. They are doing something. People like Jim Jordan are protecting Big Tech and obstructing any actual meaningful reforms. Along with newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Jordan has repeatedly opposed bipartisan antitrust proposals that are designed to solve the problem of Big Tech's power to censor. In 2021, when Congress released its report declaring those four Big Tech companies – Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook – to be monopolies, and a package of bills after a year-long investigation into all of those companies and how they legally maintain their monopolies, what was Jim Jordan's response? Mr. anti-Big Tech filed a dissenting view to that report.
And last September, he opposed a bill that would increase the fees these companies have to pay when they file for a merger with the government. Now, time and again, anti-Big Tech politicians like Jordan not only fail to hold Big Tech accountable, but they also actually do Big Tech's bidding – in the backrooms and the sewers of Congress, and the places Donald Trump denounced as the Swamp, when the cameras are off and his base is at work and nobody is looking and he's there only with Google and Facebook lobbyists who have their checkbook out ready to reward subservience to those companies interests.
And there is nothing particularly complex or morally ambiguous about that kind of deceit. It is exploitative, condescending to voters, and deeply cynical in all of the worst ways. There are, though, other instances that I think raise more ambiguities that I want to look at, especially recent developments in the news that help us better understand how the cause of Big Tech is being exploited by some and pursued with authenticity by others.
Just this week, the Department of Justice, the Biden Department of Justice, filed a lawsuit aimed at one company, Google, that is designed to dismantle Google's ability to crush the competition by using its various platforms, particularly its online advertising dominance, in order to basically manipulate the entire industry.
Here from the Washington Post, you see the headline “Justice Department Sues Google Over Dominance in Online Advertising”. And the article reports:
The lawsuit, the second federal case pending against the search giant, alleges that the company's core ad business should be broken up because Google allegedly used its dominant position in the online ad industry to box out competitors. By neutralizing rivals and forcing publishers to use its products, Google was able to dictate the rules of the marketplace for online ads, the lawsuit says (The Washington Post. Jan.24, 2023).See AlsoHUGE: Political Rockstar Kari Lake DESTROYS Stephen Richer And Elitist Bill Gates’ Lies With Cheating Maricopa County Heat Map And Locations Of Machine Failures On Election Day, AT LEAST 7,000 Ballots Rejected EVERY 30 Minutes (VIDEO)LA Times is Wrong: Natural Gas Prices are NOT Due to ‘Instability of Fossil Fuels’House Votes to Limit Strategic Petroleum Reserve Release, against Brandon Admin’s Wishes
The suit alleges that Google engaged in a “systematic campaign” to gain a grip on the high-tech tools that publishers, advertisers, and brokers use to buy and sell digital advertising. Now, I know this sounds technical, but this is vital to understanding Big Tech's stranglehold on our politics and our economy.
Having inserted itself into all aspects of the digital advertising marketplace, Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies”, the lawsuit says. Google has used its control over the ad market to harm its rivals, resulting in a “broken” advertising market in which website creators earn less and advertisers pay more, the Justice Department says (The Washington Post. Jan.24, 2023).
That's a pure distortion of a free market when one company can use its dominance to render basically how much money people make and how much money they can charge. The article goes on.
This also affects consumers because when publishers make less money from advertising, they have to charge people, through subscriptions, paywalls, and other forms of monetization, the lawsuit claims. […] The suit adds to Google's mounting legal challenges; the company is already fending off a separate federal antitrust lawsuit that was filed in the fall of 2020 during the Trump administration. That suit, which is focused on Google search results, is scheduled to go to trial this year. Google also faces multiple antitrust lawsuits led by state attorneys general. […]
Biden has signaled his intention to take on Big Tech's power, in part by appointing tech critics Lina Khan and Jonathan Kanter as head of the Federal Trade Commission and chief of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, respectively.
Under Khan, the FTC has been increasingly active in challenging mergers in the tech industry. The agency last month brought a challenge against Microsoft's acquisition of the game developer Activision, and it also argued in a California courtroom against Meta's acquisition of a virtual reality startup. […] The Justice Department, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, has several antitrust losses in its first year but more recently has notched a string of high-profile victories, including a court ruling that blocked the merger of two powerful book publishers. […] Yet antitrust enforcers continue to face an uphill battle in a court system that has taken an increasingly narrow view of competition law (The Washington Post. Jan.24, 2023).
Now, let's stop there for a second because there are some very important issues lurking within this. I don't think I need to prove my bona fides as a vehement critic of the Biden administration, it is something I do virtually on a daily basis and have done since the very start of the Biden administration. But this is actually one area in which the Biden administration seems genuine about its commitment to a cause that has become increasingly popular among the American right, namely reining in the virtually uncontrolled power of Big Tech. And as a result, after a lot of skepticism, these two people in particular, the head of the DOJ antitrust Division that just brought this lawsuit against Google, and Lina Khan, the very serious scholarly head of the Federal Trade Commission, have gained a lot of support among Republican members of Congress who began skeptical of what their intentions were, for reasons I completely understand. Many Democrats want to weaken Big Tech or threaten to weaken Big Tech for only one reason: to gain leverage in order to influence or coerce them to censor the Internet in favor of the Democratic Party by censoring content that dissents from Democratic Party orthodoxy or censoring voices who oppose Democratic Party politics.
And so there was good reason for Republican skepticism about the motives or the interests behind some of these antitrust actions. But serious Republicans in Congress, conservatives in Congress, like Congressman Ken Buck, who was the ranking member of the House Antitrust Committee – that issued that report, declaring those four companies a monopoly, and it was now, I think, poised to become the chair of that subcommittee – has become an ally of Senator Amy Klobuchar in the Senate with her bipartisan bill that I referenced last night to break up the power of some of these companies, legislation that has attracted the support of real conservatives in the Senate, including Josh Hawley, of Missouri, and Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Ted Cruz, of Texas.
So, you see this bipartisan trans-ideological coalition forming over what is, I think, a very serious effort to rein in the power of Big Tech, because people realize, regardless of where they fall in the political spectrum, that having giants of this limitless power able to basically run roughshod over all competitors, to do whatever they want with no limits of any kind, is incompatible with having a healthy democracy. And perhaps people who are conservative are more angry about this because of the censorship issue, and people who are Democrats are more angry because of the economic antitrust issues but, at the end of the day, the core premise is a shared one, which is that we cannot have these companies any longer, three or four of them, utterly dominating one of the most important human innovations in decades, if not centuries, which is the Internet.
The stranglehold that gives them over every aspect of our civic life is far too excessive. And that's where a lot of this is coming from, from a genuine conviction that these companies need to be reined in. And yet, as I said, there are still Republicans in the House, in particular like Jim Jordan, who continue to talk a good game. He probably wouldn't disagree with a word I've said so far, except for that little part where I accused him of being a fraud but, other than that, he would endorse all of the things I've said about Big Tech, and yet he has nothing to show for it. He has nothing to show for it, like so many of the conservatives in Congress with him, because they are exploiting their base and their voters, knowing that many of you hate Big Tech and that you'll donate every time they go on Fox and rail against it or speak about it at a rally. But then their real allies are not you but Google and Facebook lobbyists and they are there to block and impede both regulatory and legislative attempts to rein in the power of Big Tech. That does not mean that there are never valid reasons for questioning some of these attempts to rein in Big Tech.
I understand that in conservative politics, antitrust legislation is not always a consensus and popular view, but it is a consensus view among Republicans and conservatives if you look at polling data, that people believe that the power of Big Tech is wildly and aggressively excessive and needs to be reined in. And there are genuine efforts that are serious and based in a genuine conviction that Big Tech is too excessive and needs to be reined in. And a lot more could be done in this realm if it weren't for, on the one hand, liberals in Congress whose only interest is exploiting these measures to influence Big Tech to censor more, and then, on the other, conservatives who have a much greater interest in receiving checks from Google and Facebook and Apple and Amazon than they do serving the cause that they claim to their base they really believe in. That's the reality of what's taking place here.
Let's move to the next graphic from July. So just six months ago, when I was at Substack, we reported on an important case, the one that was brought by Rumble against Google. And this is the perfect example of how anti-competitive practices work. I mentioned this last night. Remember last night's show? We talked about how every time there's an attempt to rein in Big Tech power legislatively or through regulation or through lawsuits, the people who are the first to pop up and protect Big Tech and demand that nothing be done is the U.S. Security State, led by James Clapper and people like Fran Townsend and the rest of that whole crew, Mike Morrell, CIA directors and homeland security advisers who understand that keeping Big Tech hegemonic and monopolistic is crucial to their agenda of ensuring the flow of information stay within their stranglehold, within their control, so that the only things you hear are things they want you to hear, and none of the things they don't want you to hear become available to you.
And one of the companies that is on board with the same effort that I just explained from The Washington Post is being pursued by the Biden Justice Department, to their credit, is this very platform right here, which is Rumble, which is one of the reasons I've decided to be on this platform instead of others. Now, before I explain this lawsuit and its importance, I want to just be very upfront and transparent about my relationship with Rumble. Because if I'm going to talk about Rumble, I think you quite rightly want to know what my interest might be.
So, to begin with, I have no ownership of any kind of Rumble. I have no stock on Rumble and no stock options on Rumble, under no conceivable theory do I benefit financially if Rumble does well financially. My only relationship with Rumble is that I have a show on Rumble, a nightly Show, the one you're watching, that they pay for me to produce, in a contract that we signed about six months ago. I had a contract with them previously, a much smaller one, to produce two or three videos per month. And in all contracts that I've ever signed with any media company, including The Intercept, the one that I founded, or any other company with which I've ever worked, including Rumble, I always have a guarantee of absolute editorial freedom, by which I mean that nobody can review my show before it airs.
Nobody has the power to come to me after and tell me they dislike their content. It's a guaranteed multi-year contract, which means that even if I decided for whatever reason to devote my program every single night to doing nothing but trying to convince you that Rumble is evil, Rumble has no way out of the contract. They can't stop paying me. They can't cancel my show no matter what it is that I do or say. Their ability to get out of that contract is extremely limited. It's limited to things like my death or my conviction of felony charges, and that's pretty much it.
So, Rumble has zero leverage over me in terms of anything that I can say, and we even talked about how, it will probably be the case, in the future, that Rumble will do things that I disagree with and dislike, and I will likely denounce them and they want me to because that demonstrates that their commitment to free speech is a genuine one. They want criticisms of their conduct as a company to be heard on their very platform, including by the people with whom they have the most significant contractual relationship such as myself. So that's my only incentive scheme. I have no incentive when it comes to Rumble, when I'm reporting on them, when I'm talking about them to do anything other than tell you the truth, I don't benefit if I praise them; I don't suffer if I criticize them.
But in this lawsuit that we reported on, in July of 2022, Rumble sued Google, claiming antitrust violations similar to the one the Trump Justice Department raised back in 2020. So, let's be clear about that. It's not just the Biden DOJ suing Google and other Big Tech companies for antitrust violations. A very similar suit was also brought by the Trump DOJ relating to the way that they manipulate their search terms to destroy competitors. And the theory of the Rumble lawsuit is one that I have discovered personally is unquestionably true, which is that one of the things that Google does is that, if you are a competitor of Google's, not in terms of their search engine, but in terms of any of their many businesses, including their ownership of YouTube, they will make sure that you are buried. And given that something like 90 or 93% of all people who search on the Internet use Google, that dominance is incredibly powerful. They can bury you if they want to. Can any of you even name alternatives or competitors to Google Search engine? Just like maybe Yahoo still has theirs? I'm not even sure. Bing? But Google is essentially the only game in town. So, if they decide to bury you, it's going to be very hard for you to thrive and exist.
And there is no question that they bury Rumble's videos on purpose. Why? Because Rumble is a competitor to their other platform, which is YouTube. I've encouraged you before if you want to find one of my videos, even ones that have millions of views and there are several that do, go to a Google search engine and enter the topic with my name and video. And oftentimes what will appear as the first, second, and third results are copies of my show that people without permission posted on YouTube, or excerpts of it, that maybe have six or seven or eight views, and you have to go to the second or the third or the fourth page to find my video on Rumble if you can even find it at all.
There have been times when I even know the exact title of the video, the show that I’m looking for, on Google, and yet I can barely find it. So, the theory of this lawsuit, which is that Google exploits its dominance, its market dominance, to destroy its competitors, is one that I personally know to be true. And that's why a court refused to dismiss Rumble’s lawsuit against Google, ensuring that Rumble now has the right to a very vast discovery about how Google manipulates its algorithms and its search engine and things. It should be very illuminating on this topic. But this is an example. Rumble spending its own money to sue Google for antitrust violations, or Trump and the Biden Justice Department suing Google, a very powerful company, to me are examples of genuine attempts to subvert and undermine Big Tech censorship and Big Tech monopolistic power, as opposed to the posturing that certain Republican members of Congress like Jim Jordan do.
Now, let's look at the recent controversy that became very ugly and vitriolic but is, nonetheless, lurking within. It contains some really interesting points about this exact question, which is the controversy I'm sure you've heard, most of you, that arose between the very popular YouTuber Steven Crowder, who also has a show on this platform on Rumble, and Ben Shapiro's company, Daily Wire, which has become a remarkable success as a new right-wing media company.
And what I really want to do is steadfastly avoid almost every single component of this dispute, many of which are personal, many of which became very ugly, involving things like people tape-recording each other without their authorization, particularly Stephen Crowder doing that to a Daily Wire executive, a bunch of allegations back and forth over ethics and other things. I also want to avoid the question of whether Steven Crowder is worth $50 million, or whether the Daily Wire really offered him a $50 million contract. All of those things are kind of interesting, in part, because they say a lot about independent media and the financial components of how independent media works. Also, all of us love drama, let's be honest. So, there are a lot of personality conflicts there that I just don't want to take my show's time to devote to and I don't think it's a good use of your time.
So here are the key facts. Let's bring up the Forbes article from January 20, 2023. “Right-Wing Pundits Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder Clash Over $50 Million Media Deal”. And I know a lot of you are thinking, why should I care about very rich conservative commentators fighting over a $50 million deal? And that's not an unreasonable position. But let's look at what the actual dispute was.
In a video posted online this week, Crowder said that some outlets were “in bed with” tech companies and were colluding to ultimately monetize and censor right-wing views on social media platforms, though he didn't name any outlets specifically. […] Crowder also showed excerpts of a contract from one company – later confirmed to be The Daily Wire with the compensation penalizations if his programming faced loss of advertising revenue, including from advertiser boycotts, or if Crowder's channels were demonetized by social media platforms (Forbes. Jan, 20, 2023).
So let me just stop here and just reduce this to its simplest terms. Well, obviously, Steven Crowder and The Daily Wire, as right-wing outlets and pundits are both vehemently hostile toward Big Tech. They denounce it with great regularity. They argue that Big Tech poses a grave threat to our national discourse and to our right to free speech as a result of their censorship.
And yet, says Steven Crowder, when The Daily Wire sent me a term sheet contained within in – it was a very generous offer – but it specifically says that if I am to be demonetized by YouTube or otherwise de-platformed or penalized by other Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I will end up being penalized significant amounts of penalties as a result of my following outside of the lines of Big Tech.
And Stephen Crowder's argument is that what The Daily Wire's essentially doing is, on the one hand, telling their viewers and their subscribers that they're not just a business but a cause, and one of their main causes is fighting against Big Tech and trying to subvert Big Tech by creating an independent and self-sustaining media ecosystem that is independent of Big Tech and, therefore, guarantees free speech. But then, on the other hand, as they say, they're sending around contracts requiring their commentators to obey the limits imposed by Big Tech on what they can and can't say because if you step outside of those lines, you will be punished, which is another way of saying that The Daily Wire, it’s Stephen Crowder's argument, while pretending to its audience that they're subverting Big Tech, in fact, instead, is doing the opposite in order to profit as much as possible, which is fortifying Big Tech's power by telling all of their commentators, you had better obey the limits they impose on you or else you will lose huge amounts of revenue.
So, let's look at Steven Crowder himself. He went on the show hosted by Tim Pool, where he talked about what he claims was his primary motive in essentially blowing the whistle on what he says he regards as deceit within conservative media when it comes to whether or not they're really opposed to Big Tech as they tell their viewers or whether they're in bed with them. Let's take a look at a couple of clips:
Steven Crowder: I said this is wrong, penalizing conservatives and I believe this to my absolute core, penalizing conservatives on behalf of Big Tech while taking money from people who are paying you, investing in you to fight Big Tech – That is what they're investing in. That is what Mug Club is investing in and that's what subscribers are investing in – while simultaneously penalizing consumers as fundamentally wrong. I had that conversation, and said, Look, just please give me your word you're not going to be doing this with other people who, as you well know, when you start in this industry, don't know better.
Ok. So, he's basically saying, look, I don't even care about myself anymore. I don't want their $50 million. What I really want is for them to give me assurances that they won't do this to anyone else, that they won't do this to younger people. They will continue to fortify Big Tech's power of censorship by giving out contracts that highly incentivize people to obey Big Tech limitations. I, for example, don't have to care about what Big Tech decides is and is not permissible because I'm here on Rumble and I can say what I want here. But at the same time, if I were to be censored off Twitter, that could actually impact my ability to promote my show and be heard. So, I also have somewhat of an incentive to avoid that as well. But financially and in terms of the work I do and the journalism I do, there's no incentive for me to remain within Big Tech’s limits. That's what was true when I was at Substack as well. And that's why I went to those sites because the last thing I want to do is fortify a Big Tech censorship regime. I want to subvert it and fight against it by strengthening not Big Tech platforms, but those platforms that are designed at their core to undermine the censorship regime built by corporate media and the parts of the U.S. government, like the Security State and the rest. I want to undermine and subvert that and overthrow it, not fortify it.
Here's another clip from Steven Crowder on why he thinks the Daily Wire contract deceives their audience by doing the opposite of what they claim.
(Video 48:02 )
Steven Crowder: There are good people at YouTube. There are some good people there who want, but their hands are tied. And guess what? Everyone else's hands are tied. If you say, Hey, we're all trying to fight this system that exists, but you're not, you're mandating that you exist within the system. Only one person is saying, Hey, you know what? If you want to be monetizing, you don't. That's fine. And one is saying you have to fit into this box.
All right. Let's look at one more. He's pretty much making the same point, but let's just give him his due and hear what he has to say.
Steven Crowder: But there is this jockeying for position with people who they see as competition. And the issue here that I have always made clear is the locking in of these punitive contracts that mandate and enforce Big Tech policies and guidelines as a matter of business, and that hurts creators.
So that argument standing on its own seems to me inherently reasonable. If you are saying on the one hand that a major cause of yours is overthrowing the regime of Big Tech, and then on the other, you're highly incentivizing people, in fact, requiring them, essentially, to obey whatever limits Big Tech happens to impose, whatever side of the bed YouTube wakes up on or Facebook wakes up on, and decides that you're now, I'd say this or not, you're now required by your self-interest to stay within the limits, it's very hard to authentically claim that you're fighting a system that you're in fact fortifying. That seems to me on its face to be a reasonable argument and an important one. Because if right-wing media outlets that are claiming to be the mortal enemies of Big Tech, presenting themselves as this huge menace to the hegemonic force of Big Tech are in fact inextricably linked to them and want to stay linked to them because of the millions of dollars they make from them, that seems like a real conflict, a problem – a big problem to me – that he is exposing.
But let's look at the response from the CEO of The Daily Wire, who, I think, did a very good job laying out, from a business perspective, why it makes sense for The Daily Wire to want to earn profit from Big Tech. Big Tech is a huge industry. I mean, if I wanted to build the biggest audience possible, as quickly as possible, I probably would go on YouTube and not Rumble. YouTube is still way, way bigger than Rumble, even though Rumble is growing rapidly and gives me enough of an audience to make the show successful and I believe will keep growing. If I were just interested in how to monetize the show, I would probably go to YouTube. But since I'm not interested only in that, I'm interested in the cause. Here I am in Rumble and not YouTube. So, Daily Wire's response is a business response that is essentially the way we make the most profit is by adhering to Big Tech limits. Here's what he has to say.
J. Boreing, The Daily Wire: If the content simply cannot appear and therefore cannot not only be used for marketing, cannot be used to grow, the brand also can't be monetized. Well, we can't pay him the same as if it was. If you're making 25% of your money on YouTube and now YouTube is permanently gone, you can't make that money anymore. It's not punishment. And this is really what it comes down to Steven’s philosophy seems to be: I deserve to be paid millions and millions and millions of dollars. Whether my show drives the revenue or not. That's not a business relationship. He's not looking for a business relationship. It's looking for a benefactor. The Daily Wire is not a nonprofit. We aren't benefactors. We're a business. We only get to eat what we kill.(Video) Truth About Steven Crowder’s $50M Deal With Ben Shapiro
I mean, I don't think any of you who have seen The Daily Wire or Ben Shapiro would doubt that they’re a business, they're looking to make money. And that's fine. That's legal in the United States. That's capitalism. But that is different than claiming that you're pursuing it because oftentimes those things are aligned and in other instances, they're in conflict. And the question is when they're in conflict, which do you choose? Now, as I said, it's not always easy. You can't completely insulate yourself from Big Tech if you want to be a viable business. But if you present yourself as a cause, a political cause, the reason people give you money is because they agree with your cause, there do have to be some occasions in which you're willing to sacrifice more and more profit and self-enrichment. These guys are all very, very rich already. There has to be a moment when you're willing to say, I'm willing to sacrifice some profit, some money, in the name of the cause that I am convincing people I support – and in getting money from them on the basis of having convinced them of that. But all of these answers are about the business of The Daily Wire, the profiteering of The Daily Wire. Let's look at one more just to make sure he has his due as well.
J. Boreing, The Daily Wire: I mean, I mentioned it before. Stephen created this idea of piss-off YouTube segment at Mug Club, and I saw it and thought it was genius. What does it mean? It means Stephen can go on YouTube, and speak to a huge audience – in fact, most of his audience, that's where they engage with him, right? The subscribers are a very small percentage of Stephen's audience. Mug club is a very small percentage of his audience. YouTube is the vast, overwhelming majority of Stephen's audience. He can go on there and he can be risqué and he can do what he wants to do. But he can be calculated, too. And he can say there are some things that I simply can't say here because these bastards hate free speech, for those things come over to my club and become a subscriber. And then for 30 minutes a day at The Blaze, he could say whatever he wanted.
And I thought that was a genius thing. And I implemented it at Daily Wire because I was inspired by Stephen, who again, very talented guy, a very smart guy. This is just meant to say the same thing. Hey, I want you to be thoughtful about what you say on the free part of the show. Doesn't mean I want you to say things that aren't true. Doesn't mean I want you to say things you don't believe. That doesn’t mean I want you to bend the knee to Big Tech. What it means is I want you to preserve the revenue as best you can, preserve the audience as best you can, and then tell people there's a reason we're building these multi, multi, multi, multimillion-dollar platforms. There's a reason we have subscribers and so that there is a place where they can't take our voice away. They can't tell us what to say.
So, what he is essentially saying is, look, we're not pure or even close to it but neither is Steven Crowder, since Steven Crowder, whose primary profits come from his show on YouTube, I believe he's already been demonetized, but the millions of views that he racks up is what then enables him as well to promote the parts of his show that are kind of behind the scenes that you have to pay in order to watch. And that's where he goes, Steven Crowder, to say the things that he's not able to say on YouTube.
So, what you see here is this attempt on both of their parts to figure out how to grapple with the reality that you need to use Big Tech, you need to exploit them in order to be able to be heard. Because if you're not heard, if no one watches you, if you make no money and can't fund a studio and can't fund a staff, you can't have any impact. So that is true. There is a reality to it. As I was saying before, the hegemonic force of Big Tech means they're inescapable. As I said, I use them myself. But what you can't do is while claiming to people that you are devoted to this cause, simultaneously, use their money to fortify the very system you claim that you're fighting. And I think the issue becomes that there are people whose primary aim in life is to make as much money as possible.
And that's fine, as I said, if that satisfies them. I'm a big believer that people should pursue whatever provides them the most self-actualization. And if having a third house or a Lamborghini or a yacht or taking your family to shopping trips on a private jet to Paris to go shopping in boutiques is something that gives you purpose and pleasure in life, you're certainly permitted to pursue that. But I don't think what you should then be simultaneously doing is telling people that they should give you money because you're here to fight for a cause. Because fighting for a cause necessarily, by definition, means that in those instances when there's a clash between your economic self-interest on the one hand and that cause on the other, that at least on some occasions not all, but on some, you're going to forgo material and economic gain in pursuit of that cause, or else it's not a cause.
And I think as a discerning consumer, everybody should be very conscious of whether your political passions are being served and advanced or whether they're being exploited. And as I said, I wasn't here to kind of arbitrate who is right and wrong. I don't want to kind of spit fire and brimstone at anybody because I don't think it's a case that calls for that. There are complexities here. But at the end of the day, people should be able to demonstrate to you if they want to convince you that they're genuine, that there are times when they've sacrificed their own self-interest for the cause, especially if and that's true of all the people involved here, they're already extremely wealthy people. They're not people who are making choices on how to put food in their children's mouths. So, I find that episode interesting.
Let's move to a different episode, which is equally interesting as well. As we've covered on the show a lot, Elon Musk bought Twitter also claiming he did so not purely for economic gain but for a cause. And that cause, at least one of them, was to restore free speech to Twitter because political censorship is so harmful. And yet we've already seen on several occasions, Elon Musk seemingly violating the principles he waved the banner of when he purchased Twitter and got people excited about that cause.
I think we saw that first when he banned Kanye West from Twitter after first unbanning him. When Kanye West went to the Alex Jones's show and talked about how much he loved Hitler, and then the next day went onto Twitter and posted a symbol that was a synthesis of a star of David and a swastika. That was obviously a speech deeply offensive to the vast majority of people, to put it mildly, but under no circumstances did it violate any of Twitter's rules. And yet, Elon Musk banned Kanye West from his platform, largely because I think you couldn't have a hospitable place for corporate advertisers and have Kanye West on your platform talking about how much he loves Jews and posting swastikas.
And so, this rationale got concocted that the reason Kanye West was banned was because he was inciting violence. Remember, Elon Musk said that his understanding of free speech absolutism is that anything that is legal will be permitted and what's illegal will not be. And we did a whole show on this. Under Supreme Court law, there is no conceivable possibility at all that Kanye West could be prosecuted criminally for anything that he said, let alone for anything he said on Twitter. So, Musk banning him violated Elon Musk's own principle about how he said he was going to advance the cause of free speech.
The same thing happened yesterday when Nick Fuentes, who most definitely is well outside the realm of what most people consider to be acceptable discourse, went onto Twitter because he had been unbanned after, I think, a year of being banned from the platform, he got unbanned and he went back on Twitter. He lasted not even a full day. He began talking about the dangers of Jewish power, and the need to fight against Jewish power, things Kanye West has been saying as well. Just the kind of speech that is generally deemed off-limits in decent society. But Nick Fuentes also did nothing and said nothing conceivably illegal, the question of why Elon Musk banned Nick Fuentes, now, again, you have some complexities here.
In order for Elon Musk to run Twitter, Twitter has to be financially viable, and, perhaps, in order for it to be financially viable, you need to kick off everybody who talks about Jews and the power that they wield because that's just a topic that is sustainable with attracting advertisers. Maybe that's the case. Well, then be honest about that. Say that that's the reason you're doing it. You're doing it against your will. You wish you didn't have to. You say you're a free speech absolutist, but unfortunately, it's not compatible with Twitter's ongoing sustainability. And instead of inventing obviously fake reasons, unsustainably fake reasons like, oh, they're inciting violence, in order to pretend that the standard you created, which is anything illegal, will be banned and anything legal permitted is somehow consistent with the banning of those two people when it clearly isn't.
Another instance was reported by The Intercept today. The headline is “Elon Musk Caves to Pressure From India to Remove a BBC Doc Critical of [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi”. So, there you see the text of the article, “Twitter and YouTube” – not just Twitter, but also YouTube – censored a report critical of Indian Prime Minister Modi in coordination with the government of India.
Officials called for the Big Tech companies to take action against a BBC documentary exploring Modi's role in a genocidal 2002 massacre in the Indian state of Gujarat, which the officials deemed a “propaganda piece.” In a series of posts, Kanchan Gupta, senior adviser at the Indian government's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, denounced the BBC documentary as “hostile propaganda and anti-Indian garbage.” He said that both Twitter and YouTube had been ordered to block links to the film before adding that the platforms “have complied with the directions.” Gupta's statements coincided with posts from Twitter users in India who claim to have shared links to the documentary but whose posts were later removed and replaced with a legal notice. […] “The government has sent hundreds of requests to different social media platforms, especially YouTube and Twitter, to take down the posts that share snippets or links to the documentary,” Indian journalist Raqib Hameed Naik told The Intercept. “And shamefully, the companies are complying with their demands and have taken down numerous videos and posts” (The Intercept. Jan. 24, 2023).
Now here's The Intercept’s opening:
This act of censorship – wiping away allegations of crimes against humanity committed by a foreign leader – sets a worrying tone for Twitter, especially in light of its new management. […] Modi's government in India regularly applied pressure to Twitter in an attempt to bend the social media platform to its will. At one point, the government threatened to arrest Twitter staff in the country over their refusal to ban accounts run by critics. […]
Twitter's moves at the behest of Modi's government bode ill for Musk’s claims to be running the company with an aim of protecting free speech. While Musk has felt fine wading into U.S. culture wars on behalf of conservatives, he has been far more reticent to take a stand about the far dire threats to free speech from autocratic governments (The Intercept. Jan. 24, 2023).
I think the reporting is accurate. I think the opining is tendentious for reasons I'm going to explain in the context of Brazil.
Now, before I do that, let me just remind you of an incident that happened with Rumble. That was very similar to the one that just happened in India, where India ordered Twitter and Facebook to remove a documentary that it claims was fake news and threatened those platforms that they would be banned in India, a huge country, if they failed to comply. And Twitter and Facebook complied out of fear of losing access to the Indian market. In November of last year, just a few months ago, the French government ordered Rumble to cease platforming Russian media, including RT and Sputnik. You may recall that the EU made it illegal for social media platforms to allow Russian state media on their platform, even if those platforms want to offer them and even if people want to see them. And even though Rumble is not a European company and therefore not subject to EU law, it's a Canadian company based in the United States, the French government reached out to Rumble and said, "We demand that you censor RT if you want to stay in France.”
And instead of obeying, the way Twitter just did to India and Facebook just did to India, Rumble said No. Rumble said No, thank you. We would prefer to make our own decisions about whom we keep on our platform. We're not going to obey your censorship orders. You're a foreign government. We have no democratic control over what you do, and we're not going to obey your censorship orders. And we would rather lose access to the French market than obey your orders about whom we can and can't platform. And that's why, to this day, if French citizens not using a technology that scrambles where they're from, try to watch my show or any other show on Rumble, they will get a message saying Rumble is unavailable in France as a result of their refusal to obey the censorship orders of France.
That is what a company does when they're truly committed to preserving free speech. That is an example of sacrificing your self-interest. Access to the entire country of France in pursuit of the goal of free speech that you claim you're having. I think Rumble deserves a lot of credit.
Now, there's a complexity there, too, which is that France is not an important part of Rumble's overall business at the moment. I think it's something like less than 1% of our normal viewers are in France. Losing access to France does not really affect Rumble’s business right now, though it certainly could in the future. Rumble intends to grow in most countries, including in France, but, nonetheless, it would obviously be better for Rumble to be available in France, and it chose to sacrifice its business self-interest. Rather than do something that it says it's against doing, which is taking censorship orders from countries. This is behavior that we want to encourage. Not having every company bend the knee to a Big Tech on the grounds that, well, we need to do so for our own self-interest, that the way that the Daily Wire is doing, the way that Twitter and Facebook did when it came to India, or rather I'm sorry, I keep saying Facebook. I believe it's YouTube that did it. But Facebook does the same thing on many occasions.
Now, as some of you know, I've been heavily involved in the debate over censorship here in Brazil. We've reported several times on what's been going on in Brazil. Last Friday, we reported on a really shocking censorship order that we were the first to report in which a single judge on the Brazilian Supreme Court, Alexandre de Moraes, issued this order that we showed you – we translated into English – addressed to Facebook, Rumble, Telegram, Tik Tok, Twitter, and YouTube, ordering all six of those platforms to immediately, within two hours, ban a long list of people, some of whom are elected officials in Brazil – including the candidate who ran for Congress and got the most votes in Brazil, Nicolas Ferreira, 26-year-old Bolsonaro supporter, got 1.4 million votes – and all you see here is no specific allegation they’ve done anything wrong, not pointing to any statement they made allegedly illegal, let alone evidence or accusations. It's just a list of people. This judge ordered them censored immediately and said you have two hours to do so. And if you don't, you will be fined a large amount of money, 100,000 Brazilian reais every day, which is $20,000. And then, at the end, it says, ‘we demand that you keep this confidential.’
We got a hold of it. We revealed it. The people on this list had no idea that they were targeted by the sentence. It was done in secret. They had no due process, and, as a result, this judge is becoming more and more controversial. Just today, there's an article from the AP that actually does a very good job of covering this debate here in Brazil, and why this judge is out of control. Censorship powers are starting to contaminate the right to free speech and a free Internet in other countries.
You see here the article headlined “Crusading Judge has the Boundaries of Free Speech in Brazil”. And I'll show you a couple of paragraphs:
In the wake of this month's attack on Brazil's Congress presidential palace and Supreme Court by a mob of Bolsonaro supporters seeking to overturn the recent election, Judge de Moraes’ role as a chief judicial power broker has expanded further. Some accuse de Moraes of overstepping in the name of protecting Brazilian democracy from the twin threats of political violence and disinformation. Others view his brash tactics as justified by extraordinary circumstances. “Our democracy is in a situation of extreme risk, so it is understandable that some exceptional restrictions be put in place, said Juliana Cesário Alvim, a human rights professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, who has researched the Supreme Court's decisions. “But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be criticism of how these cases are handled (AP. Jan. 25, 2023).
It essentially covers the whole debate with the left and the media united saying that Brazil is under such threat that we need to go very far and be very radical in censoring everybody who supports the Bolsonaro movement and others, including myself. But a lot of Brazilian specialists in law and politics saying that what you're essentially doing is installing an authoritarian regime in the name of defending democracy, a lesson that we've seen over and over in the United States when the Bush government, the Bush-Cheney government, adopted a lot of radical powers domestically in the name of protecting democracy; something we've seen throughout Europe, where they claim they have to protect democracy by censoring more and more.
And so, you see this list of social media companies who have been ordered to obey the censorship order. So far, all of them have. If you go on Twitter, for example, Elon Musk’s Twitter, and you look for the names of these people, you will find, if you're in Brazil, you will see it says the account withheld as a result of legal order in Brazil. So the same thing on Facebook, the same thing on Instagram. You can actually find Monark, the person who we interviewed and he's on Rumble. But I don't know what Rumble's position is. I just see that Monark pays just a lot.
But Telegram today announced that it was refusing to obey this order when it came to that person in Brazil that I mentioned, Nicolas Ferreira, who just got the most votes of anybody when running for Congress, and Telegram is saying they refuse to obey the order.
Here you see an article from the Rio Times, the headline of which is “Telegram ignores Brazil's Migration Decision and Does Not Block Conservative Congressman's Account”.
For those of you who don't know, Telegram is an app that is specifically designed to protect the privacy and free speech rights of its users. It debuted in August of 2013, just two or three months after we began the Snowden reporting. That was one of its primary impulses, which was to say we are going to protect your privacy because we now know that States are invading your privacy. But also many people who have been censored off platforms have gone to Telegram, which is very devoted to protecting people's free speech rights. And so, they have announced that at least for now, they're ignoring the order of the Supreme Court judge and they sent him a letter.
And this is what the letter says: “The telegram messaging application refused to block the channel of elected federal parliamentarian Nicholas Ferreira”. [There you see the PL, which is Bolsonaro's party.] “In a letter sent to the Supreme Court. Alexandre de Moraes, the company's lawyers asked that the block be reconsidered and the company stated that many court decisions for the removal of content are made with, “generic grounds” and in a disproportionate way,” according to Globo, which is a newspaper in Brazil. The company's demonstration occurred in the inquiry investigating the “anti-democratic acts” created out of thin air by de Moraes to persecute conservative Brazilians”.
In other words, what Telegram did was what Twitter and YouTube refused to do in the face of India's demands and what Twitter under Elon Musk and others refused to do in the face of Brazil's demands, which is to block all of these accounts. I believe Twitter and a few other companies are appealing the order in Brazil, but in the meantime, they're obeying it by banning all of those people's accounts. Telegram, on the other hand, is saying, we don't care.
We're not obeying this because you didn't even give us any specific reason in the censorship order why we should believe these people deserve to be censored, let alone evidence justifying the allegation that they've done anything wrong, let alone any due process or the ability for them to go and contest the order. And therefore, in the name of democracy, given that this person was just voted by 1.4 million Brazilians to represent them in Congress, we are going to disobey your order and we're asking you to reconsider it. Instead of reconsidering the order or giving them an opportunity for their lawyers to come in and argue, just before we went on there, Judge de Moraes already announced that he is now imposing fines on Telegram.
A year ago, Judge de Moraes sent a bunch of censorship orders to Telegram, and when they didn't comply, he threatened that he would block Telegram from the entire country. And that's likely what's going to happen here again if Telegram doesn't pay these fines or if they don't immediately ban this congressman's account, my guess is that this judge will do what he's done before, which is ban the entire platform from being in Brazil, much the way that Rumble is now unavailable in France.
The question, though, is what will happen if Elon Musk's or Facebook or YouTube under Google decides that they're actually going to for once not just pretend to oppose core censorship by states but use the power that they have to defy it.
Imagine if Twitter and YouTube and Instagram stood by Telegram and Rumble and said, we too are going to disobey your order. What then would happen? Would the Brazilian Supreme Court or the Indian Supreme Court cut off their entire country from basically the entire Internet by banning Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube in all of Brazil or all of India? Would the population tolerate that? At some point, if you're going to claim that you're a platform devoted to free speech, the way Rumble and Telegram are doing, you need to step up and be willing to at least risk some of your self-interest to prove that you're authentic in that cause, like I said, the way Rumble and Telegram have done.
But for now, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, despite being insanely and unimaginably rich as corporations, refused to do so. And that means that these governments will continue to be able to exercise the center of power because Telegram is a site that's really only for dissidents. You only care about using Telegram when your party is out of power. And so Brazilian leftists don't need Telegram. They're not at risk of being censored or surveilled. Their party is in power, so they don't care if Telegram is banned, but they would care if Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, and Instagram are banned.
In all of these cases, the common theme is that companies that tell you that they have a certain cause, politicians who tell you that, or media personalities who tell you that they believe in a certain cause and that, therefore, you should support them because of it, until they're willing to show you that not necessarily in every case, but at least in some cases, they're willing to sacrifice their own self-interest in pursuit of that cause, you should harbor very serious doubts about the authenticity of that claim.
We will be back tomorrow night, here, on Rumble, at 7 p.m. EST, and every night, which is our regular time, and then, come back tomorrow night for an interactive show on Locals as well.
Thanks, everybody for watching, and have a great evening.
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