Glenn Beck: Battle in Florida: Rubio v. Crist



Learn more about Marco Rubio

Glenn: You know, I really do believe that the secret to life is just remembering who you are, not who you've allowed yourself to become. With all the problems that we have in the world, remembering who we are, remembering where we came from, remembering what the truth is, remembering why the Pilgrim's came here in the first place and why so many fought and died, what they fought and died for, everything will solve itself. I know that sounds simple, but it is, because if you remember who you truly are, you truly are someone of honor and integrity, you may have allowed yourself to become something different, but when you remember, then you have a choice. Am I going to still be this person I've allowed myself to become or am I going to change myself and when we change ourselves, we'll change the world and the country will right itself. It is part of a -- it is part of what I think the tea party movement is all about. The 9-12 project is that. It's the values and the principles. It's people standing together going, wait a minute. This isn't who we are. What are we doing? None of this makes sense. And that's the thing that the media doesn't understand. When I was down in Florida a few months back, I heard from so many people that had gone to tea parties, 9-12 members, so many people said, you've got to talk to Marco Rubio. I don't involve myself in, you know, politics, local politics. I've met very few politicians that I actually like, but I don't remember what it was we were talking about the other day and I said to Stu, I said, do you know what? I would like to reach out to Marco Rubio, I would like to know a little something about him, because I'll tell you, there are going to be a lot of politicians that are going to try to co-op the tea party movement and -- especially Republicans and they're going to say, I've been with you the whole time. Those guys are playing a very dangerous game if they're not the real deal, because you burn people who are looking to you and they are damn near hopeless on I need a leader, I need somebody to represent me and you burn them, you lie to them? Oh, it's just not going to end well. Marco Rubio is running against Charlie Crist in Florida and he's on the phone with us many now. Hello, Marco.

Rubio: How are you?

Glenn: Good. How are you?

Rubio: Just coincidence. A lot of people told me I needed to speak to you. So, I'm glad.

Glenn: So, I don't even know where to begin with you to figure out if you're the real deal. I know a lot of people in Florida say that you are. Let me ask you the same question that I asked Sarah Palin yesterday.

Rubio: Yeah.

Glenn: Why should I believe you?

Rubio: Well, I mean, that's probably the fundamental question you ask any candidate. Two reasons: One, because I have a political record. I mean, I served in the Florida house, was speaker of the house. My upbringing, all these things point to the fact that these principles of limited government are not something I figured out back in May, after taking a statewide poll. They're things I believed in my whole life, my whole adult life, both because of where I come from, you know, my upbringing and because of what I've learned in my time in public office. The other is because I'm running for the right reasons. You know, some -- most people that get into politics get in politics because they want to win and get elected to something. This is not the easiest race. I mean, I'm running against the incumbent governor of the State of Florida in my own party. That's not exactly the next logical step up the political ladder. You only get involved in a race like that early on when nobody gave me a chance because there's a certain set of principles you believe in strongly and you don't think anybody else in the race is standing up for them.

Glenn: What are the principles?

Rubio: I think Constitutional limited government has made America the freest, most prosperous nation in the entire history of the world and why we would abandon that and come like everybody else is just beyond me, you know, and I think that's primarily what's happening. I think both parties are to blame to some extent. I don't think we've ever seen the pace as fast and furious as it is right now, but what we've seen here in the last year is a systematic attempt to completely abandon constitutionally limited company and embrace something mere akin to what you see in other industrialized countries around the world and, in essence, an effort to make America just like everybody else and I don't want to see that.

Glenn: You know, Sarah Palin said to me yesterday that she's a Republican and -- because we have a two party system. I don't know if we have a two party system, quite frankly, anymore. We have kind of a two and a half party system -- or a one and a half party system. The Republicans are progressives and they're for big government, big spending and everything else. Tell me about the Republican party and the problem inside the party.

Rubio: Well, look. I think the vast majority of Americans, whether they call themselves or not, I mean, most people don't wake up in the morning and say, Good morning. I'm a conservative or, Good morning, I'm a limited government believer. They just wake up and have certain principles. They're too busy raising their kids and living their lives to identify that way, but the vast majority of Americans agree with limited government and I think the Republican party has been successful only in those times when it has been the home for that movement. Unfortunately what happens is once people win office and they're in office or in Washington or a State Capitol somewhere over a period of time, they start to become like everybody else who was ever been in power. They fall in love with the fundraising, with the power, they think the purpose of serving in office is to get reelected. And I think that's happened to the Republican party. You know, at this time last year there were Republicans and pundits across the country saying that the way the Republican party would become more successful is by becoming more like the Democrats.

Glenn: Well, how do you avoid that? You've been in power for awhile.

Rubio: You know, listen. It's the hardest part of being a pragmatic leader versus sticking to your principles. I think ultimately what you do is you make a commitment to yourself that there are a certain set of principles -- you know, ideas are always on the table but principles cannot be. There are a certain set of principles you believe in. It's the reason why you're serving in office ultimately. Your ultimate goal in office is not to get reelected, is not to do well in the next public opinion poll. It's to stand up for those things you believe in and to use the opportunity you've been given to serve to be a voice on behalf of the things that one believes in and I think you've got to surround yourself with people that remind you of that, I think you've got to work to constantly remind yourself, and I think you've got to tell yourself that the day you forget that, that's the day to get out.

Glenn: What is the difference between you and Charlie Crist?

Rubio: I don't even know where to begin. I think the one people would probably most recognize is that he's kind of running around the state now saying that, you know, he should not be blamed for accepting the stimulus dollars but what sets him apart from every other Republican governor in the country is that he actually campaigned for it. He went to Fort Meyers, stood on a stage with Barack Obama, said that he thought the stimulus package was a great idea. He then pressured our congressional delegation here in Florida to vote for it. And I think what I tell people ultimately is, look. Last year, last February, if I had been in the U.S. Senate, I would have voted against the stimulus and I would have offered a clear alternative. If he had been in the U.S. Senate, he would have been one of only four Republicans -- well, Arlen Specter switched -- so, let's say three Republicans in the whole country to have voted for it. So, for Republicans in this primary, the question is: Do you want your next U.S. senator to be someone that would have been Barack Obama's third Republican vote?

Glenn: The stimulus money is -- do you believe that it is -- it's enough rope to hang yourself with, it's a chain around the states and a way that the Federal Government is going to muscle their way into the states and then pretty much just take the state system apart?

Rubio: Well, let me say. The states have been complacent in this and I as a state officer can tell you that one of the things that folks are constantly looking at is what can we do to draw down Federal dollars, what can we do to draw down, you know, Federal matching grants and so forth. I think the states are guilty of increasingly going to the Federal Government and asking for aid, as well, but I think the real failure of the stimulus is that it was supposed to stimulate job creation and the only thing it has stimulated is the national debt. By and large, when you spend money you don't have, governments spend money they don't have, it's destructive and now, you know, my kids owe $800 billion, that they and their generation are going to have to pay off, and we have no jobs to show for he the. There was no progress made as a result of it. So, I do think it's part of a larger trend, which is what you're alluding to, to the Federal Government being involved in virtually every aspect of American life, you know, from the bowl college football system to, you know, creating jobs and part of the problem is that the people who -- part of the problem is that we have a president and a Congress who think the Presidents and Congress are job creators and they're not.

Glenn: Marco Rubio is who you're hearing now. He's running for the Senate in Florida against Charlie Crist, a Republican. Your parents were from Cuba.

Rubio: Yes.

Glenn: They saw it happen there. Do you believe that we are on the same sort of trajectory that Cuba or Venezuela or any of these countries have been on? Are we on that same -- do we have --

Rubio: Let me tell you why I'm always careful about those comparisons. I understand why they're made, but let me tell you why I'm careful about them. Fidel Castro imprisoned people. He executed people. He divided families. He created a Diaspro and exile community and so, I mean, he's a straight-out criminal and a thug and he was before he even took over the country. Here's what I think the lessons from Cuba are about and, that is, that you can lose the essence of your country in a very short period of time. I think one of the things I have always known as a young child, because my neighbors -- I mean, I have a neighbor who served 22 years in a Castro prison for handing out leaflets. I have, you know, people who have had their fathers executed when they were young children in Cuba. I mean, it's hard to grow up in an exile community and be apolitical. So, my entire life I have known that politics matters, I have known that who's in charge of government matters, and I have known innately that things can change quickly in your country if the wrong people are in charge.

Glenn: Wouldn't you say -- wouldn't you say that the wrong people are the same kind of people that are -- that were around Fidel Castro are like Van Jones?

Rubio: Well, Van Jones is an extreme example of exactly that kind of thought process and, you know, to your credit and the credit of those who joined you in exposing that in government in America today and, look, there is no doubt that there are socialists and collectivists in America today. I mean, few people wear that badge proudly, but they do it because they don't because they know it's unpopular, but let me say this: There is no doubt that those in charge of the America government today are folks that have an unhealthy faith in the ability of government to stimulate the economy and, more importantly, folks that I believe think that government needs to be more involved in our lives because only government can provide us with the things we need. In essence, government knows better than we do.

Glenn: Marco Rubio, could you hold for just a second?

Rubio: Yep.

Glenn: I need to take a quick break here for the network.

(Out at 11:18 a.m.)

Glenn: Speaking to senatorial candidate down in Florida, Mark Rubio, who is a -- pardon me? Oh, I'm sorry. Marco Rubio, who is a -- I almost said "polo" when you said that -- when you are -- you're running against Charlie Crist and you are really kind of the bridge -- this is what they're saying about you, you're the bridge between the tea party and the Republican party. If the Republicans don't get their stuff together, burn that bridge down, as far as I'm concerned, but we were talking a little bit about you're Cuban American and I want to talk a little bit about illegal immigration with you, but before we do that, I want to ask you, do you watch -- do you watch my TV show?

Rubio: I do. I have a lot of folks -- we TIVO it mostly.

Glenn: Okay.

Rubio: Does that count? Does that count on the ratings?

Glenn: Yeah. It doesn't matter. As long as you're watching, that's the deal.

Rubio: Yeah.

Glenn: I'm wondering if you buy into -- have you looked into Cloward and Piven, that strategy of collapsing system?

Rubio: I have not. I haven't. That's not --

Glenn: Okay. That's kind of one of the things that I talk about on the show is that this is something that Rudy Giuliani talked about that happened in New York in the 1990's, Cloward and Piven strategy to collapse the system, financially overwhelm it. Do you buy into that or do you think these people in Washington are just so stupid on their financial planning here or do you think that it's a little more nefarious?

Rubio: I think there's a combination of two things happening. There are people that just don't believe in capitalism or they don't believe in the free market. I mean, thy know the overwhelming number of Americans support. So, they will never admit. I mean, it who ever runs, saying, I'm a proud liberal or I'm a proud progressive or elect me and I'll have government more involved in your lives. I mean, people get elected by, you know, running away from that kind of stuff.

Glenn: Yeah.

Rubio: Even in the Democratic party. And so -- but there are people that don't believe in the free market, they're more interested in what they call economic justice or social justice, which is really code for let the really smart people tell you what to do because we know what's best for you. I think there is definitely a thought process out there like that and they see this opportunity, this downturn in the economy, as an opportunity to implement policies that we won't be able to return from. And part of it is incompetence. I think you do have people in Washington that don't have any idea how jobs are created. You know, in the commercial break you talked about small businesses and, you know, that's exactly right. I mean, in America some of the best companies started out out of someone's garage or someone's spare bedroom.

Glenn: Microsoft.

Rubio: You know, presidents don't create jobs. Jobs are created by people that have access to money and they risk that money in pursuit of a great idea that they're willing to work for and I think a lot of the folks making public policy in this country don't believe that, don't get that, and, therefore, their policies don't reflect that.

Glenn: Okay. Good. I think that's a great answer. All right. So, Marco, you, Cuban American, you clearly don't hate people because they are different than you unless -- maybe I'm supposed to hate him. He's Cuban America. Should I hate him, because he's different than me?

Pat: Well --

Glenn: You understand immigration because your parents came here. Now, Cuba is a different story because you're fleeing oppression, etc., etc.

Rubio: Right.

Glenn: The big issue that I predict is going to be happening during the fall election is going to be illegal immigration and the left is going to make it all about racism. I personally believe that the more immigrants, the better, as long as they're here legally, the more immigrants, the better. They are the ones that built this country. I've got to tell you, you go down to the Cuban American community and they understand freedom better than those who have lived here for 100 years with their families. They get it. And it is important to have people who want to come here because they will renew is but illegal immigration to me is different.

Rubio: Yes.

Glenn: Do you agree, disagree, and --

Rubio: I always tell Republicans, when I speak to Republican groups, I always say the Republican party has to be the prolegal immigration party, not simply the anti-illegal immigration party. There's nothing more destructive to legal immigration than illegal immigration. And let there be no mistake. We have a legal immigration system that's broken, but we can't fix this until we get a hold and a grip of this illegal immigration.

Glenn: So, what would you do -- what would you do, because this is what's going to happen, because they can't make that charge against you that it's racism, because I don't want people coming from, you know -- I come from German heritage. I don't even know -- 150 years ago. I don't want people coming from Germany that are here illegally.

Rubio: Right, right.

Glenn: How are you going to make this case or how should the Republicans or the tea party people make this case clearly so you can't be charged with racism?

Rubio: Well, first you need to make people understand this was an issue of rule of law. It's not an issue of -- as you said, it doesn't matter where you're coming from. It doesn't matter if you're coming from Canada, Mexico, whatever part of the world. We want immigration, particularly immigration that's a positive for America, but it has to be through organized and legal process that ensures that it's a net positive for us, not to mention the national security component of it. I think the first step is border security and, by the way, something many people don't realize is that border security is not enough because close to half of the folks in this country illegally entered legally and overstayed visas. So, we've got to get a hold of the visa program.

Glenn: No. We fixed that after 9-11.

Rubio: Well, the problem with the visa program is part of it is they're not being renewed because the system is so bureaucratic. Others never intended to go back and manipulated the system to stay here. So, you've got to show you're serious on the enforcement side, but you also need to deal with the demand side. The reality of it is that there are American employers that are knowingly hiring illegals. There are American employers that are looking the other way and don't want to know because as long as you can produce a document. Some sort of a verification system is essential.

Glenn: Marco Rubio, glad I spoke to you. Thank you, sir.

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 or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

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 or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

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 or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

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.