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)

Glenn Beck: Adam Schiff is a LIAR — and we have the proof

Image source: Glenn Beck Program on BlazeTV

On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck didn't hold back when discussing the latest in a long list of lies issued by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during the Democrats' ongoing endeavor to remove President Donald Trump from office.

"I'm going to just come out and say, Adam Schiff is a liar. And he intentionally lied. And we have the proof. The media being his little lapdog, but I'll explain what's really going on, and call the man a liar to his face," Glenn asserted. "No, I'm not suggesting he's a liar. No, I'm telling you, he's a liar. ... Adam Schiff is a lying dirtbag."

A recent report in Politico claimed Schiff "mischaracterized" the content of a document sent to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as evidence against President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Read more on this here.

"Let me translate [for Politico]," Glenn said. "House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lied about a text message exchange between two players in the Ukrainian saga. And we know it, because of the documents that were obtained by Politico."

A few of the other lies on Schiff's list include his repeated false claims that there was "significant evidence of collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 presidential election, his phony version of President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine, and his retracted claim that neither he nor his committee ever had contact with the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower. And the list just keeps getting longer.

Watch the video below for more details:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere discussed recent reports that former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, wasn't the only family member to capitalize on his connections to land an unbelievably lucrative job even though he lacked qualifications or experience.

According to Peter Schweizer's new book, "Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite," Joe Biden's younger brother, Frank, enjoyed the benefit of $54 million in taxpayer loans during the Obama administration to try his hand at an international development venture.

A lawyer by training, Frank Biden teamed up with a developer named Craig Williamson to build a sprawling luxury resort in Costa Rica, which claimed to be on a mission to preserve the country's forests but actually resulted in the decimation of thousands of acres of wilderness.

The then-vice president's brother also reportedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars as the front man of a for-profit charter school company called Mavericks in Education.

The charter schools, which focused on helping at-risk teens, eventually failed after allegations of mismanagement and a series of lawsuits derailed the dubious business venture.

Watch the video below to get Glenn's take on these latest revelations in the Biden family corruption saga:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Ryan: Bernie at the disco

Photo by Sean Ryan

Saturday at El Malecón, we waited for the Democratic socialist. He had the wild white hair like a monk and the thick glasses and the booming voice full of hacks and no niceties.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The venue had been redecorated since we visited a few nights before when we chatted with Castro. It didn't even feel like the same place. No bouncy castle this time.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A black curtain blocked the stage, giving the room a much-needed depth.

Behind the podium, two rows of mostly young people, all holding Bernie signs, all so diverse and picturesque and strategic.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Lots of empty seats. Poor showing of Bernie fans for a Saturday afternoon. At one point, someone from Bernie's staff offered us seats in the audience, as if eager to fill up those seats however possible.

There were about 75 people in the dancehall, a place built for reunions and weddings and all those other festivities. But for a few hours on Saturday, August 10, 2019, it turned serious and wild for "Unidos Con Bernie."

Photo by Sean Ryan

People had been murmuring about Sanders' speech from the night before at Wing Ding. By all appearances, he had developed a raving lust to overthrow Trump. He had even promised, with his wife just out of view, that, were he elected, he'd end white nationalism in America. For good.

El Malecón lacked its previous air of celebration. It had undertaken a brooding yet defiant spirit. Media were sparse. Four cameras faced the podium. Three photographers, one of whom had been at nearly all the same events as us. A few of the staffers frowned at an empty row of chairs, because there weren't that many chairs to begin with.

At the entrance, Bernie staff handed out headsets that translated English to Spanish or Spanish to English, depending on who the speaker was. The translators stood behind the bar, 20 feet from the podium, and spoke into a lip-ribbon microphone.

Bernie's staff was probably the coolest, by far. As in, they looked cool and acted stylishly. Jeans. Sandals. Careworn blazers. Tattoos. One lad had a black Levi's shirt with lush crimson roses even though he wasn't a cowboy or a ranch-hand. Mustaches. Quirky hats. A plain green sundress. Some of them wore glasses, big clunking frames.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The outfits were distinctly Bernie. As Bernie as the tie-dyed "BERNIE" shirts for sale outside the club. Or later, at the Hilton, like a Grateful Dead cassette stand.

Immigration was the theme, and everyone in the audience bore some proof of a journey. Because America offers life, freedom, and hope.

Sanders' own father emigrated from Poland to America at 17, a high school dropout who could barely speak English. As a Jew, he'd faced religious persecution.

Within one generation, Bernie Sanders' father contributed to the highest stratum of American society. In one generation, near hopelessness had transformed into Democracy, his son a congressman with a serious chance at the presidency.

Photo by Sean Ryan

That's the beauty of America. Come here broken and empty and gutted and voiceless. And, within your lifetime, you can mend yourself then become a pillar of society. Then, your son can become the President of the United States of America!

Four people gave speeches before Sanders. They took their time, excited and nervous. They putzed. Because how often do you get to introduce a presidential frontrunner?

All the native English speakers jammed their earpieces when the woman with the kind and dark energy took the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

She mumbled in Spanish and did not look up and said that, when her parents died, she couldn't go home for the funeral. She fought back tears. She swallowed hard to shock herself calm. And the room engulfed each silence between every word.

It felt more like a therapy session than a political rally. A grueling therapy session at that. Was that what drew people to Bernie Sanders, that deep anguish? That brisk hope? Or, rather, the cessation of it, through Sanders? And, of course, the resultant freedom? Was it what gave Sanders a saintlike ability to lead people into the realm of the confessional? Did he have enough strength to lead a revolution?

Photo by Sean Ryan

While other frontrunners hocked out money for appearances, like the studio lights, Sanders spent money on translators and ear-pieces. The impression I got was that he would gladly speak anywhere. To anyone. He had the transitory energy you can capture in the writings of Gandhi.

Photo by Sean Ryan

I'm not saying he's right or wrong — I will never make that claim, about any of the candidates, because that's not the point of this, not the point of journalism, amen — what I'm saying is he has the brutal energy of someone who can take the subway after a soiree or rant about life by a tractor or chuck it up with Sarah Silverman, surrounded wherever he goes.

Without the slightest fanfare, Sanders emerged from behind the black curtain. The woman at the podium gasped a little. The room suctioned forward when he entered. In part because he was so nonchalant. And, again. That magnetism to a room when a famous or powerful or charming person enters. Not many people have it. Not many can keep it. Even fewer know how to brace it, to cull it on demand. But several of the candidates did. One or two even had something greater.

Photo by Sean Ryan

I'll only say that Bernie had it with a bohemian fervor, like he was a monk stranded in a big city that he slowly brings to God.

"We have a President who, for the first time in my lifetime, who is a President who is a racist," he shouted. "Who is a xenophobe and anti-immigrant. Who is a sexist. Who is a religious bigot. And who, is a homophobe. And, what is very disappointing is that, when we have a President, we do not necessarily expect to agree with him, or her, on every issue. But we do believe that one of the obligations is to bring people to-geth-ah. As Americans."

Photo by Sean Ryan

After listening silently for several minutes, the audience clapped. Their sweet response felt cultish. But, then again, what doesn't feel cultish these days? So this was cultish like memes are cultish, in a striving-to-understand kind of way.

"The essence of our campaign is in fact to bring people together," he said. "Whether they're black, or white, or latino, or Native American, or Asian-American. We understand that we are Americans."

At times, this meant sharing a common humanity. Others, it had a slightly more disruptive feel. Which worked. Sometimes all we want is revolution. To be wild without recourse. To overthrow. To pass through the constraints of each day. To survive. The kind of rowdy stuff that makes for good poetry but destroys credit lines. Sanders radiated with this intensity, like a reclusive philosopher returning to society, from his cave to homes and beds and fences and maybe electricity.

Photo by Sean Ryan

But, as he says, his revolution would involve healthcare and wages and tuition, not beheadings and purges and starvation.

Seeing the Presidential candidates improvise was amazing. They did it constantly. They would turn any of their beliefs into a universal statement. And Sanders did this without trying. So he avoided doing the unbearably arrogant thing of pretending to speak like a native Guatemalan, and he looked at the group of people, and he mumbled in his cloudy accent:

"My Spanish — is not so good."

Photo by Sean Ryan

This is the same and the opposite of President Trump's Everyman way of speaking English like an American. Of speaking American.

Often, you know what Sanders will say next. You can feel it. And, anytime this happened, it brought comfort to the room.

Like, it surprised no one when he said that he would reinstate DACA on his first day in office. It still drew applause.

But other times, he expressed wild ideas with poetic clarity. And his conclusions arrived at unusual junctures. Not just in comparison to Republicans. To all of them. Bernie was the Tupac of the 2020 election. And, to him, President Trump was Suge Knight, the evil force behind it all.

"Donald Trump is an idiot," he shouted.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Everybody loved that. Everybody clapped and whooped and some even whistled like they were outside and not in a linoleum-floor dancehall.

"Go get 'em, Bernie," someone in the back shouted.

This was the only Sanders appearance with no protestors.

"Let me say this about the border," he shouted. And everybody listened to every thunking syllable. He probably could have spoken without a mic. Booming voice. Loud and clear. Huddling into that heavy Vermont slug accent.

They'll say many many things about Bernie. One being, you never had to lean forward to hear him. In person, even more so. He's less frail. More dynamic.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Despite the shoddiness of the venue, there was a sign language interpreter. Most of the rallies had a designated interpreter.

"If you work 40 hours a week you shouldn't be living in poverty," he shouted, provoking chants and applause from the audience, as if he were talking about them. Maybe he was.

An anecdote about the people at an emergency food shelf blended into the livable wage of $15 an hour. He shifted into his spiel about tuition-free college and pointed at the audience, "You're not doing well," then at the kids behind him, "they are." He craned his head sideways and back. "Do your homework," he told said.

Laughter.

Half of the kids looked like they hadn't eaten in days. Maybe it was their unusual situation, a few feet from Bernie Sanders at a stucco community center.

Before the room could settle, Sanders wove through a plan for how to cancel debt.

Did he have a solution?

Tax Wall Street, he shouted.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And he made it sound easy. "Uno dos trey," he said. "That's my Spanish for today."

A serious man, he shoved through his speech like a tank hurtling into dense jungle. He avoided many of the typical politician gimmicks. Proof that he did not practice every expression in front of a mirror. That he did not hide his accent. That he did not preen his hair. That he did not smile for a precise amount of time, depending on the audience. That he did not pretend to laugh.

Photo by Sean Ryan

He laughed when humor overtook him. But it was genuine. With none of the throaty recoil you hear in forced laughter.

"I want everyone to take a deep breath," he said. And a palpable lightness spread through the room, because a deep breath can solve a lot of problems.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then he roused some more. "Healthcare is a human right," he shouted. "A human privilege," he shouted. He told them that he lives 50 miles from the Canadian border in Burlington, Vermont, and healthcare works better up north.

Each candidate had a bad word, and Sanders' was "corporate."

Photo by Sean Ryan

At every speech, he mentioned "corporate media" with the same distrust and unpleasantness that conservatives derive from the term "mainstream media." Another would be "fake news," as popularized by Sanders' sworn enemy. Either way it's the same media. Just different motivations that irk different people.

But the discrepancies varied. Meaning two opposing political movements disliked the same thing, but for opposite reasons.
It sounded odd, Sanders' accusation that the media were against him. The media love Bernie. I can confirm this both anecdotally and judiciously. Yes, okay, in 2016, the media appeared to have sided with Hillary Clinton. As a result, Sanders was publicly humiliated. Because Clinton took a mafioso approach to dealing with opponents, and Sanders was her only roadblock.

Imagine if a major political organization devoted part of each day to agitating your downfall. And then you fail. And who's fault is it?

Sanders wanted to know: those negative ads targeting him, who paid for them?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Corporations, of course. Corporations that hated radicals like him. And really was he so radical? He listed off the possibilities: Big pharma, insurance companies, oil companies.

Because he had become a revolutionary, to them. To many.

He said it with certainty, although he often didn't have to say it at all. This spirit of rebellion had become his brand. He would lead the wild Americans into a utopia.

But just as quickly, he would attack. Trump, as always, was the target.

He called Trump the worst president in American history.

"The fates are Yuge," he shouted.

The speech ended as informally as it had begun. And Sanders' trance over the audience evaporated, replaced by that suction energy. Everyone rushed closer and closer to the man as Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin in the Free World" blared. Sanders leaned into the podium and said, "If anyone wants to form a line, we can do some selfies."

Photo by Sean Ryan

It was like meeting Jesus for some of the people.

There he was, at El Malecón. No stage lights, no makeup, no stylist behind the curtain. Just him and his ideas and his erratic hand commotion.

Then a man holding a baby leaned in for a photo. He and Sanders chatted. And, I kid you not, the whole time the baby is staring at Bernie Sanders like he's the image of God, looking right up at him, with this glow, this understanding.

Bernie, if you're reading this, I'd like to suggest that — if this election doesn't work for you — you could be the next Pope.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Monday, Harvard Law professor and lawyer on President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team Alan Dershowitz explains the history of impeachment and its process, why the framers did not include abuse of power as criteria for a Constitutional impeachment, why the Democrats are framing their case the way they are, and what to look for in the upcoming Senate trial.

Dershowitz argued that "abuse of power" -- one of two articles of impeachment against Trump approved by House Democrats last month -- is not an impeachable act.

"There are two articles of impeachment. The second is 'obstruction of Congress.' That's just a false accusation," said Dershowitz. "But they also charge him, in the Ukraine matter, with abuse of power. But abuse of power was discussed by the framers (of the U.S. Constitution) ... the framers refused to include abuse of power because it was too broad, too open-ended.

"In the words of James Madison, the father of our Constitution, it would lead presidents to serve at the will of Congress. And that's exactly what the framers didn't want, which is why they were very specific and said a president can be impeached only for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," he added.

"What's alleged against President Trump is not criminal," added Dershowitz. "If they had criminal issues to allege, you can be sure they would have done it. If they could establish bribery or treason, they would have done it already. But they didn't do it. They instead used this concept of abuse of power, which is so broad and general ... any president could be charged with it."

Watch the video below to hear more details:



Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.