Social Media Shaming Is Modern-Day Witch Hunting—And It Destroys Lives

Author Jon Ronson joined Glenn to discuss the affects of being shamed on social media. His book So You've Been Publicly Shamed tells personal stories about the terrifying phenomenon of social media shaming. One story details how a poorly crafted and misinterpreted tweet destroyed the life of a woman named Justine Sacco.

"We tried her, convicted her and sentenced her to a year in purgatory, not getting another job, while she was asleep on the plane and had no idea there was even a trial," Ronson explained.

RELATED: What Can You Learn From a Drunk, Sexting College Student? Mercy.

Following Justine's infamous tweet, the Twittersphere exploded with angry, hateful reactions, making her the number one trending topic within hours. And people thought it was hilarious.

"The number of tweets that were like, This is the best thing that's ever happened to my Friday night . . . #HasJustineLandedYet may be the best thing to happen to my Friday night . . . people thought it was so funny that she was unaware of her destruction," Ronson explained.

Listen to the full interview below or watch the clips for answers to these questions:

• What did Justine Sacco tweet before her trip to Africa?

• How is social media shaming related to fake news?

• How long did it take Justine Sacco to rebuild her life?

• Where did Glenn's family get publicly shamed?

• Is social media shaming a human or political problem?

• How did Adria shame Hank on social media?

• How was Adria shamed in return?

• How is social media shaming like a modern-day witch hunt?

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: We had a really fascinating discussion today that is focused on the internet and the role that it has played with fake news. I want to take it to public shaming. The way we crucify each other on the internet. And then we move on with our life. We say horrible things about each other, or if it's worse, you have said something, and then it's been taken and all of a sudden, you're the number one trending topic in the world. You're like, "What the -- and your life changes, but everybody moves on after we've wrecked your life. So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a name of a book by Jon Ronson. And he has talked to some of the most famous criminals of Twitter. I mean, people who have said horrible things, where we all had to stop our life and comment on them. And then we moved on.

What happened to them? We start there, right now.

(music)

GLENN: All right. I -- I want to start with the story of Justine Sacco. Ever heard of her? Do you know the name Justine Sacco? Anybody? Anybody? Stu does. Stu does.

JEFFY: Yeah. Just because we talked about it a little bit.

GLENN: Yeah. So you remember. But you would not know that name if you were the average person.

STU: Right.

GLENN: Yet you most likely know the story. We're going to start there with Jon Ronson, author of the book So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

Hello, Jon, how are you, sir?

JON: Hey, Glenn, I'm well. How are you?

GLENN: I'm really good.

I -- we were having this conversation the other day about a month ago internally, and we were like, "What happens with these people?" We've just moved on with our life, but their life is just a wreck. And Stu is a fan of yours and read this book. And he said, "Oh, you've got to read this book." So we wanted to bring you on and tell some of the stories because they are truly fascinating.

JON: They are. And by the way, I'm glad you equated it in a way to fake news. Because I think the two things are kind of corrected.

GLENN: I do too.

JON: Yeah. In a story like Justine Sacco the world --

GLENN: Wait. Wait. Wait. Before we get there. Explain how you think they're connected.

JON: Well, because when something like the just teen Sacco incident happens, and there's many incidents like that, the world gets to know a tiny liver of information about a person. And then they decide to draw huge amounts of inferences. A person is defined in that totality by a single tweet that they wrote. And then all hell breaks loose.

So it's kind of like fake news. You take a little sliver of a fact that means nothing, and you create an entire narrative out of it.

GLENN: Isn't it also a lot like celebrity news? I mean, the paparazzi, they take one picture. They take one salacious piece, and your whole life is destroyed.

JON: Yeah, I remember someone saying to me that one of the ironies is that Twitter claims to hate tabloids and tabloid television.

GLENN: Yeah. Uh-huh.

JON: Yeah. That's exactly how we behave every day.

GLENN: It is. It is.

Okay. So Justine --

JON: Yeah. This is a story of hypocrisies, I think.

GLENN: So Justine, she gets onto a plane, and she's going to South Africa.

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: And before she gets on the plane, she tweets.

JON: Well, she had been tweeting little stupid jokes all day. So when she went from New York to London, she tweeted something about a German passenger with BO. I mean, she was not great on Twitter. She was kind of acerbic and not hugely likable. But she had 170 Twitter followers and was basically -- basically a bad comedian tweeting into an empty room.

So she gets to Heathrow, and she writes the tweet that then went around the world. And the tweet was, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white."

PAT: Hmm.

JON: I mean, not good.

(laughter)

GLENN: You think?

JON: However -- however, when I meet Justine Sacco a couple of weeks later -- I'm to this day the only journalist who's ever interviewed her. And I met her in a bar. And I asked her to explain the joke.

And she said, "Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the Third World. I was making fun of that bubble." So when you look at it in that perspective, it's not that bad a joke.

STU: And I think it's kind of obvious from the joke.

JEFFY: Yeah.

STU: People are acting as if she thought white people couldn't get AIDS, which is obviously completely absurd.

It's obvious she was commenting on this disconnect between America and what goes on around the world.

GLENN: And, you know, you say it's a bad joke. And it's tasteless joke. And not funny because she's not a comedian. But isn't that -- jokes are kind of like art. It's all, you know, subjective to some regard. And everybody does that. Everybody jokes. It's not like you have to have a license to make a joke.

JON: Sure.

I mean, I suppose what you could say about that joke is that it's a kind of poorly executed version of a kind of (inaudible) little joke.

So, for instance, it's exactly the kind of jokes that's made in South Park all the time. It's the kind of joke that Randy Newman, who I love, has based a career on. You do a kind of exaggerated version of your own privilege and mock it. So it's actually a left-wing joke. But she never got a chance to explain that to anybody because of what happened next.

GLENN: Okay. So she gets on to the plane. They seal the door. They say, "Turn off your phones and your devices, and we'll turn them back on once you get to South Africa."

JON: Right.

GLENN: Anybody who has flown over just the continent of Africa knows, "That's a never-ending trip."

JON: Right. It was about 11 hours of blissful ignorance she slept.

There was no Wi-Fi/internet on the plane. So -- and then she woke up in Cape Town, as the plane was taxiing on the runway. She turned on her phone. And immediately, a text came up from a friend -- from somebody she hadn't spoken to in 20 years that said, "I am so sorry to see what's happening to you right now."

And then she looked at it kind of baffled. Had no idea what was going on. And then another text from her best friend that said, "You need to call me right now. You are the worldwide number one trending topic on Twitter."

GLENN: Imagine how your heart would sink.

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh. What is happening? So what was happening was ugly.

JON: Right. Yeah, I mean, horrendous.

I should say that I don't -- some people see this as a kind of politically biased story mainly because in this particular story, it was the left going after her more than I would say than the right. Although, kind of everybody went after her. But these stories happen all the time. Sometimes it's the right against the left. Sometimes it's the left against the right.

It's the kind of horrificness of the story I think that matters as opposed to which side of the political spectrum you are.

GLENN: And she was actually left --

STU: It was left going after left.

GLENN: After left. Right? Yeah.

JON: Yeah, exactly.

Well, so the first thing that happened was one of her 170 Twitter followers sent the tweet to a journalist at Gawker called Sam Biddle.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

JON: I know. And so he delightedly retweeted it to his 15,000 followers saying -- I spoke to Sam Biddle not long afterwards. And I said, "How did that feel, to have started the onslaught against Justine?" And he said, "It felt delicious." And then he said, "But I'm sure she's okay now." But she wasn't okay.

GLENN: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

JON: Yeah. "I'm sure she's okay now." You know, we love to play psychological tricks on ourself to not feel bad about the bad things that we do.

GLENN: So -- so when you met with her, how long after this absolute firestorm. She lost her job. Her life was destroyed. In the book, you say, "Well, it wasn't necessarily the perfect job for you." And she's like, "Yeah, I think it was my ultimate dream job," that she lost.

JON: Yeah. It was -- she -- and the thing is, it was everybody. Her shaming was a shaming that the whole world would get behind. So philanthropists started shaming her and tweeting things like in the light of this disgusting joke, I am donating aid to Africa. And then trolls started going after her saying, "Somebody HIV positive should rape her, and then we'll find out if her skin color protects her from AIDS."

PAT: Oh, jeez.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

JON: Of course, nobody went after that person.

A hashtag started trending worldwide, #hasJustinelandedyet. And people were tweeting that I'm in this bar, and I really want to go home and go to bed. But I can't until Justine Sacco lands and she sees what happens when she turns on her phone.

GLENN: And she didn't even know. When she's walking in the airport -- I saw this in your book, a picture of her walking in the airport. And somebody takes a picture and tweets. Here, she's finally landed, and she's wearing sunglasses to hide her shame.

Did she even know at the time?

JON: Right.

At that point, she knew. I think she had found out. Because that was at baggage claim, and she found out as she was getting off the plane. So I think she had known for about 20 minutes. But I wouldn't say it was -- well, was it shame? I mean, it was certainly fear and distress and agony.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

JON: And maybe some shame. She -- oh, you know, corporations got involved. Gogo, the internet -- you know, the flight internet people tweeted something like, "Next time you're getting on a plane, Justine Sacco, maybe you should choose a Gogo flight." So corporations got involved.

GLENN: Jeez.

JON: Of course, her employers essentially fired her over Twitter. Somebody linked to a flight tracker website so the whole world could watch as her plane got closer and closer to landing.

STU: The worst instincts of humanity.

GLENN: So I want to go -- because there's a couple of things in this story. We have two other stories I want to get to.

But there's some other things in this story about group madness and what you write about, a poorly worded joke, et cetera, et cetera. But I -- I want to know how long after did you talk to her? And have you talked to her since?

What has changed in her life?

JON: Okay. So the first time I talked to her was probably about two weeks later, when I met her in a bar. And she was just crushed. I mean, she couldn't stop crying.

GLENN: Two weeks later.

JON: She just couldn't believe this sort of -- that the whole world had gotten her wrong. She just couldn't -- she couldn't believe it. And then I spoke to her again a couple of weeks after that. She lost her job. And she continued to lose her job for about a year when she finally got a new job. And, of course, when Twitter found out that she had finally got a new job after a year, they tried to get her fired all over again.

JEFFY: What?

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

JON: I know. Because, you know, when we watch Making a Murderer, whose side are we on? We're on the side of the kind-hearted defense attorney. But when we have the power, what do we turn into? Hanging churches.

GLENN: Really, we are witch hunters.

JON: Yes. But I don't want to go too far with my metaphors. But I remember at one point in the midst of this, I sort of yelled to my wife, "It's like the Year Zero. It's the Khmer Rouge." And my wife was like, "It's not like the Khmer Rouge."

(laughter)

GLENN: Yes. Yes.

PAT: A little context.

GLENN: But honestly, it is the same mentality of the witch hunt. We're just not burning them at the stake.

PAT: Exactly.

JON: Yes.

GLENN: But it is the same group insanity.

JON: Yeah. It really is. And it's done -- you know, in the old day social --

GLENN: For sport.

JON: -- psychologists would say, this is madness. This is literal madness that we lose our sense of sanity in the crowd. But I don't think that was what was happening. What was happening was people -- you know, within the echo chamber of Twitter, people wanted to -- it was like a sort of performance piety. People wanted to show the people who followed them on Twitter that they cared about people dying of AIDS in Africa. So to perform that kind of public compassion, anybody committed this profoundly uncompassionate act of tearing somebody apart while she was asleep on a plane.

GLENN: All right. Jon -- we'll be back with Jon Ronson. The name of the book is So You've Been Publicly Shamed. It is a fascinating look at the past. But also, the future. Because we are one tweet away, each of us, from this happening to us. And do you think you're not, you know, open for this. Well, she didn't think so either. Everybody -- she had 170 Twitter followers. Nobody was following her.

[break]

GLENN: So, Jon, we were talking during the break -- we're with Jon Ronson. So You've Been Publicly Shamed. We're talking about that woman that went over to Africa on the plane. She tweeted something. It was taken out of context. She was incommunicado for 11 hours. The world went crazy. We're looking for our tweet. We think that we tweeted a kind of --

STU: We talked about it on the show.

JEFFY: We talked about it on the show.

GLENN: Or we talked about it. A weak defense of her. Because we didn't know all the facts. But we were like, "This sounds like a joke."

STU: It's written that way. It looks like it's a joke mocking the separation.

GLENN: Right. So -- and we're looking up for the tweets because we believe we were also attacked. And this is the problem. This is why people don't say, "Hey, guys, let's be reasonable."

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: Because then, immediately, oh, of course, you're saying that. You're a hater too.

JON: Right. In fact, a really great British feminist writer called Helen Lewis that night tweeted, "I'm not sure Justine Sacco deserves what she's getting. Maybe her tweet wasn't intended to be racist." And straightaway, she got a whole bunch of tweets like, "Well, you're just a privileged bitch too."

JEFFY: Yep.

JON: So -- and so to her shame, she wrote about my book, and so I know this story. To her shame, she stayed silent and watched as Justine Sacco's life got torn apart.

GLENN: And she feels bad about that that now.

JON: Yeah, and feels bad about it.

GLENN: How does the Gawker guy feel?

JON: You know, actually in the summer -- he wrote another article about her when he discovered that she had got a new job. Wrote another article saying, you know, the lousy has-been's got a new job. So Justine, who I've stayed in touch with the whole time, emailed him and said, "Look, we've got to have a drink to sort this out."

So he met her for a drink and then wrote a bit of a mea culpa article afterwards. Yeah. So he did some mea culpa.

GLENN: Really quite amazing how we don't see people as people.

JON: Yeah. I'm -- you know, both sides do it. That story, in particular, from my book, became really famous. Because I wrote an excerpt for it for the New York Times, and it became really famous. And I think a few people misunderstood as a result, thought my book was an attack on the left. But that's not it at all. I mean, there's plenty stories in my book about the right doing exactly the same thing.

GLENN: Yeah. It's not a left or right thing. It's a human thing. It's like racism. Racism exists everywhere.

JON: It's a human thing. For me, it's a story about justice. Like, you know, what we did with Justine Sacco was, we tried her, convicted her, and sentenced her to a year in Purgatory, not getting another job, while she was asleep on the plane and had no idea there was even a trial. And not only was there no feelings of guilty about that, people thought it was hilarious. The number of tweets that were like, "This is the best thing that's ever happened to my Friday night." #JustineSaccolandedyet may be the best thing to happen to my Friday night. People thought it was so funny that she was unaware of her destruction.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh. We have -- we have two more stories of destruction. And are we engaging in this? Next.

[break]

GLENN: Welcome back. Welcome back to the program. Jon Ronson is with us. He is the author of So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

We've been talking about fake news. And I'm particularly interested in the ability of the average person to destroy and to be destroyed because now we're all publishers. We are all able to publish something to the entire world. And the entire world gets to judge a book by your one tweet or your one Facebook mention. And that's it.

I mean, we are judging a book by the cover. And it's a frightening thing when you come to think about it and you see the people who have been destroyed.

Jon, should we go to Hank?

JON: Sure.

GLENN: How do you say her name?

JON: Adria.

GLENN: Adria.

JON: Yeah, this is a particularly I think kind of upsetting and difficult story.

So it begins at a tech conference in Santa Clara. Hank is sitting, chatting to a friend, making stupid kind of Beavis and Butt-Head type jokes. Something is happening on the stage about dongles. And Hank whispers to his friend something about dongles, like some kind of stupid joke, but like whisper.

As he told me afterwards, it wasn't even conversation-level volume. So the woman sitting in front turns and takes a photograph. And Hank assumes that she's taking a photograph at the crowd. So he tries to not get into her shot.

But then a few minutes later, Hank and his friend are called out of the conference and told that -- there'd been -- a complaint about sexual language.

So they apologized and then -- because they're kind of nerdy guys, they left the conference. You know, they didn't like conflict. So they left the conference.

On their way to the airport, they saw what happened there. Like what happened.

And the nightmare scenario is that the woman in front had complained via a public tweet on Twitter. And that is exactly what happened. She'd -- she'd sent -- she'd tweeted the photograph of the two men with the comment, something like, "Not cool. Jokes about big dongles, right behind me." And so two days later, Hank was called into his boss' office and fired.

So that night, Hank went on to Hacker News, a message board saying what had happened. Saying, you know, I was fired. You know, I -- I shouldn't have said what I said, but the woman in front just smiled and --

GLENN: It's a stupid -- it's not even her business. It wasn't directed to her. I mean, why does anybody care?

JON: Right. Well -- before we go on to that. Can I tell you what happened next?

GLENN: Yeah.

JON: Because what happened next was really important too.

GLENN: Yes.

JON: So Hank was fired, and then 4chan and the other groups all decided to get Adria. Now -- and so she was then subjected to months and months of photographs of beheaded women with tape over their mouths and death threats.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

JON: And rape threats. And she lost her job too. So it was just carnage. I mean, everyone was just like babies crawling towards guns.

(laughter)

I think what it shows is that we are -- social media is such a kind of primitive thing. And all we can think to do is lurch towards outrage and lurch towards shaming. So a woman shames a man in an inappropriate way. What did the men then do? Shame her back in an even more inappropriate way.

I think -- these are the -- these are the stories that maybe in years to come will form chapters and books about how Donald Trump ended up being our president.

GLENN: I think -- I think in many ways, you're right.

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: I will tell you this, this is probably about six years ago. And I would like to go back into the Twitter feeds and see what could be found now. But I remember as a family, we were in a park in New York. And, Ron (sic), you're from the UK, right?

JON: Right. Yes. Yes.

GLENN: Yeah, so I'm not sure if you know how unpopular I can be in the United States.

JON: I am. I am aware.

GLENN: You're aware. I've made international fame.

So I was in the -- the -- Bryant Park, when I was in New York. And people were mocking my family. And one woman spilled wine on my wife intentionally. And the reason why we know is because they started tweeting things about, Glenn Beck's family is here. And ha, ha, ha how funny it is. I accidentally, in quotation marks, spilled wine on his wife. People also think they're invisible while they're --

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: You know what I mean?

And maybe that's six years ago. But these people in this crowd didn't -- didn't think that we would also be reading what's being said.

JON: And if did you do anything about it?

GLENN: We left.

JON: Right.

GLENN: I just took my family -- we were surrounded. My children and my wife got up to go to the bathroom, and they were almost half a block away from me. And they were being chanted at, "We don't want your kind here." And it was -- it was just -- it was a mob scene. It was a mob scene.

JON: Right.

This is why -- I -- personally, I think kind of conciliatory centrism has become really unfashionable. And there should have been more of it the night Justine Sacco got destroyed. But, in fact, being a centrist was considered to be like a weakness. Like if anybody said, "Let's wait for her to land so we can hear what she has to say about that joke," people thought that was kind of pathetic weakness.

Like, why should we wait to hear what she has to say? We know what she means. That was a clue to her kind of secret inner evil. So as a result, I really admire anybody who is trying to move away from this kind of, you know, pollution of polarization. And I've noticed that that's what you've been doing lately, Glenn. And I really appreciate it. I think people on all sides need to do what you're trying to do.

GLENN: Well, I will tell you, Jon, that's one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on. Because the first thing is to make people aware of what's happened and to start to see people on Twitter as people.

JON: Yeah.

GLENN: Because I don't think we would do this -- well, I mean, I just told you a story in Bryant Park where it was in person. But for the average person --

JON: But you're Glenn Beck.

GLENN: Yeah, I'm Glenn Beck. So I'm not a person anymore.

JON: Right. And you're right. Everybody, Glenn, on Twitter has become -- everybody on Twitter has become like corporations that have to learn damage limitation, which is very stressful, given that Twitter was supposed to be kind of fun.

GLENN: Yeah.

JON: And Twitter was supposed to be like a fun way to connect with our fellow humans.

GLENN: Go ahead.

STU: Jon, this is an interesting point on this. Because the two examples we've talked about so far, both Justine Sacco and the guy with a dongle joke, I think to a conservative audience, you say, this is ridiculous. You know, you make a kind of an off-color joke, and maybe it's not right, but you get beat up and you get fired for it.

I like that the example you have of Lindsey Stone -- because to our audience, I think it's more challenging. But all the same principles apply here.

JON: Right. Yes. Absolutely.

So Lindsey Stone, you couldn't meet a nicer person. I mean, on many levels, Lindsey is even more sympathetic -- I mean, I think most people are sympathetic.

But she works with adults with learning difficulties and was great at her job. Took them on a trip to Washington, DC. Sort of went to the mint and the Holocaust Museum. And then they went to Arlington. And Lindsey and her friend have this little douchey joke that they would share amongst their Facebook friends. And the joke was to stand in front of the sign and do the opposite. So they would smoke in front of a no smoking sign or loiter in front of a no loitering sign.

JEFFY: It's funny.

JON: It was just like a little private joke.

Anyway, at Arlington, they see a sign that says, "Keep off the grass," and they thought, "Should we?" And they thought, "No, we don't want to get in trouble." Then they saw another sign that said, "Silence and respect." And so, as Lindsey told me later, "Inspiration struck."

(laughter)

They were pretending to shout and flip the bird. And so she puts it out on Facebook. And then a friend of hers who was in the military said, "I think that's kind of disrespectful. You should take it down." And Lindsey went, "Oh, don't be ridiculous. It's just us being us. You know, it doesn't mean anything." And then they forgot all about it.

And then a month later, suddenly, it just went super viral. Some pro military website had picked up on it, and she got everything that just even got. Death threats. Rape threats. And because it was from the right, it was things like -- you know, when it was Justine, it was like, "Typical privileged white woman," when it was Lindsey, it was "Typical feminist." So it's exactly the same. Exactly the same demonization happening, just from a different spectrum.

And it went on and on and on. And Lindsey was completely ill-equipped to deal with it. So she went from being this happy-go-lucky young woman who went to karaoke to somebody who stayed home for a year and a half, having suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, insomnia. Of course, she lost her job too. And, you know, by the time -- go on, sorry.

GLENN: No, no, no. Go ahead. By the time...

JON: By the time, I met her -- again, she was just crushed. I mean, we always end these stories by thinking, "Well, I'm sure they're fine now." But they're not -- I mean, people kill themselves. Everybody I spoke to will have complemented suicide. But some people do kill themselves.

Frequently, people kill themselves because of social media shamings. And there's no outrage about that because we don't want to feel bad about the bad things that we won't be.

STU: But there doesn't seem to be a line in our society anymore of -- like, if Barack Obama went into Arlington and flipped them off and started fake screaming in front of the sign, I think there would be a righteous outrage over that act. But some person we don't know -- we don't know anything about them --

GLENN: We all want to be outraged.

STU: Yeah. Why? I don't want to live like that. Why does everyone want to live like that? I don't get it.

GLENN: I don't either.

JON: I think it's in part because social media, in its earliest form, it was kind of a beautiful egalitarian thing, where suddenly everybody had a voice. So voiceless people had a voice. And by voiceless, I mean, you know, people from marginalized communities. And I also mean people who were so socially awkward in real life.

GLENN: Oh, yeah.

JON: That when you met them at a party, they'd just be standing in the corner of the room. But suddenly they -- on social media, they were funny and eloquent.

And this was like powerful. But -- and then we thought, "Wow, we can do things. We can right wrongs." So we would get people who kind of deserved it.

I mean, I can think of lots of things in the early days of social media when a corporation had done something really bad, and social media put pressure on them and they changed their policy.

But then, you know, I think what happened was that a day without a shaming felt like a day sort of picking fingernails and treading water. It's like we fell in love with getting people so much, that we lowered our standards and started getting anyone.

GLENN: So let me ask you this -- have you watched Westworld, the TV show on HBO?

JON: Yes, I have. I watched the last episode last night.

GLENN: Okay. It was great, wasn't it?

JON: Great.

GLENN: One of the best endings -- but let's stay on track. Sorry. Riddled with ADD.

STU: Come back for another hour-long interview on Westworld.

JON: Right.

GLENN: Yeah. So, Jon, the question in the park is, does the park make you into something, or does it reveal who you are?

JON: I think in terms of social media, part of the -- part of it is this is lying dormant within all of us. But it's also partly because of the technology itself.

Social media is created by engineers. You know, it's engineered in Silicon Valley. And what do engineers love? They love stability. They love everything going along, nicely. And that's why I think Twitter has evolved into a kind of echo chamber, where we surround ourselves with people who feel the same we do and we approve each other. And that's like a good feeling.

And then -- and it's such a powerful feeling, that when somebody gets in the way who is not like us, like Lindsey Stone or Justine Sacco, we're like a machine furiously ejecting a destabilizing fragment. So I think the machine contributes to -- to the problem.

GLENN: Jon, I would love to have you in and spend more time with you in person. Because I just think you're a fascinating guy. And this is -- this is something that I think historians will be reporting on. This is the beginning of a massive cultural change globally and what we do and how we, each of us, act as leaders in our own home, in our own circle of influence, and how we either hang ourself or don't hang ourselves as individuals is important. And I'm glad you're watching this, Jon. Thank you so much.

JON: Thank you, Glenn. I really appreciate it.

GLENN: You bet. Jon Ronson. The name of the book is So You've Been Publicly Shamed. It is a fascinating look of stories that you have heard.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: But you've never heard it from their side. You've never seen what happened afterwards. Isn't it amazing? He's the only -- only person in the media to reach out to her, to this day.

STU: Well, at least successfully.

JEFFY: Right.

STU: Since he wrote about it, I'm sure people have been interested.

GLENN: I'm sure people also -- she's not taking very many that she doesn't know. Yeah.

STU: No. She wants out of this.

Featured Image: Be More Human: Mindshare meets Jon Ronson during Advertising Week Europe 2016 at Picturehouse Central on April 18, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe)

It's time for our April 29, 2019 edition of our Candidate Power Rankings. We get to add two new candidates, write about a bunch of people that have little to no chance of winning, and thank the heavens we are one day closer to the end of all of this.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history.

Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes.

The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground.

These power rankings include only announced candidates. So, when you say "WAIT!! WHERE'S XXXXX????" Read the earlier sentence again.

If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

20. Wayne Messam: 13.4 (Last week: 18th / 13.4)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

A former staffer of Wayne Messam is accusing his wife of hoarding the campaign's money.

First, how does this guy have "former" staffers? He's been running for approximately twelve minutes.

Second, he finished dead last in the field in fundraising with $44,000 for the quarter. Perhaps hoarding whatever money the campaign has is not the worst idea.

His best shot at the nomination continues to be something out of the series "Designated Survivor."

Other headlines:

19. Marianne Williamson: 17.1 (Last week: 17th / 17.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Marianne Williamson would like you to pay for the sins of someone else's great, great, great grandparents. Lucky you!

Williamson is on the reparations train like most of the field, trying to separate herself from the pack by sheer monetary force.

How much of your cash does she want to spend? "Anything less than $100 billion is an insult." This is what I told the guy who showed up to buy my 1989 Ford Tempo. It didn't work then either.

Other headlines:

18. John Delaney: 19.7 (Last week: 15th / 20.3)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Good news: John Delaney brought in $12.1 million in the first quarter, enough for fifth in the entire Democratic field!

Bad news: 97% of the money came from his own bank account.

Other headlines:

17. Eric Swalwell: 20.2 (Last week: 16th / 20.2)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The Eric Swalwell formula:

  • Identify news cycle
  • Identify typical left-wing reaction
  • Add steroids

Democrats said there was obstruction in the Mueller report. Swalwell said there “certainly" was collusion.

Democrats said surveillance of the Trump campaign was no big deal. Swalwell said there was no need to apologize even if it was.

Democrats said William Barr mishandled the release of the Mueller report. Swalwell said he must resign.

Democrats say they want gun restrictions. Swalwell wants them all melted down and the liquid metal to be poured on the heads of NRA members. (Probably.)

16. Seth Moulton: 20.6 (NEW)

Who is Seth Moulton?

No, I'm asking.

Moulton falls into the category of congressman looking to raise his profile and make his future fundraising easier— not someone who is actually competing for the presidency.

He tried to block Nancy Pelosi as speaker, so whatever help he could get from the establishment is as dry as Pelosi's eyes when the Botox holds them open for too long.

Moulton is a veteran, and his military service alone is enough to tell you that he's done more with his life than I'll ever do with mine. But it's hard to see the road to the White House for a complete unknown in a large field of knowns.

Don't take my word for it, instead read this depressing story that he's actually telling people on purpose:

"I said, you know, part of my job is take tough questions," Moulton told the gathered business and political leaders. "You can ask even really difficult questions. And there was still silence. And then finally, someone in the way back of the room raised her hand, and she said, 'Who are you?' "

Yeah. Who are you?

15. Tim Ryan: 21.6 (Last week: 14th / 20.7)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

When you're talking to less than sixteen people in Iowa one week after your launch, you don't have too much to be excited about.

Ryan did get an interview on CNN, where he also talked to less than sixteen people.

He discussed his passion for the Dave Matthews Band, solidifying a key constituency in the year 1995.

Other headlines:

14. Tulsi Gabbard: 25.2 (Last week: 14th / 25.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard torched Kamala Harris in fundraising!!!!! (Among Indian-American donors.)

No word on who won the coveted handi-capable gender-neutral sodium-sensitive sub-demographic.

She received a mostly false rating for her attack on the Trump administration regarding its new policy on pork inspections, a topic not exactly leading the news cycle. Being from Hawaii, the state which leads the nation in Spam consumption, she was probably surprised when this didn't go mega viral.

Other headlines:

13. Andrew Yang: 27.2 (Last week: 12th / 27.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Yang has a few go-to lines when he's on the campaign trail, such as: "The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math." Another is apparently the Jeb-esque "Chant my name! Chant my name!"

Yang continues to be one of the more interesting candidates in this race, essentially running a remix of the "One Tough Nerd" formula that worked for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

I highly recommend listening to his interview with Ben Shapiro, where Yang earns respect as the only Democratic presidential candidate in modern history to actually show up to a challenging and in-depth interview with a knowledgeable conservative.

But hidden in the Shapiro interview is the nasty little secret of the Yang campaign. His policy prescriptions, while still very liberal, come off as far too sane for him to compete in this Stalin look-alike contest.

Other headlines:

12. Jay Inslee: 30.4 (Last week: 11th / 30.4)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

If you read the Inslee candidate profile, I said he was running a one-issue climate campaign. This week, he called for a climate change-only debate, and blamed Donald Trump for flooding in Iowa.

He also may sign the nation's first "human composting" legalization bill. He can start by composting his presidential campaign.

Other headlines:

11. John Hickenlooper: 32.2 (Last week: 10th / 32.0)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

John Hickenlooper was sick of being asked if he would put a woman on the ticket, in the 0.032% chance he actually won the nomination.

So he wondered why the female candidates weren't being asked if they would name a male VP if they won?

Seems like a logical question, but only someone who is high on tailpipe fumes would think it was okay to ask in a Democratic primary. Hickenlooper would be better served by just transitioning to a female and demanding other candidates are asked why they don't have a transgendered VP.

Other headlines:

10. Julian Castro: 35.7 (Last week: 9th / 36.2)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Lowering expectations is a useful strategy when your wife asks you to put together an Ikea end table, or when you've successfully convinced Charlize Theron to come home with you. But is it a successful campaign strategy?

Julian Castro is about to find out. He thinks the fact that everyone thinks he's crashing and burning on the campaign trail so far is an "advantage." Perhaps he can take the rest of the field by surprise on Super Tuesday when they finally realize he's actually running.

Other headlines:

9. Kirsten Gillibrand: 38.1 (Last week: 8th / 37.8)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gillibrand wants you to know that the reason her campaign has been such a miserable failure so far, is because she called for a certain senator to step down. The problem might also be that another certain senator isn't a good presidential candidate.

She also spent the week arm wrestling, and dancing at a gay bar called Blazing Saddle. In this time of division, one thing we can all agree on: Blazing Saddle is a really solid name for a gay bar.

Other headlines:

8. Amy Klobuchar: 45.1 (Last week: 7th / 45.5)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar is attempting a run in the moderate wing of the Democratic primary, which would be a better idea if such a wing existed.

She hasn't committed to impeaching Donald Trump and has actually voted to confirm over half of his judicial nominees. My guess is this will not be ignored by her primary opponents.

She also wants to resolve an ongoing TPS issue, which I assume means going by Peter Gibbons' desk every morning and making sure he got the memo about the new cover sheets.

Other headlines:

7. Elizabeth Warren: 45.3 (Last week: 6th / 46.0)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Elizabeth Warren is bad at everything she does while she's campaigning. I don't really even watch Game of Thrones, and the idea that Warren would write a story about how the show proves we need more powerful women makes me cringe.

Of course, more powerful people of all the 39,343 genders are welcome, but it's such a transparent attempt at jumping on the back of a pop-culture event to pander to female voters, it's sickening.

We can only hope that when she's watching Game of Thrones, she's gonna grab her a beer.

Other headlines:

6. Cory Booker: 54.9 (Last week: 5th / 55.5)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Booker is tied with Kamala Harris for the most missed Senate votes of the campaign so far. He gets criticized for this, but I think he should miss even more votes.

Booker is also pushing a national day off on Election Day—because the approximately six months of early voting allowed in every state just isn't enough.

Of course, making it easier to vote doesn't mean people are going to vote for Booker. So he's throwing trillions of dollars in bribes (my word, not his) to seal the deal.

Bookermania is in full effect, with 40 whole people showing up to his appearance in Nevada. Local press noted that the people were of "varying ages," an important distinction to most other crowds, which are entirely comprised of people with the same birthday.

Other headlines:

5. Robert Francis O’Rourke: 60.2 (Last week: 4th /62.6)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Kirsten Gillibrand gave less than 2% of her income to charity. The good news is that she gave about seven times as much as Beto O'Rourke. Robert Francis, or Bob Frank, also happens to be one of the wealthiest candidates in the race. His late seventies father-in-law has been estimated to be worth as much as $20 billion, though the number is more likely to be a paltry $500 million.

He's made millions from a family company investing in fossil fuels and pharmaceutical stocks, underpaid his taxes for multiple years, and is suing the government to lower property taxes on a family-owned shopping center.

He's also all but disappeared. It's a long race, and you don't win a nomination in April of the year before election day. If he's being frugal and figuring out what he believes, it might be a good move.

But it's notable that all the "pretty boy" hype that Bob Frank owned going into this race has been handed over to Mayor Pete. Perhaps Beto is spending his time working on curbing the sweating, the hand gestures, and the issues with jumping on counters like a feline.

Other headlines:

4. Pete Buttigieg: 62.9 (Last week: 3rd / 62.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

When we first put candidates in tiers earlier this year, we broke everyone into five categories from "Front Runners" to "Eh, no." In the middle is a category called "Maybe, if everything goes right," and that's where we put Pete Buttigieg.

Well, everything has gone right so far. But Mayor Pete will be interested to learn that the other 19 candidates in this race are not going to hand him this nomination. Eventually, they will start saying negative things about him (they've started the opposition research process already), and it will be interesting to see how Petey deals with the pressure. We've already seen how it has affected Beto in a similar situation.

The media has spoken endlessly about the sexual orientation of Buttigieg, but not every Democratic activist is impressed. Barney Frank thinks the main reason he's getting this amount of attention is because he is gay. And for some, being a gay man just means you're a man, which isn't good enough.

When you base your vote on a candidate's genitals, things can get confusing.

Other headlines:

3. Kamala Harris: 68.6 (Last week: 1st / 69.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There are a couple of ways to view the Harris candidacy so far.

#1 - Harris launched with much fanfare and an adoring media. She has since lost her momentum. Mayor Pete and former Mayor Bernie have the hype, and Kamala is fading.

#2 - Harris is playing the long game. She showed she can make an impact with her launch, but realizes that a media "win" ten months before an important primary means nothing. She's working behind the scenes and cleaning up with donations, prominent supporters, and loads of celebrities to execute an Obama style onslaught.

I tend to be in category 2, but I admit that's somewhat speculative. Harris seems to be well positioned to make a serious run, locking up more than double the amount of big Clinton and Obama fundraisers than any other candidate.

One interesting policy development for Harris that may hurt her in the primary is her lack of utter disgust for the nation of Israel. There's basically one acceptable position in a Democratic primary when it comes to Israel, which is that it's a racist and terrorist state, existing only to torture innocent Palestinians.

Certainly no one is going to mistake Harris for Donald Trump, but a paragraph like this is poison to the modern Democratic primary voter:

"Her support for Israel is central to who she is," Harris' campaign communications director, Lily Adams, told McClatchy. "She is firm in her belief that Israel has a right to exist and defend itself, including against rocket attacks from Gaza."

Just portraying the rocket attacks as "attacks" is controversial these days for Democrats, and claiming they are responses to attacks indicates you think the Jeeeewwwwwwwws aren't the ones responsible for the start of every hostility. Heresy!

Someone get Kamala a copy of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' before she blows her chance to run the free world.

2. Bernie Sanders: 69.2 (Last week: 2nd / 68.3)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

If Bernie Sanders hates millionaires as much as he claims, he must hate the mirror. As a millionaire, it might surprise some that he donated only 1% to charity. But it shouldn't.

It's entirely consistent with Sandersism to avoid giving to private charity. Why would you? Sanders believes the government does everything better than the private sector. He should be giving his money to the government.

Of course, he doesn't. He takes the tax breaks from the evil Trump tax plan he derides. He spends his money on fabulous vacation homes. He believes in socialism for thee, not for me.

Yes, this is enough to convince the Cardi B's of the world, all but guaranteeing a lock on the rapper-and-former-stripper-that-drugged-and-stole-from-her-prostitution-clients demographic. But can that lack of consistency hold up in front of general election voters?

If Bernie reads this and would like a path to credibility, clear out your bank account and send it here:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Funds Management Branch
P.O. Box 1328
Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328


Other headlines:

1. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.: 78.8 (NEW)

Joe has run for president 113 times during his illustrious career, successfully capturing the presidency in approximately zero of his campaigns.

However, when the eternally woke Barack Obama had a chance to elevate a person of color, woman, or anything from the rainbow colored QUILTBAG, he instead chose the oldest, straightest, whitest guy he could find, and our man Robinette was the beneficiary.

Biden has been through a lot, much of it of his own making. Forget about his plagiarism and propensity to get a nostril full of each passing females' hair, his dealings while vice president in both Ukraine and China are a major general election vulnerability— not to mention a legal vulnerability for his children. But hey, win the presidency and you can pardon everyone, right?

His supposed appeal to rust belt voters makes him, on paper, a great candidate to take on Trump. The Clinton loss hinged on about 40,000 voters changing their mind from Hillary to Donald in a few states—the exact areas where victory could possibly be secured by someone named "Middle Class Joe" (as he alone calls himself.)

No one loves Joe Biden more than Joe Biden, and there's a relatively convincing case for his candidacy. But we must remember this unquestionable truth: Joe Biden is not good at running for president.

He's a gaffe machine that churns out mistake after mistake, hoping only to have his flubs excused by his unending charisma. But, will that work without the use of his legendary groping abilities? Only time, and a few dozen unnamed women, will tell.

Also, yes. Robinette is really his middle name.

If only Karl Marx were alive today to see his wackiest ideas being completely paraded around. He would be so proud. I can see him now: Sprawled out on his hammock from REI, fiddling around for the last vegan potato chip in the bag as he binge-watches Academy Awards on his 70-inch smart TV. In between glances at his iPhone X (he's got a massive Twitter following), he sips Pepsi. In his Patagonia t-shirt and NIKE tennis shoes, he writes a line or two about "oppression" and "the have-nots" as part of his job for Google.

His house is loaded with fresh products from all the woke companies. In the fridge, he's got Starbucks, he loves their soy milk. He's got Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. He tells everyone that, if he shaved, he'd use Gillette, on account of the way they stand up for the Have-Nots. But, really, Marx uses Dollar Shave Club because it's cheaper, a higher quality. Secretly, he loves Chic-Fil-A. He buys all his comic books off Amazon. The truth is, he never thought people would actually try to make the whole "communism" thing work.

RELATED: SOCIALISM: This is the most important special we have done

Companies have adopted a form of socialism that is sometimes called woke capitalism. They use their status as corporations to spread a socialist message and encourage people to do their part in social justice. The idea of companies in America using socialism at all is as confusing and ridiculous as a donkey in a prom dress: How did this happen? Is it a joke? Why is nobody bursting out in laughter? How far is this actually going to go? Does someone actually believe that they can take a donkey to prom?

Companies have adopted a form of socialism that is sometimes called woke capitalism.

On the micro level, Netflix has made some socialist moves: The "like/dislike" voting system was replaced after a Netflix-sponsored stand-up special by Amy Schumer received as tidal wave of thumb-downs. This summer, Netflix will take it a step further in the name of squashing dissent by disabling user comments and reviews. And of course most of us share a Netflix account with any number of people. Beyond that, they're as capitalist as the next mega-company.

Except for one area: propaganda. Netflix has started making movie-length advertisements for socialism. They call them "documentaries," but we know better than that. The most recent example is "Knock Down the House," which comes out tomorrow. The 86-minute-long commercial for socialism follows four "progressive Democrat" women who ran in the 2018 midterms, including our favorite socialist AOC.

Here's a snippet from the movie so good that you'll have to fight the urge to wave your USSR flag around the room:

This is what the mainstream media wants you to believe. They want you to be moved. They want the soundtrack to inspire you to go out and do something.

Just look at how the mainstream media treated the recent high-gloss "documentary" about Ilhan Omar, "Time for Ilhan." It received overwhelmingly bad ratings on IMDb and other user-review platforms, but got a whopping 93% on the media aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

This is exactly what the media wants you to think of when you hear the word socialism. Change. Empowerment. Strength. Diversity. They spend so much energy trying to make socialism cool. They gloss right over the unbelievable death toll. BlazeTV's own Matt Kibbe made a great video on this exact topic.

Any notion of socialism in America is a luxury, made possible by capitalism. The woke companies aren't actually doing anything for socialism. If they're lucky, they might get a boost in sales, which is the only thing they want anyway.

We want to show you the truth. We want to tell you the stories you won't hear anywhere else, not on Netflix, not at some movie festival. We're going to tell you what mainstream media doesn't want you to know.

Look at how much history we've lost over the years. They changed it slowly. But they had to. Because textbooks were out. So people were watching textbooks. It was printed. You would bring the book home. Mom and dad might go through it and check it out. So you had to slowly do things.

Well, they're not anymore. There are no textbooks anymore. Now, you just change them overnight. And we are losing new history. History is being changed in realtime.

RELATED: 'Good Morning Texas' joins Glenn to get an inside look at Mercury Museum

You have to write down what actually is happening and keep a journal. Don't necessarily tell everybody. Just keep a journal for what is happening right now. At some point, our kids won't have any idea of the truth. They will not have any idea of what this country was, how it really happened. Who were the good guys. Who were the bad guys. Who did what.

As Michelle Obama said. Barack knows. We have to change our history. Well, that's exactly what's happening. But it's happening at a very rapid pace.

We have to preserve our history. It is being systematically erased.

I first said this fifteen years ago, people need clay plots. We have to preserve our history as people preserved histories in ancient days, with the dead see scrolls, by putting them in caves in a clay pot. We have to preserve our history. It is being systematically erased. And I don't mean just the history of the founding of our country. I mean the history that's happening right now.

And the history that's happening right now, you're a problem if you're a conservative or a Christian. You are now a problem on the left, if you disagree and fall out of line at all. This is becoming a fascistic party. And you know what a fascist is. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent. If you believe it's my way or the highway, if you believe that people don't have a right to their opinion or don't have a right to their own life — you could do be a fascist.

Christianity might seem pretty well-protected in the U.S., but that's not the case in many parts of the globe.

On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers made the news for killing 290 innocent Christians in Sri Lanka and injuring another 500. On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre. Of course, the Western world mourned this tragic loss of life on a holy day of worship, but we forget that this isn't an isolated incident. Indeed, Christians are discriminated at extreme levels worldwide, and it needs to be brought to light. And whenever we do highlight brutal persecutions such as the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, we need to call them what they are — targeted attacks against Christians. Sadly, many of our politicians are deathly afraid to do so.

RELATED: Hey media, there is absolutely a war on Christians!

A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that Christians are harassed in 144 countries — the most of any other faith — slightly outnumbering Muslims for the top of the list. Additionally, Open Doors, a non-profit organization that works to serve persecuted Christians worldwide, found in their 2019 World Watch List that over 245 million Christians are seriously discriminated against for their religious beliefs. Sadly, this translates into 4,136 Christians killed and 2,625 either arrested, sentenced, imprisoned, or detained without trial over the year-long study period. And when it comes to churches, those in Sri Lanka were merely added to a long list of 1,266 Christian buildings attacked for their religion.

These breathtaking stats receive very little coverage in the Western world. And there seems to be a profound hesitation from politicians in discussing the issue of persecution against Christians. In the case of the Sri Lanka bombings, there's even a reluctance to use the word "Christian."

After the horrific Pittsburgh Synagogue and New Zealand Mosque shootings, Democrats rightfully acknowledged the disturbing trend of targeted attacks against Jews and Muslims. But some of these same politicians refer to the Sri Lanka bombings with careless ambiguity.

So why is it so hard for our leaders to acknowledge the persecutions Christians face?

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, for instance, certainly did — calling the incursions "attacks on Easter worshippers." Understandably, the term confused and frustrated many Christians. Although, supporters of these politicians argued the term was appropriate since a recent Associated Press report used it, and it was later picked up by a variety of media outlets, including Fox News. However, as more Democrats like 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Dan Kildee continued to use the phrase "Easter worshippers," it became clear that these politicians were going out of their way to avoid calling a spade a spade.

So why is it so hard for our leaders to acknowledge the persecutions Christians face? For starters, Christianity in democratic countries like the U.S. is seen differently than in devastated countries like Somalia. According to Pew Research, over 70% of Americans are Christian, with 66% of those Christians being white and 35% baby boomers. So while diverse Christians from all over the world are persecuted for their faith—in the U.S., Christians are a dominant religion full of old white people. This places Christians at the bottom of progressives' absurd intersectional totem poll, therefore leaving little sympathy for their cause. However, the differing experiences of Christians worldwide doesn't take away from the fact that they are unified in their beliefs.

By refusing to name the faith of the Sri Lankan martyrs, politicians are sending a message that they have very little, if no, concern about the growing amount of persecution against Christians worldwide.

Martyrs don't deserve to be known as "Easter worshippers." They should be known by the Christian faith they gave their lives for. Decent politicians need to call the tragedy in Sri Lanka what it is — a vicious attack on the Christian faith.

Patrick Hauf (@PatrickHauf) is a writer for Young Voices and Vice President of Lone Conservative. His work can be found in the Washington Examiner, Townhall, FEE, and more.