(Author’s note: What follows is a relatively short summary of piecemeal conversations Glenn and I have had about Conservative Media over the last number of years. For the most part, the thoughts are ours, but the words are mine. It’s possible that I have accidentally taken his words or used his thoughts incorrectly. My apologies in advance for any oversights — I will be sure to make comments post facto. This is related to Glenn’s post, "A Heavy Heart and the Road Ahead.")

What does success look like?

If you are an entrepreneur, this seemingly simple question may be hard to answer. And no one even tells you to think about it, let alone helps you define it.

Is it top-line revenue? EBITA? Cash flow? A liquidity event? Influence and relevance? Doing good in the world? Some combination of all these things? Or will you just “know it when you see it”?

Failure, on the other hand, is easy to define.

When I joined Glenn coming up on three years ago now, we didn’t have a clear definition for success. For some of our business lines, the definition is obvious. For others, less so. At this point, here’s what I know: 

I am certain that TheBlaze is not a failure, yet I am equally as sure that TheBlaze is not a success.

I know that success, however defined, must reflect the three principles that got Glenn and this company to where he is today: transparency, humility and humanity.

The only way a media organization can earn trust is to be worthy of trust. For the people who already believe we try to be the best we can be, thank you. For those who don’t yet, or who think they never will, maybe this will help… or maybe not.

Today, Glenn announced we are laying off about 20 percent of the combined workforce of Mercury Radio Arts — with the majority of those impacted working at TheBlaze. We are doing this for a number of reasons. Glenn touches on several in his post. I would like to touch on a few more and go a bit deeper.

  • Glenn is a self-described catastrophist (though a hopeful one) and is drawn to the challenges in front of us. It is both a blessing and a curse for someone who spends so much time reading history to be able to recognize patterns they have seen before. The decisions we made today were predicated on our trying to figure out what comes tomorrow.
  • “Conservative Media” is down across the board from what we can see and what we are hearing. We are not immune.
  • The media industry, profitable or otherwise, is in disarray. And, like everyone else, we are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Currently, we are not part of the solution.
  • When TheBlaze started, it was important for it to look and feel as polished and “professional” as the big boys. Maybe that was true then, or maybe we projected something that was unnecessary at the time, but today, “polished and professional” often feels inauthentic, which can be deadly when authenticity is king. Because we believe authenticity is about removing the artificial filters between our content and the audience, we are drastically changing how we produce content (less studio shoots, control rooms, and PEDs[SJ1], for example).
  • Glenn is a content creator, that is his unique skill and passion. Everything else we do is to support that gift, but nothing else we do is unique to us. We have to hone that gift and focus on making it better, rather than attempting at being the best (or good enough) at so many different things.

I won’t do all (maybe any) of these topics justice — as Glenn mentioned — this was going to be an eight-part series we were working on together, but I hope it provides some context for our thinking going forward.

The Media:

I think it is historically accurate to say that the media has always skewed left, at least by some degree. I think — besides his significant talent — it is why Rush became Rush. He was the antidote to the “drive-by” media. But as we fast-forward through the 80s and 90s and 00s, does anyone, feel that the media has just “skewed” a couple degrees? I’m not suggesting that you ask someone from the right. Ask anyone. Of course those on the right will answer “yes”, but I believe many on the left agree. I read the same polling data you do — the Democrats trust the media more than the GOP, and I understand that. But if you look deeper into the data and you look at who is trusting what, I think it is obvious that the relationship between the public and the media is in a terrible place — regardless who is to blame. I am not making excuses for the media (or for Glenn — he has apologized enough for any one person for their role). I am just stating the facts as I see them.

What we can all agree on — I think, I hope — is that a media outlet that is actually trusted, knows the difference between fact and opinion and has no agenda other than speaking truth. A news media that speaks truth to power is a requirement for our democratic experiment.

We have been waiting for a reckoning, a decision by individual members of the media and their corporate bosses to make the hard choices. We have waited a while, and we believe we will be waiting a long time to come.

If we believe, which I believe most of us (“us” being Americans) do, that the Fourth Estate is vital to our nation, what comes next? I can’t speak for the media, I can’t speak for talk radio, I can only speak for myself (and somewhat for Glenn). What comes next for us is to continue down the road we have been — trying every day to do better and be better than we were the day before.

What follows is some of our thinking of the challenges within Conservative Media. I do not in any way mean to speak for it. I have been a consumer of Conservative Media for over 20 years, but an insider for less than three. I have vetted these ideas with colleagues, friends, Glenn and even “frenemies,” and they seem to hold some truth to these thoughts. But I look forward (in comments or otherwise) to learning from others in how to think differently and/or more clearly.

Conservative Media is a UNIQUE Industry:

Has there ever been an industry that has a Coca-Cola as the number one and an unbranded carbonated cola water as a number two? I can’t think of another. Certainly, not over a prolonged period of time. I do not believe there is one answer as to why. It is a confluence of factors. For purposes of the below, I ask you to define Conservative Media any way you want, within reason (CNN is not Conservative Media for an example as being outside reason). You can put TheBlaze at the outer rim or you can put anyone else at the outer rim — the issues described below are just as applicable. (Which, by just the sheer number of people who are center/center right in the country, is an unbelievable thing to behold.)

Lack of funding & “Liquidity Events”:

I can think of two significant media properties that have been purchased for multiple hundreds of millions of dollars in the last number of years: The Huffington Post and Business Insider. Similarly, BuzzFeed and Vice received massive investments from the mainstream media outlets. But there have been no acquisitions or significant investments in Conservative Media. We can argue about the why, but we cannot argue with the facts. A company should never (or at least rarely) start with an exit in mind, but what happens when there is no prospect of an exit, be it through an IPO or an acquisition?

What happens is that you cannot grow faster than your revenue allows. Why would anyone want to invest significant money (let alone why would responsible management want to raise significant money) when there is seemingly no prospect of liquidity in the future? Without equity investment, you cannot focus on building an audience and monetizing it later. You won’t see the Facebook or Amazon approach simply because we as an industry cannot afford it. Jeff Bezos is famous for thinking years out and not caring about quarterly or even yearly P&L —  I challenge him (or anyone else) to do that in Conservative Media.

Attracting and retaining talent:

(Author’s note: Considering this post is being shared on the day we have let go a lot of friends, I have included this section only because I deem it so important to the overall discourse. The choices we made does not change the overall challenges, though I readily recognize that it may appear tone deaf, and apologize in advance for that.)

Growing from five to 50 people is relatively easy. Of course, there are risks and challenges in getting the right people, but in terms of finding 45 additional people who share the heart and soul, and who see a future — that is doable. But 500 people? Harder. Now 500 people who all know there is no liquidity event on the horizon (either because they are smart enough to know this or because management does not lie to them) — really hard.

This also means that for people who we do attract they are either true believers — the good and the bad of that (you want fans, not sycophants) and/or need to be paid market rate in compensation because there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Cash plus equity is not a compelling proposition when Conservative Media does not have a liquidity event on the horizon.

But talent is not just about compensation — we all know that. It is also about a career path. A career path has multiple variables, from who you know, to what city you live in, to the credibility of your last role, etc. If someone starts at Conservative Media company X as a writer and they are writing “within the goalposts” of mainstream conservative content and popping out four to six stories a day and hitting their traffic goals and then some, what’s next? If they are at one of the few conservative media companies that is not considered monstrous (which I am gratified (?) that TheBlaze is not one of them) they can get a job elsewhere — we have many writers and on-air personalities who have moved on to bigger jobs at bigger companies. But at the same time, we could not keep them, because they hit their limit in terms of growth, in career or compensation. So, we actually function as a farm system — which is okay — but it is also a drain. In football parlance, we can never build through the draft because as soon as someone hits free agency, they’re eager to pursue their next opportunity.

Now for the companies that are considered monsters: where do their best and brightest go? How many can even find their next job? There are some, of course, but there is no farm system? Which just continues a cycle that I dig further into below; a spiral affect where a lot of blogs that don’t work together, have no ability to scale, each with its own voice and each in a race to get as many clicks and monetize their pages any which way they can.

(Author’s note: Friends on the left, you do not inspire conservative media to throw less red meat by ostracizing it).

Advertising is harder for Conservative Media:

I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but the percentage of Fortune 500 or even Fortune 1000 companies that advertise on Conservative Media vs. Media in general is very low. This matters even more so in digital than in traditional. In Digital media where every click or even eyeball (by way of heat maps) is monitored, the theoretical goal of a media site is to keep the user on the site for as long as possible/reasonable. Conservative Media is reliant, because of the paucity of media campaigns from big advertisers or big ad agencies, on direct response advertisers. Direct response (DR) makes sense for radio and we are incredibly grateful for our advertisers who have been with us from day one. But DR makes less sense when the goal is for the consumer to take an action, likely taking them off-site, while the goal for the media property is to keep the user on the site as long as possible.

You see the inherent conflict?

I wish the “other side” realized what they were doing when they lump all Conservative Media together? If you are on the left, ask yourself whether there is ANY publisher that you respect (even if you disagree with)? If so, how many? The problem are those who believe they are keeping Conservative Media ‘honest’, when they are only making the problem worse.

Think about it this way: As a publisher, if the punishment for bad behavior is that the same advertisers who won’t advertise with you, won’t advertise with you anymore; and the reward for bad behavior is that you generate more traffic and make more money, how do we think this ends?

Expanding on the point: If you consider that liquidity events are rare (or non-existent) and the significant challenge of attracting the highest paying advertisers, how will Conservative Media outlets make money? You don’t have to guess, look around….

A bunch of super smart people who work in small teams, who game the system to spend as little money as possible to make as much money as possible. I am NOT accusing Conservative Media of being the cause of clickbait by any stretch of the imagination. But if you see another way for Conservative Media to be successful other than playing the Facebook-Algorithm game, the clickbait game, the get-on-the-Drudge-home-page game, etc., then you truly do not understand how (digital) media works. Hence, every boycott, every time the “media” lumps everyone to the right of MSNBC as monsters, every time Conservative Media is all bad and “mainstream media” is all good, the outcome is predictable and it will continue to accelerate.

A final thought about advertising….

Conservative Media is reliant on direct response (CPA or CPC or CPM — no matter how it is ultimately billed for) and ad-networks. None of which are negatives in and of themselves. But the reality is that ad-networks — even the good ones — are not trying to make the experience of ads elegant for the user, they are trying to make the experience less terrible for the users. Direct Response, specifically on digital, sometimes actually have an incentive (depending on if they pay on a CPA, CPC, CPM) of making the worst and most obnoxious ad possible — basically through self-selection a user won’t click on it and the advertiser won’t have to pay OR the user will click on it and be more likely to go through with a conversion. I’m painting with a broad brush here and in giving extreme examples, but you can see how this plays out. Just look around the Conservative web if you need convincing.

The Lack of a Conservative Ecosystem:

We can all agree that there are too many echo chambers but let’s not confuse echo chambers with ecosystems. There is no Conservative Media ecosystem. Glenn literally met Mark Levin, Dennis Prager, and Ben Shapiro over the last ~2 years. We barely know each other let alone have an ecosystem. Yes, there is talk radio, and, of course, have a great relationship with Premiere/iHeart, and I assume the same is true for other hosts, but that is not an ecosystem, it’s one company.

(Author’s note: Read Brad Feld’s book on creating an ecosystem in your community and/or Start-up Nation and how Israel created an ecosystem.)

People talk about the ‘Paypal Mafia’ — the (mostly) original founders of Paypal — 5, all of whom have gone on to be worth at least a billion dollars and have founded companies such as Tesla (and all other things Elon Musk), LinkedIn, Palantair (all other things Peter Thiel), Youtube, Yelp, Yammer, etc… It is no accident that this one small group of people had an outsized influence. It is the basics of them creating their own ecosystem. An ecosystem of resources, talent, expertise, shared knowledge, shared marketing, shared success, etc.

Or look at any tech community and see that it takes a number of successful companies working together over many years to build a system where the next generation can walk on the shoulders of giants…..Conservative Media …. we have not done this yet.

Conservatives think we can do it all better ourselves:

Both because of the lack of ecosystem AND because we are all ‘rugged libertarians’, we on the right, believe we can do everything better ourselves. It is the same reason that there are 1000 charities that do the same thing; wealthy person X wants to do good, they want to make sure that it is done right, they will do it themselves. Conservatives who have made or found success, believe that they can do it better than the other guy. It doesn’t matter if they made their money in oil and the other guy is an expert in software development; they can’t partner, they need to own it.

Now frankly, I think this is tied to point number one (there are no liquidity events), at least in part; so if I am going to start something knowing that there is no exit, it may behoove me to retain 100% ownership and control. This is logical but I think it is only part of the answer.

I think there is more to the rugged individualism who sees the lack of ecosystem and looks around and says, “the pie is 100 ft., I can get 50 ft. of pie” vs. the entrepreneur who sees 100 ft. pie and says, together we can make that pie 10K ft., let’s get to work.

Beyond Conservative Media — Our Role going forward:

We fundamentally believe that we as a society need a functional media. We as a society need to have some trust in our institutions — even and especially while we seek to hold those same institutions accountable. But we as a society cannot effectively move forward if we share no facts and no narratives. As Yuval Harrari points out in Homo Deus, man has three core narratives; religion, currency, and nationhood. Without those shared narratives, which are being pulled at from every direction, society’s grip on humanity gets increasingly tenuous. Media has a role to play to keep us from unraveling, though they often seem to encourage and celebrate our unraveling… someone else long ago observed an unfortunate universal truth: if it bleeds it leads.

TheBlaze:

As I said earlier, at this time, TheBlaze is neither a success nor a failure in my eyes. It is a struggle that has and will continue to require hard decisions and going down an unknown road. But one of the benefits of radical transparency is that we have nothing to fear because we have nothing to hide. This is who we are, and our self-awareness informs the decisions we make. Whatever happens, good or bad, it will be deserved.

When you add up all the challenges that I list above, which are industry specific not company specific, for TheBlaze to be a successful business, it has a lot of work to do. It has to create great content, develop software, manage talent, sell advertising, deal with ad-blockers, move quicker to follow our users to mobile, open additional beach heads in social, etc. Anyone of those things is hard, doing all of them is, well, harder…..

In the next few weeks you will see the beginning of what we are trying to do at TheBlaze. And we’ll keep adjusting course and disrupting ourselves until we either get it right OR until we believe we can’t.

We believe that there is a path forward to find true success for TheBlaze and to help, in our way, Conservative Media answer the challenges it faces. But frankly, the world does not need just another “Conservative Media” company and we don’t need to spend another 5 years of our life proving it does. 

We are no more afraid of failure than we are of success, but we are terrified of being neither.

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.

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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:

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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:



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