Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hello everyone. And welcome to the 90th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer on G Grossman. My friends know me as JAG. I'm the CEO of the Atlas society mirror, the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in fun, creative ways, like our animated videos and graphic novels. Today, we are joined by a very special guest Ashley Rensburg before I even get into introducing Ashley, I want to remind all of you who are watching us on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. Uh, you can use the comment section to type in your questions and we will get to as many of them as we can. So Ashley Rensburg is an American novelist media contributor, SAS, and journalist based in Israel in the gray lady, winked, how the New York times misreporting distortions and fabrications radically alter history, Regensburg presents historical examples of misreporting by the New York times, which radically altered and influenced what millions of people believe to be factual. He is also the author of a couple of other books, including Televiv stories. So check it out, Ashley. Welcome again. Thank you for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:31 Thank you so much, Rebecca. I'm sorry, Jennifer. I was thinking about the title of my other book, which is Rifka and Rebecca.
Speaker 0 00:01:39 Yeah, I just, I just saw that. Um, so I, first of all, and, and you know, there's also the small little fact that it's, uh, past 10:00 PM where you are. So, uh, I wanna thank you for making yourself available for the interview. Uh, and I want to encourage our audience to send in some lively questions to help, uh, keep Ashley awake. So, first of all, what are you doing in Israel?
Speaker 1 00:02:07 I, I came here quite a while ago about, uh, coming up 20 years. I was living in San Francisco, working for a very cool nonprofit organization called internet archive, which is the company, the, the NGO that runs the way back machine. Like whenever you want to go back and look up a website from long time ago, Brewster kale was, is a incredible, um, entrepreneur and digital pioneer who started the archive. I got a job there after college making books, basically running this internet bookmobile that could go anywhere in the world and print and bind an actual book. Um, and the idea was to spread knowledge and give people the tools that they need to read great literature. And I kind of just got, had enough of that, of the San Francisco world, the life, what was going on there, the homogeneity, which was very surprising to me. And, um, I took an opportunity to go sailing, to work as a deck hand on a sailing yard to help move the boat from, um, Italy to Greece. And that became this kind of Odyssey for me. And I, I got to this 0.2 months into the journey where I said, I'm not going back and I carried on eastward to Israel. So that's, that was the origin story of me in Israel. And 20 years later, I'm still here.
Speaker 0 00:03:30 Very, very Hemingway ask. So, so not every day that we get to interview somebody who's on the ground in Israel. And many of us in the United States have been keenly watching the experience of Israel as one of the most highly vaccinated and boosted countries in the world. Um, and also as one that has some of the best and honest and up to date, transparent data, um, yet it looks like Israel is having, uh, one of the highest spike, um, in cases and close to the highest spike in deaths since the pandemic began. So, uh, I guess I just would like to ask what is, what is your experience throughout the pandemic then like in Israel and any thoughts on the pandemic policy and, and possible lessons for the rest of the world?
Speaker 1 00:04:26 Yeah, that's a really interesting topic because Israel, as you know, got sort of a, what I call a good rap, like everyone was praising Israel for whatever it was doing. It wasn't doing that much, to be honest. And we're seeing the effect, it did a lot of coercive stuff, a lot of compulsion, which Israelis are kind of used to in a way, because it's a very, it's still very an insular place and it's really built around the military and you have that kind of mindset and people just kind of do what is needed to get the job done. Um, they kind of did it, you know, have they just did it because that was the thing to do, but as you have referenced, Jennifer, it didn't really help actually, it didn't help at all. I mean, we're the highest case count in the world right now.
Speaker 1 00:05:13 So I think what I, what I have seen is, you know, speaking to Lionel Shriver, who's the great novelist and conservative SAS opinion writer. And she was just saying how, how she she's so profoundly disturbed by the speed with which we all just rolled over and gave up our rights. And there was not even, you know, from the organizations that at least nominally are there to defend civil liberties. There was not a peep and we all just accepted that there wasn't any pushback. So that's what I seen in Israel is just a lot of, um, coercion and, and policies design with some notion of engineering in mind, and then being disastrous, not just in terms of their inability to actually have an effect on the spread of the virus, but on D there are these, like these side-effects basically, which these policies have had economic of course, um, mental health. Um, and of course just the, the core notion that we are not subject to the government, that the government ought to be subject to the people. And I think we've just completely lost that. But I do think the silver lining here is that some people are seeing how, how corroded our civil liberties actually have become and are, you know, the inalienable rights have become a little less inalienable, just a bit of a mouthful.
Speaker 0 00:06:47 We definitely need, uh, some silver linings to what has been, uh, an extremely dark two years. And I'm speaking of darkness and the pandemic, uh, what has remained shrouded in darkness of course, are the origins of the virus. And you wrote an article a couple months ago called the lab leak fiasco, looking at the media's role in particular, in enforcing one narrative on the origins of COVID, what, what did you find? And we're going to put that link in the, uh, in all of our chats, so people can check it out. But in a nutshell,
Speaker 1 00:07:28 We had, we had this notion that, you know, we all we know by now that the media all came out, just so, uh, vigorously and in such a unified fashion against the idea of the possibility that the virus might have leaked from a virology lab in Willingham, which has actually more than one of them and working with various degrees of biosafety, um, probably not high enough for what they were actually doing there. So the media is just out the gate against this idea and the, the narrative that had been emerged to sort of reconcile how they could have been against something that nobody knew anything about at that time was that they were just reacting to president Trump. Trump came out against China, so the media came out against him and it was a big overreaction. And they're really sorry about it. That's actually not true.
Speaker 1 00:08:21 They were developing this thesis. This narrative, that lab leak is a conspiracy theory of fringe theory. As a racist idea, they were doing this in February of 2020 when president Trump was still praising China for its effectiveness in combating the virus at that point. And that actually wasn't accurate, but he was nevertheless praising them. The media really concocted this notion, um, on their own. And my guess is with under the direction or under the auspices of the American scientists, stablish the virology establishment. That would be Dr. Fowchee, Francis Collins, um, that whole cadre of people who were interfacing with the consumer media, basically giving them the talking points and the talking points at that time was shut down the debate. Now, like we've seen in the emails that Collins was telling people to do that there is a paper trail and the media just did it, and they really did it very well for 18 months.
Speaker 1 00:09:22 You couldn't even talk about lab leak and, you know, we're now two years into this going into the third year of the pandemic. We still have no idea where it came from. There is we've tested by now tens of thousands of specimens, animal specimens, not a single one has even given us a clue as to if this was actually zoonotic. If this spilled over from an animal, we have not even a trail of crumbs. And yet that is still considered automatically to be the origin of the virus and loudly is still considered to be this kind of side show. So they were actually very effective in their campaign to discredit it.
Speaker 0 00:10:04 Um, so speaking of real news, fake news, uh, you conceived your idea for the great lady way when you were just 25 years old. Um, so what was, what was the inspiration you were a philosophy major, you know, at college and
Speaker 1 00:10:25 Yes. Um, I was just reading a book really. I was reading a great book, which has the rise and fall of the third, right by, um, by what's his name Shryer, uh, he was, uh, he was a really well-known journalist at that time. He reported from the ground as this stuff was actually unfolding. Um, and what the, the lead up to world war II at some part of world war II, and he kind of casually mentioned in that book that the, on the outbreak of world war two, um, the September 1st, 1939 edition of the New York times, the lead story in the paper basically claims that Poland had invaded Germany. And you're just like, I read that in, in Shriver's book and I share his book and I was, I was just a guest. I was kind of bewildered, like, could this, how could this possibly true the new New York times?
Speaker 1 00:11:19 And I was in New York times reader, you know, I've liked the newspaper. I still kind of like it. Um, how could they report something that is the opposite of what we know to be a fundamental truth about world war II? So I wanted to first verify that that was the case, which it was, it didn't take long to see their archives from that day. And then I wanted to understand how that could be possible. How could that have actually taken place? And what I learned from it was that that was part of a Nazi propaganda campaign conceived of the really highest levels of the Nazi hierarchy. The idea was to fool the Western media, the, the allied media into thinking that Germany was just responding to Polish aggression and they didn't think they could ever convince people of this indefinitely. It was just to give enough time for Hitler to launch his first blitz Creek for that first thrust into Poland, after which he would be unstoppable.
Speaker 1 00:12:19 No one would say too much about it because he had this cover. And when the New York times printed this story on the front page, it was the mark, the success of the German propaganda campaign in, in ways the Germans probably hadn't even imagined. So it was, um, this real watershed moment. And from there, I wanted to understand, okay, if, if it's crazy enough that the New York times printed this on their front page, even crazier that this was actual German propaganda. So the next question is how could any of this have taken place at all? And that's an even deeper story and in a way of scarier one.
Speaker 0 00:12:55 Yeah. Because, uh, you know, you could make the case, well, this was just a fluke, this was just a one-time thing. Uh, they, the propagandists were very convincing, but, um, but I think there was more than that, right. I mean, there was sort of a, almost a, um, almost kind of positive, uh, inclination or reporting on, on Hitler and his rise and his, you know, unselfish, patriotic ideals. And, uh, and then of course the, the near blackout of, uh, reporting on the Holocaust. So maybe if you could walk us through some of the examples of that and what could possibly, you know, explain such a missions.
Speaker 1 00:13:50 Yeah. It's, you know, those two things happen really at the same time. So on the one hand and the New York times from its Berlin bureau was reporting really just fluff about the Nazi regime, their reporting. I mean, not just positively, but in like almost a breathless tone about the Berlin Olympics of 1936, the Nazi Olympics calling it the greatest sporting event of all time. Um, really, really whitewashing it. Um, you know, talking about how wonderful and clean and the streets of Berlin were and how courteous the people were. And then when they were talking about a Boulevard lined with flags, not mentioning the, all those flags were swastikas, you know, it was really that jarring to read this stuff. And it, and it was four other reporters at that time too, were reading the New York times coverage and they couldn't believe their eyes. And what that came down to was that their Berlin bureau chief was a Nazi collaborator and he had two, uh, correspondents underneath him were at least willing to do his bidding.
Speaker 1 00:14:54 The Germans loved this guy so much. His name was Greta and Doris that they would just read his news reports out loud on German radio broadcasts. They didn't have to actually change anything. So this was going on under the New York times as management's nose. And the New York times is, was at that point owned by a Jewish family who at the coincidentally contemporaneously was working to downplay the, the Holocaust. Um, almost just write the same period. Um, they were running stories about the murder of 700,000 Jews in quote-unquote civilized, Europe on page 12, giving it two inches of card space. And on the front page of the same day's edition, there would be a story about a single man in Iceland who was shot and died. And you think to yourself, wait a second. How, how could you justify that? How could anybody justify that this is just, it's not possible? So when you ask the question, how could they be doing these two things? And then some of the other stuff they did with, um, Soviet Russia, et cetera, it always comes back to this controlling family and the New York times, the Sulzbergers who were putting their own financial agenda and their agenda as a dynasty before any other consideration and at a newspaper that's of course, a very dangerous thing to do. And we've, we've seen the effects of it for now nearly a hundred years or more at the New York times.
Speaker 0 00:16:25 Well, speaking of, of, uh, the way that they covered Russia, um, and of course with Ukraine and Russia leading the international news today, uh, it's worth examining how the times fared historically and covering, uh, the biggest event in Ukraine history, which was the, the holo Domar the, this the great starving w referring to the Ukraine's great famine of 1930 to 1933, in which upwards of 10 million Ukrainian style, how did the New York times cover that, uh, catastrophe
Speaker 1 00:17:04 And the New York times covered it up? And that was their real contributions. Um, you know, Walter Duranti is the famous New York times correspondent who actually did that, that cover up. He perpetrated a coverup that really, again, suited the dictator at that time Stalin or at that place was stolen. Um, this w the Ukraine famine was a genocide perpetrated by Stalin. It was a political tool he used in the very early days of his reign. And it was to coerce these peasants into collective farms. And they, they did not want that. They didn't, it didn't benefit them. And when they resisted that he just unleashed this wave of terrorist starvation. So the rest of the press actually was reporting on a famine in the Ukraine, um, directly, however, denies that there was any famine. And this is kind of something that's taken in. The annals of journalism is like this, this kind of like bad thing he did.
Speaker 1 00:18:07 And he was a rogue reporter and slovenly, and all these adjectives used to talk about Walter Duranti. But when you pause and you say to yourself, why would he want to do this? He knew, we know that he knew there was a feminine, he believed there was a family he's on record saying that. So then you ask yourself, why would he lie? We journalists love getting great scoops. That's like their that's their thing in life. And cure is the biggest scoop of Walter Durante's decade at that peer that I can't early thirties. Why would he not take the scoop? And when you start to ask again, the question of motive and incentives, we see that what was really going on there was that the New York times was part of a consortium of big American business that wanted back into the market. The Russian market they'd been shut out by the revolution.
Speaker 1 00:18:57 There were no more diplomatic relations or very light diplomatic relations, at least between the USSR, um, and the United States, because the United States didn't recognize the USSR as the legitimate government of Russia at the time. So that what was going on here was that these businesses in, in New York of which the New York times was a central player, wanted the United States government to recognize the U S and so that they could, again, form trade relations and access that huge market of 150 million people. But you were never going to convince the American people that this was okay if that government had just that year murdered millions of its own citizens. So Duranti is brought in to just smooth it over, just papered over, say it never happened. And the New York times is powerful enough that that actually matters. Someone could just point to it, a congressmen or FDR at the time, and say, look, the New York times says there was no famine.
Speaker 1 00:19:59 There was no famine. These people are legit. It's okay. Let's recognize them. And that is what happened. FDR did recognize them. Walter Duranti sat with FDR before FDR became president, and he was still governor of New York and advised him to recognize the Soviet as the legitimate government of Russia months later, he actually goes through with that. And when there's a gala event in New York, celebrating this fact with 2000 leaders of industry and business, the only man who gets a standing ovation is Walter Duranty. And that's because he really delivered the goods, a Pulitzer prize, right? He did receive a Pulitzer prize and, um, that the New York times was called upon in early two thousands to return it, of course, to return it because it was ill-gotten, it was illegitimate. It was really based in a wide deceitful devious lie, and they refused to return it, that this is one of the things that kind of still takes my breath away, where we know the damage that the paper did.
Speaker 1 00:21:08 They gave some absolutely ridiculous response and excuse saying, they didn't actually know where the prize the prize is, is a coin. They didn't know what the physical coin was. I'm not sure people were calling on them to give the actual point back. I think it was more the symbolic value of the prize that they were expected to return, but, and they ha they had hired a, an historian to advise them on what to do regarding, and the historian is the one who told them to give the price back and they still refused. And that is because I think they would really open a can of worms in terms of these types of stories to go back and say, we're not going to just write a nice little article about, Duranti a feature about Walter Duretti eight years later, we're going to have to actually take corrective action. And if they start doing that, they're going down a deep and dark rabbit hole of, of serious corrections, historical productions, um, like the ones that are in the book,
Speaker 0 00:22:08 Right? I mean, I think they even likened it to this would be akin to Soviet style whitewashing of history that, uh, you know, which is actually the complete opposite of what it would have been, would be being honest and truthful about, about history. Um,
Speaker 0 00:22:31 So again, I want to encourage our viewers to ask questions of Ashley. You can ask them about the gray lady winked about his COVID reporting, um, about what it's like to be living in Israel right now, and apparently even about iron Rand and objectivism, as I discovered, uh, he's quite well read, uh, in the literature and the philosophy, but first, I'm going to ask you, I mean, given this, um, kind of praise of, of Stalin, um, and this is kind of glowing, uh, coverage of, of the Soviet union. Uh, you, you put that together with once again, the way that, um, that the New York times covered the rise of Fidel Castro and, uh, and his early regime, uh, it was this a partiality to strong men dictators, or, uh, I mean, I, sorry, I can't help, but asking if there was any kind of sympathy, um, with socialism or communism at play.
Speaker 1 00:23:46 Absolutely. I mean, there's no, there's no doubt about it. Concurrent to Walter Durante's lies being printed in the New York times about the European famine. We're also countless stories and news articles and editorials and analysis pieces published by, um, sympathizers of, of the Soviets. And, um, in some cases, actual propaganda agents, one, one woman's name was Ella winter as a New York times reporter. And she was actually a propaganda agent run by, um, the Soviet global propaganda network. And she was pulling publishing stuff that actually looks like propaganda. It reads like pro Canada, um, and George Bernard Shaw at the same time was writing these puff pieces about how wonderful life in Moscow is, you know, whatever, whatever time frame there was in the early thirties. So you do see that, you know, they weren't printing the opposite storyline, but the ones who were really like going hard after the Soviets for their abuses, um, they were going for the soft stuff, the sympathetic stuff.
Speaker 1 00:24:55 And as you pointed out, it's the same thing with Castro. It was the same thing in Vietnam. It was the same thing now with the 1619 project. Definitely. There's absolutely no question about it. The sympathies run to the left. Um, I think it, there's a question of how they line up with what's, uh, what's going on in the newsroom, because we have to remember there, there are two big, uh, centers of power at th at the newspaper in any newspaper. One is the ownership or the management and the other is the actual newsroom, the reporters. So I think for the people who run the company, the New York times company, which is, I think in the market cap is around $10 billion with two round $2 billion in revenue, which is not a big company, but it is a very, very powerful one influential one and one that's controlled by a very small number of people who are all members of the same family.
Speaker 1 00:25:48 So for those people, the vested interest is in, is financial. It's the stock price. And, um, it's also maintaining their, their power and their influence over the world really, within your times. It is that powerful. I think in the newsroom, it's a question then of what's going on, what are the dynamics there at that moment right now, the newsroom is going hard, left. Um, it's super woke. It's something that is that lifelong liberal, New York times readers are, are noticing and walking away from because they can't handle it. So these things often line up like right now they're lining up very well because the New York times is ownership and management are looking down the line saying who are going to be the people paying monthly subscriptions. They're not going to be, um, are 60 and 70 year old, lifelong readers who are aging out effectively of the market.
Speaker 1 00:26:41 We're going to look at younger worker, more millennial people who are fired up and we're going to feed them the issues that keep them fired up. And what is the biggest issue today is race. The 1619 project is a centerpiece of the New York times is marketing campaign, which is called truth matters. The New York times is like synonymous with the truth and they're bringing you truth. That's what matters. And how are they actually showing this in the real world, the 16, 19 project, which is a project to claim that America was born in slavery and not Liberty. Um, and again, that, that really suits the New York times management. So when they do line up when the financial and the ideological interests or agenda mingle is where you have really toxic situations. And that's exactly what happened with Duranti.
Speaker 0 00:27:31 So they are not to your knowledge experiencing any fallout, uh, from not just these many examples of, of misreporting and fake news, but also, uh, the kind of newsroom shift to the hard left, or, I mean, of course a lot of the legacy media is experience has been experiencing for quite some time, um, attrition in terms of viewers and readers in particular. Uh, but how has that also been an impact for the New York times, or does it,
Speaker 1 00:28:08 The New York times is playing they're playing for keeps meaning. They sort of have a sense that there's only room for one major news player, and they are doing everything in anything in their power to be that one player, the one remaining on the field. Um, I think they are, they along the way are at least partially cannibalizing their own, their own audience and readership and credibility, I think is the bigger thing. More and more people are starting to have this conversation about the New York times as corrupted, or, you know, unable to really deliver on its promise, which is to give us the, the truth, the news without fear or favor is the famous words of the founding owner of today's current dynasty. Um, so I think that's, that's the big question is, you know, are they able to remain as that one major, giant uh newsmaker and, you know, w what if not, what happens to them?
Speaker 1 00:29:12 So I had another conversation we're hearing I heard today. Um, Sagara and jetty, who just left the hill to do a podcast with crystal ball independently. He's talking about how his and Crystal's show is now bigger than many prime time. CNN shows, because people are just blocking away. They're walking away from the mainstream media and they're finding other stuff. And again, we're seeing this with Joe Rogan today and Spotify, because, you know, you have this really non-traditional figure, and he's garnering huge amounts of attention. I'll all the eyeballs. And that, that your drums, that, um, the legacy media needs to sustain itself are going elsewhere. And they're not happy about that.
Speaker 0 00:29:55 First of all, another, uh, actual iron Rand fan one wouldn't, Which is kind of cool. We'll keep trying to get her to come out to, uh, to, to be the MC at one of our galas, and we're not going to give up. Um, but yeah, yeah, the Joe Rogan controversy, um, you've observed that it shows that the locus of trust in the media is already gone and that instead of trying to enforce trust, they should focus on focus on shoring up credibility. So, uh, I thought that was an interesting distinction. Could you unpack that for us? What's, what's the difference
Speaker 1 00:30:40 Trust, you know, and trust w when we think about Walter Cronkite, like people trusted him, men, meaning they didn't need to ask. They just like, you know, in this recent tweet thread, I drew the distinction between what you feel for a pilot. You trust that the pilots can fly the plane and get you from a to B safely. Um, you don't trust the flight attendant to be flying the plane because that's not his or her job, but you do consider them to be credible sources of information about the flying of the plane. So it's a little bit, it's a one step removed. It's a little bit a lower, um, kind of sentiment and trust where trust you just kind of giving yourself over and saying, okay, we can, we can lock up this bit of this emotional part of me in a safe that you hold the key to.
Speaker 1 00:31:30 And I'm good with that for now, whereas credibility we're still saying, okay, tell me the information and I'm going to have to process it and think it through and wonder if this is good or bad information. So did the media used to have our trust? I think most people somehow took for what took for granted that it was accurate and true, or that they were at least doing their best. That is gone. I don't think immediate trust is there at all. Aside from among partisans of really partisan programming, we have some level, or the media has some level of credibility left, but not much I think with every next scandal that they tried to gloss over, people give, take back a little bit of that credibility and they put it somewhere else. So they might take it from CNN and give it to Joe Rogan or take it from, uh, the New York times or NPR and give it to crystal ball and cigar and jetty.
Speaker 1 00:32:25 Um, and that's what's happening on until there will no longer be credibility with them, again, aside from their core base. So they're, they're starting to behave a lot more like political parties that are preaching to the base. Um, and they're to do the kind of stuff that they have been accusing tech of doing, which is skewing the algorithm. In this case, it's a content algorithm to, um, to behavioral outcomes in clicks or eyeballs or whatever the metric might be, or some sort of action that a readership might take. Again, it's all about getting them fired up and they're good at that.
Speaker 0 00:33:02 So, so would this almost be kind of a two step rehabilitation process that first, you know, you have to shore up your credibility by not making mistakes and, and, and not, um, presenting information, not having, you know, a bias by emission, just telling as, as the New York times motto is, you know, all the news that's fit to print. So first you just have to believe that what the media is telling you is true. And then once they do that over a period of time, they might, we gain trust.
Speaker 1 00:33:42 Um, I wonder, I don't know if it's possible anymore, because I'm not sure that they're able or willing to change. I think they would have to take some really radical steps that would engender a culture of, um, you know, impartiality or, or disinterestedness, or at least fairness. Like it's not, we're not looking for angels, but for people who are fair minded in the work that they do. And, um, you know, the kind of journalists who used to be out there saying, I will report this story, even if it hurts me personally, even ever hurt, even if it offends my assumptions personally, I'm going to report it anyway, you actually had that type. I know those types, they, they worked at the New York times. There was a New York times editor, a friend was telling me about who refused to vote because he was so concerned that it might taint him in his editorial decision-making.
Speaker 1 00:34:38 And he found that to be more important duty to society than just casting a vote. And he's probably right in his case. So, you know, th that, I think is a culture that was created that is now lost. And I think it's on in the media to inculcate the culture again, I think to do that, they would have to take drastic steps towards transparency, towards intellectual honesty, um, stuff that they're just, no, again, they're not willing and able to do. And part of that is because they're so enmeshed in, um, very big corporations that have very complex structures and lots of different responsibilities to different stakeholders, including of course, shareholders. So I don't know that the way the media is structured right now, economically, that they're really able to take those steps and I don't think they want to anyway.
Speaker 0 00:35:32 Interesting. All right. Well, we're getting quite a few questions coming in on these various platforms and gain for you.
Speaker 1 00:35:40 Alright.
Speaker 0 00:35:41 Uh, from Instagram, Andrew Nesson asks, how should we understand the distinction between misinformation and disinformation?
Speaker 1 00:35:53 Um, I guess the way I understand it is, uh, you know, it's the question of intention, you know, disinformation is to me, part of a campaign, um, used to distort and to achieve really specific tactical outcomes. Misinformation is just, I think stuff that is not true or dubious or not supported, but doesn't necessarily have that backing of intentionality to achieve some sort of political outcome or gain.
Speaker 0 00:36:27 All right. Uh, Scott Schiff asks in the past few years, I've seen the New York times start to report something objectively only to have their own readers, accuse them of chilling for the GOP. Then the New York times ultimately changes the headline or the story. Uh, have they somewhat lost control of the Wolf leaders they help to create?
Speaker 1 00:36:54 I think they have, um, they have lost control over what's going on in the newsroom ideologically and what the, what the, um, ground rules are for, for what you are able to bring to work as a journalist. So I think once upon a time, not that long ago, you were asked to check your opinions at the door. It's like the reporter. I was just talking about that type who was really striving to stay neutral. Now, it's not that. And now it's all about bringing your opinions to the reporting, bringing your experience, your, your quote unquote lived experience. Um, and that creates a lot of turmoil. Um, and it gives people a sense that they have a really wide berth to question the power structures that they're working in as journalists, but those power structures are there for a reason, especially editorial side of things, because you are trying to create systems that mitigate error in, in the journalism.
Speaker 1 00:37:59 I mean, that was the initial intention. Now we're not actually trying to do that anymore. So maybe those structures are a little bit, um, outdated for purpose. I think they should still be, that should still be the purpose, but that I think is really what's going on. They've lost control of the ideological limitations that used to exist within a newsroom that was no longer there. And now they're just trying to keep everybody happy and not have any kind of uprising or mutiny within the newsroom, which has pretty much happened. 2, 3, 4 times in the last couple of years
Speaker 0 00:38:34 Of mutinies in, in the newsroom, you were talking about reading, find Rand. And, you know, it reminds me of the character of Gail wine and the Fountainhead and the banner, you know, where he, he was a mixed premises character. And in some ways had some very admirable qualities, but he also lusted for, for power. And, um, but he made this mistake that he thought that by pandering to the lowest, you know, basis elements, um, in, in, in society with the kinds of reporting that he was doing, that he was controlling them only to learn at the end of the day that they were controlling him. Um, and those, those examples that you were saying about the mutiny at the New York times, one of them you write about in the book, which was, uh, the revolt over the papers decision to publish, right for Tom cotton editorial.
Speaker 1 00:39:38 Yeah. Yeah. It's Hong Kong. They, they, when they were the summer, um, black lives matter, protest rights, whatever they were, um, they actually went to Tom Khan and asked him to do an op-ed. And he came back saying here's the, our bed and our bed was calling for the president to, um, send in the national guard to call the riots or the governor or whatever the situation was. And this created an absolute, absolute uproar that, that was like the line, the New York times newsroom was not willing to cross. And 300 staffers staged a walkout. And the, the, um, editor who had commissioned the piece who a really, really senior person at the New York times and much respected was fired. They, they stood behind him for a couple days, and then they couldn't resist the pressure and they fired him. And you think yourself, what did this guy actually do wrong?
Speaker 1 00:40:38 And what did you know? You could debate the Tom cotton thing. Maybe it was designed to be provocative, maybe not whatever, but what did James Bennett, who was the New York, the New York times editor really do wrong there. He brought a new United States Senator who was a graduate of, I believe of Harvard law's army officer to write a op-ed, which he did, um, and gets fired for it. And I, I say this would be with such kind of be wilderness, because it was only a few months before that, that the New York times published an op-ed on the same pages by a Taliban terror leader. He's a leader of the HUC Connie terror network, one of the most gruesome gory and horrible terror groups in the world. And this guy is writing in the New York times about peace and women's rights and parenthetically love, and really putting the seeds in the ground for this legitimization of the Taliban, which actually occurred as no. No. See, so there was not a peep from the New York times, newsroom a Terra leader, given the space to express his lofty aspirations for a utopia. They thought that perfectly acceptable, not one person boycotted. And then you have Tom cotton who delivers the op-ed that he was asked by them to write. And we have basically a revolt. So it really shows you what the values are there. What's what are the politics within the newsroom, um, and why it's really becoming problematic for them to manage it.
Speaker 0 00:42:25 Nate, on Instagram, uh, asks thoughts, thoughts on fact checkers on the media fact checkers. So these are fact checkers of what's I believe Nate going on in terms of social media.
Speaker 1 00:42:42 Yeah. Well, there's the social media fact checkers. We have the, you know, the, the fact check.com or whatever PolitiFact people are checking political statements. And a lot of fact checking going on everywhere. And we know for sure that, you know, the fact checkers make mistakes and the fact checkers have interests. They have an agenda like everybody else in media, they are effectively media organizations, media companies. So they too are a part of the ecosystem and that makes them susceptible. But I think the bigger point about the fact checking is that the media itself should be doing the fact checking. You don't need, you shouldn't need third-party organizations doing that. That's their job. And they're just, they just stopped doing it for a variety of reasons. So I think we're, we're at a point that fact-checkers are at least nominally necessary. It's a really bad sign. And again, it's one of these things that you would think the media would wake up and be like, we need to get this together, uh, today and, you know, correct it, but they are not doing that.
Speaker 0 00:43:49 Well, speaking of a total failure of of fact checking, uh, I thought maybe one of the most egregious examples that you give in your book was of the Jason Blair affair. And, um, just for those who maybe have forgotten about it, couldn't because it's been a few years now. Um, tell us what you found.
Speaker 1 00:44:15 Jason Blair was this really a fast rising young reporter at the New York times in the early two thousands. And he was, um, basically making fabricating a lot of material plagiarizing as well, which happens. And you have personalities like Blair, the problem with Blair. And again, this is where the New York times really wants to just isolate the individual like they did with Durrani where this is a systemic issue for the times. The problem with the Blair thing is that he was printing, um, stories from places that he physically could not have been in given the distances and the timing he was printing on a pace that I don't think four or five reporters would be able to maintain legitimately meaning legitimately going to report the stories, write them, et cetera. Like it was just not humanly possible. And nobody, nobody noticed this. So you've got this very junior reporter who is getting front page stories, and that's already like a big deal.
Speaker 1 00:45:19 It's not that he just slipped under the radar. He was on the radar and he's writing these stories that are just physically, humanly, not possible for him to do. And he's been flagged by other editors at the times, and it still gets ignored. And again, there, you have to say, why, why would the New York times would this got this famous mechanism, this editorial mechanism and fact checking and layers of editors, et cetera, why would they just write? Yeah, exactly. It's lots of checking going on there. How could they allow this to happen? How could it have taken place? And the answer again is always to do with the ideological and the financial, which is that the New York times had made a catastrophic mistake with their support for, um, the case for what weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They played a key role in that.
Speaker 1 00:46:12 Everybody knew it, it was, it was egg on their face, in a huge way. And they knew they needed to swing back the other direction. They need to swing the pendulum away from appearing as if they were like doing the work of the Bush administration. And they did that by reporting on how awful the war was. And that's what Jason Blair was reporting in the, in those stories. He was reporting that soldiers were coming back from Iraq, broken mind, body and spirit. That was the storyline. We had committed this terrible colossal error with Iraq and here's proof. The soldiers are now broken human beings. When the New York times went back to interview these people again, the soldiers often were like, uh, yes, I was injured, but I'd never said that about, well, how I feel about my experience in my life. They said, I I'm, I'm proud. And I'm happy. I've gone to have enormous regrets and anger and many different things, which we would all understand to be the case. Um, so that's what was happening there is that the times saw they need to make this massive course correction. They got this hot young reporter who is bringing these great scoops about how awful the war was and the price they paid was that it just was all a house of cards. And then none of it was true.
Speaker 0 00:47:29 Remember reading in your book that no one thought it odd that, uh, with all of the crisscrossing of the country that he had done and staying in hotels and planes and trains and this and that he never submitted an expense report. So
Speaker 1 00:47:47 Right. There were, yeah, there were no receipts to give. So yeah, you would think anyone would notice, I mean, the New York times is built on these systems and processes. And when a reporters out in the field, these is going to bring back expense reports, receipts, and not, he never brought any. And again, no one was asking why, because he was delivering ideologically that that was the key thing. That's what blinded them. And what put him in a blind spot for them is that he was bringing them the goods.
Speaker 0 00:48:20 Well, we have about 10 more minutes till you are going to go to sleep. Um, but I wanted to ask about, uh, hugely, uh, a big story in the media today, Jeff Zucker, uh, resigning or being out ousted from CNN. Uh, apparently the story is that he had, um, a sexual affair with one of his colleagues. Is, is that the story? Any thoughts on what we're seeing?
Speaker 1 00:48:52 Yeah. I mean, if you were to take it, if, take that story in sort of in a vacuum or in isolation where Jeff sucker is like this iconic figure in the media business, um, he's one of the most powerful people in the industry and CNN, I don't think like this is a consensual affair and there was no, there was nobody talking about sexual harassment or anything like that. This is just two people. Um, I don't think CNN would be, get dumping him for that. I can't really imagine that to be the case. They have so much invested in what, on the strategic plan that he's building with their new streaming service and managing talent. But the fact of the matter is, is that he has put the network in a very, very bad place. I mean, their ratings are abysmal and they have seen multiple scandals over the past year or two, including with, I mean, this all came out because it was part of the, um, the Andrew Cuomo invested sexual harassment allegations and the investigations into them. This kind of fell out of that with Jeff sucker, but we also have, um, Chris Cuomo at CNN with his own set of problems and bringing back Jeffrey Toubin after his thing. And, you know, it's just one thing after the next at CNN plus terrible ratings. And now he's got his own, uh, scandal. And I think that's probably just a bridge too far for his bosses is my guess
Speaker 0 00:50:33 Another media story, uh, recently in the news was the, um, the things that will be Goldberg said on the view, uh, about the Holocaust and this kind of ties back into, um, to what you read about in your book. And, uh, and she said, well, uh, this was not, uh, against Jews as a race that this was really just, um, you know, about religion. And they were going after other, uh, dissident groups know, nevermind that like 95% of the millions killed in the Holocaust were, were Jews. Um, thoughts on that?
Speaker 1 00:51:26 Yeah, I, you know, I think she made, she, she said something that was like half educated about the issue. I think she didn't mean it that badly. I think where it really got, went wrong for her personally. And the ideas was that she's bringing, she's carrying this like, uh, woke critical race theory line of like the, the hierarchy of, of racial victimhood and who gets to be considered a real race and an, an a fake race or whatever the insane debate about it all is. And I think she fell into that trap and then she acted a bit, um, just in a way that she didn't really need to, to, I think that exacerbated it, but, you know, I think, and I was, I was critical of her on Twitter. I think what she said was really stupid, but I still don't think she should have been suspended. Actually I, in her case, I think we all pretty much can recognize that she's not an anti-Semite or a racist. She's a person she made one mistake. We don't need these kinds of overbearing reactions. Every time someone makes a bit of a mistake it's okay, the debate can play out. And then that's what was happening. The debate was playing out and then ABC suspended her and there's just no more debate. They take all the oxygen out of that room. And I think that was a pretty big mistake.
Speaker 0 00:52:53 Um, so as we're, we have a few more minutes left, uh, I wanted to talk about kind of the turn back to your beginnings. We've talked about your connections to books from a very early age, um, and how that inspired you to become an author. Uh, I don't know if there are any particular books or authors that most influenced you.
Speaker 1 00:53:20 Um, I was always a big reader. Um, I kind of fell in with Albert Kimu when I was kid and his, his writing and S you know, some of the French existentialism. Um, I did become a very big Rand reader at some point read, like just tore through all the books, just, you know, obsessively. I loved the Russians, the I loved Russian literature. I still love Russian literature. Tolstoy to me is amazing. Um, and, and all great literature. You know, I really believe that we learned so much about each other about ourselves from great works of literature. So that has been a through line for me from my, from my entire life. Um, and again, it feels like it's one of those things that we're kind of losing a little bit in the culture we're turning to this culture of Femara, and you don't have those, those perennial, the solid ideas that are deeply rooted.
Speaker 0 00:54:22 Uh, well, so you've written fiction, you've written non-fiction, uh, which do you prefer? And what's going to be next for you.
Speaker 1 00:54:32 Um, fiction is really kind of hard. Yeah. It's, it's can really suck the life out of you, but it's also, it's also, um, kind of, you get to a place where there's something sublime about being wrapped up in this own world that you're creating and, and grappling with. It's amazing. It's an amazing experience if you're able to handle it. Non-fiction for me is a lot more fun. It's a lot more stimulating. It's like the, like, it's not the heavy plot of writing fiction. It's more the, the chase, like you're chasing down the story, you're chasing the facts and you're uncovering stuff. And that to me can be a real thrill.
Speaker 0 00:55:16 So tell us a little bit, uh, before we wrap up about some of your other projects, um, I want to let everybody know Ashley is, uh, at Ashley Rensburg on Twitter. So he's got a very, um, sharply honed, uh, thread feed there. So do check them out. But, uh, tell us about some of your other projects like the burning castle podcast.
Speaker 1 00:55:43 The burning castle is a, um, right now podcast, and there will be some, some writing by me, which is about the creative independence. So a lot of, a lot of what's going on in the world today is that we're seeing in institutions like the New York times are acting with more and more self-interest and less public interest, less of the common good, and the ability to explore ideas openly. And we're really seeing that in culture and music and art and literature, like if you're not, if you don't subscribe to those particular orthodoxies, you get shut out and those ideas get shut out, but people are turning away from institutions. And they're saying, I will do this independently, whoever I am, and it's not necessarily the arts, it's also in business and entrepreneurship, they're saying I'm going to forge my own path here. So that's the spirit that we are exploring there. The culture of, of creative independence. We have, um, authors, musicians, um, actors, opera, singers, VCs, the whole, the whole gamut athletes. Um, so that is what the burning castle is all about. The, the, the, the symbol there's that the institutions are on fire, um, comes from the Bible, that metaphor. And what it really tells us in that story from the Bible is that it's not on anybody else to put the fire out it's on us.
Speaker 0 00:57:12 Well, we will check it out. And I want to encourage all of you who are watching to check this out. I think we're also going to definitely want to have this as one of our, um, book club selections at the Atlas society. We've got the links in all of the threads, the gray lady linked it's also on audible. Um, and then check out also the Televiv stories and Rebecca and Rifka. Is that right?
Speaker 1 00:57:41 Rebecca,
Speaker 0 00:57:43 Rebecca. Wonderful. Well, uh, thank you again, Ashley, for, for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:57:49 And it's great to be here with you.
Speaker 0 00:57:51 We'll be, we'll be watching. So, uh, and thank you for joining us, not just late, but joining us on birthday of all.
Speaker 1 00:58:01 Oh, wow. Wow. That's amazing. It's a great way to mark the occasion. Thank you.
Speaker 0 00:58:06 Yes. Yes it is. And for the rest of you that are watching, uh, of course, check out the Atlas societies event section. We are going to be having a birthday celebration for iron Rand, for our donors. That's happening a little later on today. All of our faculty is going to be there. And one of our faculty is, is hosting a clubhouse in two and a half hours. Professor Stephen Hicks, leading expert on postmodernism is going to be doing an ask me anything on philosophy. So hope to see you there. And Jason, thanks again.