Kamal Ravikant on the Transformative Power of Failure

Failure teaches and it can be transformative --- if you let it.

Kamal Ravikant, author of Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart, joined The Glenn Beck Program on Friday for a riveting conversation about his life experiences and the most important lesson he's ever learned --- how to love himself.

"What was the turning point?" Glenn asked.

Ravikant --- a self-made tech icon who served in the US Army, lost everything, trekked to one of the highest base camps in the Himalayas and walked 550 miles across Spain --- described how a message from Pastor Rick Warren motivated him during a very bleak time.

"I made a vow to myself that I was just going to figure out a way to get out," Ravikant said.

Glenn then asked how Ravikant changed things, if he'd bet on an investment.

"No, no, I bet on myself, on my inner self. And I just sat and worked on my inner self and to get myself out of it because ultimately, it's all inside," Ravikant said.

Enjoy this complimentary clip from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: I don't know why I'm having -- you're in Texas. We're going to call you Pete from here on out. Kamal is with us. Kamal is a friend of mine. We met about three years ago. I read a poem of yours on the air. I didn't remember this. You reminded me of this yesterday. Read a poem of yours on the air. And then, did you write to me or call?

KAMAL: No. Someone from your staff reached out.

GLENN: Really? So then you came town. Right?

KAMAL: Yes, sir.

GLENN: And you have a fascinating life. When you came down, did I know who your brother was or who you -- I don't think so.

KAMAL: I don't know.

GLENN: Yeah. Because you have -- if you're in Silicon Valley, you're very well-known. Your brother is very well-known. Like really well-known. And we'll talk about that here in a second. You've written a new book. It's called Rebirth, which is kind of your story.

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: I was telling guys when we first came in that, you know, your story is very much, in some ways my story. You know, you kind of go and you lose it all. And then -- what was it, Pat? What was the next part of the story? Oh, yeah. You get fat. He doesn't have the fat part of the story yet. So...

JEFFY: It's coming, my friend. It's coming.

GLENN: But your story is the quintessential American story because you came from India.

KAMAL: Yes, sir.

GLENN: Nine years old.

KAMAL: Uh-huh.

GLENN: Tell me about it.

KAMAL: Single mom. Came here with my brother --

GLENN: You were a single mom at the time?

KAMAL: Yeah, I started early.

Single mom. My brother and I, two little kids, left an abusive father.

GLENN: In India?

KAMAL: No.

GLENN: Here in America?

KAMAL: He was here. He was here. He was still abusive here. And she said, "You know, I'm not raising my boys with this example." And she took my brother and I and left.

And we went through everything: Homeless, food stamps, bouncing one place to the other, and her just working minimum wage jobs day in and day out.

And I got to see her go through some very hard stuff, and she raised my brother and I on nothing. In Jamaica, Queens. We had ten locks on our doors.

GLENN: Jamaica, Queens -- do you guys remember? Did you guys go to Jamaica, Queens, ever? Yeah, I mean that's --

KAMAL: I think Run-DMC and a lot of the original rappers came from there. That kind of place.

GLENN: That's a dicey, dicey place.

KAMAL: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, got jumped a bunch of times. You know, I was a skinny little shy kid.

And then when I graduated, I left and went to college for a year and then just said, "Screw this," and joined the Army, one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I was a (inaudible) soldier and did that for three years. And then went to college after that. And moved out to Silicon Valley after that. Then started building companies.

GLENN: Would you join the Army now?

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: You would?

KAMAL: Yeah, of course.

GLENN: Without hesitation?

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: Would you have your son join the Army now?

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: Wow.

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: No hesitation.

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: We've had this conversation internally a lot of times. I'm not sure what we're doing anymore.

KAMAL: Oh, of course not. I mean, it's -- the mission is a mess, but the art -- the -- being a soldier is the best thing I ever gave myself as a boy to become a man.

GLENN: And what part of it made you a man?

KAMAL: Being challenged in boot camp every day. Most of my friends thought I wouldn't ever make it. You know, I didn't need to go to the Army. I had a scholarship to college. And I went on my own, and I was a skinny kid from the city. Like I never held a rifle, never shot at --

GLENN: You had never seen the woods before.

KAMAL: I had never seen the woods. You know, and all of a sudden, I'm with a shaped hat, different haircut than this.

GLENN: Yeah, I would imagine a lot different.

KAMAL: You know, like -- sharing bunks with guys from like gangbangers and basically guys who were from everywhere in the US.

And, you know, you had to gel together, to come together to serve one purpose. And there were a lot of -- we didn't get along well, but by the end, we were like a well-formed unit. We were on mission. So you really get to see what this country is about. That was a great gift.

GLENN: I think you were telling me yesterday that -- that the service -- we have -- how did you phrase it?

KAMAL: Gentleman soldiers.

GLENN: Gentleman soldiers. What do you mean by that?

KAMAL: Well, I'll give you an example. I have a friend of mine who is FA (inaudible). And he's getting out soon. So I'm kind of guiding him on an entrepreneurship. And he just came back from a tour. And he was -- you know, the guy was bombing ISIS. And he was actually showing me some of the unclassified footage of one of the major bombing runs he did. And he took out a lot of ISIS soldiers there. It was where their barracks were, in the middle of the city. And it was very surgical. In the middle of the city. And yet he was telling me, he thinks about the civilians around there, what they must go through. They're stuck with these guys. They have no choice. They're under terror rule. And all of a sudden, the whole place is blowing up. And so he went on YouTube, and so he could look and see the civilian's perspectives, the videos they took of his bombing.

But we have very thoughtful soldiers. You know, people -- you know, people talk about this cowboy -- we don't have that. We have people who really care.

GLENN: You're such an interesting guy. At nine years old, you come over -- you're here coming over to America. You've lived in some of the worst places in America for poverty and violence. You grew up in a violent home. Yet you are one of the most peaceful, gentle, kind men I know. I get the nicest emails from you. And you're so thoughtful.

I think the first time we met, I think one of the first things you said to me -- and it was genuine. Was something along the lines of, how can I serve you? How can I be helpful to you? Where did that come from? What happened?

KAMAL: Well, first of all, thank you. I'd say my mom. I think it comes from who raises you. You know, she was an example.

GLENN: You told me that you rarely saw -- I mean, there were times that your mom was gone because she was working all the time.

KAMAL: Commuted two hours a day.

GLENN: So how did she give you that example?

KAMAL: I think I saw what she had to go through to take care of my brother and I on nothing. And how strong she had to be, but I could see what she was going through and what it took. And she is the most loving, amazing human being.

GLENN: I'd love to meet her sometime.

KAMAL: She is. She volunteers for battered women's shelters. You know, she works with seniors. She just gives.

So like she was an example. I don't think she ever told me to be this way. But I watched her be that way. And ultimately, that's all we can be.

GLENN: Were you ever afraid you would be your dad?

KAMAL: Yeah, yeah. It's something I dealt with in my 20s, you know.

GLENN: Anger, or just the fear of anger?

KAMAL: Anger. The fear of anger. And, you know, honestly, when you take anger and you turn it in -- if you don't let it out and you -- it turns it into depression. You beat yourself up. So I dealt with that in my 20s.

And it was ultimately then coming to terms with his death, with him. I was able to just let it go and realize, I am not him. I will never be him. He was an example for me in ways of not to be. I also have other examples.

You know, I met amazing men in my life who have been mentors to me. Had a great mother. So use that and --

GLENN: You can have other examples. And it's amazing. My son-in-law grew up in a very -- with a very dicey situation with father figures. And to the point to where I hear some of the stories, and I was, you know, watching him very closely on --

KAMAL: Sure.

GLENN: Okay. So who are you? Because figure after figure after figure in his life was not good until recently. And then I came along and screwed it up.

But he is -- he made the choice, I'm not going to be that guy.

KAMAL: Yes. Yes, yes. That's ultimately what we come down to, who we want to be. And then we have to live it.

GLENN: Okay. So let's cut to the chase before the break because I want to talk to you about what you think America means, because you have a great perspective on it.

Are we losing it? Are we getting closer, farther away? What do we do? And then I want to talk to you a little bit about technology.

KAMAL: Sure.

GLENN: But -- so you -- you had this struggle. You gained everything. Then you lost everything.

You end up in Silicon Valley. Did you lose it in Silicon Valley the first time?

KAMAL: Yeah. I made -- built it in Silicon Valley, lost it in Silicon Valley, rebuilt.

GLENN: Okay. Okay. Tell us who -- you know, you and your brother are kind of royalty in Silicon Valley. Why?

KAMAL: Well, my brother is known as one of the most entrepreneur-friendly investors in Silicon Valley. So he's been a investor -- first investor in Uber. You know, one of the first investors in Twitter. And so forth. He's known for being a very, very helpful guy. And he knows what he's doing. Because at one point in his career, he got screwed over by VCs, and I was living with him then. And he had to go through a lawsuit to actually prove it, and he won. I remember him --

GLENN: Meaning that the venture capitalists are vultures -- they can be.

KAMAL: They used to be more. Yeah.

GLENN: Right. And they can come in and take you.

KAMAL: Yeah, they were the money guys. And you needed money. Entrepreneur, you're not thinking like that. You just want to build your business. You want to make your dream. You're not thinking what you just signed away, until it's time, and all of a sudden they come and they take it.

GLENN: Right. Right. Right.

KAMAL: So at that time, I remember when he was going through that, the genesis of what happened, he said, "I'm going to level the playing field. I'm going to give entrepreneurs a power."

So first he started by actually creating a blog called Venture Hacks, where he just shared everything. Deal terms. How to negotiate for entrepreneurs. Just how the whole things works.

And then an angle list for angels to sharing different ideas with them and then built this platform called AngelList, where any entrepreneur now raises money for startups. So you don't have to spend six months begging VCs. You can go there if it's a great thing -- individuals. You know, people with money will just jump in and fund you.

So, like, Uber raised their first round on AngelList.

GLENN: How much was it the first round?

KAMAL: Uber at that time was worth I think maybe less than 8 million dollars. And they raised maybe 1.2 or something.

GLENN: And how much are they worth now?

KAMAL: About 60 billion.

GLENN: Jeez. Holy cow. Did you get in on that first round?

KAMAL: You know, that's a whole different story.

(laughter)

But I have friends of mine who did.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: And, you know, that one -- a 25,000 on investment at that point in Uber probably results, by the time we go public, at like 30 million, $40 million.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

KAMAL: That's Silicon Valley math for you.

GLENN: Yeah. That's crazy.

STU: That's when you need a flux capacitor.

GLENN: Yeah. And they're working on one, I think.

STU: Okay. Good.

GLENN: Okay. So we're going to come back, and I want to talk to you a little bit about your book and how you view America. Because we're an idea. And we're not talking about the idea of America anymore.

KAMAL: I think it's an ideal more than an idea. An ideal is something you uphold. You know, it's a principle. You know, that's what America --

GLENN: And are we -- we'll get into it here in a second.

[break]

GLENN: Kamal Ravikant. A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart. The name of the book is Rebirth.

I can't recommend it highly enough. Kamal has a way -- and I think I have read either Edgar Allan Poe, or what's his name? The other one? If. Rudyard Kipling on the air. I've read his. And his novel is, I believe -- and this is probably going to make you uncomfortable. But I believe it is as good anything McCormick McCarthy has ever written.

It's just -- to me at least, it's just -- there's an art to it that you have, that you rarely, rarely see. And the story is really, really great as well. And it's kind of -- it's kind of your story of -- when your dad died, you promised that you would take his ashes back to the Ganges. Right?

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: I mean, I don't know if you did this intentionally, but you brought him back --

KAMAL: No, it was given to me.

GLENN: Really?

KAMAL: In a red Marlboro lunchpack, which think of the irony on that, right?

GLENN: Right. It's just my dad's ashes in the Marlboro pack.

KAMAL: I mean, I don't know who thought of that.

GLENN: Right. So you went -- and you were supposed to be just gone for a couple of eight days. You spent eight months.

KAMAL: Spent eight months away.

GLENN: And you ended up doing a Christian pilgrimage in Spain.

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: And how?

KAMAL: It changed my life.

I -- first of all, walking -- it was 550 miles long from the French-Spanish Border, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

GLENN: And then back?

KAMAL: No. I took a plane.

GLENN: You took -- you're supposed to go back.

KAMAL: Well, in the old days, right. In the 11th century, there were no planes. But like -- millions of people had walked this. And so, you know, no matter who you are, you stop following the footsteps of millions of people, from their hopes and dreams, and following their beliefs -- and, just, many people died along the way, originally.

And you walk this, so the kind of people who come and walk it are interesting people, people who are all resolving things in their lives. And you start to share with each other stories of your lives. And when you share stories is how you actually learn and grow.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: And so that's actually where I learned -- you know, I was in my mid-20s. I was lost. I was broke. My dad had died. I was trying to come to terms with the anger I had towards him. And I couldn't resolve it because he was gone. And so all these issues I was working through, actually got worked out by walking and being out in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in vineyards and wheat fields and castles and churches. And just talk about personal transformation.

GLENN: Were you religious or spiritual at the time? Because you went up to the Himalayas before this. And you did the thing with the Dalai Lama's monks, right?

KAMAL: Yes. Yes.

GLENN: He's -- have you ever met him?

KAMAL: I've listened to him, but I haven't shook hands with him or anything.

GLENN: Yeah, no, he is a really funny guy. In person, he's hysterical. But there's something about him. But, anyway --

KAMAL: There is.

I'm not religious, although when I was in the Army -- in boot camp, I was baptized Southern Baptist. Full-on immersion.

GLENN: Right. Right. Right. Okay.

KAMAL: So it's been a foundation of mine. But it's not something I talk much about. I just go live my own thing.

So -- and this was a Catholic pilgrimage too. And though these days pretty much anybody walks it.

GLENN: Right. The guy that you met -- or, the character meets in the book. Did that guy -- is he a collection of everybody that you met, or?

KAMAL: You know what I did was I took people I've known that I've loved and, like, created characters based on them. And some of them are based on people I met. But all served a story of the lessons he needs to learn. And so as he grows, he meets the right people.

GLENN: Biggest lesson from the book?

KAMAL: Forgiveness. Letting go. You know, that's where freedom is.

When we're hanging onto the past, we can't move forward. And in the story, moving forward, get up, walk west, day after day, towards Santiago de Compostela, which is the destination, where the tomb of St. James the apostle is. And you just get up, and you walk West.

And as you walk, you just -- there's growth that happens. And you got to -- you're leaving the past behind, literally. And so you learn to actually not just let it go physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. And so forgiveness is the biggest lesson. And that is the biggest lesson of this book.

GLENN: Did you crash before you went on that pilgrimage? You had not made your money yet?

KAMAL: No.

GLENN: Okay. When you crashed, did you have a hard the time letting go?

KAMAL: You know, I had no choice. I was incredibly sick. I was depressed. I was suicidal. I think if I had --

GLENN: It made you physically ill?

KAMAL: Yeah. I had been going two and a half years, no vacation. Lost everything. And, you know, thought I was a failure. And I swear like, if I had the strength, I would have walked and thrown myself off the Bay Bridge. Those days -- I'm actually glad I didn't have a firearm. You know, it worked in my favor there.

GLENN: It's funny because I've often said -- because I've gone through that -- you know, when I was younger, in my 20s, and I thought, "I'm glad I'm a coward." Because, you know, I could have pulled myself, you know, off of a bridge, but I know I would have gotten on the bridge and went, "Okay. All right. Okay. This is too -- you know, I'm not -- I'm too much of a scaredy cat to do that." And that, I think, is what saved my life.

KAMAL: I'm glad.

GLENN: Okay. So you pull yourself back from the brink.

What is the -- only got 30 seconds. So we'll come back. I want to know, what was the lesson you learned there? Because now you're about to turbo your life and change everybody's life. And I want to talk about that. And as somebody who came here with nothing, been homeless, and in one generation, you love America more than most Americans, what is the secret of America that maybe we're missing?

[break]

GLENN: Kamal Ravikant is with us. Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and a Following of Your Heart.

A good friend of mine, a brilliant writer, and a brilliant man, and one of the more kind men I know as well. And really thoughtful on how you approach life.

So you bottomed out. You lost everything. You come over here -- for anybody who is joining us, you come over here from India at nine. Your father is abusive. Your mother says, "Not going to raise you here." You're homeless for a while. Tough, tough upbringing, but a loving mom.

You join the military. Your dad dies. You go over to India. You go to the Himalayas -- I mean, you're a movie.

(laughter)

You come back, you go to Silicon Valley, and you and your brother at the same time are hitting it?

KAMAL: My brother got their first.

GLENN: Okay.

And for anybody who doesn't know, Ravikant is kind of a royal name in Silicon Valley, if I can embarrass you a bit. And then you lose everything.

KAMAL: Uh-huh.

GLENN: You just said, "If I had the strength -- because you were so sick -- I would have thrown myself off the Bay Bridge."

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: What was the turning point?

KAMAL: Turning point was actually, I watched this talk -- TED talk by Rick Warren. I don't think I've told this publicly before.

And it's my favorite TED talk. And at the end, he goes -- he's sitting there, kind of just like giving a very casual talk, and he's talking about the purpose driven life, and he's talking about how -- he said, "You know, in the end, we're all betting on something. Find what you're betting on and go on." And I thought at that point, "Okay. I'm going to bet on something and either go all in or die trying." I was going to get better. I made a vow to myself that I was just going to figure out a way to get out.

GLENN: So did you bet on an investment?

KAMAL: No, no, I bet on myself. On my inner self. And I just sat and worked on my inner self and to get myself out of it. Because ultimately, it's all inside. You know, like everything, we're stuck in our head. So I just worked on this. And I got better.

But it was like the focus full-on vow. I'm a big believer in commitment. Because once you commit, the ships -- they don't burn, they explode behind you. Right? That's the only way.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

Once you can get to a place to where you can see it finished, you've done so much work that you're like -- it's not convincing yourself. It's just, all of a sudden, it just rings true. It's done.

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: And then your life changes.

KAMAL: It transforms.

GLENN: Transforms.

KAMAL: It really does. And my life changed. And I built myself back up. And I started writing these books to share what I learned. And they started doing very well.

And me being the real me. Not trying to be some hotshot Silicon Valley guy. Me just talking about my failures. And it's been amazing.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. Most people who meet you, they have no idea you're a hotshot Silicon Valley kind of guy.

So let's talk a little bit about what is America. What is it? You say it's an ideal.

KAMAL: Uh-huh. I think ultimately, for me, you know, the gift Silicon Valley gave me is the fact that everyone there is doing something. Dreaming and building. Which is what America is for me. It's -- we're always trying to create something better and be better. And, you know, that's -- America was an experiment that could have very easily failed when it started. You know, the Founders could have been shot by the British, and that would have been it. You know, it's about taking risks. It's about falling flat on your face. And Silicon Valley, we don't punish failure. If you did your best, you really tried something, it didn't work, we'll invest in you again. That I think separates it. That's why Europe will never be able to create a Silicon Valley. Because every European entrepreneur I know is terrified of failing. They'll never be able to do anything ever again if they fail.

GLENN: Failure teaches -- if you're smart, failure teaches you really important lessons. Failure is just as important as success. In fact, success can be crippling.

KAMAL: Yeah. Having said, the worst thing that can happen to a writer is early success.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: You know, like, I was writing and obsessively writing that book for over a decade.

GLENN: Holy cow.

KAMAL: Eight full drafts. Sending them to agents and publishers. Getting rejection letters. And those rejection letters are the best gifts I ever got. Because it made me become a better writer.

You know, I was writing very clever drivel, not from the heart.

GLENN: Yeah, yours is really on it. There's something -- have you ever heard someone say that about your writing? There is something completely unique about your writing. And it's not pretentious, ostentatious. It's not like -- it's not like clever, like you're trying to do something. It's just so authentic. Your sentence structure is different. I mean, it's really good. Really good.

KAMAL: Thank you.

GLENN: So where are we on the American life cycle?

KAMAL: Oh, that's a great question. We're in some interesting times, that's for sure. You know, I get to meet -- because I run a fund -- I invest in entrepreneurs. Even in Silicon Valley, people come from all over the world to be entrepreneurs there. So the American dream is very much alive. It's a matter of choosing who you want to be.

GLENN: You and I were talking yesterday off-air about this concept of -- that Silicon Valley is in its own bubble. And it doesn't relate to the rest of the country, in some ways. You invested in a company -- what is it? The RV --

KAMAL: RV Share. It's my favorite.

GLENN: Yeah. And what is it?

KAMAL: It's Airbnb for RVs. It's amazing. It's brilliant. It's a 12-man team, and they built it from scratch. And 12-man meaning there's a couple -- a few women and men team --

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: -- in Cleveland, Ohio, in this little office park. And they're changing people's lives.

You have an RV, and all of a sudden, you can make a living off it by just renting it out just to individuals. And make it stupid simple. People come find your RV. They rent it --

GLENN: Silicon Valley would have never thought of that.

KAMAL: They thought of Airbnb, but they didn't think of RVs, which is outside of Silicon Valley.

GLENN: Right. Right. This is -- would you compare this time in history to the War of the Currents? Of the Industrial Revolution --

KAMAL: Industrial Revolution. There's changes coming that are just going to transform society.

GLENN: What are people -- and this is something we've talked about working together on. Because I -- I talk to the people in Silicon Valley, and I'm both energized and -- and in a way, horrified because no one is talking about what's coming. And the change is so -- it is the difference between living in -- on a farm, with no telephone, no electricity, no plumbing, and ten years later, you're living in a city. I mean, it's profound change that is coming.

And nobody is explaining this to the center of the country. It's exciting and exhilarating. But it's going to change the way we think -- everybody is -- for instance, education is still preparing us for the 1950s.

KAMAL: Oh, gosh. Yeah, it's terrible. It's actually terrible. I would never hire someone just straight out of a traditional education. The best people I've ever met, I've hired, barely graduated high school, but they were doers.

You know, like traditional education these days does not prepare you to start companies.

GLENN: It doesn't. It doesn't. I think it actually hurts.

KAMAL: It hinders you.

GLENN: Yeah, it does. Because you think in that box.

KAMAL: You think that everything is taken care of. Whereas, if you start something from scratch, as you know, you do everything. You mop the floors. You make the sales calls. You take all the risk. But that is the American dream.

GLENN: Most exciting thing that you have seen that maybe others have missed. What's the most exciting trend line or idea that you have heard that you think is game-changing?

KAMAL: Well, I think ultimately the nearest term stuff is going to be like augmented reality. People talk about virtual reality. Augmented reality is just here. Like all these things, all these beautiful things you have here -- they didn't have to be here, but they'll just be projections that you put on glass that you just see there.

So that's actually coming -- that's actually even more interesting than virtual reality. Because then you can --

GLENN: Because it interacts with real --

KAMAL: Carbon reality.

GLENN: You have to wear glasses?

KAMAL: Glasses. Maybe contacts after a while. It's really interesting. And no one really knows where this is going to go. People can guess. Because ultimately as we talked about, technology is a tool.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: It's up to -- you know, I think one of the things that you mentioned that people on this side versus that side don't understand -- like, here's Silicon Valley. Here's somewhere on a farm. There's no one speaking a common language.

GLENN: Yes.

KAMAL: We speak a very different language in Silicon Valley and a very different language here, which I think is what we need. Like a middle ground.

GLENN: People don't know -- nobody is talking to the people in the center of the country from Silicon Valley. And so they're just seeing these products roll out, but it's not. It's about fully changing the way you think about everything. And I think the people in the center of the country, A, are going to be thrilled when they see it.

And they will find -- you know, the guy who did the original radio tube. I'm trying to remember his name. But he -- he made the radio tube. The amplifying tube. He didn't even know what it was for. He didn't have any idea what it was for.

Another guy comes along years later, named Armstrong, and he says, "Oh, my gosh. I can amplify sound so you don't have to have headphones anymore." The guy who invented that didn't even see that as the application. And that's what's going to happen when you include the rest of the country.

KAMAL: Yes. And, you know, the best inventors are the guys in the garage and playing with stuff. So there are so many out there.

I think if there is a closer collaboration of it, just language, you're going to create all these new entrepreneurs and new inventors out there that don't exist yet.

GLENN: Scariest thing you see on the horizon?

KAMAL: Virtual reality.

We talked about this before as well. It's amazing what it can be, but also it can be an amazing drug that will just pull you away from reality, which is what a drug does.

You know, just escape reality. And then we lose the incentive to go and change -- I think ultimately, we are all responsible for our lives. And we have to step up and take control and make a choice. Right?

If we're always escaping, that doesn't happen. And we lose -- I think we lose something fundamental as a human being in that process. So that, I'm concerned about.

PAT: How far are we from perfecting that? The virtual reality?

KAMAL: It's here. I mean, it's a matter of --

PAT: I know we actually have it.

GLENN: How long do we have the suit where you can feel the pressure --

PAT: Yeah, the tactile version.

KAMAL: They have that.

PAT: They do have that already? Wow.

KAMAL: To make it mass market, years. A few years.

GLENN: Like three years, five years, ten years?

KAMAL: Five years.

GLENN: Five years.

KAMAL: There's all these interesting things coming out, that, yeah, you can just lose yourself, which is the scary part.

GLENN: Really scary. Because there's a lot of people that want to lose themselves.

KAMAL: Yeah. And I think that could hold us back as human beings and as a society.

PAT: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

GLENN: How concerned are you with the -- the gathering of so much information? Not that anybody is doing it in a nefarious way now, but all you need is an excuse. And all of a sudden, the government can take this --

KAMAL: Yeah. Civil liberties are very easy to take away. You know, very hard to get. You know, we have them, and we've lost some of them, and we're going to lose more.

Everyone in Silicon Valley -- like most people -- we were talking about earlier. People I know, Silicon Valley, they don't use SMS. They use these secure messaging apps that are just -- you know, not that we have anything to hide. But if it tells you that people at the forefront are thinking this way --

GLENN: I use Confide. Is that the kind of thing you're talking about?

KAMAL: I use Signal.

GLENN: Signal?

KAMAL: Yeah. And really, like whenever I go through TSA, I always get pulled aside. Get patted. I don't care. I have nothing to hide. But still, you start thinking, like, if these things are happening, where is it going to go next?

As long as I don't lose due process, I don't mind being frisked. If I lose due process, then I'm in trouble.

Same thing with collecting information. It's very innocuous. But then everyone is being passive that we're being spied on, and then basically you have control over everyone. You know what they're doing.

GLENN: I only have a couple seconds left with you. But let me ask you this -- you know, we were talking about fake news. And the answer to that is everyone needs to be more responsible. And we've done it before. I mean, fake news has been around since the town criers, you know.

Ancient Rome, they had fake news. You can count on it. We have to be more responsible as human beings and more engaged and discerning.

I've talked to -- even Ted Koppel said to me in an interview, he said, "Don't you think that we need to license people who have these websites and blogs, and journalism?" And I said no. But that's where a lot of people will start heading, as things, you know, continue down this --

JEFFY: Well, they already are.

GLENN: Yeah, they already are.

So can you shut -- can people shut the internet and information down? Do you think that's possible at this point?

KAMAL: When you say people, do you mean...?

GLENN: Do you think a government can come in and really shut down the freedoms we have online on the air.

KAMAL: Sure. Look at China. They have entire, you know, full-time job. They're shutting it down. They do a pretty decent job. And you do it -- you know, all of it is done step by step. That's the scary part. You know, it's like when you put a frog, and you boil it slowly. That's what scares me. Right? So that's why I'm a big believer in civil liberties and due process, is that, you know, at least we have the system of law, where you can challenge them. When you can no longer challenge the secret courts, that's when we have problems.

GLENN: The name of the book is Rebirth. Kamal Ravikant. I can't recommend it highly enough. Grab it, read it, you'll love it. Rebirth. Kamal Ravikant. Thank you, Kamal. We'll see you again soon.

RYAN: Kanye West and the Great Society

Graphic by Alexander Somoskey.

Donald Trump has been name-dropped by nearly every major rapper of the last 30 years, starting with a reference by Beastie Boys on their iconic album Paul's Boutique, the Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop.

He's been mentioned by Jay Z. Ludacris. Young Thug. Nelly. Kendrick Lamar. Juicy J. Rick Ross. Eminem. Big Sean. A Tribe Called Quest. Scarface. Lil Wayne. The Coup. Master P. Ice Cube. Mos Def. Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and various other Wu-Tang Clan affiliates. R. Kelly. Pete Rock. Nas. E-40.

And don't forget this surreal moment in our nation's history.

Then-candidate Trump on SNL ... dancing to a Drake parody.(Screenshot from YouTube)

When Bun B referred to Trump on the Chopped-n-Screwed anthem "Pocket Full of Stones," he was keeping with a tradition of rappers admiring Trump. This only changed a few years ago.

But then there's Kanye West, who proudly donned the red MAGA hat after discovering Candace Owens and being called "a jackass" by our nation's first black President. Then Kanye was hugging President Trump in the Oval Office? While wearing a Make America Great Again hat, supposed symbol of white supremacy, Nazism, hate, evil?

(Screenshot from YouTube)

People flipped. Everyone did. Longtime critics suddenly — and bizarrely — embraced Kanye as an ally, while longtime defenders disowned him, abandoned him like nail clippings, often mocking his struggles with mental illness and labeling him, if you can believe it, a white supremacist.

Then, in a moment that changed music history, Kanye released the single "Ye vs. the People."

Ye vs. the People (starring TI as the People) www.youtube.com

In it, he challenges what he sees as the unspoken rule that black Americans have to vote Democrat. He had hinted at the idea on his track "Black Skinhead," from the hauntingly gorgeous album Yeezus, but now he was addressing it head-on, with the passion of a man going to Confession for the first time in a decade.

Why should black folks have to abide by any set of cultural or political or artistic guidelines to begin with? And, he argues, the pressure to adhere to this longheld framework is itself undergirded by a subtle and cleverly masked racism, imposed by a group of people who portray themselves as the champions of race and enemies of white supremacy and destroyers of dumb yokel rednecks with their Rebel flags and monster trucks and fully-automatic AR-15 assault weapons. All of which, it turns out, is some next-level projection.

Kanye also confronts the presence of these expectations and stereotypes in hip-hop. The idea that rappers must invoke a negative persona in order to succeed. And the moment they deviate from that image they are rebuked or ignored, even though the persona is damaging to the black community as a whole. Which is especially ironic given that the people who voice the most outrage tend to be highly privileged, supposedly progressive white folks who love to rant about white privilege and black oppression.

Is it better if I rap about crack? 'Cause it's cultural?
Or how about I'ma shoot you? or f**k your b***h?
Or how about all this Gucci, 'cause I'm f****n' rich?

Best of all, Kanye has answers. And they differ from the erudite solutions offered by, say, A Tribe Called Quest, who, like Kanye, have modeled a healthy, positive image of blackness for the black community.

A central theme within "Ye vs. The People" is empathy as power, rebellion, freedom.

Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y'all simply questionin' my methods.

This concept is an extension of the powerful devotion to positive energy that Kanye adopted around that time, a purview he has cultivated into a wild new form of electronic gospel.

But his personal transformation was tough.

That [MAGA] hat stayed in my closet like 'bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, "F**k it, I'ma do me"
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me.

This is a struggle that many Americans undergo. Researchers call it the spiral of silence. The idea that the news media and social media present biased opinions as though they are fact, and when the message conflicts with a person's opinions or values, they feel isolated, alone.

Kanye and T.I. during the making of "Ye vs. the People"(Screenshot from YouTube)

As Kanye raps in "Ye vs. the People"

A lot of people agree with me but they're too scared to speak up.

Because we have an incredible ability to sense public opinion. So when we suspect that we hold a belief that rails against acceptable thought, we tend to keep quiet about it. That silence makes the opinion seem even more taboo, resulting in a more widespread silence.

In reality, many of these supposedly taboo opinions are not only popular, they are normal and practical and logical. Healthy, even. And the real danger is in demonizing them. But too many people are afraid they'll be ostracized for expressing their beliefs.

Like how — despite what we've been led to believe — most Americans cannot stand political correctness.

But the small minority of people who champion it are powerful and loud. They're like that cardboard city in North Korea, just visible enough from the border to make it seem like a thriving community. They're the Wicked Witch of the West, or Iago from Othello, or Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants.

So far, they have been successful. Although "success" by their metric is anarchic and primal, all destruction and loudness and people nervous to speak their mind. And the cost of rebellion can be devastating.

By the time Kanye West wrote "Yay versus the People," he had gotten sick of this power dynamic. So he broke the spiral of silence."

*

In the words of German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Whoever has language has the world."

Humans alone have it.

But in order for us to know freedom in our world, our language has to be public, shared, active. Because each of us thrives constantly with language, a stream of it always in our mind. Aristotle defined "thought" as the infinite dialogue between the soul and itself. Conversation is the exchange of thought between people. When we converse, we simultaneously release our infinite dialogue and accept the other person's. By speaking, we shape the world and free ourselves.

*

Another way to say it is that Donald Trump might have inspired the song that could very well signify the end of Hip-Hop, which is not only the most popular genre of our zeitgeist, it's the most popular, and successful, form of music in American history, which is the most important era of musical history.

If the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and Drake literally outpaces the Beatles, then, well, you get the point God forgive me. And Kanye is bigger than Drake. So who better to have the final word on the capacities of Hip-Hop than Kanye West?

Nobody.

Every genre must come to a close. There's a reason why people aren't eagerly awaiting the next great disco album, or flocking to arenas to hear the newest bluegrass superstar, or asking to get their hair done like the latest syringe-armed guitarist of Guns N Roses.

(Screenshot from Instagram)

The great era of Rock 'N' Roll ended roughly about the time Radiohead traded their guitars and drums for synthesizers and sequencers, not long after Kurt Cobain took an insane amount of heroin and cradled a shotgun in his guesthouse, only to be discovered several days later by an electrician. Even worse, Nickelback soiled Cobain's legacy with godawful anthems, and who have their own weird and contradictory and hilarious connection to President Trump.

These days, Rock N' Roll lives mostly via nostalgia, as evinced by the explosion of cover bands. Notice how you don't see any hip-hop cover bands. You will, someday. But, for now, Hip-Hop reigns supreme. And Kanye is the King.

The brilliant Nina Simone once told a reporter that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times."

Because music accords itself to the gravity and creative truth of the era. And currently we entrust hip-hop with this complicated maneuver.

But the past year, Kanye has been crafting a new sound through his Sunday services, weekly jam sessions with acoustic musicians and a choir and everyone dressed in white, praying through song, herding us into a better place, looking above for guidance. If it's anything like his track "Ultralight Beam," it will bring calm to our divided culture.

Mark my words: The resultant album will usher in an entirely new era, a magical flash in human history.

So far, hip-hop has been the defiant child of R&B and Electronica, the grandchild of Spoken Word and Steve Reich Minimalism, with tinges of Punk. Not for much longer. Kanye will see to that. And, weirdly, President Trump has helped inspire this transformation.

Meaning, Donald Trump will have had a hand in reinventing music as a whole, in spreading a movement of positive reformation. Love him or hate him, it does not matter. What other politician can make that claim?

There's an optimism to this that Dave Chappelle captured in his now-infamous Saturday Night Live monologue, just days after Trump was elected, asking Americans to at least give the man a chance. And again in his special "Equanimity," when he said

I swear no matter how bad it gets, you're my countrymen, and I know for a fact that I'm determined to work shit out with y'all.

In a moment of now-tired irony, the usual suspects heaped a barrage of hate at Chappelle for these remarks. But their outrage does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. Because it is an incredible time to be alive. It's beautiful. We should never forget that, no matter how petty or outrageous daily life gets.

At the moment, we are a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting. But we are Americans. Together. This is America. And, every day, God delights in our greatness and our empathy and our endless gift for love. So open your heart and listen. Say what you need to say.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter.

RYAN: Michael Bennet, Little League

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every day, life getting shorter. Every day, life going faster. Every day, like a roller coaster. These were the kinds of things that Michael Bennet was saying.

Michael Bennet, God bless him, he seemed like a decent lad. All week he had his family there. He said his campaign was their family vacation. He had had prostate cancer but would you believe he survived?

"Life is getting shorter," he said. "Every day."

Photo by Sean Ryan

He was well spoken. Dry. Talked with an air of consultation. Like you were in his office, and he had things to tell you.

Like a Little League coach who could actually be a coach someday.

*

I would encounter Bennet again the next day, at the Iowa State Fair.

Having just seen Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at a small Baptist church, we ventured to the fair to see Bernie Sanders' riot of a Sunday speech. Bennet was on before him, so I got there early, and I paced off to get a restroom break. The media center is in the basement of the administration building, right by the Political Soapbox stage.

For whatever reason, the first-floor men's restroom has giant windows along the wall, and you can see right out onto the walkway that wraps around the building. I did not realize that this was the path that the candidates take to get to the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, this far into the 2020 presidential election, they never went many places alone. They had a press swarm and their wives and maybe an old friend who relocated here when the hurricane sank his house.

I was rushing. Panicking, really. Because I heard all the commotion. But nature abides by its own pace. And as I shuffled to the sink to wash my hands, my pants fell all the way down. I was exposed. Out in the open and in such desperation, you clobber yourself outside of time. It was all slo-mo with the Chopped-n-screwed voices as I scrambled to lift my trousers and audibly gasped the words, "Well just no." At that exact moment, that "accidental Renaissance" painting occurred as I locked eyes with Michael Bennet, slowly maneuvering the walkway.

These sorts of things happened, didn't they? There you were in a restroom, at an NFL game or a concert or maybe a bar, and you see someone you work with, or someone from church or school, and you lock eyes for a moment in confusion then revert to cave talk and shrug and get on with what you were doing. But it's weird when only one of you is actively part of the etiquette and allowances of a restroom and one of you is held to a higher standard, for the sake of common decency. Now let's say that you, the restroom occupant, happen to be credentialed press, and the outsider, Michael Bennet, happens to be a candidate for president of America.

Once the herd passed by behind him, I laughed a bit, quietly, because life could be very funny.

*

Onstage, Bennet, a senator from Colorado, gave the performance of a cake falling into a pool. Like he had been ghost-busted. Like he had spent the last two months learning the Fortnite dance moves and now that he had mastered them, suddenly Fortnite was for losers, and Fortnite dances, well, they were even worse.

The Political Soapbox is great because every candidate has 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes were theirs. Most of the time, they got romantic like a Backstreet Boy singing up toward an open window. Occasionally, they lost it. Bennet did neither. He belly-flopped into hay bales.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Remember that the growing crowd had the dangerous feel of a natural disaster. And it was gaspingly warm that day. So neither the crowd nor the environment were ready to give Bennet a freebie.

He gave a ravishing speech, full of neat invective. Then looked up and realized he still had 14 minutes on the clock. Oof. That was most of it, and he'd already done the Floss and the Robot and the Electro Shuffle, and honestly his shoulder was a little stiff from all that dance practice. So he opened the floor for questions.

Now, that was not the greatest idea. For one, this was not the type of place for such a thing. They called it a soapbox because you were meant to live out the phrase "on a soapbox" by ranting and fist-pounding and all other theatrics.

The Bernie Sanders supporters hadn't arrived en masse yet, so most of the people around the stage were clad in Trump gear. And they all had their hands up ready to ask him questions. Well, firebombs, really, masked as interrogative statements. Bennet shouted without breathing, then said, "I want to find a non-male person who has a question."

This did not sit well with the males who did not like the trend of personalizing all things, cautious gendering, and the sudden change of direction so that now they had to just listen.

Most people did not care.

"I do not support Bernie's plan," Bennet shouted. But would you believe the Bernie supporters had literally just arrived, you could smell their hair dye.

They jeered, then acted exactly — and I mean exactly — like the Trump supporters.

"I would rather support free pre-school than free college," he shouted. "Many people talk about... " but the jeering was too powerful. And the Bernie supporters had likely just had quinoa açaí bowls at their pre-Bernie brunch, so they were unstoppable. Well God bless the man for scratching "Give Presidency a Try" off his bucket list. Because at least he had a bucket list.

What did they have? Student debt and a restraining order? They being the growing factions of Bernie and Trump supporters in the audience. You could not see any pavement. It was just people and faces like the Mediterranean in the evening, all the way to the towering walls of the Grandstand.

Looking out at all that chaos, all that latent disaster, Bennet must have felt a deep stirring.

The night before, Slipknot headlined at the Grand Stand, a sold-out show. Rollicking and bursting and howling. How many drumbeats could drummer Jay Weinberg get per minute? At one point, vocalist Corey Taylor unleashed a demonic bellow, then adjusted his mask and looked out to all those people, those devoted fans, because many of them had Slipknot tattoos, and maybe he, like Bennet, indulged a moment for himself, a personalization of the grand setting, then shrieked, then persuaded the audience to lift their hands into the air, maybe toward a constellation of their choosing, and extend their middle finger like it was an egg landing on a pillow, which symbolizes the human condition.




New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter.

President Trump couldn't personally make it to Houston for the 3rd Democratic Debate, so he paid $7,500 for a single-engine Cessna to fly in circles over Texas Southern University campus while pulling a banner that said, "Socialism will kill Houston's economy! Vote Trump 2020!"

For four hours, it chugged around up there. You could hear it everywhere. It was the soundtrack of the night.

You can just imagine Trump's face as he had the banner-plane idea. You can hear him putting in the order. You can see his list of demands. And at the very top, "I WANT THE LOUDEST PLANE YOU CAN FIND!!!"

*

Was that Bret Baier in the aisle, adjusting his reading glasses and thumbing at the strap of his comically small backpack as he crossed the blue-carpeted gymnasium? He looked like the human version of Wisconsin. He was saying something but all you could hear was the plane overhead.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Bret Baier, the stoic host of "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Fox News and the network's chief political anchor. He's underrated, if you ask me. Legacy. Old-school. He just delivers the news, which is what most people want. He talks the way anchors used to talk, with the American accent unique to news anchors even though he was born in New Jersey and raised in Georgia.

I had spent the last year-and-a-half on a series of in-depth profiles on some of the major countercultural figures of our time. People like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Carol Swain. So my first impulse was to rush over to Baier and profile the guy. Nobody else would, after all. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's. But they ought to. The man has a hell of a story.
He joined Fox News a year-and-a-half after it was founded, as the southeast correspondent in Atlanta. A few years later, on a Tuesday in September, nineteen terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and crashed into America.

When the first plane hit, Fox producers told Baier to just get in his car and drive to New York City. They needed back-up reporters for the next day. When the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., they said, "Step on it, Baier."

He and his producer were an hour outside Atlanta when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Still a good 8 hours away, but closer to D.C. than to New York City. So they re-routed to Arlington, Virginia, as fast as they could. Past a blur of fields full of indifferent cows. Past houses full of people who could hardly talk, people who couldn't describe what they were seeing and hearing, all the smoke and the blood and the office-supply confetti. Past towns that barely moved, gas stations with nobody in them, people sunken into a far-away stare.

Yet there was the sun, with only a few bangles of cloud every so often. America had been paralyzed but the earth kept trucking along, quiet and unbothered. It must have felt strange for Baier, to speed down empty highways — toward literal death and chaos — under a perfect sky, below cascading light and color.

Nature doesn't care if we make it out alive.

*

That day, Baier reported live from a Citgo station across the street from the Pentagon, rubble in heaps of flame behind him. It was like he'd fallen onto a different planet and was reporting back to home.

The next day arrived and it was so quiet everywhere. Nobody knew a damn thing. We could not believe our eyes. We all turned to reporters and anchors for answers. Most often, they blurted out whatever they could.

Something about Bret Baier gave audiences a much-needed boost. Reliable, sturdy. Like he said what had to be said and not a word extra.

Fox kept him in D.C., indefinitely. A friend helped him find an apartment. He never went back to Atlanta. Two weeks later, Fox News appointed him Pentagon correspondent, a position that saw him travel the world, including 13 trips to Afghanistan and 12 to Iraq.

Halfway through George W. Bush's second term, Baier became Fox News' White House correspondent.

Then, a year before he would earn his current position as anchor, Baier became a father. His son was born with holes in his heart — five congenital heart defects. Twelve days later, the boy underwent open-heart surgery. Baier and his wife waited in tiled rooms drenched with flowers and ESPN and drab ultraviolet light, surrounded by machines full of beeps and whirring and beeps and whirring.

Baier's son has since undergone two additional open-heart surgeries, nine angioplasties, and one stomach operation. In an interview with Parents Magazine, Baier said that his son's health problems have "given me perspective about my job, going through policy and politics in Washington, D.C., to see the bigger picture."

*Part of the reason I couldn't tell whether or not it was Baier is he's usually up on the main stage. For the 2012 election, he moderated five Republican debates, and co-anchored FNC's America's Election HQ alongside Megyn Kelly.

The 2016 election would propel him into a much larger role. He anchored three Republican debates, but this time he had to handle Donald Trump.

Baier knew Trump personally, from before the election. They'd played golf together. He described Trump as "a nice guy outside of his TV persona" and never thought Trump would actually make a run for the Presidency. Onstage, Trump was much different. And Baier had been tasked with maintaining control.

A devout Roman Catholic, he appreciates a nice glass of wine and a fine cut of steak. He likes a good joke, too. In January, 2019, Baier signed a multi-year deal with Fox News to continue "Special Report." A few weeks later, he and his family went to Montana for a ski trip. The weekend was wonderful. But they had to get back to New York because Baier was scheduled to appear on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that Tuesday.

Imagine him, again in a car hurtling toward a fateful destination. How he squinted through the frost-pocked windshield and gripped the steering wheel. As he guided the white SUV along the two-lane road to the airport. The land looked haunted, barren, lifeless. Everywhere, the world was frozen white. Snow and ice blanketing the fields, gauze over the sky.

At some anonymous intersection, Baier pumped the brakes, but the tires hit an ice patch, and the SUV spun loose. An oncoming car slammed into the driver's side, launching the vehicle into an embankment, wedged on its side. A man named Zach stopped his pickup truck and helped the family crawl free, and the Montana Highway Patrol rushed them to the hospital.

"Don't take anything for granted," Baier tweeted later. "Every day is a blessing and family is everything. It's always good to remind yourself of that before something does it for you."

Before every debate that he moderates, Baier spends 10 minutes alone, praying.

*

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2011 revealed that Fox News was actually right. That the Obama Administration really did hate them. And had intentionally excluded them from a press pool two years earlier. Then laughed about it.

The documents unearthed snarky emails between various high-ranking aides in the Obama Administration. In one, the Deputy White House communications director bemoaned Baier's reporting on the bias. "I'm putting some dead fish in the [Fox News] cubby — just cause Bret Baier is a lunatic." That same day, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest bragged in an email that "we've demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews."

The Trump administration pulled a similar stunt in July, 2018 by banning a CNN reporter from the press pool. Trump and Fox News had developed a beneficial relationship by then. And CNN was a lifelong competitor, a public enemy.
That night, Baier delivered an official statement, "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better. As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access."

Fox News rebuked Trump in solidarity with CNN. It was a heartening gesture between two seeming enemies. Fox News were standing up for truth, defending journalism, rejecting tyranny even though the ban would have benefitted them as a company.

Who knows how many books and dissertations and articles have been written about Fox News, usually in relation to bias, usually with a scathing tone. The conclusions differ wildly, yet each one claims certitude.

Generally, academics and journalists have taken a doomsday tone when talking about Fox News. Accusations of evil, fear-mongering, bigotry, hatred, misinformation, propaganda, racism, homophobia, and so on.

Despite these outcries, Fox News has consistently held its spot as the most-watched network in the country. Imagine how that makes its critics feel.

In an August 3, 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Baier said, "the biggest problem is that the people who are most critical of Fox are usually people who have not watched Fox News."

Fox News is composed of two distinct departments. Punditry and straight news. Or "opinion news" and "descriptive news." Consistently, surveys of the public rate Fox News as both the least- and most-biased news network.
Last year, a survey found Fox News to be the second most-trusted television news brand in the country, after the BBC.

In a separate study, Democrats rated its bias score at (negative) -87, while Republicans placed it at (positive) +3. Which is like if, at a football game, one referee said "Touchdown," while the other referee said "Turnover, leading to Touchdown for the Defense." It can't be both, can it?

Public opinion may not be the best metric for understanding Fox News, especially in 2019.

Quantitative studies have offered clearer conclusions. In 2016, a content analysis used crowdsourcing and machine learning to examine over 800,000 news stories published over a year by 15 major outlets, from the New York Times to Fox News. They wanted to chart media bias.

What they discovered is that news outlets are far more similar than we believe. Much of the perceived bias is a matter of separating "opinion news" from "descriptive news." For conservatives, it's punditry. For those on the left, it's op-eds and long form investigative pieces, although the left tends to insist that they're not biased, that they are instead just more apt to tell the truth, even though research has disproven this belief.

The researchers found a much larger bias-divide in opinion news, whereas descriptive news was practically neutral. One of the researchers described Fox News' descriptive news as "guided by similar news values as more traditional, legacy media."

University of California Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote that "Fox News stands next to industry, state government, church, and the regular media as an extra pillar of political culture all its own."

Say what you want about Fox News, they play a crucial role in the so-called mainstream media. And, despite what Fox News will lead you to believe, they are definitely part of the mainstream. And they are by no means the innocent victim. And certainly not powerless. And they have all kinds of problems that I will not defend. But we'll talk about that in a later installment, the one about Kamala Harris at a gun control rally, advocating for propaganda.

*

After two months of political events, I suspected that different news networks have their own signifiers, like the distinct stripes and markings on various spiders.

Wall Street Journal reporters tended to carry old-timey notepads and interview any bystander they could find. Breitbart usually only sent one person, and he wandered around with his iPhone, recording every single thing. Politico, prim-suited men who could just as easily work on the stock market.

Most of the reporters dressed like that, in stagey business attire. Prim for a high school job fair. Meanwhile, the photographers, mostly men, looked like professional paintball players. The camera crews and technical staff were the only ones decked in tattoos and wearing sandals and generally not caring about the chaos all around them. On-camera talent were covered in makeup and shrink-wrapped into dresses or suits with chip-clips along the spine.

The Washington Post sent the classiest and most bored-looking people I have ever encountered. They never looked at their laptops as their fingers chopped at the keys, and you assumed they were pretending until you read their stories online. You could spot ABC because their camera crew wore faded red ABC hats. Associated Press looked like they had just come back from a battlefield assignment in Syria, and never donned the same press credentials as everyone else, preferring a tattered AP lanyard. And you always knew when someone was with the New York Times because they announced it to the entire room.

And Fox News? At democratic events, they usually hid. But not that day, in Houston, as Bret Baier walked up the aisle to a table a couple rows in front of me.

Most people arrived in the Media Filing Center several hours before the debate. Fox News got there just slightly after that, as everyone was wiggling in their seats and connecting their laptops to a shared outlet.

There were seven or so in the pack of Fox News, all grinning. They all had white to-go sacks from Chick-fil-A. And the room got quieter, so Trump's plane got louder. It was a double trolling event.

As host of the debate, ABC would be providing dinner. This information was included in the credentials email that all of us had received. So nobody else had brought food with them. No need.

Even better, I was familiar enough with that part of Houston to know that there was not a Chick-fil-A anywhere close to us. Who knew where they'd gotten that Chick-fil-A, but odds are it wasn't warm. Who knew if there was even any food in the bags.

They had brought Chick-fil-A into a building full of national media during the third Democratic Presidential debate. The 2020 election was already full of outrage about plenty of things, and one of them was Chick-fil-A. To some folks, the red chicken logo might as well have been a swastika. That very week LGBT activists had vehemently — cartoonishly — protested the opening of several Chick-fil-A's throughout North America. Chicken sandwiches had become yet another flag on the tug-of-war rope in the Culture War of our country.

To be clear, the political left was anti-Chicken and the political right was pro-Chicken. The media tended to lean anti-Chicken, and frequently wrote about anti-Chicken causes, often scolding pro-Chicken voices, or ignoring the struggles of the pro-Chicken community only to deny any opinion on Chicken at all. That was the cowardly part, of you ask me, the pretending like they weren't activists.

The Democratic candidates definitely leaned anti-Chicken. Sometimes they took it so far that it upset moderate anti-Chicken advocates. Because was it really so bad to eat Chicken? Couldn't you be anti-Chicken but also enjoy Chicken occasionally? Why did everything have to be either "all Chicken all the time unless you hate freedom" or "no chicken ever unless you support hate"?

The fight had spread everywhere. Airports, stadiums, malls, campuses. All had served as battlegrounds for the anti-Chicken versus the pro-Chicken.

The previous President was anti-Chicken. In fact, he may well have enflamed the entire movement. During his tenure, there were nationwide protests that saw pro-Chicken advocates angrily and proudly eating Chicken while anti-Chicken advocates protested outside and occasionally engaged in homosexual affection, which was being threatened by Chicken, according to them.

Every time the pro-Chicken folks bit into a Chicken sandwich, it was like they were gnawing away at the anti-Chicken people themselves. Degrading their identity. Because, for them, it was about the identity.

But the current President, unabashedly proud of his pro-Chicken stance, once served Chicken at the White House to some winning sports team, and the anti-Chicken activists saw it as proof that Chicken and hate go together. And maybe Chicken would even lead to the impeachment of the President they hate, which would mean the Vice President would become the President, but he's one of the most pro-Chicken people in America, so they'd have to impeach him, too. And the Supreme Court, it was overrun with pro-Chicken types.

This election, the Democratic front-runners competed for the bolder plan. They would end Chicken in America once and for all. They would obliterate our evil President and his Chicken Supremacy. Their stump speeches relied on harsh criticisms of pro-Chicken voters, who pretended to find the whole anti-Chicken movement amusing but were secretly enraged by it. In fact, they were certain that the anti-Chicken movement had been systematically silencing them for years, and that they had to fight for their Chicken in order to keep everything that they valued, even all the not-Chicken.

The media and the democrats and Hollywood and academia — all hated the Chicken, because they hated the pro-Chicken people. If they had their way, no more Chicken, ever again. And no more pro-Chicken deplorables. And tonight the anti-Chicken politico-culture complex would prove it, with long rants which get confirmed by glowing articles, calculated takedowns about the merits of anti-Chicken and the evils of pro-Chicken.

Yet here was Fox News, with actual Chicken. And they were smiling. Maybe in part because the police who were guarding us all tended to be pro-Chicken. And this was Texas, after all, an incredibly pro-Chicken state. But there were 49 other states and 14 territories, and all of them were fighting for or against Chicken.

Some experts even said we were on the cusp of a Civil War.


New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter.

We've heard the catchphrase "follow the money" so often that it's nearly a joke. It gained added attention in the 1976 movie All the President's Men, which follows the story of the two journalists who uncovered Watergate. "Follow the money," their source told them, "and you'll find corruption."

Problem is, corrupters hide their bad behavior remarkably well. They are masters of disguise. But if you look closely enough, you can spot the seams splitting in their choreographed routine.

One technique that magicians use for psychological misdirection is called the false solution. The goal is to distract the audience, to make them believe that they know what's really happening. All the while, the machinations of the actual trick are happening right in front of them, because "implanting an unlikely and unfamiliar idea in the mind can prevent participants from finding a more obvious one."

Billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

I want to tell you a story of tremendous corruption, masked cleverly, using many of the same techniques that magicians have used for centuries. Only it's not a rabbit disappearing into a hat or a coin vanishing behind an ear. It's billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

And the people responsible are the same people who have been so monstrously worked up about Trump's impeachment. The same people screaming about Trump's malfeasance with Ukraine are actually the ones misbehaving in Ukraine.

It's essentially an elevated, highly organized form of projection. Only instead of one person lashing out at the world, it's an entire political party, right up to the top. The very top. Barack Obama. It's right there on video.

Or how about the audio recording we uncovered, with Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, openly admitting a connection between the DNC and Ukraine?

So far, the story told by the Democrats and the media has been about Trump and Ukraine. Every so often, you hear mention of Joe Biden's dubious history with the war-torn country.

We were the first to talk about Joe Biden's connections to Ukraine back in April, with our candidate profile on Biden.

It turns out, the whole debacle was much worse than we thought. It stretched further than Uncle Joe. What we found out is that the DNC was working with the Ukrainian government.

This isn't a conspiracy theory. And we have the documents to prove it.

Read on to discover everything you need for a 30-second elevator pitch that you can give to your friend and say, "Look, here's what you need to know. Here's what's really going on."

If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail.

Last night, in Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia I revealed the elaborate misdirection taking place.

I said it last night and I'll say it again: If Trump is guilty, he should go to jail. If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail. Because this is too important to the Republic.

Watch the hands, follow the money.

Here are the documents, video, and audio that we found in our reporting. This is the hard evidence that will help you explain this unbelievable situation to other people.



  • June 2016 State Department memos detailing contacts between George Soros' office and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.




As you can see, we did a lot of research on this, and we've done our best to condense it for you. It still requires you to do your own homework, but there's a tremendous freedom to that.

You are seeking the truth.

You are bucking the mainstream media. You are rejecting them. And you are seeking truth. Because they abandoned truth a long time ago and they certainly aren't interested in recovering it now.