After Russia invaded Ukraine early last year, the Biden administration decided to hit Moscow where it hurts the most — in the pocketbook.
The U.S. Treasury imposed sweeping sanctions on nearly 80% of all banking assets in Russia, a move designed to have a “deep and long-lasting effect on the Russian economy and financial system.”
Though the sanctions haven’t prevented Russian President Vladimir Putin from financing the war, they have tightened the screws on Russia’s financial transactions and disrupted supply chains throughout the global economy, reverberating even on Washington’s K Street with its lucrative foreign lobbying contracts.
Former Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, and his team at Mercury Public Affairs, a big D.C. lobbying firm, were forced to terminate a contract with Russian bank Sovcombank to comply with the new U.S. sanctions. Vitter had begun working for Sovcombank just the month before, and the bank had agreed to pay Mercury $90,000 a month for its services, according to required Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, disclosures filed with the Justice Department.
In his role as co-chairman of Mercury, Vitter since 2018 has maintained another far more lucrative FARA contract with Hikvision, the U.S.-sanctioned Chinese surveillance tech firm. Over the last several years, the United States has found Hikvision responsible for assisting the Chinese government’s genocide against the Uyghur Muslims through the Chinese Communist Party’s broad use of its cameras to track and surveil Uyghur populations and monitor an estimated 1 million Uyghurs forced into detention camps.
The United States also has deemed Hikvision a national security risk and imposed wide-ranging restrictions on using, buying and selling Hikvision video surveillance products in the U.S. Yet Hikvision and other Chinese companies under U.S. sanctions can still lawfully hire D.C. lobbyists and lawyers – at least for now, though there’s a growing movement to impose new restrictions on the practice.
Vitter and former Rep. Toby Moffett, a Democrat who represented Connecticut in the House for eight years from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, both lobby their former Capitol Hill colleagues on behalf of Hikvision. The Chinese-controlled camera and surveillance company has paid Mercury a total of $6.35 million for the service since 2018, according to an analysis of required Justice Department filings by IPVM, a U.S. security and surveillance research group.
Mercury is just one of five lobbying firms representing Hikvision’s interests in Washington. Since 2018, Hikvision has spent a combined $25.23 million on D.C. lobbying, more than double that of Huawei, China’s biggest telecommunications firm, in the same period, IPVM found. Huawei faces nearly identical U.S. sanctions as Hikvision.
“These former members and top staffers are all being highly paid -- it’s a second career for them,” said Donald Maye, head of operations for IPVM.
“It’s just confounding to me that people who speak so highly of their public service are helping a Chinese company navigate sanctions designed to limit exposure of this spying technology on the American people, and the U.S. government is allowing it,” he added.
Vitter and Moffett are hardly alone. China has vastly expanded its U.S. lobbying efforts in recent years, hiring bipartisan teams of former members of Congress and key Capitol Hill and administrative staff even as Washington has increasingly grown far more critical of China, its stepped-up military power, and growing financial influence around the world.
Former members of Congress who have lobbied for Chinese businesses include Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, and Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican and former U.S. Air Force veteran, to name just a few.
Since 2016, China has spent nearly $334 million on its lobbying efforts and propaganda outlets in the United States, more than any other nation and twice as much as Russia, according to an opensecrets.org analysis of lobbying registration and disclosure reports.
Those figures, however, don’t tell the whole story. Some Chinese businesses, such as TikTok, have U.S. operations and are only required to file lobbying disclosure forms with the U.S. Senate, not the more stringent FARA disclosure required by Justice Department.
Human rights advocates and national security experts urging a tougher line on China are outraged by the revolving door of former members willing to cash in on their public service to help a U.S. adversary. During the height of the Cold War, they argue, no reputable Washington law or lobbying firm would have taken on a Soviet client.
“It’s unconscionable that any government official would shop their connections and expertise to a foreign adversary, let alone the Chinese Communist Party,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told RealClearPolitics in an emailed statement. “If you’ve had the privilege of serving the American people at the highest levels of government, you should not be able to sell out the country when you retire.”
Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, and Rep. Jared Golden, a Maine Democrat, plan to re-introduce a bill they co-authored in 2021 that would prevent members of Congress and high-ranking government officials from lobbying on behalf of U.S. adversaries.
In 2021, the measure died after being referred to a House Judiciary subcommittee. Gallagher and other proponents of stricter foreign lobbying laws believe there is far greater momentum for it now with growing concern over Beijing’s greater military power and spying threats, as well as increased worldwide recognition of China’s human rights abuses.
Gallagher released his first set of policy recommendations earlier this week following the select committee’s three hearings laying out the threat posed by China and detailing the ongoing abuses against Uyghur Muslims. One report calls on Congress to pass additional sanctions to hold China accountable for its crimes against the minority group. Another report stresses the need to enhance U.S. military capabilities to help deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Other critics of China lobbying want to ban the practice altogether. For the first time, the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal agency that monitors religious freedom violations around the world, officially called for a federal prohibition of all lobbying groups and law firms representing the Chinese government and Chinese entities.
The commissioners in early May called on Congress to reintroduce the Stop Helping Adversaries Manipulate Everything, or SHAME Act. The bill, which would prohibit any U.S. individual from accepting compensation for serving as an agent of or a lobbyist for a foreign adversary, is sponsored by GOP Reps. Joe Wilson, Jim Banks, Chris Smith, and Democrats Elissa Slotkin and Steve Cohen.
“Untold profits are being raked in by lobbyists willing to whitewash the record and aims of the Chinese Community Party and government,” all nine USCIRF commissioners wrote in a statement in its annual report. “It’s time to make this activity illegal.”
“As the commission’s report documents, the Chinese government is an equal opportunity persecutor of people of faith — Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners,” the commissioners added.
Frank Wolf, a USCIRF commissioner and a longtime human rights champion who served 3½ decades in Congress, argues that nothing but a total ban will prevent the Chinese influence operation funds from seeping into Washington.
“If you believe in the Reagan Doctrine, no one should represent China in the U.S. today,” he said in an interview. Placing piecemeal restrictions on lobbying for China won’t be effective, Wolf argued, because the big firms with foreign clients, such as Squire Patton Boggs and Mercury Public Affairs, will still hold fundraisers for members of Congress and get the access they need even if they abide by some new restrictions.
In 1998, then-Rep. Wolf authored the International Religious Freedom Act, which made faith-based liberty a greater priority in U.S. foreign policy. While serving in Congress, Vitter also was known for standing up to China on human rights. In 2015, the Louisiana Republican co-sponsored an amendment requiring the Obama administration to consider countries’ religious freedom when negotiating trade agreements.
Those bills didn’t prevent Congress from continuing permanent normal trade relations status for China, as it has done since 2000 after a years-long push by free traders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Advocates for granting China easy access to U.S. markets and vice versa argued that it would help democratize China as its citizens gained more access to U.S. goods and technology.
“They kept saying this will change China, and they will become just like us, but that has not worked out,” Wolf recalled. The Virginia Republican cited the genocide against the Uyghurs, a crackdown in Hong Kong, and a series of repressive CCP campaigns against Christians and Catholic churches and their leaders, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and dissidents of any kind.
So far, at least, lawmakers have shown little shame over their lucrative contracts with Chinese entities, and the harsher Washington rhetoric and actions against Beijing have only increased the flow of Chinese money to the nation’s capital.
Over the past two years, tensions have repeatedly flared between Washington and Beijing over China’s lack of transparency about the COVID pandemic’s origins, its new ties to Russia after the Ukraine invasion, its aggression against Taiwan, and conflict over a visit to the U.S. by Taiwan’s president. In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip after a Chinese surveillance balloon traversed the United States.
As the G-7 summit in Japan came to a close last week, President Biden said he predicted a coming “thaw” with China even though the meeting between top U.S. allies took several steps to tackle Beijing’s economic intimidation tactics. Afterward, China retaliated by announcing that it had warned its telecommunications companies and state-owned banks against purchasing products from Micron Technology, a U.S. semiconductor manufacturer that China said poses national security risks, a charge the Biden administration vehemently disputes.
Denham and Crowley, who was the No. 4 House Democrat before losing a 2018 primary election challenge from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are lobbying on behalf of TikTok as lawmakers weigh banning the popular social media platform.
Other former lawmakers and prominent U.S. dignitaries, including former Sen. Max Baucus, who served as Obama’s ambassador to China, and former Speaker John Boehner, aren’t required to register as lobbyists but still can accept lucrative contracts advising Chinese entities in Washington.
Even before Obama tapped him to be the chief U.S. diplomat in Beijing, Baucus had advised the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, which was funded by U.S. branches of Chinese banks and Huawei.
The rules governing disclosure are loose, with obvious loopholes. For instance, individuals advising a company that is technically not considered subsidized or controlled by a foreign government, such as TikTok, don’t have to register as lobbyists if their lobbying activities constitute less than 20% of their services for that client over a three-month period. The law allows the lobbyists themselves to determine the 20% filing threshold.
In addition to TikTok, Hikvision has hired several former members of Congress and top U.S. officials to help it fight increasingly severe U.S. sanctions.
In 2018, Congress banned the use of Hikvision and Dahua (another Chinese video-surveillance company) products throughout the U.S. government and for U.S.-funded contracts. The following year, the two companies were two of 28 entities added to a sanctioned blacklist of firms implicated in human rights violations and abuses in implementing China’s campaign of repression against the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang region.
The Federal Communications Commission has layered on more sanctions over the last two years, while U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of Hikvision’s attempts to circumvent the ban on sales to the U.S. government by disguising it as the source of the products.
In early March, Mike McCaul and Gregory Meeks, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively, called on the Biden administration to impose harsher human rights sanctions on Hikvision.
A warning about Hikvision’s deceptive U.S. sales practices, which cited a Defense Intelligence Agency finding, also was part of last month’s massive trove of classified documents leaked by 21-year-old National Guardsman Jack Teixeira.
In addition to Vitter and Moffett, Mercury hired Peter Kucik, a former senior sanctions policy adviser at the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions, and added him to the Hikvision account. Kucik’s 2021 hiring was announced just days after the Wall Street Journal reported on new research on Hikvision’s ties to the Chinese military. More recently, Hikvision added Pierre-Richard Prosper, an attorney for ArentFox Schiff, a D.C. law and lobbying firm, to its U.S. advocacy and legal team, although he has not registered as a lobbyist for Hikvision and may not have to according to complicated disclosure rules. Prosper served as the U.S. State Department’s ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues in the mid-2000s and previously as a war crimes prosecutor at the United Nations in the late 1990s.
At least one former lawmaker-turned-Hikvision lobbyist cut ties to the company after a public intra-party backlash. Sen. Barbara Boxer signed on with Mercury and registered as a foreign agent for Hikvision in early 2021 but quickly de-registered after Biden’s Inauguration Committee returned her donation of $500, citing her work for the massive Chinese tech company.
Vitter and Moffett, however, have continued their lobbying roles, with Vitter proclaiming himself as a “proud member of the Hikvision team” and disparaging Sen. Marco Rubio as “anti-China” in an audio recording of a Hikvision USA employee conference call, obtained by IPVM in 2019.
Vitter’s political donations also have continued to flow to several GOP members, including now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has made investigating China a top priority of his House leadership this year. Vitter sent a $1,500 check to McCarthy’s re-election committee in 2022 and another $2,500 in 2020.
After RCP asked about the Vitter donations, a McCarthy campaign spokesman said it plans to donate the funds to charity at the end of the quarter, a sign of the growing unease about foreign influence-peddling especially by sanctioned Chinese companies.
After becoming speaker earlier this year, McCarthy created several select committees to investigate the threat China poses to the U.S. and called the CCP “the greatest geopolitical threat of our lifetime.”
"We need a whole-of-government approach that will build on the efforts of the Republican-led China Task Force and ensure America is prepared to tackle the economic and security challenges posed by the CCP,” he said, previewing his plans in late December.
Aside from national security concerns, Wolf and others also say China’s egregious human rights abuses should be enough to stop the revolving door from Capitol Hill to K Street.
Wolf points to new well-documented evidence of CCP-directed organ harvesting from detained Uyghurs and other prisoners of conscience while they remained alive or before they were declared brain-dead, a severe violation of international ethical norms.
Louisa Greve, the director of global advocacy for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, said every U.S. law and lobbying firm faces a clear choice on whether to help support companies involved or directly implicated in egregious human rights violations.
“It is un-American and unconscionable for anyone — and certainly public servants who in their time promised their voters they would serve the public good and who retain the title of honorable after they serve — to immediately go and help a genocidal regime,” she said in an interview.
In the case of Russia, it took the Ukraine invasion to force U.S. lobbyists to end their lucrative contracts and comply with the sweeping new laws.
Does Greve think only an invasion of Taiwan will force similar U.S. prohibitions on China lobbying?
“The red line should be genocide,” she said, “and a recognition of our strategic interest to preserve the basic framework of freedom for ourselves and our allies and anyone else who wants to join a world governed by the rule of law and peaceful trade.”
Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs
Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs
Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,
In a symbolic, photo-op…
In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.
Biden to Walk the Picket Line
Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create.— President Biden (@POTUS) September 22, 2023
It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.
CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.
Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.
Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.
On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”
Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.
“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”
UAW Announces New Strike Locations
As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations
UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.
The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.
General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.
The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.
Contract Negotiations Are Not Close
Good Luck Getting Repairs
Good luck getting your car repaired:— CarDealershipGuy (@GuyDealership) September 23, 2023
Auto worker strikes now expanding to *38* parts and distribution locations across 20 states.
This feels like a movie.
Party of the Working Cass, Really?
Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.
Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.
On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.
All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.
Exploring the Working Class Idea
If you want fewer goods and services and higher taxes to pay for them, Biden is your man: Yet Another Biden Regulation Will Increase Costs and Promote More Inflation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA did an impact assessment of 4 fuel standard proposals and compared them to the cost of doing nothing. Guess what: The Shocking Truth About Biden’s Proposed Energy Fuel Standards
If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.
If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).
But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.
UK Quietly Passes “Online Safety Bill” Into Law
UK Quietly Passes "Online Safety Bill" Into Law
Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,
Buried behind the Brand-related headlines…
Buried behind the Brand-related headlines yesterday, the British House of Lords voted to pass the controversial “Online Safety Bill” into law. All that’s needed now is Royal assent, which Charles will obviously provide.
The bill’s (very catchy) long-form title is…
A Bill to make provision for and in connection with the regulation by OFCOM of certain internet services; for and in connection with communications offences; and for connected purposes.
…and that’s essentially it, it hands the duty of “regulating” certain online content to the UK’s Office of Communications (OfCom).
Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes could barely contain her excitement in a statement to the press:
“Today is a major milestone in the mission to create a safer life online for children and adults in the UK. Everyone at Ofcom feels privileged to be entrusted with this important role, and we’re ready to start implementing these new laws.”
As always with these things, the bill’s text is a challenging and rather dull read, deliberately obscure in its language and difficult to navigate.
Of some note is the “information offenses” clause, which empowers OfCom to demand “information” from users, companies and employees, and makes it a crime to withhold it. The nature of this “information” is never specified, nor does it appear to be qualified. Meaning it could be anything, and will most likely be used to get private account information about users from social media platforms.
In one of the more worrying clauses, the Bill outlines what they call “communications offenses”. Section 10 details crimes of transmitting “Harmful, false and threatening communications”.
It should be noted that sending threats is already illegal in the UK, so the only new ground covered here is “harmful” and/or “false” information, and the fact they feel the need to differentiate between those two things should worry you.
After all, the truth can definitely be “harmful”…Especially to a power-hungry elite barely controlling an angry populace through dishonest propaganda.
Rather amusingly, the bill makes it a crime to “send a message” containing false information in clause 156…then immediately grants immunity to every newspaper, television channel and streaming service in clause 157.
Apparently it’s OK for the mainstream media to be harmful and dishonest.
But the primary purpose of the new law is a transfer of responsibility to enable and incentivize censorship.
Search engines (“regulated search services”, to quote the bill) and social media companies (“regulated user-to-user services”) will now be held accountable for how people use their platform.
For example: If I were to google “Is it safe to drink bleach?”, find some website that says yes, and then drink bleach, OfCom would not hold me responsible. They would hold Google responsible for letting me read that website. Likewise, if someone tweets @ me telling me to drink bleach, and I do so, Twitter would be held responsible for permitting that communication to take place.
This could result in hefty fines, or even potentially criminal charges, to companies and/or executives of those companies. It could even open them up to massively expensive civil suits (don’t be surprised if such a legal drama hits the headlines soon).
That’s all window dressing, of course, what this is really about is “misinformation” and “hate speech”. Which is to say, fact-checking mainstream lies and calling out mainstream liars.
Section 7(135) is entirely dedicated to the creation of a new “Advisory committee on disinformation and misinformation”, which will be expected to submit regular reports to OfCom and the Secretary of State on how best to “counter misinformation on regulated services“.
This is clearly a response to Covid, or rather the failure of Covid.
Essentially, the pandemic narrative broke because the current mechanisms of censorship didn’t work well enough. In response, the government has just legalised and out-sourced their silencing of dissent.
See, the government isn’t going to actually censor anyone themselves, protecting it from pro-free speech criticism. Rather, huge financial pressure will be applied on tech giants to be “responsible” and “protect the vulnerable”. Meaning de-platforming and cancelling independent media via increasingly opaque “terms of service violations”
These companies will be cheered on by the vast crowd of jabbed-and-masked NPCs who have been so successfully brainwashed into believing the “they are a private company and can do that they want” argument.
This has been going on for years already, of course, but that was covert stuff. Now it’s legal in the UK, and is about to get a lot worse.
You can read the full text of the Online Safety Bill here.
“Our System Is Collapsing In Real Time”: Tucker Carlson Gives Bombshell Interview
"Our System Is Collapsing In Real Time": Tucker Carlson Gives Bombshell Interview
Authored by Urs Gehriger via WeltWoche.ch,
“They’re all afraid”
Tucker Carlson is unstoppable. Since his sudden departure from Fox News he scores record viewer ratings. In an exclusive interview with Weltwoche, the political media star demolishes the mainstream media’s manipulation machine, reveals his concerns about a potential Donald Trump Restoration, he speaks about the disturbing state of the Biden family and discusses what’s next for him in a Post-Fox News Order.
When Tucker Carlson departed the Fox News Channel in April, his enemies cheered. But if they thought the happy warrior had finally been defeated, their judgment was as dismal as their approval ratings. With an assist from Elon Musk, Carlson is reaching an even larger, global audience with his new show, “Tucker Carlson on Twitter (now known as ‘X’).”
The veteran newscaster has expanded his mission: to defeat the mainstream media’s suffocating bias and incuriosity not just about critical events at home but in capitals around the world.
When we reach him, Carlson has just returned from the United Arab Emirates where he met with its president, Mohamed bin Zayed. Carlson pronounces the sheikh “the most interesting, wisest leader I've ever spoken to” — a provocative assessment given that the talk show host sat across from Donald J. Trump last month. Of the Arab leader, Carlson enthuses, “I've never met a more humble leader, ever — and I believe humility is a prerequisite for wisdom.”
Carlson is far less kind about his colleagues in the press. “They're all fearful people,” the 54-year-old scoffs. Instead of holding the powerful to account, “they do exactly the opposite.” Indeed, “they do their bidding.”
Looking ahead to the Presidential elections in 2024, he says: “They're trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden … That's what this election's about. Are we going to allow that, or aren't we? And I just don't think we can.”
Weltwoche: Since leaving Fox and going solo with your new show, “Tucker Carlson On Twitter (now known as ‘X’),” your posts have logged tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of views. You’re taking off like Buzz Lightyear. Are you feeling the freedom? To explore more topics and ideas? To express your views?
Tucker Carlson: Well, definitely. If anything, I've expressed my views less. I haven't done many straight-to-camera scripts where I write the script and give my opinion. I've done what I've wanted to do for a long time but couldn't, which is get on an airplane and go see the rest of the world. I couldn't because I had a daily show I had to do.
I've become convinced over the past several years — particularly since the war in Ukraine began — that the world is changing much more quickly than most Americans understand. And because there's virtually no coverage of the rest of the world in American media, Americans don't have a good sense of it.
What we, in this country, refer to as the "Post-War Order” — the institutions set up in the wake of World War II to keep the world peaceful and prosperous and the United States at the top of the pyramid, and that would include the dominance of the dollar, the SWIFT system, NATO — all of that appears to me to be crumbling. That's my view of it. I've wanted to travel and see if that is, in fact, happening — and it is.
Weltwoche: You travel the world, now, more than ever. What personality, globally, fascinates you in particular?
Carlson: I think, right now, the most interesting, wisest leader I've ever spoken to is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, MBZ. [Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, popularly known by his initials as MBZ, is president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Abu Dhabi.] I respect [him].
Weltwoche: You have just flown back to the US from Abu Dhabi?
Carlson: Yes, and I spoke to him. I've interviewed a lot of people who run countries or organizations. I've interviewed a lot of leaders in, well, thirty years. That's been my job. And I've never interviewed anybody in charge of anything [who is] more willing to admit when he doesn't understand something or have any answer to a question. I've never met a more humble leader, ever, and I believe humility is a prerequisite for wisdom.
Wise people admit what they don't know, and I've never seen that before. You don't see that in the West. You're not going to interview a presidential candidate in the United States, or a president, for that matter, who's willing to say, “I don't know the answer. I've thought about it, and I'm not sure.” They'll never say that, because you can't admit you don't know.
Of course, the scope of human knowledge is very limited. We don't know anything, actually. We don't know how the brain works or how the pyramids were built. The list of things we don't know is far longer than the list of things we do, and no one will admit that. The people who do, who are willing to say that out loud, are the ones who I trust. So, I was very impressed. I've never been more impressed by a leader.
But there are a lot of interesting people from around the world. Javier Milei, I thought, was an interesting guy. [Javier Gerardo Milei is an Argentine economist and politician known for his libertarian views. He is leading in the polls for the next presidential election.]
Weltwoche: Let’s have a brief look back to your many years with Fox where you became a global media star, ranking number one with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on cable news. During a recent episode of your show on “X,” you said: “The Murdochs never got in my way. They were always good to me. But there were always small minded. … It’s a company run by fearful women, you know what I mean?” What do you mean?
Carlson: Well, I spent fourteen years at Fox and, most of the time, I was working on my own business. I had no role in managing the company — far from it. I was just an employee. So, there are a lot of things about how the company runs that I wouldn't know about.
In my experience, the family that owns, that controls the company, the Murdochs, were always very gentlemanly to me. Very polite, nice, gave me huge latitude. I often, or sometimes, felt that they disagreed with what I was saying, that my views were different from theirs. But they let me express my views, and I was grateful for that. I am grateful for that. I never had a problem with them, and I don't have a problem with them, now. I'd disagree with them on certain things, but I'll always be grateful for the chances they gave me and the kindness they showed to me.
There are a lot of great people at Fox News, but there are also a lot of people who are just terrified, who are just trying to make it through the day. And I don't think they make Xanax strong enough for some of the people who run the place to calm down. [laughter]
I meant what I said. I've worked at a lot of news organizations in the United States, and they're all the same. They're all afraid of getting sued or yelled at or fired or humiliated. But interestingly, none of them are very afraid of getting things wrong. That's not a concern. They're not worried about accuracy as much as they're worried about being unfashionable or saying something forbidden. What they're really worried about is telling the truth.
You'd think that if you ran a news organization, your main concern would be getting it right and that you'd be terrified if someone would make a mistake. But that's not their top concern. And not just at Fox. I worked at MSNBC and CNN. I worked at PBS. I spent a year working at ABC. I've certainly been around a lot of news companies, and they're all the same. They're all fearful people who are making more than they probably should be, and they're worried about losing their jobs. Occasionally, you'll find a courageous person, but they are very, very, very rare. Very rare.
Weltwoche: The media as the “fourth estate” has a serious credibility problem, not just in the US. Here, it's the same. The only national news organization in the US that scores the majority of the public's trust is, according to YouGov [May 2023], The Weather Channel.
Weltwoche: Half of the American public believes that the news media deliberately attempts to mislead, misinform, and propagandize [Gallup, February 2023]. You've been in the news for so long. Why is the state of the media so miserable?
Carlson: Well, because if you want to subvert a democracy, you need to control the information that citizens receive. I'd argue that the news media in democracies is far less trustworthy than it is in other countries simply because it matters more in a democracy. People vote on the basis of the information they have. So, if you want to control their votes, you have to control what they know.
There has been a very aggressive attempt, over a number of decades on the part of the people who run the United States, to control what's available on our news stations and in our newspapers — to control the news media. And they have.
Weltwoche: The people working for news media seem to go along with it.
Carlson: Of course they do, because they're terrified. They're just afraid. They go along with it, absolutely. They're afraid to say something that will offend the people who run the government, who run the biggest companies and, most of the time, they won't. And that's not just a perversion of what they should be doing, it's an inversion. They exist to hold the people in power accountable. Instead, they do exactly the opposite. They do their bidding.
For example, they roll out this vaccine in the United States. It has massive consequences for the population. Hundreds of millions of people take it, and no reporting on that vaccine – no real reporting — is allowed. People are, literally, fired from their jobs if they'd question the efficacy and the safety of that vaccine. That's insane. In a functioning democracy, if you had a mandatory drug where everyone's required to take it, the news media’s job would be to report out whether or not it's safe and whether or not it works. They did just the opposite.
Even the war in Ukraine. This is potentially a nuclear conflict between superpowers. Shouldn't we know all that we can? “No.” You're not allowed.
I tried to interview Vladimir Putin, and the US government stopped me. So, think about that for a minute. By the way, nobody defended me. I don't think there was anybody in the news media who said, “Wait a second. I may not like this guy, but he has a right to interview anyone he wants, and we have a right to hear what Putin says.” You're not allowed to hear Putin's voice. Because why? There was no vote on it. No one asked me. I'm 54 years old. I've paid my taxes and followed the law.
I'm an American citizen. I'm a much more loyal American than, say, Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, who didn't even grow up in this country; she grew up in Canada. And they're telling me what it is to be a loyal American? I'm just not even interested, at this point. I don't even care. When David Frum [a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine] from Canada gets to tell me that I'm a disloyal American, it's a joke. It's a joke. And I don't care what they think, actually, anymore. And I don't have to care. So, I don't.
Weltwoche: The high ratings your show is getting demonstrate that you raise a voice that people want to hear. One such example of media manipulation is the media suppression and dismissal of Hunter Biden's laptop. You have studied the infamous “laptop from hell.” So have we, at Weltwoche, since the spring of last year. You have profound knowledge about the Biden business network. You were the first to interview the Biden business insider, Tony Bobulinski, in October 2020. From what you have seen, would you conclude that Joe Biden knew about his son's business? That he facilitated it? And that he might have profited, himself?
Carlson: Well, those aren't opinions. That's factually established. We interviewed Devon Archer [Hunter Biden’s longtime close business partner and friend] last month, who, on dozens of occasions at business meetings, watched Joe Biden call his son Hunter during a business meeting. His son put him on speakerphone while Joe Biden was vice president of the United States in order to help his son's business. By the way, the business, the so-called “business,” consisted wholly of being Joe Biden's son. Hunter Biden had no expertise in energy. He knew nothing about Ukrainian gas. It's a joke that he didn't know. He had no relevant experience in, or knowledge of, any of the so-called “businesses” he ran.
He was purely selling access to his father. It's not speculation. That's what his business partner said, on the record, on camera. Yes, there's no debate about that. That's a fact.
I guess the media hate Trump so much or are profiting in some way, I suppose, from Joe Biden being president that they feel they'd have to lie about it. But they're lying, period.
Weltwoche: Another story that has raised zero curiosity among the DC press is the allegation, reportedly made by his own daughter, Ashley, in her private diary, that Joe Biden may have behaved toward her in a way that she describes as "probably not appropriate" when she was a young girl. Hunter gave his dad the alias "Pedo Peter" in his cell phone contact list. I assume that in America "Pedo Peter" is an unusual term of address for one's father. Why has the press shown so little interest in investigating these disturbing details, especially in the post-#MeToo era?
Carlson: Well, [Ashley] said it in her diary, whose only audience was herself. She didn't allege it. She recorded it: that her father took showers with her as a child and, because he did, she became a sex addict. That's what she wrote in her diary. The response from the Biden administration was to get the Department of Justice to raid the home of the man who had the diary, arrest the people who had the diary though they didn't steal it, they paid for it. Ashley Biden left it behind in a house she'd been renting, and they never said anything about it.
That's a sex crime. I have three daughters. I can promise you it's not normal for a father to shower with his daughters. [Ashley] said, in her diary, “I think I have a sex addiction because my father showered with me.” That's what she says.
By the way, Joe Biden has dementia and is not running the United States. So, that raises the obvious question: “Who is?”
Weltwoche: Who is?
Carlson: I would assume Barack Obama through his cutouts who work for Joe Biden. But I don't know that. The New York Times hasn't bothered to report on it, but Joe Biden has dementia. He's not capable of speaking a complete sentence much less running the largest organization in human history, which is the US government. The whole premise is ridiculous, and now they're telling us? He's 80 years old. He can barely speak. He can barely walk. And he's going to run, again, for president of the United States while there's a war going on? The whole thing is so demented that we're moving to the point where they're not trying to convince anybody. They're just trying to suppress and arrest people who ask questions. They've arrested dozens of people, of political opponents, not for committing crimes, but for opposing them in the past month. Dozens in the past month.
Our system is collapsing in real time. We're watching this happen. If you read the American media, it's stories about Kim Kardashian and lots of irrelevant crap about trannies and all this stuff. The bottom line is the president of the United States is non compos mentis.
Who is running the government? If you can't answer that question, you're not doing your job in the media, it would seem to me. Whatever.
Weltwoche: You landed a great scoop with your interview with former President Donald Trump, which went on the air just as the Republican candidates were holding their first debate on your previous channel, Fox. Back in 2018, when you and I first met for an interview, Trump had been in office for almost two years. And you told me your assessment that, at that juncture, "Trump is not capable"as US president. You referenced the border — he didn't build the wall enough — as an example. If Trump succeeds in making a triumphant return to the White House, do you think he can be effective?
Carlson: No. Of course, I don't know. I'd merely be speculating. I think his first term as president proved it's pretty hard to run an organization, millions of people, when most of them are paid to oppose you, which they are. There are unionized federal employees whose jobs depend on the other party. So, the system, itself, is pretty difficult for someone who seeks to reform the system.
At this point, however, they're trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden. I'm just speaking in my capacity as a voter. That's all I need to know.
Do I think if Trump were to take over, tomorrow, that he would make the CIA accountable to voters? No, I don't. Do I think he'd build a wall? I don't know. I hope so.
I know that you cannot allow, you absolutely cannot allow a political party to use our system of justice to imprison the president's chief opponent. You can't do that. That's just absolutely not allowed.
From my perspective, that's what this election's about. Are we going to allow that, or aren't we? And I just don't think we can.
Weltwoche: Your fellow journalists can't stop criticizing you. They call your reporting "pro-Russian" or “pro-Trump.” Recently, you took a lot of heat for your Larry Sinclair interview where he talked about [conducting] an alleged gay affair with Barack Obama. [Sinclair, a convicted con artist, claims that he saw former United States President Barack Obama smoking crack before engaging in sexual activities with him in 1999 when Obama was a state senator.] While it’s true that his claims were never pursued by an Obama-besotted press, are you concerned that the one-on-one, interview format of your online show limits your ability to fully investigate the truth of your guests’ claims of fact?
Carlson: Oh, sure, of course. I've been doing one-on-one interviews on television for 25 years.
Weltwoche: You had a big team at the time when you did those interviews.
Carlson: Well, they still work for me. I have the same team. [laughs] Yes, I have exactly the same team. In fact, they're coming over for dinner in just a minute.
I think Larry Sinclair has been attacked. He was arrested, at one point. He was dismissed as “non-credible.” This has been going on for fifteen years. People have been attacking Larry Sinclair or dismissing him. My view was, “I'm the balance, I guess. Why don't we get to hear from Larry Sinclair? Okay, here's Larry Sinclair. You can make up your own mind as to what you think about him.”
In other words, liars, proven liars like Ben Smith, at Politico at the time, were able to get out there and tell us that everything Larry Sinclair said was false. Okay, that's Ben Smith's position. Here's Larry Sinclair's position. It seems like I'm the balance, as far as I'm concerned. Does that make sense?
Weltwoche: Some critics ask, “Is airing Larry Sinclair’s personal recollections any different from Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brent Kavanaugh?”
Carlson: Well, it's very different. I think it's different in its particulars. It's very different. But I also think Larry Sinclair has the right to… Larry Sinclair, in my view, in a very credible way, said he had sex with Barack Obama. Since we're so fanatically pro-gay, now, and everything gay is good, why is that bad? “Obama likes dudes.” Why is that an attack on Obama? Do you know what I mean? Like, am I the only non-homophobe, here?
It seems obvious to me that Obama likes dudes. He told his girlfriend that. Alex McNear [who was romantically involved with Obama during his brief time at Occidental College] is a distant cousin of mine, by the way. And Obama told her, “I fantasize about having sex with men.” I guess it's a little strange to think that saying that out loud is somehow an attack. I don't know why it would be. I thought we're supposed to like dudes. [laughs] I can't keep up.
Weltwoche: Tucker, you've made a remarkable journey. Over the years, you've changed your mind about big issues, important issues, like the invasion of Iraq.
Carlson: Oh, yes.
Weltwoche: And you went public about it. Very few journalists are willing to admit to a typo, let alone make a serious course correction. Is there an issue, right now, that you’re reconsidering, taking a second look at? A previously held position that is currently under review?
Carlson: Oh, I changed my mind like every issue. [laughs] I'm constantly changing my mind about things. Constantly. Gosh, there are a lot of issues that I'm not sure I fully understand. [Artificial Intelligence], for example. I'm very worried that AI's going to destroy the world and become autonomous. But will it? I don't know. I guess, other than a gut-level concern, I don't have a very smart view of AI.
There are lots of issues, like that, that I'm trying to figure out. Thankfully, I don't have to have an opinion on everything. I'm old enough that I'm happy to admit when I don't know the answer to something.
I'll tell you this: My view that the war in Ukraine imperils Western civilization has gotten stronger with time, not weaker. I feel that way. I thought it, before. Now, I really think it. There are lots of things I have worried about in the past that have turned out to be not worth worrying about. I was just in the Middle East, yesterday, and I was thinking I first went to the Gulf in 2001, right after 9/11, and we were completely convinced — I was completely convinced — that we were looking at the beginning of a 500 year war against Islam, the West versus Islam. And that's not the way it turned out at all, actually.
The Gulf Arabs that I’ve dealt with, over the years, are far more tolerant than your average white, secular liberal in America — far more tolerant. They have a bigger and more Christian Christmas celebration in Abu Dhabi than we have in New York.
Weltwoche: In general, what gives you hope in a rather worrisome time, looking into the future?
Carlson: That the stakes have suddenly gotten so high that smart people are rethinking their assumptions. I see it all around me. I see people all around me asking themselves, “I used to believe this. Is it still true? Was it ever true? What is the truth?” People are focused on questions of truth and falsehood, I think, much more deeply than they ever have been, and that's a good thing.
I also see an awakening of spiritual awareness and religious faith in the United States that I think is great. Not everyone is reaching the same conclusions that I'm reaching, but that's okay. It's better than thinking that Amazon's going to make you happy, because Amazon is not going to make you happy, actually. That's not true. That's a lie. And more and more people seem to be concluding that it's a lie, and I think that's a great thing.
There's this idea that somehow the main threat to our happiness is from religious people. That's absurd. The main threat to our happiness is from people who think they're God. They're the dangerous ones. If you think that you're God, there's no limit to what you'll do because you think you're the final arbiter, you're the final judge, you're all-powerful. That's terrifying.
I'm much more comfortable around religious people. I'm a Christian, but they don't have to share my views. As I just said, I was actually meeting with some people the other day. There was a call to prayer right in the middle of our meeting, and everyone got up and got on their knees and faced toward Mecca and worshiped Allah. Twenty years ago, I would've thought, “Oh my gosh, how threatening!” Now, I thought, “How wonderful. How great is that?”
Weltwoche: When are you coming back to Switzerland? I know it might be boring, here. You told me there's nothing to report on. But it'd be nice to have you over.
Carlson: I love that. I love a boring country. You've got the last boring country in the West.
Weltwoche: Switzerland is changing, too.
Carlson: I know, it’s true. But at least it’s beautiful. If you have inspiring physical beauty, it’s kind of hard to take the mountains away. I hope Switzerland stays exactly the same. The second the American empire collapses, you will get the bank secrecy back.
By the way, secrecy does not imply wrongdoing. Privacy is a prerequisite for freedom. I have a lock at my bedroom. It doesn’t mean I do anything illegal in my bedroom. I am not a slave; I am a citizen. I can have privacy.
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