Mercury Confidential: The head of Glenn's investigative documentary crew opens up to GlennBeck.com about the search for the truth

by Meg Storm

Don't miss the latest documentary, For The Record, debuting this Wednesday at 8pm ET only on TheBlaze TV!

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Mercury Radio Arts? Just how do all of Glenn’s crazy ideas get done? Does anyone ever get a chance to sleep? Well, over the next few months we are going to take you inside MRA, giving you the inside scoop on everything from publishing to special events, 1791 to Markdown to TheBlaze. We will be interviewing members of our New York, Columbus, and Dallas staff, bringing you all the info, so you can know what it’s really like to work for Glenn. Part 1 (Kevin Balfe – Publishing)Part 2 (Liz Julis – GBTV/Special Events)Part 3 (Joel Cheatwood: CCO & President of TheBlaze)Part 4 (Eric Pearce: VP, TV Operation of TheBlaze)Part 5 (Michelle Vanderhoff Network Operations Manager at TheBlaze)

Joe Weasel, Senior Producer, TheBlaze Documentary Films

If you have ever watched one of the original mini-series or documentary films produced by TheBlaze, you know that no topic, no ideology, no individual is off limits. From revealing the Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to the United States government in The Project to the Rumors of War trilogy, these programs prove that investigative and groundbreaking reporting is not entirely lost in America today. TheBlaze is continuing to work towards the restoration of journalism with its new news magazines style series, For The Record, premiering this Wednesday at 8PM ET, only on TheBlaze TV.

As you can probably imagine, creating such programming is no easy task, and Joe Weasel, Senior Producer, TheBlaze Documentary Films, is at the helm of the operation, working with a small but mighty team of seven editors and producers in TheBlaze’s Columbus, Ohio office to make it all happen.

“I do love my job. I just don’t like the hours sometimes,” Joe said with a laugh. “We don’t work 24 hours a day all the time, but when you are on deadline, you are here all night.”

A tried and true journalist, Joe was a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, in addition to working as a local sports and features reporter in the Columbus area. All the while, he hosted a morning radio program and dabbled as a journalism professor at Ohio State University. In fact, it was during his time at Ohio State that he met one of his future colleagues.

“I was a journalism professor at Ohio State. I did that part time when I was a reporter. It was journalism 101 – writing and stuff,” he said. “And Tom Orr, who is now my researcher, was in the very first class I taught. He is a former student of mine.”

Joe joined Mercury Radio Arts three years ago, before TheBlaze even existed. He was brought on to create “mini documentaries,” or 12 minute segments that would air on Glenn’s Insider Extreme online streaming service. “We were testing the mini docs to see how they would work online,” Joe said. “We spent a year doing that, and then Restoring Honor was our first full documentary film.”

While a lot has changed at Mercury/TheBlaze since Joe and his team first started, some things have stayed the same. “I collaborate on ideas with Joel Cheatwood [President/Chief Content Officer, TheBlaze]. My job is to find areas that need a lot more attention – investigative, historical, educational, or whatever it is,” Joe explained. “And the key is to try to put that in a format that your average viewer can watch, consume, be entertained. It does stick to what Glenn has tried to do, which is enlighten, inform, and entertain. That hasn’t changed. That has been that way since I started here.”

While the concept may sound simple – create quality programming that entertains and enlightens –in actuality, the mission is easier said than done. “It can be a challenge sometimes because you are balancing editorially,” Joe said. “And you are really looking to make sure you have sourced everything, sometimes that stuff is really boring but you can’t deviate from that. We don’t take chances. Some of our subject matter certainly hits people or people aren’t happy with it.”

When dealing with topics that are as complex as investigating the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration or debunking the progressive agenda, establishing credibility and finding reliable sources is paramount. “It is a challenge with a small team,” Joe admitted. “We use a lot of sources we know. We talk to a lot of people quickly. That is the one thing TheBlaze has done – the resources have expanded with knowledgeable people that are willing to work with us. That has changed dramatically over the years as we have become more of a legitimate news source.”

“It also entails calling up a lot of people you know will never want to talk to you, or people that aren’t necessarily fans,” he continued. “But we are verifying and asking a lot of questions. That’s old fashioned journalism.”

While his team has gotten used to creating the “big, broader approach” documentaries, For The Record provided a new challenge for Joe and his crew. “I heard about For The Record for the first time in November or December,” Joe said laughing. “Nothing is ever enough time around here.”

Coming up with topics to cover on the series is a collaborative process, in which, when it comes to ideas, the sky is the limit. “Joel and I talk about them,” Joe said. “I have a list of potential topics that go from human trafficking, to why cupcake businesses are so big, to Christian persecution, to the true effects on a primary care physician under Obamacare. We are trying to do things that actually really apply to individuals.”

The first installment of For The Record, Surveillance State, takes the form of a “docu-drama” though it still holds true to the news magazine theme. The episode investigates how the NSA turned America into a surveillance state in the aftermath of September 11, 2011. Just a few minutes into the show, it becomes abundantly clear that through every phone call, every email… the government is watching.

Just how many hours does it take, from start to finish, to put an episode of For The Record together? “The first episode was 1,000 hours, which I thought was a lot,” Joe said. “But once you looked at it, everything made sense because it was all new – new graphics, new approach, new everything.”

Even though spending 1,000 hours working on a one hour-long show ma y seem inconceivable, there is a very formulaic production process that is needed to ensure no stone is left unturned. From pre-production to post production to everything in between, Joe explained how his team takes an abstract concept, like ‘the government is spying on its people,’ and turns it into can’t miss television.

“There is a pre-production meeting. Pre-production is basically the collection of the idea – where you going to go for the research, who the potential cast will be,” he said. From that meeting, an outline is created that is broken down into four blocks (or sections). Each block is then broken down into the topics it will deal with. “We have a rule of four and three here,” Joe said. “If you can’t make three points within a block, you probably aren’t doing it right.”

Once the ideas are in place, it is time for everyone to get to work. First and foremost, a producer is assigned to head-up each individual episode, which helps to make sure everything stays on track. “There is a producer assigned to the show,” Joe said, “who basically oversees the editing schedule and the shooting schedule.”

In the pre-production world, two people are particularly important: the researcher and the coordinating producer. “We have an elements person who researches elements and data. He will verify things as we go. For instance, if a person says something or makes a comment, his job is to go and make sure it wasn’t taken out of context, that we are using the whole sound bite,” Joe said. “Then there is the coordinating producer, who does exactly that. As I build this show, I will need stuff – she coordinates the timing, the shoots, the travel, all of that.”

“But all the directing and writing still comes back to me,” he added. “I still write all the scripts and direct it. I hand it over to the guys who act as editors, directors, photographers, and coordinators. And then if we need graphics along the way, we go to our graphic artist, who designs and creates the look and the feel as we go.”

“That’s how it works,” he said with a laugh.

The filming process is always difficult because finding the right sources with the right motives takes time and patience. “Nobody wants to do something for nothing – and I don’t just mean money. They either want their story out, or they have a friend who needs help. Nobody just usually grants an interview. So you have to find out what their motive is,” he explained. “Once you get past that, you have to have a comfort level that it is actually legitimate and make sure you are both on the same page in terms of information gathering.”

It may seem as though the hard work is over once all of the planning and filming is out of the way, but, in reality, the real work has only just begun. “And then you are here all night. And Joel makes 30,000 changes,” he said wryly, “but he is usually right, by the way.”

When approaching these projects, Joe has come to think of the world in thirds. One third of the audience is fans of Glenn and TheBlaze and are eager to watch the program. On the other extreme, one third will probably not have any interest in tuning in. But that final, middle third is still up for grabs. “There is a middle third that you can still get to. And I think that is who we are playing to in this,” he said.

For The Record is unique in that it will fill a very large void in the media. Shows like 60 Minutes, that were once the vanguard of investigative journalism, have (to put it mildly) lost their way. “Well, I hope people get stories that interest them,” Joe said of the series. “These are stories that need more time to be delivered, things that deserve more in-depth follow up, and hopefully it applies to their lives.”

At the end of the day, however, the goal is simple: deliver the truth. “We want people to understand that this is not a right or left issue,” he concluded. “And I thank God I have the freedom to do it.”

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

Dates:
June 15-17

Location:

Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

RELATED: It's sad 'free-range parenting' has to be legislated, it used to be common sense

“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.