Watch System Update Episode #4 here on Rumble.
Note From Glenn Greenwald: The following is the full show transcript, for subscribers only, of a recent episode of our System Update program, broadcast live on Rumble on Thursday, December 15, 2022. As I indicated last week, we now have a service in place that will produce full transcripts of all the live shows we do – Monday through Friday, live on Rumble, at 7:00 pm ET – for our subscribers here.
We have a backlog of the first ten episodes from the first two weeks of shows that we’ll post here over the next five days. We will be off from Wednesday, December 28 until Sunday, January 1. We’ll be back live on Monday, January 2, 2023, and will start publishing full transcripts of every show here within the next 24 hours for those we prefer to read the program rather than watch.
In this episode, we begin with an in-depth examination of one of the most surreal yet revealing attributes of US corporate media. The more corporate journalists lie in service to power, the more their careers advance. Then for our interview segment, we will talk to Congresswoman Nancy Mace, the Republican from South Carolina just reelected to her second term, about an extraordinary exchange that she had with a witness during a recent House hearing. But, more broadly, we talk to her about what to expect from her and the new Republican House majority. Most people, including me, have lots of disagreements with Congresswoman Mace, but she comes by her views honestly and is one of the most independent-minded elected officials. I think the interview is well worth watching.
I need to begin tonight’s show with an admission of error. For more than a decade, I have been saying in all kinds of venues, in my written journalism, in speeches, and in interviews, that the most bizarre and surreal aspect of American journalism is that getting caught lying is no barrier to advancement and success. Specifically, I’ve long said, as long as you lie for the right people and causes mainly to advance the interest of neo-liberal global economic institutions, or do the bidding of the U.S. security state, then, I said, you can lie for as much as you want and it will not have any impact whatsoever on your career in corporate journalism.
But that formulation that I’ve long endorsed is far too generous to the point of being misleading. Indeed, it’s actually untrue to say that getting caught blatantly lying has no effect on one’s career in corporate journalism. I was wrong about that. It does have an effect, a very big effect. Namely, the more you lie on behalf of power centers, the more advancement, promotion, and success you will be guaranteed in the world of corporate journalism. Indeed, even that amended formulation still does not go far enough. It is really not hyperbole to say that if you really want to rise to the top of the heap of corporate journalism, lying on behalf of power centers is a requirement. Conversely, if you’re unwilling to lie for those power centers, then success in corporate journalism is all but impossible. It’s a requirement for the job. It’s really astonishing because it’s literally true, the journalists who lie most frequently, casually, and aggressively on behalf of government and economic power centers, are the ones who shoot at the top of the corporate journalism ladder.
You can easily trace in real time how the lies that come out of their mouths correspond perfectly to their ascent. The lies are like the jet fuel that propels them to the top. Polling demonstrates that the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 is regarded as one of the worst American foreign policy decisions in recent history. And for so many people…
…including myself, who at the time was still working as a lawyer, not yet a journalist, it was a road to Damascus moment when it came to the systemic failure of the American media, such an inescapable and eye-opening lesson about how the media outlets we were all trained to trust were in fact willing to spread the most unreliable propaganda about the most consequential questions.
Primary blame for that war rests with the political leaders who advocated for it and ultimately had the power to initiate it, starting with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and the band of neocon propagandists working for them in the White House and throughout the media who deceived the public into believing false claims to secure popular support. People like Bush speechwriter, David Frum; Bush-Cheney communications director, Nicolle Wallace; roving warmonger, Bill Kristol, all of whom notably now occupy very prominent positions in the U.S. media.
From a staff writer for The Atlantic to a CNN and MSNBC favorite, Wallace is beloved among liberals as she hosts her own two-hour program every day on MSNBC, and Kristol runs a publication funded by billionaire, anti-Trump fanatic Pierre Omidyar, who previously funded The Intercept, which I co-founded, and is also an MSNBC and CNN regular. Because, as I noted, the more one lies to serve the interests of the U.S. security state, the more one advances and is promoted in the corporate media, and few lie with more gusto and glee than they.
But the invasion of Iraq and the falsehoods on which it was based was not so much sold to the public by any specific individuals as it was by media corporations. And while Fox News was almost unanimously united in support of that war, their role was really minimal, since conservatives were already largely on board because it was a Republican administration pushing it. What was required above all, was for that support to spread beyond Bush and Cheney’s conservative base and to infiltrate liberal America.
And that’s exactly what happened, which is why more than 70% of Americans supported the war when it was started in March of 2003. And half of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, were vocal advocates for the Bush administration’s claims and voted in the Senate to give George Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
Fox News obviously had no capacity to convince American liberals of anything. The outlets that could were the ones that played the critical role in securing public support, and the most prestigious media outlets trusted by liberals were almost entirely united in support of that war The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and most of all, The New York Times. Throughout 2002 and 2003, The Times published one front-page story after the next, based almost entirely on anonymous sources inside the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, and the Bush White House.
They peddled those claims uncritically without ever seeing any evidence for them, just blasting their anonymous sources with blind faith, treating their pronouncements as gospel. And thus, did millions upon millions of American liberals come to believe claims that were simply false. Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase special aluminum tool tubes that could only be used for nuclear weapons fuel.
Al-Qaeda maintained secret training camps in Iraq. Iraqi defectors were working with the CIA and had personally witnessed, quote, “renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons and underground wells.” Private villas under the Saddam Hussein hospital in Baghdad, as recently as a year ago, and so on and so forth.
By 2004, as the war that Bill Kristol promised would be over in a matter of weeks, instead raged on to a vicious guerrilla insurgency, and it became indisputably clear that many, if not most of the claims The New York Times published uncritically on its first front page, the claims that played such a vital role in tricking liberals into supporting it, were factually false. Oops!
Even for an insular media that refuses to hold itself accountable that mistake was far too glaring and grave and deadly to simply ignore or pretend it didn’t happen. So, in 2004, The New York Times published what it called an editor’s note, which was intended to be its Mea Culpa, explaining to its readers why it convinced them of so many claims that turned out to be factually false. Its central confession: the paper was far too willing to publish assertions fed to it by anonymous sources inside the government and the intelligence community, along with the Iraqi exiles, eager for regime change.
Now, The New York Times in that editor’s note wrote, quote: “We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been”, starting with great understatement. “In some cases”, the paper said, “information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.”
It went on:
“The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature”. Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exiles’ sources. So did many media organizations, in particular this one. The Times then gives this example: “On September 8, 2002, the lead article in the paper was headlined, “U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-bomb Parts”. That report concerned the aluminum tubes that the administration advertised insistently as components for the manufacture of nuclear weapons fuel. The claim came not from defectors but from the best American intelligence sources available at the time. Still, it should have been presented more cautiously”.
Implicit in all of these admissions of guilt, which were, really, when you look back, extremely diluted and understatement, implicit was the vow by The New York Times and then other corporate outlets that followed suit to be far more skeptical in the future of unverified claims fed to them by the U.S. intelligence community and the White House and to be far less willing to grant such officials anonymity to do nothing other than disseminate unverified claims to the public through these newspapers. Now, for anyone who has been minimally sentient during the Trump years and since, can anyone claim with a straight face that The New York Times and these other corporate outlets learned any of the lessons they claim to have learned or fulfilled any of these pledges?
Russiagate, the fraudulent scandal that dominated American discourse for five full years, from the 2016 campaign to the end of the Trump presidency, was driven by little more than the CIA and FBI feeding the same exact outlets — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Yorker — one anonymous, unverified claim after the next, and then watched as those same outlets, just as they did in 2002 and 2003, dutifully did what they were told by publishing those claims as unchallengeable truth. Even when Robert Mueller concluded his 18-month investigation by admitting what was clear all along, namely that there was no evidence for the core Russiagate conspiracy theory that Trump and the Russians colluded to have the emails of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, none of these outlets bothered to do even the minimal mea culpa that The New York Times did back in 2004 regarding the Iraq war. That’s because, by now, our media ecosystem is so polarized that The New York Times and The Washington Post and those who thrive within those institutions know that their almost entirely liberal readership want them to lie. Want them to lie. If doing so helps advance the interests of the Democratic Party, or if it helps subvert the Trump movement, lying for the right cause in this world is not considered shameful. It is celebrated. It is how you advance within these corporate circles. They even showered themselves with Pulitzers for all of these fairy tales, deranged conspiracy theories, and misconduct.
Now, when people look back at the media failures leading up to the Iraq war, most people focus on the false WMD claims spread by The New York Times and other outlets. And there’s no denying that those falsehoods, that specific one, played a big role in persuading the public to support the war. But in 2002-2003, what Americans really cared most about was the 9/11 attack.
As would be true of most populations that had been attacked in such a savage and catastrophic manner, what Americans wanted most was to avenge that attack and to attack or counterattack anyone, any group, or any government that played any important role in helping to execute those attacks. So even with all the melodrama about WMDs and mushroom clouds, it would have been very difficult, I’d submit impossible, to have convinced Americans to support a full-scale war on the other side of the world against a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with that attack on New York and Washington less than a year earlier.
That was what was on the minds of Americans: the 9/11 attack. And since the government that had the closest connection to that 9/11 attack just happened to be one of America’s closest and most important allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, that country was off the table. So, to convince Americans to attack Saddam Hussein, it was necessary to convince them that he played an important role in those attacks by either providing safe harbor to al-Qaeda training camps, as the Taliban had done, or in some other way was a close ally of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Now, as we just showed you, The New York Times did a pretty good job of deceiving Americans to believe that Iraq provided substantial staging grounds for al-Qaeda training camps. But there was one journalist who far and away played the biggest role by far in pedaling the lie that Saddam Hussein had forged a close alliance with al-Qaeda and bin Laden and had given safe haven to al-Qaeda. That journalist’s name was Jeffrey Goldberg. At the time, he was a featured staff writer for the magazine that is arguably the most revered and influential among American liberals, The New Yorker, and he repeatedly used that platform to persuade Americans to believe in this total fiction, this al-Qaeda-Saddam alliance.
A falsehood that I would submit played a far bigger role in convincing liberals to support the Iraq war than the WMD fairy tale did, both because many Americans were skeptical about the lack of proof presented for WMDs, which is why they need to send Colin Powell out to the U.N. with all those grainy satellite photos and generic test tubes. But also because what Americans, in 2002, most wanted was to attack those who had attacked the U.S. first. Convincing them that Saddam bore responsibility for that attack was vital to fulfilling the long-standing neocon dream of changing regimes throughout the Middle East, starting in Iraq, moving on to Iran, then to Syria and beyond.
And that’s exactly the role that Jeffrey Goldberg and The New Yorker volunteered to perform. In two separate articles in this August magazine. Goldberg fed American liberals this fiction. In March of 2002, just six months after the 9/11 attack, when emotions were so high that The New Yorker published one Goldberg article with this obviously inflammatory headline: “The Great Terror: in Northern Iraq, there is new evidence of Saddam Hussein’s genocidal war on the Kurds and of his possible ties to al-Qaeda”. That was when that idea was first introduced.
Less than six months after the 9/11 attack in the most revered magazine among Liberals by Jeffrey Goldberg: that Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attack to “possible ties to al-Qaeda”. In February 23, as Americans were involved in the last phase of decision-making about whether to invade Iraq, Goldberg returned with a separate article to reinforce that theme with this headline: “The Unknown: the CIA and the Pentagon take another look at al-Qaeda in Iraq”.
After the publication of each of those articles, Goldberg went on a manic media tour, appearing on every mainstream outlet from NPR to CNN to all the Sunday news shows where he was welcomed and permitted to uncritically publish the false conspiracy theory that Iraq — a country that Goldberg and his fellow neocons had been wanting to attack and regime change for many years before 9/11 — that they had maintained some kind of close and multi-pronged alliance with the terror group that had just attacked the United States.
And for those falsehoods, arguably the most destructive journalistic falsehood of his generation, Goldberg’s career exploded in advancement and success. Those two articles won some of those prestigious awards in journalism, including a National Magazine award, just like The New York Times, and The Washington Post showered themselves with Pulitzers for their false Russiagate stories. And Jeffrey Goldberg’s goal to convince Americans of this alliance was a stunning success. In very large numbers, Americans overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had himself played a vital role in planning and executing the 9/11 attacks.
So ingrained was this propaganda that even six months after the invasion, by which point Americans knew that Saddam had no meaningful WMD programs, they continued to believe this. As The Guardian put it, in September of 2003: ”Sixty-nine percent of Americans” — 69% — “said they thought it at least likely that Saddam was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to a Washington Post poll published yesterday. That impression, which exists despite the fact that the hijackers were mostly Saudi nationals acting for al-Qaeda, is broadly shared by Democrats, Republicans, and independents”.
Now, in any healthy journalistic culture, this alone, no matter what motives he had for doing it, should have been the end of Goldberg’s journalistic career. It’s hard to imagine a worse journalistic failure than tricking Americans in massive numbers to believe that a country was involved in a cataclysmic attack on the United States, which in fact it had nothing to do with, resulting in one of the costliest, most horrific, and deadliest invasions in American history. But far from ending Goldberg’s career, that episode catapulted it to all new heights. He remained on at The New Yorker until 2008. He wasn’t fired then. Instead, that was when the longtime owner of The Atlantic, the only magazine as revered in liberal circles as The New Yorker, David Bradley, launched a two-year campaign to convince Goldberg to leave The New Yorker to join The Atlantic as its editor-in-chief by doing the following, as the Huffington Post reported: “Bradley, the magazine’s owner, wrote flattering letters to Goldberg. He provided a hefty signing bonus. And when The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent finally seemed receptive to making the move, Bradley sent in the ponies”: ‘He’s incredibly persistent and makes you feel like you’re God’s gift to journalism’, said Goldberg, “who had turned Bradley down once before. But that was before the horses showed up at his home to entertain his children”. That passage references a report in the Washingtonian, that David Bradley wooed Goldberg to The Atlantic by sending exotic ponies to Goldberg’s home in D.C.’s American University Park neighborhood for his three young children to ride in their backyard. In other words, one of the most shameful and destructive propagandists in the history of U.S. journalism rose just five years later to occupy one of the most powerful and prestigious positions of all of corporate journalism: editor-in-chief of The Atlantic.
It should embarrass every last person who calls themselves a journalist to see that the path to the pinnacle of power and success in American journalism is paid by lying. Indeed, the more brazenly you lie, the more shamelessly you do so to advance the most important priorities of the U.S. security state, the greater success you will have. I don’t know whether most corporate journalists are embarrassed by this or not, whether they feel ashamed about what is so obviously and loudly says about the state of U.S. corporate journalism. That’s because none of them would dare utter a peep of criticism about Jeffrey Goldberg. Why would they? He runs a magazine funded by Steve Jobs, his multibillionaire widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. He can make and break careers. He has the ability to elevate anyone. So, one of the most visible and lucrative platforms in magazine publishing. Why would any careerist in journalism alienate someone like him by pointing out the extremely twisted reality that the person who arguably lied most destructively about the war in Iraq very quickly rose to the top of their profession?
One of Jeffrey Goldberg’s hires at The Atlantic was David Frum, the Bush White House speechwriter who penned many of the most destructive falsehoods that came out of the president’s mouth in 2002 and 2003 that led to the war that Jeffrey Goldberg craved. During the Trump years, The Atlantic under Goldberg became ground zero for many of the worst liars and the most deranged lies that drove Russiagate.
One of the people Goldberg promoted to The Atlantic is arguably the journalist who in this generation has replaced him as the most reliable purveyor of CIA lies and propaganda, Natasha Bertrand, who has been at the center of almost every prominent media lie during the Trump years and, as a result, has watched her career do nothing but spiral rapidly upward as a result, from Business Insider, where she began, to MSNBC to The Atlantic under Goldberg, to Politico, where she was the first to report the CIA to lie about Hunter Biden’s archive being Russian disinformation, and then to her current, but almost certainly not her last destination, at CNN, where she regularly recites whatever the CIA and FBI and NSA tell her to say without having the slightest idea of whether it’s true and without caring at all about whether it is. Why should she care if it’s true? That’s a lot of lying and a lot of lucrative promotions in just six short years from being an obscure worker in the digital clickbait tabloid Business Insider to prominent positions in The Atlantic, MSNBC, and CNN.
Earlier today, a senior national security official in the Trump administration named Cliff Sims told the story for the first time about how casually and knowingly Natasha Bertrand lies. Sims began his story this way: “I want to know what it’s like to deal with some journalists who cover the intel and that set communities at the highest levels but actually serve more like mouthpieces of the permanent security state. Here’s his story about how wrong they can be without consequences”.
Sims then recounted how Adam Schiff, the California Democrat, was going around to every media outlet he could find right before the 2020 election, asserting that it was Russia that was responsible for the reporting on Joe Biden’s business activities in China and Ukraine, based on the Hunter Biden laptop. Sims was working at the time for the then director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, and he was doing everything he could to debunk these lies, pointing out to every media outlet that Ratcliffe’s official finding was that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence, zero, to suggest any Russian involvement in the procurement of that laptop. He then recounted Bertrand’s key role in spreading this lie: “On October 19th, then Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand preps a story about 50 former intel officials claiming the Biden laptop story is Russian disinformation. I warn her that it is NOT and point her to Radcliffe’s statements. She writes it anyway and gives Democrats the headline they want”.
He then pointed to the now infamous story first peddled by the CIA to Bertrand, who was the first to disseminate the lie that the laptop was Russian disinformation — a lie that led to media outlets reporting it over and over and ultimately, big tech censoring that story. Simms then went on to recount that he had conveyed to Burton on many other occasions that stories fed to her by anonymous sources that she was preparing to publish were clearly false.
And when she kept publishing them anyway, he went to her editor at Politico, a renowned anti-Trump journalist, and editor, named Blake Hounshell, who angrily told Simms to go away and called him a, quote, “garbage person”. The false stories kept coming from both Bertrand who’s now at Politico but showing yet again the core role of U.S. corporate journalism — the more you lie for power, the more you thrive — neither suffered any consequences, except that they each got promoted, as some said, quote: “But CNN hired Natasha Bertrand and The New York Times hired Blake Snell, none of them — Schiff, the former intel officials who lied about the laptop, the journalists involved — have ever admitted they were wrong. And these headlines remain on Politico to this very day”.
In other words, The New York Times, 15 years after vowing that they would stop uncritically publishing unproven assertions from anonymous intelligence officials in the wake of the WMD debacle, rewarded yet another editor, this one from Politico, whose career, especially during the Trump years, consists of doing little else besides that. And CNN went on to hire one of the most demonstrable and brazen liars in today’s media, Natasha Bertrand.
But because her lies are always at the service of the CIA and the U.S. security state, it has become her greatest asset as she shoots up the corporate ladder. It really would take — and I’m not saying this hyperbolically, but literally — a multi-episode documentary on Netflix to show you all of Bertrand’s journalistic frauds during the Trump years. Since this is a one-hour show, we’ll have to content ourselves with just some illustrative examples.
Now, back when CNN first hired Natasha Bertrand, I published an article on Substack documenting the fact that she is, quote, “A deranged conspiracy theorist and scandal-plagued CIA propagandist”. And I went through the entire ouvre of Bertrand’s lies that she began telling before Donald Trump was even president, during the 2016 campaign for Business Insider, and the way in which she kept getting promoted as she kept lying more.
Now, one of the lies that she was most involved with early on was the absolute fairy tale — you probably remember this, during 2016, because Hillary Clinton herself promoted it –, that “researchers” had discovered a secret internet link that allowed Donald Trump to communicate directly with a Russian bank called Alpha Bank in secret, without anyone knowing about it.
This became, in 2016, one of the leading journalistic scoops that were supposed to prove that Donald Trump had nefarious connections to the Russians. Franklin Foer, one of the reporters besides Bertrand, who was most vocally pushing this story while asleep, ended up getting promoted. You’ll never guess where he ended up: at The Atlantic, hired by Jeffrey Goldberg. But it was Bertrand herself who most pushed that story.
Now, we know for sure this story was a lie. Last year, Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Michael Sussman, was indicted by the independent investigator and prosecutor, John Dunham. And even though Sussman was eventually acquitted, the premise of the indictment remains unchallenged, which is that he took that story to the FBI, and the FBI immediately realized that this claim was false. They concluded that there was no evidence for it and that the evidence that has been presented to them was fabricated.
The reason Sussman was indicted was on a completely separate issue, namely that he had falsely told the FBI he was only there as a concerned citizen and concealed that he was really doing it on behalf of the Clinton campaign. But the conclusion of the FBI and by now most other journalistic outlets, that this entire story about the server connecting the Trump Organization and Alpha Bank was a complete falsehood is really not even debated anymore. And yet I want to show you what it is that Natasha Bertrand did. This was in 2018, well after, two years after, the FBI concluded that they had been sent on a wild goose chase. Watch her with Chris Hayes and with Franklin Foer, who became her colleague at The Atlantic for having also told this story. So, to watch them cackle so smugly about how obvious in their view this outright lie is so clearly true.
Natasha Bertrand: I mean, what more evidence do you need? It’s very, very obvious. And it’s really Occam’s razor here. The fact that we still have not been able to rule out the idea that this was a covert communication channel two years after the fact. The fact that no one has come forth with a plausible explanation for why this was happening, for why Alpha Bank was one of three organizations communicating with the Trump server in those months leading up to the election is just completely remarkable. And I think the fact that Frank’s story got overlooked or criticized as much as it did, and the fact that now it’s being revisited, and you have the editor of The New York Times saying that there was a story there, just shows the lack of imagination…
Do you see them all just nodding their heads, just unquestionably about what it is that Natasha Bertrand is saying about a story that the FBI knew, two years earlier, was completely false and that everybody knows was an absolute lie? But that’s what she did over and over.
Here is a very typical Natasha Bertrand story that she published at The Atlantic while working for Jeffrey Goldberg, the most prolific liar, journalistically, of the prior generation that typified the kind of reporting she did while at The Atlantic, quote, “The Trump-Putin relationship as dictated by the Kremlin”. She was at the center of almost every Russiagate story.
Here is from Politico, the now notorious story, the very first time that Americans got introduced to the lie that the Hunter Biden laptop story was, quote, “Russian disinformation, according to intelligence officials”. It, of course, carried the byline of Natasha Bertrand.
Here is a story that you may remember because it was one of the most preposterous lies when the media and CIA invented this that diplomats, American diplomats, first in Havana and then around the world, were being targeted by some nefarious, supersonic, audio weapon that nobody had ever discovered the technology for. It was centuries ahead of what anybody knew. NBC, and many other outlets then blamed Russia for it, and the implicit narrative was that Trump did nothing about it because he was captive to the Russians.
Here is a CNN story “Havana Syndrome stokes fear and frustration among diplomats over response from the State Department”, in 2021, bearing the byline of Natasha Bertrand. This was because the State Department eventually realized and began working with the CIA to say that this was almost entirely psychosomatic, that many of the diplomats in Havana were actually hearing sounds. The sounds were matched to an exotic cricket that is known to populate the Caribbean.
And because so many liars in journalism, like Natasha Bertrand, spread this story that they were being targeted by some secret weapon, they began psychosomatically, creating the symptoms, in other words, imagining them, and even the State Department and the CIA eventually concluded that that was the case. But she continued to push this story by saying there’s frustration among diplomats over the response from the State Department, namely the response from the State Department that none of this is true all along.
Here is another story we can go to, from Politico, bearing the byline of Natasha Bertrand, from 2021, and there you see her pushing the claim, from unnamed European security officials, that it was the Russians who for some reason blew up their own pipeline, Nord Stream 2 — something that virtually nobody believes — but there she was promoting it because that is what her entire career is for.
Here is a story by The Washington Post’s media critic, Erik Wemple, who, to his credit, tried to hold some of the worst propagandists and liars in media responsible for one of the biggest frauds of Russiagate, which is the Steele dossier. And Erik Wemple published a long and very potent article demonstrating that Rachel Maddow’s success during the Trump years was basically based on the fraud of pushing the Steele dossier. But as he points out in this headline from The Washington Post, it was Natasha Bertrand who probably was the biggest advocate for the Steele dossier, of anyone. And his headline is “How Politico’s Natasha Bertrand bootstrapped the Dossier credulity into an MSNBC gig”.
And let me just read to you a couple of parts: “Where there’s a report on Russian meddling, there’s an MSNBC segment waiting to be taped. Last Thursday night, MSNBC host Joy Reid — subbing for Chris Hayes — turned to Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand with a question about whether Trump, ‘wants’ Russian meddling or whether he can’t accept that ‘foreign help is there’. Bertrand responded: ‘We don’t have the reporting that suggests the president has told aides, for example, that he really wants Russia to interfere because he thinks that is going to help him, right?”
Then she went on: “No, we don’t have that reporting – though there’s no prohibition against fantasizing about it on national television. Such is the theme of Bertrand’s commentary during previous coverage of Russian interference, specifically the dossier of memos drawn up by former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele. With winks and nods from MSNBC hosts, Bertrand heaped credibility on the dossier — which was published in full by BuzzFeed News in January 2017 — in repeated television appearances”.
Now, Bertrand not only got rewarded by being repeatedly promoted but, as Michael Tracey reported when he covered a NATO conference in Europe, where Joe Biden appeared, she was given very special treatment by being, quote, “escorted into the prime seating location by a NATO operative, and then picked first from a pre-determined list of journalists to ask the NATO Secretary-General a friendly, collegial question. There’s your vigorous freedom of the press at work”.
That’s exactly how it works. They know exactly who in the media is most willing to most loyally and mindlessly disseminate their propaganda. They know Natasha Bertrand will say anything they tell her to say. That’s why she was the first to promote the Hunter Biden lie. That’s why she gets escorted by NATO officials to the front row and picked on first. Imagine being a real journalist and seeing that the U.S. security state is treating you so favorably: you’d be ashamed.
If you’re a real journalist, would look in the mirror and say: “What am I doing wrong that these people I’m supposed to be adversarial reporting on love me so much?” But she knows where her bread is buttered. She knows whom she’s serving. She knows on whose behalf she’s supposed to lie – and she lies aggressively and enthusiastically, and she’s done nothing but reaped up the rewards.
So, there are a lot of other people in the media who have very similar backgrounds. Ken Dilanian is another person who fell upward. He was at the Los Angeles Times, he then went to AP. He now works at NBC News. There was a report that we did at The Intercept where we did a FOI request to the CIA for all communications between them and journalists, and they couldn’t deny the request because it wasn’t within government. And they produced reporting. And we were able to report in 2014 that Ken Dilanian would actually submit his stories, drafts of his stories, to the CIA for approval before publishing them.
The headline was “The CIA Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times reporter cleared stories with the CIA before publication”. Once we reported that, it was reported in other outlets as well. This is what they mean: picking up the phone, calling the CIA and the FBI, writing down what they tell you to say, and then publishing it uncritically. And you see the entire scheme here that the people who sit at the top of the mountain of corporate journalism are those people who have lied most in service of power. And they sit there not despite those lies, but because of them.
Rep. Nancy Mace on Big Tech:
We recently saw a clip in which a congresswoman, Nancy Mace, the Republican from South Carolina, addressed a panel of so-called “online safety experts”. And what she did was incredibly adept and quite brilliant. She first asked this panel whether they agreed with the series of questions that they knew she knew they would say yes to, such as “Does hateful rhetoric have the potential to incite violence in the real world?”; “Does hateful rhetoric have the potential to target political officials with endangerment and violence?” and, of course, they all said yes.
And one of the people on this panel was someone who teaches a clinic at Harvard Law School and has become a favorite source of people like Ben Collins, at NBC News, and Taylor Lorenz, at The Washington Post. They’ve christened her an “online safety expert”. Her name is Alejandra Caraballo. She’s a trans activist and now somehow an “online safety expert”. And the point of Nancy Mace’s questioning was to get that person to say, “I’m someone who goes around warning of hateful rhetoric” and then confronting her with the fact that there are few people who spew hateful rhetoric as aggressively and frequently as Caraballo herself. Watch this, an excerpt of that exchange:
N. Mace: Alejandra Caraballo also recently tweeted on November 19th, not even a month ago, that the Supreme Court vested with the judicial power of the United States, but our Constitution stated they are not a legitimate court issuing decisions, and also the Supreme Court is an organ of the far right. So, my last question today to Ms. Caraballo is, do you stand by these comments — this kind of rhetoric on social media? And do you believe it’s a threat to democracy?
Alejandra Caraballo: Thank you, Representative, for the opportunity to clarify and provide context to my tweets.
Rep. Nancy Mace: I have a question. Is it yes, or no? Do you believe your rhetoric is a threat to democracy when you’re calling it to accost a branch of government? The Supreme Court.
Alejandra Caraballo: I don’t believe that’s a correct characterization of my statements.
Rep. Nancy Mace: Did you not tweet that — that you thought that the Supreme Court justices should be accosted?
Alejandra Caraballo: What I’m saying is that it is not an accurate characterization of my statements…
N. Mace: On June 8 of this year, a man was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland. He told law enforcement officers he wanted to kill a Supreme Court justice. He was found with a knife, with a pistol, two magazines, ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a crowbar, and duct tape. The threats that members of Congress, the threats that branches of government face on the left and the right, as was mentioned by the chairman earlier in the committee hearing, what happened to the speaker’s husband is every member’s worst nightmare.
So, it’s clear to me that we have to call it the threats to our democracy emanating from wherever they come, whether it’s the right or the left. It is incumbent upon every one of us to call it out on both sides of the political spectrum and recommit ourselves to the Constitution and the rule of law. I look forward to working with anyone, Republican or Democrat, as you know, Mr. Chairman, to address these threats from within and without. And I look forward to inviting more people who actually know what they’re talking about to our witness panels in 118th Congress. Thank you. And I yield back.
So as soon as I saw that excerpt, I knew we wanted to have Congresswoman Mace on to talk about it. But in addition to that, I’ve been following her career almost from the time she got to Congress. She has an unconventional path to getting into Congress. She raised her children while working as a waitress at the Waffle House. She was somebody who was not really on that standard path to become a politician. I think we need a lot more of that. She’s an incredibly independent-minded member of Congress. I disagree with her on all sorts of things. She’s become an ally of Nikki Haley, whose foreign policy I find repellent. But the one thing I will say about Congresswoman Nancy is she comes by all of her opinions very honestly, which already puts her way ahead of pretty much anyone else in Congress for whom that’s not true.
And she’s really become a heterodox thinker. I found one thing really interesting is that when she ran for reelection, Donald Trump backed a primary challenge against her. She was able to defeat that primary challenge. And that night, Donald Trump, showing the respect he has for her, went and congratulated her and urged people in South Carolina to vote for her in the general election for her reelection. So, she’s about to enter her second term as one of the more interesting people in Congress. But I also wanted to talk to her about what she saw as the objective and the points she wanted to draw out from that exchange. I found this interview really interesting, and I hope you will as well.
G.G: Congresswoman, we’re really excited to have you on our debut week. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
N.M.: Thank you for having me. I’m really looking forward to this.
G.G: Yeah, me too. So, the main reason we wanted to ask you on was because of this amazing exchange you had in a congressional hearing on Monday. We talked about it last night on our show. We just showed the audience again, a clip of it as well. And I want to dig into that. Before we do, you just got elected to your second term in Congress. I’ve been following your political trajectory in large part because you had a pretty unconventional path to get to Congress. Even though for Americans, it’s a very common experience for members of Congress, unfortunately, it’s quite uncommon. So, for those who aren’t familiar with that, can you talk about what it is you were doing before you ran for Congress? What brought you to Congress and how those experiences shaped the work that you do?
N.M.: Sure. Before I came to Congress, I was a state lawmaker for three years before coming up here to D.C. and long before that, I was in business, had my own business for a while, and did some commercial real estate. But I really got my start when I became the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. And I was a high school dropout. I dropped out when I was 17. I had a lot of issues to work through personally for a couple of years early on, and the Citadel changed my life and being in business and being successful there and seeing that there’s so much bureaucracy at the federal level, bringing that business mindset to Congress was very important to me when I ran.
G.G: I mean, that’s the reason why I think it’s so important to have different people of different backgrounds, not just this very straight-line path from, say, Yale Law School to Wall Street to Congress, like so many of your colleagues have traversed. So, let’s talk about this hearing on Monday, this exchange you had that reverberated around the Internet for good reason. One of the things that caught my attention and maybe it’s because I worked as a lawyer, I did a lot of trial work, did a lot of questioning of depositions.
What struck me about it is that you didn’t just begin by asking Miss Caraballo about her tweets. You first lured them into affirming general propositions that extremist rhetoric can have spillover consequences in the real world, that urging people to accost political leaders can subject them to harassment and violence. And only then did you show her the tweets of her own that seemed to violate the standard she’s espousing for everyone else. That showed me you had some points you wanted to demonstrate in this exchange. What were those points you were hoping to illustrate, and what points do you think were demonstrated by what this exchange ended up showing?
N.M.: Well, I wanted to get all the witnesses on the record saying and confirming, affirming that rhetoric, violent rhetoric targeting officials, violent rhetoric online on social media does impact society and they acknowledge that. And they said, yes, it does. But oops! One of the witnesses had participated in such hateful rhetoric. And these people were here to speak out against hate speech and violent rhetoric online and yet they’re the same ones guilty of hate speech and violent rhetoric online.
And I think it’s important to call out the hypocrisy. I don’t care if you even have her name, don’t come in my committee and tell me that you support a speech that’s a lot nicer and then be peddling in hate speech, you know. And if you look at what happened this Summer with Supreme Court justices, I mean, someone literally showed up on the doorstep of Justice Kavanaugh’s house, armed and dangerous, ready to kill. But he’s not the only one. And we’ve seen it on both sides of the aisle, Democrats, and Republicans being targeted. So don’t come to the committee and be a hypocrite and say, hey, this speech is bad, but here I am. Here are three states participating in the same bad speech. You know, it’s such it’s hypocritical.
G.G: Yeah, you know, I know it’s hard to kind of gain insight into other people’s motives. Sometimes it’s hard enough to gain insight into our own. But I do wonder what you think about what it is that motivates or to me seems such a flagrant double standard. I mean, I’ve watched these same people — there’s kind of a small handful of people that get cited, as they’re called now, “online safety experts”, as though this is a real expertise who constantly in this very sanctimonious way warned of the danger of hateful rhetoric, of unifying on Twitter, in social media, to target people in a very directed way.
And yet the same people are the ones who do it all day, every day, as you’ve demonstrated so adeptly against the people they regard as their political enemies. Do you think it’s just a lack of self-awareness that they don’t realize that they’re doing exactly that which they condemn? Or do you think they somehow, in their minds, see it as different that when people on the right are engaging in this kind of rhetoric, it’s inherently dangerous but when someone on the left does it, it’s somehow less dangerous?
N.M.: Oh, it’s so self-righteous and elitist. I mean, you saw Hillary Clinton denying the former president, President Trump, that he actually won the election, that he wasn’t a legitimate president. I mean, these same people project and accuse the other side of doing what they themselves have been doing. And what I don’t like is the hypocrisy, the self-righteousness, these people anointing themselves to decide what is and what isn’t constitutional, what kind of speech is constitutional? I can do it, but you can’t.
And there’s a standard for the left, and then there’s a standard for everybody else. And I think when you look at, we’re America, the United States is — 80 to 90% of the people that we represent don’t buy into it. And it’s important for us to hold both sides accountable and call out the B.S. and the lies and the hypocrisy, which I’ve been doing consistently and was grateful for the opportunity to see this person who’s supposedly an ‘online security expert’, whatever that means, peddling in hate and violent speech. Yet they say they oppose it, but they’re the very ones doing it.
G.G.: Yeah. And that for those who don’t know, you do have a record of holding your own side, your own party, accountable to these same standards, so much so that you faced a pretty vigorous primary challenge this year by a candidate backed by Donald Trump, whom you vanquished, and I think showing the respect he has for you. He then congratulated you and supported you in the general election. But you’re somebody who has walked out.
While I do want to ask a little bit more deeply about this question of inflammatory rhetoric. You know, all of us who enter the world of politics as journalists or politicians, we all have strong views about certain issues. We speak harshly sometimes and condemn other people. You’re somebody who, for example, has been very unsparing in your criticism of some of the things Dr. Fauci did, both in managing COVID and also in some of these incredibly cruel, gratuitously cruel animal experiments.
I don’t think it’s unimaginable that maybe someone who respects you, who’s your constituent, might hear you harshly condemning Dr. Fauci, get angry about it then say, you know what, I need to go and attack. Dr. Fauci, even though you haven’t told anyone to do that, he might be inspired by the sharpness of your rhetoric. So, where is that line for you where somebody should be held accountable for the consequences of their aggressive rhetoric and where in that case, for example, I assume you would say, look, I didn’t tell anybody to go to Dr. Fauci, the fact that someone was inspired by my speech doesn’t mean I’m responsible.
N.M.: Right. Well, didn’t I didn’t showcase the tweets to censor the tweets, right? If you defend the First Amendment and free speech, then you defend even speech that you don’t like. And I think that’s important. We want to know what people are saying. I’d like to know where the hate speech is and who said it and who are the hypocrites and who is not. But and that’s important to recognize that free speech is important, but also we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
As a public figure, we should ensure that we’re at least thoughtful about some of the divisions that are in our country and the challenges that we’re facing today. I don’t sit out there and bloviate and cause division. I like to point out hypocrisy and lies. I think that’s important, but I do it in a way that’s very pragmatic, that’s thoughtful, not screaming into a microphone or pedaling in conspiracy theories and those kinds of things to get attention.
But trying to be very pragmatic about it and saying, “hey, some people are inspired by this”. I know that when I voted to certify the Electoral College, which was my constitutional duty I had, I started to get a lot of threats. Since then, they haven’t stopped since. And I see that from the far right and the far left.
And so, I personally try to be thoughtful about when I am going after an issue, even if it’s controversial, to think about what others might think about what I’m saying and just being thoughtful and mindful about what that might mean to somebody else and lowering the temperature about how we speak about issues, understanding the American experiment means we can debate ideas and not threaten to kill one another, right?
I mean, that should be the American experiment. But instead, people show up at your house, they spray paint your house like they did mine. They trespass, as you know this, Glenn, very well, entering your property illegally. I’ve had my car keys… I have to carry a firearm everywhere I go. And it shouldn’t be that way.
G.G: Right. So, you did refer to the question of censorship. You pointed out you weren’t showing those tweets to have them censored. There is, though, a big debate right now about what role big tech should play and what responsibility they bear in allowing some of these inflammatory statements to circulate. We just have this reporting about how Twitter censored the Hunter Biden reporting right before the election, and questions about whether they were censoring in partisan ways.
You’re now part of the party that’s about to have the majority party power in the House. Are you concerned by some of these revelations that these big tech executives are frequently meeting with agents of the U.S. security state, the FBI, Homeland Security, that aren’t supposed to be involved in our politics? And do you see a role for Congress in regulating how these big tech companies are or are not allowing certain content to circulate on their platforms?
N.M.: Well, private businesses can create any rules that they want really generally for their business. But if they’re going to have a rule or a standard, it needs to be applied equally across all audiences, whatever that standard is. But it was very disturbing when Elon Musk started releasing the Twitter files and having a greater understanding after Mark Zuckerberg had his interview with Joe Rogan in August and seeing that there is evidence of federal government agencies trying to influence and pressure social media companies to censor voices of the right.
And we were being called conspiracy theorists over this laptop story, and yet they censored it days before an election. And I don’t care who the laptop was, but there’s evidence of corruption at the highest levels of government. And you’re burying the story days before an election. And federal agencies are telling social media companies to censor content.
That’s wrong. And I want those individuals held accountable to the fullest extent of our law, which means they shouldn’t have a job in federal government at a bare minimum. And that’s wrong. And you’re going to see judiciary, you’re going to see oversight. There’s new management in town come January 3rd. And we’re going to investigate these issues. And I do believe and have confidence in Jim Jordan and James Comer being able to hold these federal agencies accountable. And one of the things that I am in my first term, we have these hearings, we write these letters, but nothing ever happens. And we’ve got to hold people’s feet to the fire. There’s got to be consequences.
G.G: Yeah. So just on that, you know, I’m thrilled to hear you say that you want to see investigations into the role that these agencies are playing. These agencies are not supposed to be involved in our politics, let alone the information that we’re allowed to be hearing. They’re there to protect and secure the national security of the United States, not to manipulate elections and our political outcome.
So I’m thrilled to hear you say you want to see investigations as a member of the party that now is about to take control of the House, but facing the Senate, that’s controlled by the other party, and an executive branch that’s controlled by the other party, knowing your power is limited, what do you hope to see from the Republican Party in the ways that it uses its power in the House? Recognizing those limitations.
N.M.: I want us to be thoughtful about how we approach these issues, and I’m not one to be highly partisan. I look at it from all angles because I represent a bellwether district very much. It’s a snapshot of the rest of the country. It’s very, very purple, which is why I speak out on a number of issues. I get in trouble with the left and I get in trouble with the right. And I think what you’re going to see are very thoughtful investigations by Jim Jordan and James Comer. They’re smart. They’re going to be substantive, and they’re going to look at these issues in a way that haven’t been looked at ever we had our seventh white supremacy hearing on Tuesday.
We’re not going to be peddling this nonsense. We’re going to be looking at real issues affecting real Americans and try to, you know, have real outcomes here, which is why the FBI is going to be called to testify. We’re going to use subpoena power on oversight on the Hunter Biden laptop story. We’re not no one wants to see him doing drugs. No one wants to see that. We want to talk about the real meat of it, the financial transactions that were flagged, the money that the then vice-president, Joe Biden, was making, how he was making it, the possible pay-to-play in the vice-president’s office.
These things are real and there’s evidence of it in 80,000 emails and text messages. And so, you’re going to see our leadership take a very substantive view. It’s not going to be a circus and look at how we can legislate better outcomes that are fair for all sides. This should not be a partisan thing, but of course, we know the left will probably attack the right for, we’ll be called crazy. But I know that our leadership, Jim Jordan, James Comer, they’re going to be very substantive about how we approach these issues.
G.G: The focus on Hunter Biden’s sex life, personal life, difficulty with drug abuse, which a lot of Americans face, has never been of interest to almost anybody talking about this topic. It’s an attempt to denigrate the importance of it, to distract from what it did reveal about Joe Biden in China, Joe Biden in Ukraine. So, it’s great that the focus is there. We just have a little time left.
I hate punditry questions, but I am the last feel compelled to ask you because it is an important question facing your caucus facing the country. Kevin McCarthy seemed to be for a long time and still seems, I think, to be the natural person to become the Speaker of the House, to become that he needs 218 votes, which means virtually everybody in your caucus needs to support him. As of the moment, there are enough people vowing that they will never vote for him for Speaker of the House, which leaves him short of those votes. Do you expect him ultimately to be able to get those votes he needs to become a speaker?
N.M.: I do. And we don’t know if it will happen on the first ballot or the third, but I do believe that the support is there. I would never want his job. I mean, he’s got to bring together people from all political stripes within our conference. But the one thing I do know is that Kevin McCarthy understands that every district is different and I’m going to cite my district in 2020. I flipped the seat from Democrat to Republican. I won it by one point. And Leader McCarthy was in early in our primaries. So were Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise.
And our leadership understands to get the majority and to keep the majority, we’ve got to get members who can win general elections. It’s not enough to win a primary. We’ve got to be able to win general elections in every primary candidate that leader McCarthy backed, they won their general elections. And he is a reason in large part why we are in the majority and have this opportunity.
And I hope that we as a conference when we have our family meetings in private between now and January 3rd, we’re not going to double down on failed policies or failed candidates and recognize that our party needs to be more diversified. You know, we’ve got small libertarians like myself. We’ve got folks that are socially conservative, but we can all work together. We’re all part of the same team. We put on the same jersey. And I believe on January 3rd you’re going to see that CIC night on the floor of the House.
G.G.: So I need to take this opportunity to ask you one final question. I would be very angry at myself if I didn’t. I’m somebody who, as a journalist, focuses a lot on the issue of animal rights and factory farms. It’s something that’s a big cause of mine in my personal life. In your first term, you became one of the leading members, most vocal members on these questions. It started to become a bigger issue on the American right within the Republican Party. Why is there something that you decided was worth your focus in the first term in Congress? And what is it that you hope to be able to continue to do now that you’re about to enter your second term, this time in the majority on those issues?
N.M.: One of my very first memories as a child was my grandmother from Hampton, South Carolina, giving me a bright pink photo album that I still have today and gave to my daughter recently. And there was all these newspaper clippings of wildlife and animals, and I grew up in a house with seven pets, three dogs, three cats, and a parrot named Julio. And I have grown up with wildlife and animals, whether that’s fishing the outdoors with my father, or even conservation and hunting with my father. I’ve grown up around all of this.
And to have an opportunity to be a leader and protecting all of God’s creatures, that’s something that is unified, both the left and the right. And on these animal rights issues I’ve been working on, I can bring together Cunanan and the Squad. We can all be on the same page because we don’t want to see algae testing on beagle puppies. Nobody wants that. And so, it’s been a place where I can bring people together from very different viewpoints on most issues and we can be on the same page. The unifying subject.
G.G: Yes, I hope people understand why it wasn’t. I was really hoping to have you be a part of our debut week. There’s, of course, going to be nobody who agrees with you on every position you take, but I think you’re one of the most independent-minded and most interesting and heterodox members of Congress. I hope people, even those who don’t agree with you on all things or many things, respect the fact that you’re bringing a voice that isn’t often heard to Congress. I’m glad you’re there. And I especially am grateful that you took the time to talk to us. Thank you so much.
N.M.: Thank you, Glenn. I very much looked forward to it and enjoy this. Thank you so much.
G.G: All right. Great to see you. Thanks.
So that concludes our show for this evening. As always, we’re very grateful for those who joined us tonight. As always, we will now do our aftershow, which is on Locals exclusively for our subscribers on Locals and Substack. To become a subscriber, you just click the JOIN button in the upper right-hand corner that gives you access to every aftershow we do nightly after this one-hour show where we take questions, interact with our audience, and have feedback. For those of you who have watched, we hope you continue to watch. We’ll be back tomorrow night and every night, Monday through Friday, right here on Rumble at 7 p.m. Eastern. Have a great night.