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To read more about Episode 198, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:15] This is Rumble with Michael Moore, and I am Michael Moore. Welcome everyone. Well, I’ve got a great guest coming up here on today’s episode, my old friend Jon Schwarz, who writes for The Intercept. He worked on my film, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Great guy. Great thinker, funny. So I’m looking forward to try to cover a number of things with him you can fit in here within the hour. That’ll be great. So please stick around for that. Just coming up here in a few minutes. And thanks to all of you out there, all you listeners, who gave me such great and incredible feedback on episode 197, which was called Welcome to the Department of Restorative Justice and Redemption. And my guest, Dan Berger, who has written and worked on this issue of mass incarceration for so many years. Great feedback. Great ideas. Let’s stay with this topic, the topic of what we’re going to do to get rid of the systems that we’ve had for so many years that don’t work, whether it’s policing, whether it’s incarceration, what we call justice, all of this we can fix. We can fix all of this and have a better, safer, kinder society and help those who fall between the cracks who make mistakes. We can do this better.
Michael Moore [00:01:52] We can do this better. And so we will stay with this topic here for the rest of this year. Frankly, every now and then, when we have time to come back to it, I’m going to come back to it and present new ideas on what we can do to have a more just society than the one that we have right now. So please keep sending me your feedback to Mike@MichaelMoore.com. It’s that easy. I read every email. I don’t have time to respond to all of them. Sorry for that, but I do read them and you can leave me a voicemail. There’s a link here on my podcast platform page and just click on that and there’s a 60-second thing where you can just record. And I listen. I listened to all the voicemails.
Michael Moore [00:02:31] So a lot is going on this week in the world, in this country, the latest where Biden has compromised with the conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. What he’s done is reduce the original $2 trillion infrastructure bill because he said infrastructure has to do with climate. He has to do with child care. It’s not just bridges and roads. Well, he gave in essentially to the Republicans. They probably won’t vote for it anyway, because they don’t have enough. But it’s like down to $580 billion dollars down from that, whatever it was, a trillion and a half two trillion. That’s not going to work. We’ve got a fight. We’ve got to fight. We have to fight for all these things. The majority of Americans who made their voices very clear that they wanted the Democratic controlled Senate, House and White House and the policies that we believe in are the policies that the majority of our fellow Americans agree. And so let’s make sure we do that.
Michael Moore [00:05:50] A news story popped up in my notifications this week, and maybe some of you missed it. It’s one of those stories and this happens every week. I know you probably see the same thing going on where you go, Oh my god, this is so I can’t believe this. And then it’s the last you hear of it. I mean, somebody might mention it once or twice, and then it’s gone. And I hate it. I hate it when they’re gone. This particular story this week reveals many truths about how the world works and too often gets forgotten as we move on to the next distraction. So here’s the headline from the New York Times. This is how it read. Saudi operatives who killed Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the U.S. And then it goes on to say the training approved by the State Department underscores the perils of military partnerships with repressive governments. Wow. I saw that, and I was like, not only was The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered by the American government’s close ally Saudi Arabia, but the operatives who carried out the assassination were given paramilitary training in the U.S. one year earlier under a contract approved by our State Department.
Michael Moore [00:07:37] Khashoggi’s body was dismembered using a bone saw. What kind of State Department funded training is this? Jeez. Before anyone argues that, well, Mike, of course, you know, America did brutal and ugly things and Donald Trump was our president. I must point out to you what this article says, quote the State Department initially granted this license for the paramilitary training of the Saudi royal guard to these American contractors starting in, drum roll, please, 2014, during the Obama administration. The training continued during at least the first year of the former president known as Donald Trump. My friends, if I have said this once, I’ve said it a thousand times, Donald Trump did not just fall from the sky. He was actually the perfect embodiment of American cruelty and inhumanity. And while removing him from office was thoroughly necessary, I don’t even need to state that, it is this cruelty and inhumanity that we must now extinguish.
Michael Moore [00:08:59] And whenever I think of cruelty and inhumanity, I think of my guest today on Rumble, Jon Schwarz. Jon is one of my favorite writers, thinkers, and humorists. He always keeps a close eye on the inner workings of the American Empire and never allows us to forget these ugly details. Jon always has a great eye for irony and a deep commitment to undoing the propaganda that our media, our educational system and our culture bombard us with on a daily basis. Jon currently writes for The Intercept. He’s also contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, as well as NPR. And yes, in his younger years, Saturday Night Live. And a full disclosure, Jon used to work for me as a researcher on “Capitalism: A Love Story,” and way back in the day he ran MichaelMoore.com. So it is a huge pleasure and an honor to have my old friend here with me for the first time here on Rumble, Jon Schwarz. Jon, how are you?
Jon Schwarz [00:10:10] Well, I’m great. Thank you for saying so many kind things. I should say that, you know, working with you, working with everybody else on “Capitalism: A Love Story.” The other stuff, too. It was a huge education in how to cause trouble.
Michael Moore [00:10:26] Well, thank you. I think that’s a compliment. Yeah, thank you for that. You have continued to do this, though, and I’m so grateful. And so when I saw this article, Basel and I were talking, man, this is right up Jon’s alley and then you, like so many times, start to write about these things before we’re even trying to kind of gather our thoughts and I want to start here, but I have a bunch of things I want to throw at you because my head is spinning and I think the heads of millions of Americans and people around the world are spinning right now. So if we could just start with Khashoggi and give me your take on this and what it is we can do about it because I do not want this story to die?
Jon Schwarz [00:11:06] Yeah. Well, I mean, this is the kind of thing where if you know anything about U.S. history, you read it and you’re like, Wow, like this is incredibly shocking and incredibly unsurprising. You know, it’s the kind of thing that is as ugly as it gets with human beings. And yet at the same time, the kind of thing that we’ve done a million times before, and I think people should look at this story and look at a little bit of the background. You know, first of all, the company that did the training, tier one group, it’s owned by a private equity firm, which is called Cerberus Capital Management. And if I’m pronouncing that right, people may know Cerberus is the three headed dog that guards the gates of hell in mythology to prevent people from escaping from hell.
Michael Moore [00:11:55] That’s not a joke. That’s actually, that’s true.
Jon Schwarz [00:11:58] Yeah, that’s true. That’s absolutely true. And, you know, if people named their company that you kind of get where they’re coming from the beginning and if you want to think like this is, you know, OK, so Obama was involved or the Trump State Department was involved, but it’s still an anomaly. Well, one of the top officials at this private equity firm is George H.W. Bush’s vice president Dan Quayle. Like this is the people who run this country and this is the way they see the world and this is the kind of thing they do. And you kind of got to face that and figure out, you know, how to go on from there.
Michael Moore [00:12:34] So, OK, so again, as you said, not surprising and I don’t know why it is probably because, you know, sometimes I just want to think about this stuff. And so you read a you read a horrible headline or even a, you know, when it happened when the assassination of Khashoggi took place, you know, your brain should just automatically by now go to this default that says, Oh, we had a hand in this somewhere – we the United States government, you know somebody, somebody did something with this and sure enough, we now this week, some years now after his death that we did have a hand, that a private contractor from our State Department and back during his back during the Obama administration trained these assassins to commit their crimes on whatever they were going to do with the training that we gave them.
Michael Moore [00:13:32] I mean, I worry when people hear this and they listen to this podcast that they just start to sink like, Oh geez. Of course, same old, same old. What do we do about this now? And I want to jump out of my chair and go. There is something we can do. I’m not quite sure what it is at this moment, but I refuse to let this be done in my name, my tax dollars and you know, somebody is going to have to pay for this.
Jon Schwarz [00:14:06] Yeah, you know, and I would say, like, even though it is no surprise, I don’t think people should read the story and just give up in despair. You know, like one of the things about this story is that they felt it was necessary to keep it secret, you know, like in the past. That…
Michael Moore [00:14:20] Speaks highly of us.
Jon Schwarz [00:14:21] Exactly like…
Michael Moore [00:14:23] They’re that worried….
Jon Schwarz [00:14:23] about us, right? They know that if normal Americans were to find out about this, like, it would really cause some trouble for them. And that wasn’t necessarily the case in the past. I mean, America’s done some pretty awful things without feeling the need to cover it up. So like that in and of itself is progress. And even though they’re never going to tell us…the more you yell about it, the more like you go and talk to your like your elected representatives, I know that seems like, you know, this sort of like schoolbook thing to do, but there are a lot of people in Congress who actually are outraged about this and will continue to be outraged about it. They don’t want the country to run like this. And it is not necessarily the case that nothing can be done. I think that we should start from the premise that something can be done. Things have changed in the past. They can change again.
Michael Moore [00:15:23] Well, I believe that and I guess what I’ll say is, is that people listening, first of all, I’d love to hear your ideas. You know, you could always write me here, there’s a link on this podcast page. You can leave me a voicemail. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, and I’m going to be thinking about it. And I won’t let this drop. I’m going to stay on this because this has to end. This kind of behavior that’s done in our name has to be brought to an end. And the main thing right now, I guess, Jon, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on today. One of a number of reasons I wanted to get into with you is that story from the past week just doesn’t fade away.
Jon Schwarz [00:16:10] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:16:10] This is what I always worry about. You know, there’s just so much going on and it comes and it goes.
Jon Schwarz [00:16:17] Well here’s the thing. I just read a proverb for the first time that I had never seen before, which I think is a good thing to keep in mind about this kind of stuff, which is the ax forgets, but the tree remembers. And regular people are the tree continually being hit with the ax. Like it’s our job, like to do that, to be the remembering part. And it’s natural for the people in charge to try to throw this away and make it vanish from history. And if you take seriously anything about politics, you realize that just remembering the stuff and bringing it up again and again and again really does make a difference. There’s nothing that they hate more than that.
Jon Schwarz [00:17:04] And you know, you can see that in what’s going on all over the country, it’s like, like all the state governments where they’re like, we’re going to make teaching actual history illegal. Like, there’s a good reason for that. They know what they’re doing. So I agree with you. This story says so much about how the world works that it’s really important that we remember it. I bet that there is more that is going to come out, and we should keep talking about that whenever that happens.
Michael Moore [00:17:27] Right? And not be bullied by it, like you mentioned, the history they don’t want us to know. The bugaboo of the week is that critical race theory must not be taught in our schools. And then when I’m watching the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday in Congress, like dressing them down for how dare you say we don’t talk about this or learn about it or try to understand, you know, institutional racism in this country.
Joint Chiefs of Staff [00:17:57] First of all, on the issue of critical race theory, et cetera, I always have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it’s important actually for those of us in uniform to be open minded and be widely read. And the United States Military Academy is a university and it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand white rage, and I’m white and I want to understand it. So what is it that causes thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it.
Michael Moore [00:18:39] That was just the last thing I expect to see out of the mouth of the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And yet, you know it, I thought, yes, everybody take a cue from this guy and stand up again. Don’t let this happen in your local school districts. This is so important that we teach our children about this and how we got here, how we got here racially. This is one of the most important things we need to be talking about in schools these days. But the way that they go after, you’ve got a thing in The Intercept today, about the whole concept of moral equivalency. Can we just talk about that for a second and about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and what she’s had to go through in the last couple of weeks because she just happened to point out that a lot of bad things are done in the world by a lot of different people. Some of those bad things are done by the United States. Some of them are done by Israel. Sorry to have to point that out to everybody.
Ilhan Omar [00:19:39] I know you oppose the court’s investigation into both Palestine and in Afghanistan. I haven’t seen any evidence in either cases that domestic courts can and will prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. And I would emphasize that in Israel and Palestine, this includes crimes committed by both Israeli security forces and Hamas. In Afghanistan, it includes crimes committed by the Afghan national government and the Taliban.
Michael Moore [00:20:15] And man, did the world come down on her?
Jon Schwarz [00:20:17] Yeah. People probably saw this happening. It was extremely ugly and awful because what she was talking about, specifically, was that the International Criminal Court in 2020 had opened investigations into atrocities committed on all sides in Afghanistan. So that means, you know, the U.S. government, NATO, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. And they had opened an investigation into conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians. And so that’s what she was referencing, you know, like, we should have a neutral arbiter enforcing the law equally. And people went nuts. It was incredible to see.
Jon Schwarz [00:21:03] But the thing that was the most interesting to me was that they use this term moral equivalence. And this is a terrible crime. She didn’t actually say, like the United States is morally equivalent to Hamas. She didn’t say that at all. But they love this term, which is this term of propaganda, like, it’s very rare that you can say, like propaganda was invented here at this place on this date, but that actually is true with moral equivalence. It’s a term from the Reagan administration that was invented by his State Department and the most prominent neoconservatives of that era to defend him from criticism of the unbelievably awful foreign policy that his administration was conducting, especially in Central America. And so I wanted to do with this article to just remind people of this history. I think almost no one remembers this anymore. It’s only oddballs like ourselves, if we think about things that happened, you know, this is 35 years ago.
Michael Moore [00:22:04] Thanks for including me. Yeah, you’re right. But explain this because I just find this fascinating. Go ahead.
Jon Schwarz [00:22:10] Yeah. So what happened was that the neoconservatives became very concerned that, you know, carping intellectuals with their hatred of America and so forth were criticizing the United States too much. And they held a conference in 1985, as they say, sponsored by the State Department that was called Moral Equivalence: False Images of U.S. and Soviet values. And so this is people like Jeane Kirkpatrick, you know, again, probably somebody who’s largely forgotten now, but she was very prominent. She was Reagan’s ambassador to the U.N. William Bennett, who was the secretary of education. He later wrote a bestseller that was something like a treasury of values. It’s all about bringing America back to traditional values.
Jon Schwarz [00:23:01] And what they wanted to say, like, it’s a term that is intended to bully people into silence. Like if you criticize America, like how can you do that? Because the Soviet Union is so much worse? And then the Soviet Union collapsed, but moral equivalence continued onward. Like you can look at, Google has this really amazing feature that allows you to see how frequently words were used in books over the past 200 years. What you can see is that moral equivalence barely ever appeared in the English language until the 1980s, until the Reagan administration created it, and then it exploded. And even after the Soviet Union disappeared, the politicians and pundits found it so useful that it continues to this day. It’s constantly used. The British government during the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, they said that merely quoting the Taliban was moral equivalence.
Jon Schwarz [00:24:02] Dick Cheney said that criticizing the Bush administration for torture was moral equivalence. So they love it. It’s just a term intended to shut you up. But if you think about it for one second, you realize that it doesn’t make any sense at all. Like what is moral equivalence? What is the yardstick that we’re using here? And so it’s really, whenever you hear this, you should understand that the people using it are morally bankrupt and you should ignore them. I mean, just before this happened with Ilhan Omar, Mitch McConnell was accusing Nancy Pelosi of moral equivalence.
Michael Moore [00:24:32] So what was he going after her for when he said that?
Jon Schwarz [00:24:36] That was because she was saying that there should be a cease fire like in the recent conflict between Gaza and Israel. And that was the moral equivalence putting Hamas in the Israeli government on the same level. So anyway, it’s just…
Michael Moore [00:24:52] Right, because Nancy Pelosi is such a huge Hamas supporter.
Jon Schwarz [00:24:56] That’s right. There’s nothing more that Nancy Pelosi loves than Hamas.
Michael Moore [00:24:59] Right, right. So how do we deal with this? I mean, I guess just being aware of it is probably the most important thing that when you’re being bamboozled with this term and put on the defensive, which you should never be, that somehow you’re morally inept for raising issues, drawing comparisons or just talking about two different things in the same sentence. To not let them get away with that.
Jon Schwarz [00:25:28] Right, exactly. I mean, here’s the way I think people should look at this. There are two possibilities here, right? The first possibility is that America, you know, we started out as 13 colonies on the eastern seaboard. Then we took over most of North America. Now we have like 800 military bases all over the world and 70 countries. And we did this just by being super, super nice. You know, like that’s one possibility, and the other possibility is that we’re just like other huge empires throughout history and sometimes empires do things that are morally pretty good. Most of the time, what they do is awful and truly evil. And in this article, I use this quote from Thomas Merton, who is a poet and also a monk, a really interesting guy. And in 1962, he was corresponding with a friend of his about the very beginnings of Vietnam.
Jon Schwarz [00:26:30] So he saw it coming long before most everybody else. And he said the world is full of great criminals with enormous power, and they are in a death struggle with each other. It is a huge gang battle of supremely well-armed and well-organized gangsters. Let us avoid false optimism and approved gestures and seek truth. And I find that, like, incredibly profound, like…
Michael Moore [00:26:56] Yeah.
Jon Schwarz [00:26:57] Avoid approved gestures, avoid things meant to stop you from thinking. And I’ll just mention, I think at the end of “The Big One,” if I’m remembering, right, like where you say, like, one evil empire down, one to go.
Michael Moore [00:27:11] Yeah, right, right.
Jon Schwarz [00:27:14] And I don’t think you can look at the history of the United States honestly and think that we are a shining beacon of morality. Like that doesn’t mean that people in the United States are awful. Like, I like Americans, I like us, but it means that you just shouldn’t have faith in governments. Like I thought that was a conservative idea, right? Like I thought, conservatives were the ones who were supposed to be skeptical of government power. And I agree with that. I think you should always be skeptical, skeptical of government. So anyway, it’s just, yeah, it’s nonsense. I quoted George Orwell in “1984,” talking about this kind of propaganda. I think people should keep that in mind, where he said it’s just sort of like, it’s not even human speech, it’s not somebody using their brain, it just sounds like a duck quacking.
Michael Moore [00:28:06] Yeah. This is so important to point out, Jon, because the right always seems to get away with it. They just invent these terms. And you know, why don’t we do that? Why don’t we come up with our own language? Just take a page out of their book and start using language, words to change the world for the better, not do it in the way that they do it. We have a few smart people on our side of the fence, right? Can’t we do this, what they do, but do it for a good cause?
Jon Schwarz [00:28:37] Yeah, I mean, I absolutely think that we could do this, and it is kind of amazing. Like, you know, people who like words, like do tend to be sort of progressive like that. Those two things often go together and people, you know, who hate words and hate the fact that they can be used for honest communication tend to be conservative. And so I completely agree with you. I think it’s amazing that the progressives have failed like this, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t succeed in the future.
Jon Schwarz [00:29:03] You know, there are some really, really interesting experiments, I think, happening online right now where people are recognizing that. So I think there should be a lot more of that. And I’m confident that we can do it. The only problem is that, you know, what you really want is for people to encourage people to think these things through for themselves. And that’s a much more long and laborious project than just shutting down thought. And it takes longer, but I think you get better results in the long run, so I’m hoping that we can pull it off.
Michael Moore [00:29:36] You know, I have a huge amount of admiration for Ilhan Omar representing the people of Minneapolis in Congress. But this pile on that seems to take place every few months on her, where Republicans and Democrats get together to just beat up on her and try to weaken her influence. They tried very hard to get her removed in the last election. She was up for her second term and she crushed it. She won by an overwhelming majority. But I’m sick of this. I’m sick of this pile on that the leadership does on her, and I want it to stop and I don’t want them to get away with it. And I want our kids, I want people across the country to listen to her because she’s saying some very important things.
Jon Schwarz [00:30:29] Yeah, I’m completely completely with you. She’s an extremely impressive person to be willing to stand up, tell the truth and face the weird, crazy, scary consequences. And again, this is something we’re like…you can go and yell at your elected representatives, particularly people in the GHouse, and you saw some people who are willing to stand up and say, Look, this is wrong, we should not be doing this. On the democratic side. There were a lot of…
Michael Moore [00:31:00] Finally, right?
Michael Moore [00:31:01] Yeah.
Jon Schwarz [00:31:02] And that was great to see. And there could be more. You know, and so that’s something that is in our hands, like, that’s something that we can make happen. And so I encourage people to think about that and to do it.
Michael Moore [00:31:15] You brought up the Israel-Gaza tragedy that’s been going on. The killing of so many civilians in Gaza by the Israeli military. During all of this, there was another little story that happened here in the U.S. regarding this savagery that was going on and that got very little notice. An AP reporter by the name of Emily Wilder and you wrote about this. You wrote about her.
Michael Moore [00:31:45] They fired her. The AP fired her as CNN reported the story. Jon, they wrote before joining The Associated Press, Emily Wilder was an active member of pro-Palestinian groups at her college. She was a proponent of Palestinian…now, hold on to your seats here, Palestinian human rights and a critic of the Israeli government last week during the height of the recent war. I love that, the war between Israel and the Palestinians, a nuclear power versus people that are sending up little helium balloons with some lighter fluid in them. The Stanford College Republicans, OK, this is a group, they called out Wilder for her tweets, and soon after, the AP fired her in a unanimous decision among senior managers at the AP. The AP believes it. Wilder’s tweets could have put its journalists in danger if a perception exists that the AP is taking sides in a conflict, it could endanger journalists who are reporting inside a war zone. This blew my mind. So, they go back to what she did in college as a citizen, as a student, and for that, she should be fired from her first job here at the AP in Arizona.
Jon Schwarz [00:33:21] I mean, this is a perfect example of something that I’ve believed for a long time, which is that cancel culture, political correctness like it’s a huge problem in America. Absolutely. The thing is, 90 percent of it comes from the right. And that there is like progressive left-wing cancel culture, and I think that’s pernicious, and I think that people should be concerned about it. But the fact is, this is the kind of thing that happens every single day and no one ever talks about it. It’s just taken to be like, like, well, this is just the way, the way the world works, but this is what cancel culture is. Emily Wilder. She’s only 22, I believe. She just graduated from college. She got, you know, this entry level position at the Associated Press working in Arizona. I believe, just on Arizona politics, like not working on U.S. foreign policy or anything having to do with Israel.
Jon Schwarz [00:34:16] And during this conflict, she like, retweeted some things and said some things herself that I think are all like, pretty anodyne and straightforward. And then she immediately got fired, and this was thanks to a right-wing pressure campaign. I think even like Tom Cotton was talking about this, like this 22 year old, is this terrible danger to American society. And we don’t know exactly why she was fired, because the Associated Press, like devoted to uncovering the truth, refuses to say. You know, so we don’t know what precisely she did, but she violated their social media policy somehow.
Jon Schwarz [00:34:57] And I just wanted to write something to remind people that, you know, the media is always like, they’re, oh, they’re so amazingly liberal. Well, the history of AP actually is that it’s a very conservative organization. You know, it is one of the most important news organizations in America. Like, they often are the only people at this point, covering certain stories. Right? But their history shows like who they are, they should have been no surprise that they immediately fired her. It’s like in their DNA. It was formed by five New York newspapers during the Mexican-American war, whenever that was, like the 1840s, when we just stole this gigantic chunk of Mexico.
Michael Moore [00:35:45] Yeah.
Jon Schwarz [00:35:46] You know, it is now, I think, like California and lots of Texas.
Michael Moore [00:35:52] Yeah. There’s a key word in one of the places that we stole. It’s called New Mexico. But it’s just they should have. They should have just called it, you know, Columbus or something. Our Mexico. Our Mexico. But just leaving the word Mexico in there sort of implies it’s not really ours. But anyway, so yeah, so. So tell the story, though the AP of being, why they’ve always been traditionally very conservative, that isn’t exactly as balanced as they would try to as they would want you to think.
Jon Schwarz [00:36:29] Right? Well, so it was five New York newspapers. They wanted to cover the Mexican-American war that was costly. So they decided to, you know, share the cost of it and create this or like syndicate where they would just pay for coverage and then all the newspapers can use it. And it’s just this by itself is this kind of amazing story. Publisher of the New York Sun…this is how objective AP was from the start during the war. He traveled to Mexico like on orders from the U.S. government using a false passport in an attempt to undermine the Mexican war effort. And so again, like he should probably be fired for that violation of objectivity, the founder AP. They went on to do things like, the first AP correspondent who died during the war was a guy named Mark Kellogg. This was 1876.
Jon Schwarz [00:37:30] He was leaving to go cover the Battle of Little Bighorn. And his last dispatch was by the time this reaches you. We will have met and fought the Red Devils with what result remains to be seen. I go with…and we’ll be there at the death. And at the death was a phrase from fox hunting where like, you’re there when the animals are run to ground and killed. So he was anticipating going to see the Red Devils being slaughtered again. How liberal can he get? And you know, to this guy’s surprise both he and Custer ended up dead instead, instead of killing these inhuman creatures. That went on during the late 1900s, the early 20th century. They were extraordinarily anti-labor. They tried to get and almost succeeded, getting like other journalists thrown in jail for making fun of them. Like, there’s a famous cartoon about the AP where they almost made that happen. And there’s a great book. Upton Sinclair, famous for “The Jungle,” the sort of muckraking book about the meat industry in the early 20th century, wrote another book that was very famous at the time called “The Brass Check,” which is all about the news industry and how terrible it was in the U.S.
Jon Schwarz [00:38:54] And a big section of the book is about AP, just their lies and their unwillingness to ever correct their lies. Seymour Hersh said that, you know, he worked for AP for a while because it actually does provide a good training for journalists at the beginning of their careers. And there are tons of great journalists who work for the AP. It’s just like the management wouldn’t allow them to tell the truth. He said he could never have covered the My Lai massacre for AP. And most recently, one of the ugliest examples of this is that Robert Perry and Brian Barger were AP reporters in Central America, and they were covering the story about how we were supporting the Contras, the Contras who were trying to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, and they had uncovered what we now to be the truth.
Jon Schwarz [00:39:48] The CIA itself has acknowledged it’s true that a lot of the leaders of the Contras were involved in cocaine smuggling, a lot of this cocaine ended up in the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency knew about this and didn’t do anything because the Contras were too valuable to us, and so they stopped any investigation of what was going on. And here’s the hilarious thing like this is how history is made. These guys had filed their story, and AP made them go through this crazy round of edits, taking out a lot of the most important stuff. And then finally killed it. But it was still there in the AP computer system and like a nighttime Spanish language editor saw it in the system, didn’t realize it was not supposed to be published, and ran it. It just, you know, it just escaped from the lab.
Michael Moore [00:40:46] Wow.
Michael Moore [00:40:47] And then they had to actually publish it in English. So this is AP, as I say, one of the most important news organizations in the United States. And they often try to prevent the truth from getting out. And again, I want to emphasize that’s the management. There are tons and tons of really, really good AP reporters, but it’s a struggle for them to report the news.
Michael Moore [00:41:10] Jon, let me, if I can, go into another thing that you’ve written about here lately that has caught my eye. And it’s just driving me crazy. And you know, for those of us who did grow up in the working class, who come from union families, who understand what the struggle is all about when it comes to work and being paid properly and having some form of benefits to make life a little easier. You, the press has been harping on this thing over the last couple of weeks that businesses just can’t find workers. You know, the workers aren’t coming back to work. And the reason they’re not coming back to work is because we’ve given them too much unemployment. We’re giving them too much stimulus money and we got to stop, you know, handing out all this free money because they’re not coming back to work, to flip some burgers and to be, you know, I guess this thing is just sort of every time and it seems like every day there’s some story about the worker shortage.
Michael Moore [00:42:19] And you wrote about this, and I mean, you know, you really nailed this in the sense that what are they really trying to say here when they’re when they’re talking about this and why? Why are they punting on working people? Often the working poor who have been perhaps wanting to take their time and think about, you know, getting back to the old normal because the old normal hasn’t been very good for the working people of this country and now they have some leverage to say, you know what, maybe work in America should be looked at in a different way and maybe you’re going to have to treat us differently.
Michael Moore [00:43:11] I’ll just let you take it from there because I just thought about what you were saying about this and again very little criticism of the media just now they’ve got the new moral equivalency is now the worker shortage. Oh my God, the worker shortage. Share with people listening to this episode your thoughts about this?
Jon Schwarz [00:43:35] Yeah. Well, I hope people can read this. You have to understand the idea of a worker shortage, like whatever that is like in the context of history. And I would actually say your family is an important example of that history. Like I’ve always believed that, people may not know this but like, you’re not the only person in your family. Like you’re not the only sibling who has caused enormous irritation to the people running the world.
Michael Moore [00:44:04] Yes, that’s true.
Jon Schwarz [00:44:05] You know, I know the activities of your sister and I guarantee you that there are a lot of people in a lot of offices who are very unhappy about Anne Moore. And like, if you’re the people in charge and they look at the Moore family and the three siblings and like, we let like one guy, one dad create a decent life for his family, working in an auto plant. And then look what happens? And look, you give this one family this little bit of wiggle room and they go crazy. Like, we’ve got to shut this down immediately.
Michael Moore [00:44:48] Right. But this is the story of millions of families, though, and millions of people who were raised by moms and dads who worked on assembly lines, who worked in cubicles, who work, you know, scrubbing floors and what we called our essential workers that we were so, you know, so grateful for during the pandemic. And now, since things have started to open up a little bit, now it’s time to go back to punking on the people who take care of you and who keep your floors clean and who build your cars and all this other stuff. And I just want to call the media out on this. And tell the real story as to why working people in this country are not only just still trying to survive to get through this pandemic. It’s not over for them. And they’ve lost so many people in their families and their extended families. The 600,000 plus just in this country. They deserve more respect than being ridiculed, it seems, on the news every day for sitting around, sitting around, you know, with their big stimulus checks, not getting back and doing the work we need them to do, right?
Jon Schwarz [00:46:11] It’s incredible. It is so uniform in the media and so uniform among politicians. It makes you think that there must be some Central Office, where they’re sending out marching orders, and I don’t think that’s actually true. But just like the uniformity of it is amazing. And to understand it, to understand why they’re so angry, you really have to go back and look at this long, long history of the idea of worker shortages. Because if you have some sort of big business enterprise, there’s a core problem, which is how do you get people to do terrible jobs for terrible pay?
Jon Schwarz [00:46:50] Like what is the answer to that? And, you know, originally the answer in North America was slavery. Like, you just don’t give them any choice. And I think people don’t know that Native Americans were subjected to a lot of slavery. Like there were many, many, there were millions and millions of enslaved Native Americans. But it was a problem because it was hard to maintain. Like often people who are enslaved like the society that they were from was not that far away, so they could just run off and like, rejoin, you know, all the people that they knew. And so this created a worker shortage. This was the first worker shortage. And so that’s one of the reasons why they’re like, Hey, let’s steal a lot of people from Africa and enslave them.
Jon Schwarz [00:47:42] And the amazing thing is, like, eventually, you know, slavery was abolished. It was, you know, the British abolished slavery in the 1830s. But this is really crazy when you look back at it, just how straightforward they were because they were like, OK, yeah, we’re getting rid of slavery, but we still need people to work on our plantations. So how do we square that circle? And so they were particularly worried that there was a lot of land available where people could just go off and like farm the land and they’d be able to support themselves and they wouldn’t want to work at these terrible jobs.
Jon Schwarz [00:48:20] And so this is a direct quote from one of these guys that said, like, we need to fix such a price upon Crown Lands as may place them out of reach of persons without capital.
Michael Moore [00:48:38] Wow.
Jon Schwarz [00:48:42] It’s like, thank you for being so open and straightforward about this. Another guy in parliament, the British Parliament, said, like the danger is that the whole the laboring population of the West Indies should, as soon as they become entirely free, refused to work for wages and that thus capitalists should be left without laborers. Well, OK. You know, like how at least we’re facing the problem.
Michael Moore [00:49:12] Right.
Jon Schwarz [00:49:15] And so that’s pretty much how things worked out, like they wanted to make sure there was no way for people to use public resources. The Crown Lands were public lands. Right? That would prevent them from showing up to work every day on time. And they also, I didn’t mention this, it’s also kind of amazing how straightforward they were about this. They also discussed how they had to addict people to consumerism, that they needed people to be obsessed with acquiring like little meaningless trinkets, and that the only way they could get the trinkets was by, you know, working for wages, and that if they just supported themselves like they would be free and they wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. But, you know, they wouldn’t have gotten the latest dresses from London and stuff like that. Right, right. And so that story has been reenacted over and over and over again over the past hundreds of years.
Jon Schwarz [00:50:15] It happened in another form in England. And that’s exactly the thing that’s happening today. Like people were getting some kind of public support, like not so much that they’re going to go out and blow it on a new car like they’re not going to buy a horse with this money. But it does give them a little wiggle room. It does give them some leverage. And you can imagine a world where they would want to come back to work, where, you know, like jobs don’t have to be horrible, like they really don’t. Like jobs can be a lot of fun, even things that we think of as menial tasks, if you have control over them. Maybe businesses pay people better. They could allow workers to set their own, you know, conditions for work. They could give workers ownership of, you know, a part of the enterprise. But they’re not interested in that. Like the people who work like this, those are not things that capture their imagination. They want everybody to come back to work for the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour or even better, like the tipped wage, which is even less so, as I say, it’s just like a core problem of how capitalism works. They only have one answer for it, and that’s what we’ve been seeing happening now.
Michael Moore [00:51:29] And how should people, you know, when they’re just talking to friends or family and this issue comes up about, yeah, you know, Bill’s bar down there, just can’t get enough workers. And what is the clear and simple way to explain this critical capitalism theory to people about what’s really going on here? What is the media and the government and the rich really saying when they’re complaining about this so-called worker shortage?
Michael Moore [00:52:03] Yeah. I mean, the message really is: you better get back to work or you’re going to starve to death. And they always want that threat to be hanging over everybody. And the other way of looking at it, which is the right way, the true way of looking is that: like America is an incredibly rich country, and this wealth was created by everybody. You know, that’s just a fact. That’s a basic fact. Jeff Bezos didn’t invent the internet. You know, the inventor of the internet was invented by all of us. It was, in fact, based on a ton of government research and spending.
Jon Schwarz [00:52:47] And so the idea that the super duper wealthy can just use the stuff, like capture the wealth, that was created by all of us is just morally wrong. And it leads to a world that is much, much uglier than it needs to be. And so these are really deep questions, but once people start thinking about them, I think that they grasp it pretty quickly and a lot of people just understand this intuitively, right? Because it’s obvious depending on the family you grew up in and what kind of life you have.
Michael Moore [00:53:23] Yes. Yes, my family understands it. Right? And I think a lot of people who’ve, you know, grown up that way. But why? Why does the media participate in this? Because so many of them grew up in a working class home. Many of them saw their parents struggle. Why even put this kind of propaganda out there like this during this time when we’re trying, trying to get back to some sense of people being able to get by, just to get by and not get sick, not get sick?
Michael Moore [00:54:02] Yeah. You know, I wish I knew. But I would say, like, look at AP. You know, in Upton Sinclair’s book, he actually talks about having a discussion with an AP editor and the editor says, You know, I’m a socialist. Like that’s what I believe, but I would be fired tomorrow if I allowed any of my thoughts about the world to, you know, make it onto the wire. And so I think lots of journalists absolutely do know better. Some don’t, but I think a lot of them absolutely do. It’s just these are the rules of the road, like, there is not a whole lot of freedom to call things as you see them.
Michael Moore [00:54:41] I have like two more hours of things I want to talk to you about, but we can’t, so promise to come back, OK? Will you come back to talk about things like this? Because it’s been very uplifting for me just to get into these two, three, four things just in the last month that have disappeared, just disappeared. And I think one of the great things that you do and The Intercept does is to keep us focused on these things and other things, the story behind the story behind the story. And it’s what you and the others there do so well. You’re much needed. And people, if you don’t know what The Intercept is, I will have here on this on the platform page of this podcast, you will see links not only to these different things I’ve referred to that Jon has written about, you can read his writings on this and also to, I think Basel, we should put up the link to get Upton Sinclair’s “The Brass Check.”
Jon Schwarz [00:55:43] I mean, I think it is incredibly interesting. It reads like it was written yesterday and you know, it’s free online. You know, it’s 100 years old. I think the copyright has expired. So go, go check it out.
Michael Moore [00:55:58] It’s a free book. And you know, it’s one I’ve wanted to read for some time, and I’m now going to read it, thank you for the recommendation. For me, this will be my book of the week. But before we go, Jon, is there anything else we need to be thinking about right now? Maybe something that obviously I haven’t brought up in this episode, but you’ve been thinking about or something that you are going to be writing about in the next week or two or three? But just to give us just a hint of that or to stimulate our own brains in terms of what we should not be ignoring right now?
Jon Schwarz [00:56:38] Well, something that I’m working on that should be coming out in the next couple of weeks is about the enormous, like yammering, about the idea that the coronavirus escaped from a lab in China. And like I should say this like, I really I’m kind of allergic to speculation about this by people who don’t have PhD’s in this sort of stuff because like it is the kind of thing where you need a lot of specialized knowledge. But I just want to remind people of the Iraq weapons of mass destruction story, because I paid super close attention to that, and I was so frustrated by the fact that no one would listen to what I’m saying, but I actually bet somebody a thousand dollars that Iraq wouldn’t have anything.
Michael Moore [00:57:32] Wow.
Jon Schwarz [00:57:33] Yeah. And the guy came through like he paid up in the end and one key thing I think you need to understand is that at the time, everybody was like, Look, the Iraqi government is acting so suspiciously. Obviously, they’re covering up the fact that they have weapons of mass destruction. And the truth is they were acting suspiciously and they were covering things up, but they were covering up, not the fact that they had weapons of mass destruction, but all kinds of stuff that was totally invisible to us and seems crazy in retrospect. It was stuff like the head of their biological weapons program had secretly destroyed their anthrax at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, so they didn’t have anything left. But she would not say where she had destroyed it. And we later found out that the reason, you know, again, it wasn’t that they had tons of anthrax that they were hiding, it was that she had destroyed it outside of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. And she didn’t want him to know. And I wouldn’t want him to, you know, that about me destroying the anthrax, either, like, you can really see where she was coming from.
Jon Schwarz [00:58:40] So anyway, the point is just that, I have absolutely no idea what the truth is about the coronavirus. And I mean, sure, like maybe that happened, but the fact that the Chinese government is acting suspiciously doesn’t get you very far. So I think that’s something that’s important for people to know, and I’m going into sort of more detail in this article. Now there’s a second thing that I want to say. I want to make sure that I get this in before the end of the podcast, which is that I am going to reveal your deepest, darkest secret. And I know that makes you uncomfortable. But I mean…
Michael Moore [00:59:16] You mean me?
Jon Schwarz [00:59:17] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:59:17] Oh my God.
Jon Schwarz [00:59:18] Yeah, but, look like I’m a journalist and my job is to report the truth and just let the chips fall where they may. Now, I don’t know if your mind immediately went here, but I just want to give you a clue about what I’m about to say. So, you know, there’s a land that I see where the children are free. So I think you know where I’m going here, which is OK, So you know what I’m talking about, right?
Michael Moore [00:59:47] Yes, I do.
Jon Schwarz [00:59:48] Yes. And I know you’ve been trying to write this out of history. But the truth is, one of your first papers was, I believe, called “Free to be.”
Michael Moore [01:00:00] Yes. In my youth, I put out a little paper called “Free to be.”
Jon Schwarz [01:00:05] And I actually like, Honestly, I think that is beautiful because I love that record. This, again, actually is something that has kind of been forgotten. I was shocked to find. But Marlo Thomas and a bunch of her show business friends put out a record in the 1970s. I think it was also like a TV special, something called “Free to be you and me,” right? And it is like, I think it’s beautiful, it’s like fantastic songs and they’re all about, you know, men should do housework and Rosey Greer. You know, this, I think, was a defensive lineman. Is that right? Yes. Like this huge guy saying, it’s OK for men to cry. And it’s wonderful. But it is sort of a kind of cultural moment that strikes people a little bit strange now.
Michael Moore [01:00:54] Yeah, I just want to make it clear I had nothing, I was not connected to the “Free to be” TV. This is way back in Flint when I thought maybe we should start some newspaper or something, what can we call it? I don’t know, man. How about “Free to be”? And so it lasted for about a year or so. And yes, it was called “Free to be.” I’m not ashamed of it. There were worse secrets of mine you could have revealed. But that one I will remain proud of. And the fact that I got you. I never heard you sing. So the fact that you sang on my podcast makes it all the better here. I know I wanted to get into talking about this awful vote in the Senate this week on all the voting rights things that we’re trying to get past. This is not going away. I know people are going to be very active here over the Congressional break, over the holiday to contact their Senators in their states and demand that this get passed. And we have to demand that Biden and the Democrats have to get rid of the filibuster. This has got to end right now or we’re not going to get any of these things that we need, I mean, I know I’ve seen you tweet about this, you talk about this. But man, Jon, this is a critical moment.
Jon Schwarz [01:02:20] Yeah, no. I agree. People should look this up: For The People Act. It’s incredible to me that the Democrats have not gone absolutely all out to pass this because they need it just to win elections. Like Joe Manchin needs it. Like if he wants to run again, it would actually change a lot of the core structural problems of democracy in the United States. And the Democrats need it like if they want to exercise power at any point in the future, like they’ve got to pass this now. So check this out again, again go yell at the people in power, do everything you can, like if you would like for the United States to continue to have any kind of way for normal people to have input into what happens like this has got to happen.
Michael Moore [01:03:04] Well, I can’t say enough about it, and I’ll be talking about it on social media here this week, next week on our upcoming podcast. And this my friends, everybody, I don’t need to tell you how important it is that we get this past. And we get rid of this filibuster, we’re not going to get anything done for the next year and a half. I guess in closing, we’ve covered so much stuff. And thanks for talking about our government paying for and training the assassins of Jamal Khashoggi. And in moments like this, too, I just think his family, you know, whether it’s his family that’s here in the U.S. or his family back home in Saudi Arabia, whatever, when I read this story here, when this came out this past week, I’m just speaking just as an individual, but I feel the stuff as a person, as an American that my government, my tax dollars went to murdering him.
Michael Moore [01:04:19] And it was done in my name. And so then I take it very personally, and so, should any friend, family member, whatever of Mr Khashoggi, happens to be listening to this podcast, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies, because it’s not really an apology until we stop this sort of thing, this training that we do and we’ve always done to help murderers around the world. That’s on us, my friends. And Jon, I’m so grateful that you come on today so we can talk about this. But I guess I just wanted to close by offering that to those who knew him personally, to those who were related to him, that now even more so myself, you listening to this, Jon Schwarz, Basel, all of us now, we really, really can’t let this go, and now there really has to be justice and we have to stop participating in this kind of evil doing. So much blood on our hands. And I’m sickened by it and I’ll do what I can and encourage all of you to do what you can to put an end to this. Thank you for letting me say that, Jon. I just want to close by offering that out there.
Jon Schwarz [01:06:01] Yeah, I mean, I’m with you. And that the only thing that I would add is that the people who do this count on us getting tired and going away, right? Like this is a marathon. We may not find out the truth for 10 years or 20 years or 30 years. And it’s a good reason to stay alive, to keep on fighting and finally discover what truly happened. And that’s the first step to stopping it. So hang in there is my message.
Michael Moore [01:06:26] Yes, all of us. Yes. Now is not the time to give up. And Jon, thank you for the good work that you do. Thank you for all that you did to help me on my projects back in the day. And keep up the important writing that you’re doing and please come back on on Rumble sooner rather than later.
Jon Schwarz [01:06:50] Oh, absolutely I would. I would love to. And thanks. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite weird history.
Michael Moore [01:06:58] Everybody, this is Jon Schwarz that we’re talking to. You’ll have links on my podcast page here to read some of his writings. And we’re all joining the Jon Schwarz Book Club and our first book that we’re going to be reading is Upton Sinclair’s “The Brass Check.” Thank you so much, Jon.
Jon Schwarz [01:07:15] Thank you.
Michael Moore [01:07:16] So that’s it for today. Thank you for joining me on Rumble with Michael Moore. I’m Michael Moore. My thanks to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan, our editor and sound engineer Nick Kwas, and everybody else who had any hand in today’s episode. Thank you for your support. We’ll talk to you next week. Have a good weekend. Be well. And don’t forget to Rumble. Take care.