Max Blumenthal Robert Scheer SI Podcast

Max Blumenthal: Where Did It All Go Wrong for the Internet?

The rise in Clinton liberalism and Trump derangement has led to the highly censored and heavily surveilled Internet of today.
Max Blumenthal at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Revolution, on July 19, 2019 in Managua, Nicaragua. Ben Norton, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Wild West days of the Internet are over, conclude Scheer Intelligence host Robert Scheer and his guest, The Grayzone founder and editor Max Blumenthal. They recall a time when one could find scorching exposés of anti-establishment news on sites like Salon, with the potential to reach millions of readers, that has evolved into a tightly controlled and intensely surveilled space dominated by a handful of Silicon Valley monopolies. Inconvenient information doesn’t stand a chance and will more often than not be algorithmically butchered into oblivion.

On this episode of Scheer Intelligence, Scheer and Blumenthal reminisce about those days of the Internet and attempt to trace where it all went wrong. They frame this reflection through the growth of liberalism via the Clinton administration as well as the lasting impact of Donald Trump on American media and politics.

Blumenthal argues that liberalism, and in effect the Democratic party, works as a means to justify the true and insidious goals of the American empire such as regime change, suppressing class-based demands and maintaining hegemonic global control. This entails, says Blumenthal, “controlling the Internet, controlling the flow of information, finding everything as disinformation that contravenes their objectives, while perpetuating this sense that people, by voting for the Democrats, can actually be more free…”

Nothing has altered the trajectory of the Internet and media more than Donald Trump’s election, Scheer and Blumenthal opine. While Trump often used the worst facets of America’s modern history to his own advantage to discredit his establishment dwelling opponents in the 2016 election, this allowed the Democratic Party to become a coalition for any establishment figures, left or right wing, to make their case for Draconian measures used against Trump and his base. 

“So when you talk about liberalism, Bob, we’re not even talking about liberalism,” says Blumenthal. “We’re just talking about people who happened to not be supporting Trump, who work in the corporate world or who work in academia and live in coastal America and believe that love is love and science is real… And all they want is control because they’re so afraid of this populist upsurge. They want control, and that’s why they are the chief supporters of censorship on the Internet. Because the Internet is our digital commons; it’s our new Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner. They want control. They’ll vest all of their trust in the intelligence services which are unaccountable to the public, undemocratic and opaque, to restore that control.”

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Robert Scheer


Joshua Scheer


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This transcript was produced by an automated transcription service. Please refer to the audio interview to ensure accuracy. 

Robert Scheer Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guest and this is Max Blumenthal, who I met for the first time when I guess he was somewhere in his twenties. I drank the Kool-Aid, I have to confess, on the Clinton administration. His father and mother both worked in the administration, and I respected both of them. I’m not going to blame them for my being an apologist to some degree. I had interviewed Clinton before he was president. I was very critical of his attack on welfare. I was worried about his playing with neoliberalism. Nonetheless, he and his wife Hillary, had the aura of the sixties. They could talk a good game to someone like myself and amazingly enough, and I’ve interviewed a number of people who became president or were presidents, what I did for years as a journalist.

But for the first time, I got invited to a White House dinner, the formal White House, and it was the last one of the Clinton administration for the prince of Morocco. And at that dinner, I was going through the receiving line, Bill Clinton said, You didn’t answer my letter and blah, blah, blah. I’d written a somewhat critical column. And Hillary Clinton said I was her favorite columnist. And I just thought, what has happened to me and so forth. And now when I think back on it and I wrote a book on the banking meltdown, I think really liberalism died with the Clintons. And you were a young man and you were an early avatar of the criticism. So why don’t you put us back there and how you got into journalism and then we’ll take it quickly up to the present. 

Max Blumenthal Well this conversation might be therapeutic for both of us, but I was not actually an early avatar of the criticism, and I’ll explain kind of my process. It’s a generational process. I didn’t live through the sixties like you, but the sixties was kind of a lodestar for me. The Clintons emerging from the sixties meant nothing to me. What took place was very particular to L.A. where we first met, because I think we first met around the 2000 convention where Al Gore was being nominated with Joe Lieberman, the kind of chief censor, right wing neocon Democrat as his vice president. And Al Gore was going out in the debates with George W Bush, almost deliberately losing the first debate. In the second one, he comes out deliberately quaffed like Ronald Reagan.

They even parted his hair the opposite way to make him look Reaganesque and he’s proposing a larger defense budget than George W Bush, touting his right wing credentials from Tennessee, where he was a law and order Democrat and I was disgusted. And Ralph Nader was running and I was living in California so I thought Ralph Nader is a protest vote. But then Al Gore proceeds to lose. It was almost like he just gave up. Bush stole the election. I remember going to the protest in L.A. and there were like 50 people there. It should have been like January 6th. I mean, an election was just stolen in broad daylight by the Supreme Court. We should have been running up into federal buildings and going insane. But Al Gore told Jesse Jackson in the Rainbow PUSH to stand down. And, you know, he was happy to go and make zillions of dollars selling phony green investments through his investment firm with a Goldman Sachs banker after, you know, pumping out his climate hysteria film so that he could cash in and do all these high profile talks with his beard for move on. It was just like, I should have seen how disgusting it was at the time but 9/11 happened. George W Bush became a channel for the neocons and then they marched into Iraq. You know, they had to smash something, as Thomas Friedman said. And then, you know, the Democrats decided to take on the neocons as their arch enemy and bring Michael Moore to the 2004 convention and take on the anti-war spirit of the sixties again, it seemed to me at least.

And that’s kind of where I was duped. And I thought if we could just defeat George W Bush, we could end this war. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the street. There’s an anti-war spirit in this country. And members, Democratic members of Congress are speaking at these rallies. So there is a wing of the Democratic Party that’s anti-war. There might be a progressive revitalization and a turn away from Clintonism. Democracy Now! was a huge show, and all of a sudden my journalistic career was starting to take off and I was hanging out at Democracy Now! studios, going on there. And I felt like this progressive anti-war upsurge. And it really took Obama coming to office first, Obama actually running and being around The Nation magazine in The Nation institute and seeing how they upheld this obvious neoliberal who was no more progressive than Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton, who I just saw as a complete fraud, as this messiah that I started to really look back not just at the last seven years after 9/11, but at the last two decades or so to see how I had been kind of bamboozled by the Democratic Party.

And it was also you know, it also fueled my decision to to focus on Israel-Palestine and kind of move away from partisan politics, because that was another issue where a bipartisan consensus had fueled an atrocious situation which was fostering fascism in Israel and apartheid for Palestinians. And that became kind of my prism for seeing the world in a different light then through the kind of bipartisan lens where we have to just support blue, we have to support the Democrat in order to keep the crazy fascist Republican out of office no matter what and that Ralph Nader was to blame for this entire thing. There is no space for independent politics. It really was a process for me. I can imagine someone from the sixties who lived through the Nixon era, Vietnam, and then the malaise of the seventies, and then a whole era of R&B, Reagan and Bush, would have, it would have been much more easy to be bamboozled by Clinton because of just the sheer trauma of those decades that preceded Clinton did. For me, it really took Obama. 

Scheer Yeah. So listen, I don’t want to fall into this being a grandfather’s conversation with his grandson, because I think the errors are not just generational. They’re repetitive in a kind of, you know, annoying but very profound way. Liberalism, which is at the heart of this discussion, is always betrayed if it means anything at all, if it means free speech and even a free market, if it believes in the liberal view of liberalism, believes in some kind of income, narrowing the gap of any income inequality. And so all of that is really what is on trial here, as far as I’m concerned. And it happened. Well you could go back to Harry Truman now that people know about the dropping of the bomb and Oppenheimer. I mean, the very idea of defeating Henry Wallace, who was, after all, Roosevelt’s vice president, was a genuine American populist who really cared about ordinary people and you put this, you know, hack from St Louis and Howard because he saved and will appeal to the party interests and he will embrace the worst of the Cold War.

And you make this heinous decision to commit genocide in Japan and destroy two fishing cities, basically, or two smaller cities in Japan, already that lesser evil thing started. The reason I want to go back to Clinton and not because of, you know, family connection and drinking the Kool-Aid is we’re always fooled by a lesser evil rhetoric and we’re fooled by, you know, he played the saxophone and he claimed to care about civil rights and you know, and Hillary And so what you come out of that ethos, and I embraced it and I’m not going to deny it and I fell for it with Obama, too, I bought it. I don’t know some of the most expensive T-shirts I ever bought because some artists had made them and it was too nights before the election. And I actually had to go cut a check because some bundler in San Diego said, you know, it’s not in the bag. And, you know, and I thought the idea of having a Black president. Even with Hillary, I almost fell for that one. How important it was to have a woman president. So you didn’t look too critically at the woman or the leader? I think this is really a big issue. How do you have politically in this culture, our culture and it’s true for every generation. What are the illusions of electoral politics and the limits of that? What are the limits of debate? What is the role of money? So I want to cut to two main issues here.

One is this thing, the Internet that unites us. We are both, in a way living through this illusion of freedom of the Internet. And it was the Wild West for a while, I did Truthdig for 15 years or something after a conventional career with the L.A. Times for three decades and other publications. It was very exciting and at first the right wing loved it, right? You know, they learned how to use it, but then other people got in on the act. And right now we’re at a time where even having this conversation could get me banned or get you banned. I don’t know. Am I more of a moderate, more reprehensible in the eyes of whoever the censors are in the Internet or are you? But the fact is, we’re not doing each other any good if we’re trying to build. I should, I didn’t even mention Grayzone, this great site that you have. And I run a lot of material for it. And I think you’re doing… I just should put it out right now. I think you do great journalism, gutsy journalism. I had you on talking about Israel was before that takes incredible amount of courage. And you’ve shown it and then you’re smart and you know your stuff. So I just want to put that out there. I’m not here to debate your journalism or anything, and I think it’s great. Old people like me should get used to the idea we can leave the stage. There are plenty of young people, including the people who now put out ScheerPost who are 23 or younger that can do this stuff but I think they’re still coping with the same demons.

And one demon is certainly the lesser evil we’re going to go through a year now where everybody’s a hero. You know who’s on the Democratic side? You can’t ask any questions. I want to go back to Clinton, because I think it does… It’s a very good place to study this and to study the Internet, because this was actually the Clinton administration that gave these big Internet corporations their license to steal and say, we’re not going to do antitrust, we’re going to have legislation that allows Google and Facebook never to be sued for libel. They’re not publishers, they’re just neutral utilities supplying stuff and they end up making almost all of the ad money that’s made on the Internet. And we just ignore their power, the concentration of power, monopoly power, which is now world wide. And at the same time, the Clinton administration basically ended any regulation of Wall Street. I don’t want to go through the whole history, but they did something Reagan couldn’t do with the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, all that stuff. And at the same time, they actually made American jingoism popular and modern and hip and I think brought about, you know, since that point, we’ve had the sharpest increase of income inequality and we’ve had this embrace of the military industrial complex and we’ve had ushering in, yes, 9/11 gave the Republicans the excuse.

The Democrats, of course, enthusiastically backed it. And we’re now, as you well know, in a situation where we may be headed to World War III and the end of it all, and I do blame liberalism for it. I mean, because the Republicans and there were always going to be people who wanted to give Wall Street a blank check, but they couldn’t pull it off without liberalism. And it seems to me—this is the main thing I wanted to talk about today—it seems to me the main threat now to freedom on the Internet comes from the Democrats and the main threat of World War III comes from the Democrats. And let’s put the word liberal in there if you want. So I really wanted to have this show to ask you about those two issues that you’ve shown a lot of courage dealing with. What has happened to the Internet as clearly the Wild West is over. They’ve convinced us all that freedom was a great threat, too much freedom and now there’s incredible censorship. And also there’s no peace movement and that this whole idea of we have to go to war over Ukraine, we found once again the good war, everybody forgets Vietnam. Go back to the sixties, it was supposed to be the good war against communism and we’re in a very bad shape. So let’s focus on those two issues in the time we have now. And what is the role of liberalism in the creation of this dynamic? 

Blumenthal Well, liberalism has proven itself the more resilient and effective channel for the promotion and consolidation of American empire, particularly within Europe, which is the bulwark of American empire after, you know, post-World War II American empire. It’s also the more effective steward of the national security state, which was created under Harry Truman by George Kennan. And so I’ll get into that. But with Bill Clinton, which we keep coming back to, what Bill Clinton did, was he transferred the power of the hegemonic force in American society into the Democratic Party and in short, continuity between the two parties for this hegemonic force, which former CIA officer Ray McGovern, who actually used to brief LBJ and Kennedy, calls the MICIMATT. It’s the military, industrial, congressional, intelligence, media, academia, academia, think tank complex. And this is essentially an interwoven network that has really come to fruition through the I.T., the information technology revolution, and is now behind this whole censorship industrial complex that you keep alluding to.

But, Bill Clinton brought this into the Democratic administration for the first time and came into power with a flood of corporate Wall Street money through the Democratic Leadership Conference created by Al From all because the Democrats decided, oh, we’re losers. Mike Dukakis, he was a loser. He’s a Massachusetts liberal. We need to get rid of the spirit of the sixties and start getting serious. You know, they brought the neocons into the building in the Clinton administration and continued through the Bush administration. Clinton set the stage for the Iraq war with the Iraq Liberation Act, which was actually based on the dirty war policies of the 1980s of funding Mujahedeen inside Iraq. Clinton was bombing Iraq, Clinton was sanctioning Iraq. Clinton had actually established his credentials with the intelligence services while he was Arkansas governor, making sure that airfields were available for pilots like Barry Seal to covertly ship cocaine from Latin America to fund the black operations of the CIA. That’s the MENA airfield scandal that everyone dismissed as some kind of crazy conspiracy theory in the 1990s. It turned out to be so true. It became the basis for a major Hollywood blockbuster about Barry Seal called American Made that shows Bill Clinton getting on the phone, making sure the airfields are clear. So, the MICIMATT comes into power under Clinton and today through the IT revolution and its role in fueling populism from the rise of Donald Trump to Brexit, to the hysteria around Russian disinformation and propaganda.

We now have this pushback from the MICIMATT against the people who they fear by censoring any information, discussion, whether factual or not, and particularly when it’s factual, because factual information falls on fertile soil with people who are frustrated and anguished by the current state of things. They define it as disinformation and they seek various insidious means of censoring it. And this is where liberalism comes into play. If you have a right wing president doing something like this, presiding over censorship, fear mongering, he or she, probably he, is also probably fear mongering about gay people and women getting abortions and they just seem like a glowering fascist, whereas if a liberal president does it, it can proceed more effectively. And it seems like they’re just protecting the public from something that they shouldn’t see or hear, whether it’s right wing populism or so-called Russian disinformation. It’s also easier to sell abroad in Germany or France for the US to maintain its influence there. And so the Clinton/Obama model of leadership is pushing war the same way that Reagan or Bush I or Bush II did, pushing the hegemonic control of the intelligence services, Wall Street and corporate media. But at the same time, they’re distracting people from class based demands and preventing a populist upsurge by deploying identity politics at every turn and constantly mobilizing their constituency around issues like abortion or gender ideology. And they’re doing the same thing abroad militarizing the culture wars to define Vladimir Putin or whoever the enemy of the moment is as a threat to liberalism at home.

And in that respect, I mean, that’s why Bill Kristol, who is the arch-guru of the neocons, has said that he’s comfortable completely with the contemporary Democratic Party, and it’s the Trump wing of the Republican Party that he has trouble with, because what have the neocons always thought to do? It’s to export liberalism at the barrel of a gun. That was the justification for invading Iraq, was that they needed freedom. They didn’t have freedom. That’s been the basis for, that’s the justification in many ways for regime change in Iran. Look at the the the protest movement that both parties are supporting. It’s about women removing the hijab, but it’s really about regime change and installing a Western, pro-Israel regime like the one that the Shah presided over, it’s not actually about liberation. So I think the point I’m trying to make is that the Democratic Party is just a more effective stewart of empire and empire now, the perpetuation of empire is now contingent on containing the populist upsurge across the West, whether it’s in Europe or the US. And that means controlling the Internet, controlling the flow of information, finding everything as disinformation that contravenes their objectives, while perpetuating this sense that people by voting for the Democrats, can actually be more free to control their bodies and be free to have gay pride parades and that the Republicans are the real enemy of freedom. 

Scheer So just so, people will get lost in the weeds of how it actually works. And you talked about, I forget the words you used here, the fear mongering and censorship. And I think most people don’t understand what has happened to the Internet, which is really quite dramatic, I think. I’ve never seen. 

Blumenthal I mean, I can give a few examples because I guess I was being a little bit over, I was being overly general, but just like a few examples in the past two weeks that I think people should be cued in on. On September 11th, I went on the program that’s probably the most one of the most popular political podcasts in the world. He has over 6 million YouTube subscribers. It’s the British comedian Russell Brand, who was sort of a B-list celebrity in Hollywood, and that made him A-list in the U.K. Had an outrageous personality, was heavily involved in drug use, alcohol, partying, and then he experienced some kind of spiritual renaissance. Quit drinking, became sober, got married and became became a political dissident and turned on Hollywood, turned on the corporate media. He was an outspoken voice against the COVID restrictions. He’s one of the most outspoken figures in the world and popular critics of the Ukraine proxy war funding, giving military aid to Ukraine. So he’s become a huge threat to the system that elevated him to celebrity. And on September 11th, he had me on to discuss how this crowdfunding company called GoFundMe had actually frozen our fundraiser at The Grayzone to raise money for our young contributors.

And they said they did this due to external concerns. And those external concerns were obviously governmental. It’s this censorship industrial complex that I keep referring to because we, like Russell Brand, are critics of the Ukraine proxy war and all these regime change operations that are waged in covert fashion. We’ve exposed them through leaked, often classified documents. We see where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is right now, he’s in a maximum security prison. It’s better not to jail me or jail Russell Brand for our speech, that would just expose liberal democracy as a complete fraud. So to find other ways. So our fundraiser was frozen. We eventually found another place to fundraise at. And then a few days later, Russell Brand comes under fire in The Times of London, which is a favorite bulletin board for the British intelligence services, for sexual abuse. They had found four women to file allegations against him from the period when he was on drugs, partying and a lot of this behavior was well known and he had actually written about it. But they’re serious allegations. So the next thing that happens, while these allegations have not been proven or there’s been no due process, no one’s taken him to court. The British government goes through their media and culture committee in parliament to all of the social media companies with letters demanding that they demonetize Russell Brand so that he cannot earn money from his show.

YouTube is the first to demonetize him and when you’re demonetized on YouTube, you lose, you lose traffic instantly and the algorithm just disappears you. So when you’re algorithmically disappeared, it’s sort of the same as being censored behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany or the Soviet Union, it’s the same thing. You just can’t really say anything about it. No one tells you why. Anyway, these letters start surfacing. They’re signed by the head of the Culture and Media Committee of the British Parliament, who happens to be someone closely linked to the intelligence services who received a royal commendation for ushering through the Online Safety Act in the UK, which now allows the British government a backdoor into all encrypted apps and allows Ofcom, their government watchdog, to censor any media that it considers, quote unquote, unsafe. Russell Brand has had to migrate to an alternative platform to broadcast his show called Rumble. And Rumble is now under pressure by the British government to remove him. And the British government has said if you don’t remove Russell Brand, we will ban you completely from operating inside the UK. So now all the contradictions of liberal democracy are coming out through this and many other episodes where the British establishment, which is essentially the same as the US, there’s this transatlantic nexus brought together through the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network.

As decided that this guy was a threat. And so they needed to get rid of him. So they found these allegations from years ago, brought out for an obvious reason, because he started speaking out against them and then they’re using off platform behavior to justify banning someone. And it’s the first time we’ve seen someone get censored or demonetized on YouTube for things they’ve done away from the platform, which opens the door for anyone to be demonetized or censored for bad behavior. But, of course, you know Barack Obama. I mean, he raped several countries. He raped Libya. You don’t see the Obama Foundation getting demonetized or censored on YouTube. It’s obvious why they’re targeting him. So this is happening across the board to influential content creators and people who pose a threat to the imperatives of this trans Atlantic imperial establishment. And you get no due process, no explanation. And rather than just being stomped with a jackboot in your face 1984 style, you get quietly shadow banned and algorithmically disappeared. That’s the new reality. 

Scheer First of all, how much time do we have left? Because I’m finding this interesting. I’m willing to keep going, but I don’t… 

Blumenthal I mean, I can do ten or 15 minutes. 

Scheer Okay I lost track of the time, but look, people don’t get this. And there’s two issues that you’ve just raised. One is the question of which is the lesser evil. And that’s an important question because we’re all going to be, we, most of my friends, are going to be traumatized once again by Trump-washing. And Trump clearly is going to be a Republican candidate unless he gets killed, you know, or they could jail him fast enough. But the fact of the matter is that gives everyone get out of jail free card, you know, and I certainly know from a lifetime of being a critic of whatever government, Republican or Democrat or anywhere in the world, it’s much easier to criticize the Republicans. You suddenly have a chorus, you suddenly have people around you. And it’s very difficult with the Democrats, and particularly when it comes to issues of national security, war. Everybody forgets that the Vietnam War was a Democrats’ war.

Eisenhower was very reluctant to go into that kind of war. And, you know, and yet it took years to convince anyone and we just go, let’s see a documentary like The Fog of War. I mean, the Pentagon Papers basically expose the lies of a Democratic administration. I don’t want to go through all this history, but what’s happening right now and you said it earlier, if the Republicans were doing what’s going on, we at least have a peace movement. We would at least have people raising some objections. We don’t have that now and it’s going to get worse and then between now and the next election, because, you know, Trump is going to be defined as fascism of the most extreme kind. And that gives a pass to anybody who’s the lesser evil. But you’re really raising the prospect maybe they’re not the lesser evil. Heresy of heresies. Maybe they are more effective at getting us into wars we should not be in and… 

Blumenthal Which liberals support, I mean, liberals support these wars. It’s not as though they’re confused. 

Scheer Yeah. And they’re willing to spend the money. You know, here we have this paltry amount of money goes to rebuilding Hawaii after a natural disaster. But, you know, it’s nothing compared to, it’s chump change compared to what we’re willing to throw at the Ukraine war. And there’s no questions raised. And as you point out, the neocons, they’re really in the Democratic Party now, the people who wrote the Project for a New American Century. I mean, it’s all right now official Democratic Party propaganda. But I just want to get to this situation because people still have the idea that the Internet, you know, is somehow a free market. As somebody who functions on it. And I’ve gone from you know, what we’re doing, when I was doing TruthDig, we could get millions of people if we add something interesting. So it seems to me that’s gone now. I mean, for instance, Google News, you almost get no traffic. I don’t know how their algorithm works, but I follow it on a daily basis. I have still the same very popular writers like Chris Hedges and so forth. But they’re blocked and the ease of blocking them, which is something we always attributed to more overtly totalitarian governments like communist China or Stalinist Russia under communism, is now the norm. The norm. And you bring up the Julian Assange case, you know, after all, what is the cry? I mean, the deafening silence about Julian Assange, where five leading Western, including the New York Times, publications at least have stated that what he did was publishing, was journalism, and that if this guy is sentenced, it’s a great threat to freedom. They shut up after issuing that one statement. There’s almost no concern that the leading dissident journalist in the world, Julian Assange, has been held under barbaric conditions and we’re trying to destroy him. And Joe Biden is the reason he’s there. So what I’m really asking you is, is the Internet dead and are we, you and I, you’re more successful than I am, but are we perpetuating an illusion of a free media and an open space? Because, you know, they came after you and they will destroy you. I hate to be predictive, but you’re too effective, you’re too sharp, you know too much, and you follow all the rules of  logic and style and everything you probably went… Didn’t you go to the same school as the Clinton child? 

Blumenthal I did not. My school somehow wasn’t good enough for Chelsea. 

Scheer You knew those people, right? 

Blumenthal I met Chelsea once when she was 16. 

Scheer You know what I’m saying. 

Blumenthal And she asked about a boy. And my one conversation was her with her as she asked about a boy in my class that she liked. So, you know, there was some kind of crossover. 

Scheer But what I’m saying is Max, you know the style of the ruling class, you know, the language, you know, how to present yourself and so forth. That will not save you. The fact of the matter is, you are a threat and you’re not a threat because you’re violating laws of logic and fact and, you know, information and fairness at all. You’re doing great journalism. Okay? I’m not your PR person, but I’m a reader. I’m a fan. And particularly on the Israel issue. My God, I was there during the Six-Day War. I put Ramparts magazine into bankruptcy over writing about it. So I know what courage it took to do what you’ve done. And the fact of the matter is, what they’re doing to Julian Assange they’ll do to any journalist, that’s the signal to the whole world, and it’s the signal that comes through the Democratic Party. Okay? It’s not coming from the crazy right wing. 

Blumenthal Ramparts was a huge inspiration to us that The Grayzone and especially the reporting on the CIA’s co-optation of the student movements and, you know, the Congress on cultural freedom and all that. And we’ve done that kind of reporting. So I’m inspired by all the work you’ve done, Bob. And my father passes on lots of dog-eared copies of Ramparts to me. I am shocked at how far many of the same people who might have been around Ramparts or read Ramparts have fallen from those ideals of the sixties where it’s actually wrong for the CIA to infiltrate student movements. They now see the CIA as their savior from Trump and from populism. And in that they’re terror watching their they’re washing the whitewashing the terror of the CIA that’s still being perpetrated across the war world. They are George W Bush washing. They love the images of Michelle Obama embracing George W Bush. They’ve welcomed George W Bush back. Liberals love Liz Cheney, the daughter of one of the worst war criminals in American history, Dick Cheney, who is now somehow welcomed as the leader of a group called Republicans Against Trump by liberals. It turned out that they didn’t believe in anything when they were protesting the war in Iraq. They were just protesting a Republican war. And that was something I didn’t realize at the time, but I do now. And what disgusts me about liberals so much is they have this smug, intellectual superiority complex when it comes to Trumpers and MAGA. They see them as knuckle dragging Cretans. They have advanced degrees. They work in the tech sector. And they work in academia. They’re smarter. But their worldview is so myopic and so juvenile. The only thing that brings liberal culture together today that provides some coherence between liberals, literally the only thing is the hatred and fear of Trump and Trumpism. And maybe behind that, Putin. And they know literally nothing about Russia. You can talk to any liberal and, you know, the aggressive liberals who have tons of flags all over their home. They’ll have like a Ukraine flag fluttering over their townhome door and then they’ll have a Black Lives Matter sign on their lawn as if the two somehow go together and BLM is another co-opted, fake movement that has taken civil rights and put it in the under the control of billionaire backed NGOs and the Democratic Party. But leaving that aside, nothing brings liberalism together today. There’s no underpinning except the fear and hatred of Donald Trump. And they will support any institution that prevents that. Whether it’s the FBI that killed Fred Hampton that set up hundreds and hundreds of mentally disturbed Muslim men and threw them in jail for life on fake charges, and which now does the same thing to MAGA activists or the CIA which mined Nicaragua’s harbor, oversaw death squads that raped nuns and the rise of Al Qaida and now which sponsors coups across the world. They will support that, and they will support the State Department, which oversees the sanctioning of literally one third of the entire global population and which has fueled the migration crisis at the border, which is itself accelerating the growth of Trump’s movement. They have no meaning. There’s no meaning to liberalism today except defeating Trump. Turn on MSNBC and you’ll have Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush official. The liberals love any Bush official now. They love David Frum. They love Bill Kristol. They love Nicolle Wallace. And all she talks about is Trump, Trump, Trump. Like, is there anything else you can get out of MSNBC that you can learn about the world except that Trump is the vortex of evil in the world, and that if he returns to power, we will be living again in Nazi Germany. While Canada’s Liberal Party cheers, welcomes a Nazi SS veteran of the Ukrainian Waffen SS Galicia Division to Parliament and cheers him on while Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, appeals for more weapons and pumps his fist for this Nazi veteran. Somehow only Trump will bring back Naziism. So when you talk about liberalism, Bob, we’re not even talking about liberalism. We’re just talking about people who happened to not be supporting Trump, who work in the corporate world or who work in academia and live in coastal America and believe that love is love and science is real, which led them to believe in some things that actually weren’t real during the pandemic. And all they want is control because they’re so afraid of this populist upsurge. They want control, and that’s why they are the chief supporters of censorship on the Internet. Because the Internet is our digital commons. It’s our new, you know, Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner. They want control. They’ll vest all of their trust in the intelligence services which are unaccountable to the public, undemocratic and opaque, to restore that control. And that also includes and when I say liberals, that also includes the entire left, almost the entire professional left, you know, the left that has professional positions in the NGOs, in academia or, you know, runs organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America. And they spend all their time being leftists and waving the leftist flag. They are basically the street wing of the Democratic Party. Antifa, this organization that comes out of Black Bloc, which used to protest against globalization. Now they basically are the street enforcement wing of the Democrats attacking the street enforcement wing of the Trump movement, the Proud Boys or whoever they stand for nothing themselves. They literally stand for nothing except for enforcing the culture war of the Democrats against the culture war of the Republicans through violence. The professional left was the most hardcore support, were the most hardcore supporters of the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic. Noam Chomsky called for putting people who refuse to get vaccinated in concentration camps. All of the critics of the antiwar left that I knew and respected, almost all of them fell into line. And now being progressive, it simply means that you are psyop, whatever psyop works. You know, if you didn’t get if they didn’t get you with Russiagate, they’ll get you with the pandemic. And if they didn’t get you that with that, well, maybe we’ll have a new psychological operation around climate change that will get you into line so that you’ll support the intelligence services controlling the Internet to prevent disinformation and the disappearance of dissidents from public life. And so we’re not talking about the death of the Internet, Bob. We’re talking about the death of the First Amendment. And its death warrant was signed by the liberal left that used to be its chief defenders who breathed life into it throughout American history. 

Scheer I don’t know why I laugh, it’s the most depressing analysis. 

Blumenthal It’s infuriating. I mean, I’ve lost so many friends over the past few years because they’re psyop’d. 

Scheer What do you mean by that? 

Blumenthal It’s like an MKULTRA program. I mean, wouldn’t think of yourself or your kids. Your kids are Gen-Xers. They didn’t wake up every day looking at a screen. They’re the last with me. And I’m a Gen-Xer. We were the last generation that didn’t wake up every day looking at a screen. I didn’t have email until I was like a senior in college, and then I didn’t even know how to use it. I didn’t care much about the Internet until I realized that it was powerful into my twenties. But you have millennials who’ve spent their entire lives on screens, and that makes them so susceptible to the psychological operations of the forces that control the Internet. That their idea of politics, they’re so malleable in politics that I don’t think they can mount any effective resistance. 

Scheer Okay. So let me if you give me a few minutes now as an older person to present a more optimistic. Maybe that’s the wrong word. An alternative view. And let me quote that great communist Marxist, Leonard Cohen. There’s a crack. I’m kidding. Of course, I don’t want to be sued for this. But he was a great poet and songwriter, obviously. “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets through.” But it’s very similar to Marx’s idea of the contradictions in capitalism, thesis, antithesis and so forth. And I think looking at this world now, we’re seeing these cracks and they are profound, and I think they are available to a lot of people. Some of them get misled in desperation and support Trump, who after all, does seem to have a popular base. I mean, he is the Republican Party, whether they like it or not. And Biden is, aside from his age and Trump is no youngin either is also not very popular and really not even with Democrats. And that has a lot to do with these cracks and cracks. And the cracks are real and the cracks are worldwide. That’s why you have a revolt of the South and you have Brexit and you have, you know, here’s Biden pathetically goes over and does a fist bump in Saudi Arabia with somebody who killed, you know, talk about human rights violation with dismembered Washington Post writer, nonetheless. 

Blumenthal And CIA asset. 

Scheer Yeah and but I mean in fact the matter is and he does this and he wants to… don’t cooperate with Russia which after all is now led by an anti-communist. These labels, they get you crazy because I remember I was in Russia when Gorbachev was in power writing about it and the whole U.S. military establishment wanted to get rid of Gorbachev and Reagan they thought was being naive or senile, that he thought he could do business with them. And they were out in Iceland, outside, you know, the Richard Perle types, you know, Oh, no, no, Reagan’s losing it. And, you know, sort of the guy who we backed against Gorbachev, Yeltsin, who picked Putin. And we like Putin because he didn’t drink and seem very sober. And he is kind of a more of a Trumpian figure than he is a Gorbachev figure, and certainly believes in all the big cartels and everything. But the fact of the matter is, the labels don’t mean anything right now. We want to get Apple to move some of its production to communist Vietnam. So a communist country Biden visited. It doesn’t bother him that they’re run by communists and he doesn’t care. When China was good when it was run by communists who didn’t want to have advanced chips. Now they’re an enemy because they have to pay their middle class more and so forth. So all of these labels, if I go back to the sixties that traumatized us, which didn’t make sense then that was the whole reason we had this revolt of the sixties. We knew there was a Sino-Soviet dispute. We knew that communism was always going to be nationalist before it would be anything else. You know, we know all of these were the real issues, and so the whole labeling thing is nonsensical. And the value of the Republicans, as you point out, is that they’re more blatant, they’re more obvious, they’re more interested in ruling class power. They do believe in top down economic progress. And a guy like Trump, you know, he has also buffoon qualities, you know, and it is offensive in many ways. But I think the real issue here and please hang in here for a few more minutes, all these contradictions basically about this old fashion thing of the economy. And the fact is that people go along with power when power takes care of them. You mentioned the NGOs, you mention the money and all that sort of thing, and they’re not hurting. But the reason Trump is popular is there a lot of people are hurting and they turn to someone, you know, a demagogue like Trump, they turn to others around the world, whatever country they’re in. And the irony of what has happened over the Ukraine and everything else is there’s been a shifting of the plates, okay? That, in fact, you know, India is getting its oil from Russia. Saudi Arabia didn’t join the boycott. They’re actually benefiting from our cutting back. The price of oil is up. The world is has revolted. And the liberal project basically was an illusion that carried over from World War Two that you could effectively make America first and control the world and that the rest would go along. And they’re not. I’m asking you to put on this other thinking hat. And it seems to me whether they get it from our websites or anything else. Or a Russell Brand can be suppressed, so forth. The thing that drives dissent in the world is that the people of power can’t deliver. It can’t deliver. And that’s true in our own country. They can’t deliver to us. You know, Biden can join a picket line. Trump even pretended he was pro-union this week. But can you really deliver to American workers? And we had no problem with this global South and certainly none with China. And we saw it during the pandemic. As long as they delivered cheap goods to us and the high profit stuff stayed in Cupertino and so forth. The real issue in the world right now is that it’s unimaginable because it doesn’t deliver to most people and that we’re not willing to deal with. That’s the failure of liberalism. 

Blumenthal And it does. 

Scheer Yeah. I want to throw out one person that doesn’t come up often in the mention of liberal John Kenneth Galbraith, who was originally a Canadian. I wrote a very important book called “The Absolute Society,” was our ambassador to India and was one of the first to really point out that if liberalism cannot deliver economically and take care of people, you know, and deal with this income gap, it’s going to fail because it can’t exist as a cultural advocacy phenomena. 

Blumenthal Well, it’s neoliberal capitalism that’s failing to deliver and is creating all these contradictions which have led to the rise of Trump and, you know, a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. So it’s pretty obvious to me, whatever the merits are, and it doesn’t seem like Trump’s crimes are as extreme as those of presidents who’ve lied Americans into war, leading to thousands of American deaths and to destruction and destabilization of entire regions. But he’s facing this raft of indictments. And I think he’s facing the same. He’s facing legal scrutiny for the same reason that Russell Brand faces personal scrutiny, and it’s because he’s getting in the way of this cold, dead zombie system, maybe for the wrong reasons and disrupting it. He’s a disruptive force. Who took out the Bush family, humiliated them in public during the first Republican debate, destroyed Jeb Bush and George W Bush over 9/11 and Iraq, destroyed the legacy, or revealed the true legacy of John McCain as a warmonger. And many people celebrated. He just opened the gates for all the Americans who are suffering from the contradictions of neoliberal capitalism. To support him and give a finger to the establishment. Of course, he’s guiding him in the wrong direction. I mean, he did this. He used their support to get into office and provide $1,000,000,000,000 tax cut to the rich and then bring all these neocon fanatics into the White House, into the National Security Council. But on all along, he was saying things that you’re not allowed to say. He was lifting the mask when he was asked about his opposition to the war in Iraq. He said, well, we’ve got a lot of killers. You can’t just say Saddam Hussein is a killer. We have a lot of killers here in the US.. You can’t say that. And the problem that I have and what kind of fueled my last rant about liberals or self-styled progressives, is that they have killed any space on the left, any anti-capitalist space for providing people with a home to mobilize politically against this cold, dead, centrist zombie that controls us. And it’s not just controlling the US, it’s controlling the global economy. So, you know, the Bernie movement just died a pathetic death. And there’s nothing there’s nothing in its wake. There’s only Trumpism. And that’s tragic at home. But as you pointed out, Bob, on the international scene, we’re moving into a multipolar reality where the center of power is moving away from the U.S. and towards an entire bloc of nonaligned countries. I mean, right now, Russia and China occupy the main counter hegemonic, form the main counter hegemonic force. But then you have all these middle power countries that are emerging. And that’s also good for the weakest countries which have always suffered under imperialism. They get to participate in a more democratic and inclusive order when they can no longer be punished unilaterally with coercive financial measures like sanctions by the US when the U.S. is not able, when the U.S. dollar is not the dominant currency. And so like what we saw recently with the BRICS conference, the Brazil, Russia, India, China in South Africa was a move towards establishing a bank that can fund development projects in developing countries around the world through local currency, trading through local currency, and ultimately challenging the petro dollar that’s at the basis of dollar dominance. Once that happens, the U.S. can’t just tell a country, well, you know what? You know, you won’t follow the rules based order. Well, we’re just going to we’re just going to destroy your central bank and prevent you from getting all these parts that you need in order to conduct R&D or, for example, what they’ve tried to do to Iran, prevent it from having a space program that sends up satellites. They can’t do that anymore. And then the U.S. is forced to compete for the attention of that country with other powerful countries like China in that country then you know, I think of like one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Nicaragua, actually has a choice. And that to me is an extremely positive development that we can welcome that will continue to bring out these contradictions within the U.S. electorate. It’s just unfortunate and tragic. You know, for me that someone someone who does come from the left, that there really is no left wing force in the US that exists apart from the Democratic Party or which is counter hegemonic and which is challenging the real dominant force in American life which exists within the MICIMATT.

Scheer I’ve never said this before, but in response to what you were saying, I, I have no interest in the word left anymore or right. 

Blumenthal And I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know… 

Scheer No, no, no. I’m going to give you a different framework and then please bear with me just for a few more minutes, because I think we’re on to something. I actually think there are some corny old ideas that work much better. One is fairness, you know? One is consistency. You know, it’s one is, you know, some notion of morality. It’s just wrong to torture people. It’s wrong to grab all the profits and feed yourself and have big yachts and mansions and starve other people. I mean, there are just some basic values. The irony in the Russia-Chinese alliance is that when Russia was a communist country supposedly ruling out of the same Marxist-Leninist books that China was reading, they were shooting at each other. There was never a communist Russian, a communist China alliance. They were fighting over their border, just like the Vietnamese Communist Vietnam and communist China, fighting over some islands or fake islands now. So the ideology was really more an invention, an Orwellian invention of an enemy than really a guiding principle. These were always nationalist movements, basically rallying people around patriotic causes and, you know, nationalist ambitions and so forth. And the irony is that now Biden wants to present this as, no, it’s a worldwide struggle between authoritarianism and democracy, where we don’t give a damn whether China is democratic or not. We never have. We only want them to be an obedient factory floor. The Chinese rebelled. The irony is that here we wanted we now have pledged and we have actually pledged to defend Saudi Arabia, the country that supplied 15 of the 19 hijackers for 9/11, the country that has oppressed people throughout the Middle East and so forth. Biden even being rejected by Saudi Arabia, which is benefiting enormously from the whole Ukraine blockage. I mean, the oil price is way up there. They’re doing very well. They don’t turn on the taps. They cut them back. And yet Biden is reduced to giving them a military why? Because he wants to sell military equipment. He doesn’t want them to turn to Russia. That could become a new arms manufacturers. I want to put a question basically to you about how should people respond now? And you are a role model of sorts, whether people agree with you on everything or not. The fact of the matter is you’ve been there and you’re not alone. There are a number of people who’ve been able to use this modern technology and these contradictions and so forth, you know, to get the word out. You mentioned Russell Brand having 6 million people and so forth. So has this freedom that existed on the Internet been turned out to be basically an illusion? And in the few minutes just in a few minutes, I’d like you to talk as a publisher/editor about how the Internet really works and what could happen now. And I would remind people: the freedom that these big companies have came from Bill Clinton, who embraced the Communications Decency Act, of which Section 230 remained. So they can’t be sued for libel, and they’re protected as if they’re just carrying water, which is not a bad idea. But that still exists and they still make most of the profit on this Internet. Could you give us a bird’s eye view of what has happened to the Internet and how a dissenter like yourself fits in? 

Blumenthal I probably can’t adequately answer that question. 

Scheer Well, you are a practicioner.

Blumenthal  I can kind of address how it’s impacted me and what I’ve seen because I got in at the dawn of online journalism at back when that site actually was a real thing and was as influential as many of the legacy publications and had kind of an anti-establishment line. And I just was thrilled by the open Wild West nature of the Internet and as I’ve been explaining, you know, the door was slammed shut by the intelligence services which began pressuring the social media companies that had been totally private, that were just privately owned to silence or turn down the volume on dissident voices when Trump was elected. At first started focusing on Russian disinformation, and then when Russiagate was basically proven to be this giant hoax, with the Mueller report coming out and Mueller not even knowing what the report was about, failing to find anything connecting Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin in a coherent way. With the exposure of that Hamilton 68 project about Russian bots, which was one of the kind of pilot projects of the censorship industrial complex being exposed as a also a complete fraud, we expose it as a fraud at The Grayzone, the censorship industrial complex turned to domestic disinformation and that meant something more dangerous. Because it meant actually challenging the First Amendment, you’re not just going after Russians, you’re going after American citizens. And I think it culminated with removing Donald Trump from Twitter. It’s become an ongoing and more intense fight than it ever was before, because it’s mostly directed against the right, partly because the left doesn’t pose much of a threat to the establishment at this point. But it could focus on anyone. And I think it’s one of the most important arenas of contestation, political contestation of our times. And because if the silencing of dissident voices through insidious means fails on the Internet and it is failing I think we’ll move into the real world and you’ll see more people like Julian Assange locked up as they are in so-called authoritarian regimes, which are countries that are surrounded by U.S. empire, surrounded by military bases, infiltrated by U.S. intelligence, have entire political parties funded by the U.S. and they’ve responded by through like massive security crackdowns. I’m talking about Russia, China, Cuba. The US is going to start looking like that. The UK is already increasingly looking like that with its online safety bill. The EU has passed something called the Digital Services Act, which provides the basis for criminal prosecution of people for their speech. And so I think what the Internet has done is brought out the ultimate contradiction of liberal democracy, which is that it cannot actually tolerate genuinely free speech. We also saw that during the House Un-American Activities Committee trials. We saw that during the Palmer raids. Once again, the mask is lifting, and I think it’s lifting in a final way. So it’s important for us to just understand what the stakes are and to see through the veneer of electoral politics and liberal democracy and understand who’s truly in charge here, where the power really lies, and why liberalism has been hijacked to promote their interests. And I don’t know what else to say. I mean, just for myself personally, I’m a journalist, I’m in the media. It’s like just something I was good at maybe if I had been raised in a different environment, I’d be able to do something productive, work a real job like a mechanic, someone who can actually do things. But I’m part of that. 

Scheer Wait a minute, journalism as an artisan trade. I work hard at it. You work hard at it. 

Blumenthal Well, Bob, maybe we’re exceptions, but we’re the talentless middle class. That’s what I call journalists. And the media is is where you find the worst people on the planet today. The US media is like it’s a magnet for the worst people. I mean, maybe I haven’t spent enough time in the corporate world or, you know, maybe I’ve never like hung out at a police precinct, but it’s pretty bad. It’s drawing some of the biggest snitches, people with the most authoritarian mentality who contribute the least to society. And there are always major exceptions. And I know it was definitely different in your time, but in my generation, that’s how I see it. So as someone who is a member of the media, who hates the media. I’m not running for office. I’m not involved in activism or union organizing. So the thing that, what I can do is get up every day and be the biggest bastard I can be. And that’s, you know, my advice to you is be that bastard. All of you watching. 

Scheer Well, that’s. I don’t like that word bastard. I was always used to attack people whose parents were not, you know. 

Blumenthal Well, I’m not attacking people. So many children. Right? 

Scheer I know. I know. I know, I know. 

Blumenthal I have many friends who are bastards. 

Scheer I am telling you, as I in my own case, that happens to be true. So I’ve even as a kid, I always objected to that word. But I take what you’re saying. I do want to push back a little bit. A little bit? Because you’re actually. You know, it’s always a white flag of surrender. And then, yes, a brave person like you will keep doing it and you’ll get smashed and we expect it. But the fact of the matter is, there is a pretense to our society and it can be at times a reality. And, you know, the idea of that First Amendment, for example, the idea of limited government power, the idea that power corrupts, should be aware of it. And I’m not willing to throw that away. And the only thing that saved journalism in my day before television when I was really young and doing it on a mimeograph machine, you know, was that people would never even have great education, certainly not Ivy League education. And, you know, they liked doing stories, they liked getting it. They would have interesting wretches. And, you know, when you can go back to Tom Paine to find a model of that kind of journalism, he had a craft, he was makes corsets and all that. And but he can write and the next thing you know, he’s writing the main documents that are excited and informed the revolution you have certainly had I don’t want to blow smoke here, but you’ve had a great impact here with this Grayzone, with your writing and so forth. And and what I’m getting at here is a more basic question is how do they smash you? And that’s really the issue because people are unaware of it. And as somebody, I’m a publisher now, and I see it, I see, hey, I put up this guy who used to get a lot of traffic. Now he gets none, I don’t get anything for Google News. Oh, I get it maybe Antiwar picks it up or maybe someone else picks it up. You’re in this business and what has happened and people are unaware of it is the destruction of something that had the potential to inform democracy more than anything we’ve ever seen, that there was actually a media that could be grassroots, the Internet, and they clamped down on it in very sophisticated totalitarian ways of saying, no, this is too risky. You know, and and I don’t think we should make light of it because it was quite exciting and had great potential. And this Internet actually is being destroyed. And you are you’re on the front line of it. You know, and I mean, I began to show I don’t know if it’s going to be more of a problem for me that I talk to you or you talk to me. But that’s how witch hunting works, you know. 

Blumenthal When I say being a bastard, I mean like using the First Amendment to the point where you are. I mean, just using every privilege at your disposal and using every protection that’s supposed to be afforded to you by liberal democracy to expose the people who are destroying it, or if they are people, the institutions destroying it, the forces destroying it, who are the real bastards? And when I say bastard, I don’t mean people who are the progeny of unmarried people. I mean people who are like, you know, getting a finger wagged at them. You bastard. How could you? That’s what we, you know, when we bring out classified files or emails showing that a British journalist, a famous British journalist is actually a security state collaborator. There’s no amount of shadow banning or censorship that can prevent the public from seeing that because they’re just going to feast on that. They want to know that because it confirms something that they’ve sensed for a long time. I’m talking about Paul Mason, by the way. But that’s the kind of work we try to do with The Grayzone. It’s in some ways it’s uncensored. It’s like samizdat because we’re providing the public with… We’re providing a public service. We’re providing the public with something that they yearn for, that they know is true, and they need something to demonstrate to others that this is actually happening. And they also they need a language and facts to help them make their arguments against the forces that they oppose these undemocratic forces. And so, yes, Google has banned us from its searches in the United States so that if you type like the headline of one of our articles, it won’t come up. Maybe a reprint from a monthly review will come up, but The Grayzone won’t come up. If you try that same search in like Mexico, it will come up. So it’s obvious. And I guess they’re doing it to you too. If you look at our Wikipedia page, it looks like it was written by a bunch of spooks. I mean, every line is just a denigrating, defamatory piece of slander is half-true, deceptive, deceitful libel that paints us as Holocaust denying Russian backed disinformation peddlers. I mean, it’s out of control, what Wikipedia is, and that’s the first thing that comes up if you Google The Grayzone. So or if anyone who went to high school with me wants to look up Max Blumenthal, they’ll see I’m just beyond the pale, according to my Wikipedia entry. And if you want to correct the record on my Wikipedia entry, well, you can’t do that because you’re locked. You’re locked. Only accredited editors can do that. Who are they? Who are these editors? One of them was a figure who edited over 50% of my page named Phillip Cross, who lived in the UK and no one has met him, and he was conducting over 30 edits, sometimes an hour of anti-imperialist public figures. It was like it wasn’t a person. It was almost like it was a state operation. So all these forces are against us, but the public isn’t buying it. It kind of reminds me of like the 1990s fight over rap music to censor rap music and label rap music. And yeah, a lot of that music was extremely harmful, disgusting. I mean, I say that as a, you know, someone who grew up on nineties rap and hip hop. But there was a First Amendment battle. And as soon as an album by like the Ghetto Boyz or NWA got a parental advisory label, it was the stamp of approval and the public and white kids in the suburbs then wanted to get it because it was subversive. So all of this censorship is having that same effect, except they’re censoring something in many cases. That is the real journalism that that so many people appreciate, the journalism that follows in the tradition of Ramparts. In some ways, it makes me hopeful. Like I mentioned are Crowdfunder, our fundraiser at GoFundMe, which got momentarily shut down. It was like shut down for a month due to external concerns. I couldn’t get anyone on the line, so I decided to go public about it. And. The outrage that came down on Go Fund Me actually prompted them to whimper in an email to me that they were willing to review their previous suspension. But by that point, we had gone to an alternative crowdfunding site called Spot Fund. Which which cropped up because of Go fund Me censorious tendencies. And we nearly doubled what we had raised before because people were so furious and wanted to support what we were doing because they saw that it was being censored and it was correct for them to do that because they’re supporting three young journalists who are extremely talented and could never get a job in today’s media because the media is closed off to the kind of people who write for ScheerPost or The Grayzone. That’s why so many young people take jobs that like RT or Sputnik who are American because they could never criticize their own government in media the way that they used to. So that’s that’s my view of online journalism today. It’s the sad part of it all is that it’s every platform is entirely privatized. And we we’re constantly on the search for the good billionaire who will tolerate free speech on their platform. It’s a battle of billionaires, a battle of tech billionaires. But so many of these tech CEOs are figuring out that one of the ways to get a foot in the door is to create a platform that allows more free discussion to pull people away from the platforms like the Google owned YouTube, which are just censoring people left and right and have effectively destroyed the joy and freedom of the Internet as it once was. 

Scheer Okay, Last one, I get a last response. Okay. I just want to say, and maybe because I’m 87 years old. 

Blumenthal You’re 87? 

Scheer I’m 87, I’ve been around the block a lot. I’m going to tell you why I’m optimistic and I want this just to put it in there just so people don’t get too depressed. And it goes back to that Leonard Cohen thing about the crack and everything. That’s how the like it’s through the fact that is America no longer has the power that it had coming out of the Second World War. There are a lot of people all over the world and they don’t agree on a lot of things. I mean, you know, if you look at this BRIC coalition and everybody forgets South Africa hosted it. South Africa was a country that a lot of liberals supported when it was I mean, the people of South Africa, when they were fighting for their freedom to get rid of a white supremacist government. Now, oh, they’re are bad people because they can get along with Russia, they get along with China and so forth. Well, the rest of the world is not sitting for that picture. And including India and China, which after all, was supposed to be the big rivals for the future and still have all their tensions. The fact is, people want and then I get back to those simple words about fairness and respect and so forth. People around the world want their piece of the action and they want their economy to be able to reward them. And they have their own national pride. And I think maybe one danger and we exhibited it in this discussion, you and I even except maybe too much of an America-centric view. And the fact is, it’s exactly that arrogance that is being challenged all over the bloody place. So that’s only my idea of optimism. I don’t know if you agree. I let you have the last minute or you could just say goodbye, whatever you want. Is that it? Or you got a last word. 

Blumenthal But I do agree and. I think I’ve run out of words, which is rare for someone who loves the sound of their voice so much. 

Scheer Well, you do a really interesting journalism, and I know you’re happy that you’re doing it and trust me, I came to journalism after some lousy jobs, and, you know, it’s working. Okay. Thank you so much. And how do people. They obviously could sign on to Grayzone. You got a bunch of books out there. And despite the limits distortions of Wikipedia, it’s not hard for people to read your work and find your work. 

Blumenthal Yeah. I mean, Everyone who’s watching this can easily follow me. But I thank you, Bob, for being an inspiration to everyone around The Grayzone. And keeping the fire burning and mentoring the next generation. 

Scheer Okay. And those are probably the words that will seal the end of our publication,  I’m just kidding. Yeah. All right. No, you know, you do have to laugh in the end. And, you know, I do think, you know, now I’ll use that word. Don’t let the bastards get you down. It’s good advice. Okay. Take care and I’ll let you go. And I want to thank Laura Kondourajian and Christopher Ho at KCRW for posting these shows. Joshua Scheer, our executive editor. Diego Ramos, who does the intro, Max Jones does the video and the J.K.W. Foundation in memory of Jean Stein, who actually had as much courage as you have shown on the Mideast issue for providing some funding to support this show. See you next week with another edition of Scheer Intelligence.

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