Jason Hartman talks with radio personality, author and documentary film producer, John Ziegler. A man who always has a mission, John was a radio host in Kentucky several years back, his dogged pursuit of a gubernatorial scandal resulted in the Democratic governor’s removal from office (note: the Governor was not removed from office, this was an error by Townhall). While working the drive-time beat in Los Angeles during the 2004 election, he brought John Kerry’s Iraq gaffe (if you don’t do your homework, the senator warned students, “you get stuck in Iraq”) to national attention. Now he’s at it again, producing a documentary that he promises will “show just how deep in the tank the media was for Barack Obama” during the recent presidential contest. More at: http://holisticsurvival.com/category/audio-podcast/. The film, “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected,” isn’t due for release until late February, but it has already attracted a good deal of attention. Through interviews and poll data, Ziegler makes the case that the slanted coverage tilted the playing field toward the Illinois Democrat.
Part of the movie—which can be found at www.HowObamaGotElected.com and had been viewed nearly 2 million times as of December 2008—consists of interviews conducted at polling locations around Southern California. Ziegler asked Obama supporters a dozen questions about politics and the 2008 presidential campaign and inquired what news sources they relied on (Sample queries: What political party currently controls Congress? Which of the four candidates has a pregnant teenage daughter?). The interviews revealed that, by and large, Obama boosters knew most of the unflattering news about the Republican ticket, but were utterly clueless when it came to negative news about the Obama team and basic questions about the political system. To Ziegler, it was evidence that the mainstream media’s unequal treatment of the two candidates had permeated the public consciousness. Still, he wanted to get more scientific data to bolster his case. Ziegler commissioned (“at great personal expense”) a survey from well-known pollster John Zogby that asked the same slate of questions. Although not surprised by the results, the gap between Obama voters and supporters of John McCain “was even more dramatic than I expected,” says Ziegler. As with the Election Day interviews, Obama partisans were unable to answer even rudimentary questions about government issues. Armed with this information, Ziegler hit the cable news circuit to share what he had found. After introducing the discovery on Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes,” controversy erupted. Many Democrats cried foul at the poll’s methodology, leading Zogby to distance himself from it, and even Fox News host Bill O’Reilly chided Ziegler for not quizzing McCain voters as well. The last part is particularly galling to Ziegler.
“Why didn’t I do a poll of McCain supporters?” asks Ziegler, mock inquisitively. “Well, I don’t know if you heard, but Barack Obama won the election. I think that makes finding out what his supporters had to say a little more important.” Ziegler stresses that the poll is not an intelligence test, but rather an attempt to gauge how media coverage affects voter judgment. “It’s not that McCain voters are inherently smarter or anything, they just get their news from different sources,” he says. “There is a direct connection between the media sources consumed and the answers to the questions.” To Ziegler, the fracas surrounding his project misses the point. The important discovery is that McCain voters, by a more than 2-1 margin, could correctly identify the Democrats as the party in charge of Congress, whereas more than half of Obama supporters wrongly placed the GOP in the majority. “If you were required to know which party controls Congress in order to vote, McCain would’ve won in a landslide,” says Ziegler. “Obama won on the backs of people who had no idea about the basic setup of the government.” The fallout from the incident has left Ziegler disappointed, and even a bit embittered. “Look, I expected the Left to jump all over me on this, but I thought the Right would at least back me up on it,” he says. “As it turns out, that wasn’t really the case.”
When released, this will be Ziegler’s second documentary project in the past year. He previously directed “Blocking ‘The Path to 9/11,” which detailed how ABC significantly edited a miniseries exposing the mistakes made by the U.S. government prior to the Sept. 11 attacks after the Clintons’ (and other leading Democrats) claimed it was unfair. Ziegler’s examination of the episode was widely praised. In an early review, the newspaper Politico said, “It presents strong evidence that many of the original docudrama’s harshest critics were also among its most ignorant.”
“It was perceived as an anti-Clinton film,” says Ziegler, “when it was really more of an anti-censorship film.”
Movie making is just the latest avenue pursued by Ziegler, who has dabbled in everything from sports reporting to talk radio over the past couple decades. Though his career has been prolific, it’s his current work that he considers most crucial. “I think what I’m doing right now is some of the most important work I’ve done in my life,” he says. “I am confident that ‘Media Malpractice’ will be even more well-received than the last film.” Oh, and his critics should know something else: He’s here to stay. “I think I ought to be the Right’s Michael Moore, with far more facts and far less fat,” says Ziegler. “I know I can fill that role, and I know I can help the movement.
John Ziegler smashes through the omni-present facade of politically correct taboos as he exposes how the news and popular culture media has created arbitrary, biased, and illogical rules for determining what YOU can hear and say! In his new groundbreaking book, “The Death of Free Speech”, he details how in almost every major case of speech and punishment in modern America, the guilty verdict was wrong and unjust! John Ziegler takes a second look at contemporary incidents involving well known public figures. He blows apart the conventional wisdom that led to these well-known people being unfairly penalized for expressing their constitutionally protected opinions and explains why others have been spared the same fate despite saying practically the same things! Through his own experiences and others who found themselves the target of the self-appointed ‘thought police’ in the news media, John Ziegler takes an in-depth look at the issues that surround these controversies. He looks at the increasing corporate conflicts and legal restrictions being imposed on free speech, particularly when it comes to political speech, which came to the forefront as recently as the 2004 election campaign in the battle over the candidates’ Vietnam War records.
John Ziegler exposes a media “matrix” that makes it impossible for the truth to ever be known by most Americans! But NOW, YOU can read the REAL truth behind this culture of distortion and lies! “The Death of Free Speech” is a researched, objective, provocative, yet entertaining look at this important and underreported reality in American society. There is no one better to tell this story than John Ziegler as he warns that our most cherished constitutional right is in grave jeopardy!
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats, and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentleman, your host Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is episode number 37 and this is your host Jason Hartman. Today we will have an interesting discussion with John Ziegler. I first discovered John Ziegler when he was a very well-known radio host, radio talk show host here on KFI AM640 which is really one of the largest talk radio stations in the country. And his show was very interesting, very enlightening. He wrote a book entitled The Death of Free Speech and that is actually the subject I planned to interview him on today, but he was excited to talk about his more recent project which is a documentary film about media malpractice. This interview almost takes place in reverse order where we’ll talk a little bit about that. So if you’re not politically inclined, please bear with me for a few minutes and we’ll get to the free speech topic and I think you’ll enjoy this interview with John Ziegler on the death of free speech and media malpractice. We’ll be back with John is just less than 60 seconds.
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Start of Interview with John Ziegler
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome John Ziegler to the show. I originally discovered John when he was a very well-known radio talk show host on KFI and he is the creator of a very fascinating film entitled Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin was targeted. He is also the author of a great book entitled The Death of Free Speech, and just an all-around interesting guy with a very good perspective on things. John, welcome, it’s great to have you on the show.
John Ziegler: Thanks so much for having me.
Jason Hartman: So tell us a little bit, first of all, about your latest project if you would, Media Malpractice.
John Ziegler: Well, this is really a labor of love that turned into a bit of a national story. During the 2008 election I was horrified at the media coverage first of the primaries and the democratic side and then in the general election where it was very obvious that the vast majority of the news media was hell bent on getting Barack Obama elected and destroying Sarah Palin because she stood in his way. And I thought someone needed to make a documentary film about this. And I had already made a documentary film that I was actually waiting to release at that time for Citizens United called Blocking the Path to 9/11 which was a miniseries about 9/11 that had been sensibly censored and spiked by ABC Disney a couple of years ago. And so I knew I was the guy to do it and so I basically dedicated my life to documenting what was going on. And luckily Sarah Palin agreed to do a very exclusive and news making interview from her home in Wasilla with me back when she was the governor of Alaska and essentially was sequestered in the state of Alaska, not doing any interviews. And that created quite a bit of news and I was on just about every cable news station imaginable, including I was on The View and the Today Show and of course all the usual suspects on Fox, MSNBC and CNN. And we also went around the country screening the film as well. Very proud of it because it holds up very well over time and it’s probably at least as relevant today as it was when we released it. People can find out more about the film at www.howobamagotelected.com. And the film is only $10 right now for the DVD, which also includes the entire Sarah Palin exclusive interview on there which has never been seen publicly released, as well as the Obama voter video which has been seen by well over 2 and a half million people on YouTube which is quite horrifying and rather hilarious. So that was a very interesting chapter in my life and they were still promoting the film and hoping that the film will finally be in stores in the next month or two prior to the midterm elections.
Jason Hartman: So, John, tell us a little bit about what actually happened if you would. I mean this is a fascinating topic. And I do believe that a lot of the Palin media coverage is very unfair. It was amazing to me to see how many people, especially females who you would think would support Palin or at least some of Palin’s ideals, were just so against. It’s like she could not say the right thing it seemed. Tell us the mechanics of what was going on there.
John Ziegler: I think that really what we have there is a perfect storm situation that occurred. You have a situation where the media’s favorite candidate is basically riding the wave, about to be elected president. After his convention, it was clear that the bounce was going to be huge and that the election was over. And then all of a sudden this dramatic moment happens where…You want to talk about a game changer, Sarah Palin was the ultimate game changer, changed everything. And after her convention speech, I don’t know if they remember this but it’s important to recall to McCain/Palin actually led for the only time for about a week after the Republican Convention and that was all because of Sarah Palin. And so you have the media’s favorite candidate being threatened by Sarah Palin who was new and interesting and frankly beautiful, all of which are very good for ratings. So you have the media, which wants Obama to be elected. And then you add in the fact that the subject they want to destroy happens to be fantastic for ratings, now you’ve got this emerging perfect storm because the media has multiple reasons to destroy her, one, because it’s good for business, and, two, because it’s good for their politics. And then you add in these female factor which you already mentioned and that is that Sarah Palin is very threatening to a lot of women because because this is a woman who obviously has five children and was governor of Alaska and obviously is very attractive and she happens to be pro-life, pro-gun and is still in love with her husband. And that’s a scenario that makes a lot of women feel very uncomfortable with their own lives. And I think that is why you see to this day that Sarah Palin’s numbers with women are much worse than men because women were very willing to believe anything bad about Sarah Palin. It’s kind of like the cheerleader in high school. Everyone wants to believe something bad about them because it makes them feel better about their own lives. And so the media had very fertile ground to get away with this public assassination which is what they did and we document that in the film media malpractice.
Jason Hartman: So, John, I agree with you that Palin really just energized a pretty dead campaign, McCain’s campaign. But a lot of people criticized McCain deeply by saying she wasn’t ready, she didn’t know anything, he should have checked her out, this was just a crazy maverick…I mean McCain’s known as a maverick…maverick kind of move to introduce her like he did. But I don’t know if he had a chance without her. At least he became interesting.
John Ziegler: Well, no he didn’t. He had no chance without her, barring a major blunder. I mean it would have had to have been really major because the media was dead set on ignoring anything that did happen. There were several blunders in the Obama campaign that were not really reported. But there’s no question that Palin energized, as you said, a dead campaign. But I think it goes even further than that and that is that you had a situation where Sarah Palin was in fact vetted and the proof of that is in her book Going Rogue. She goes into great detail about what the McCain people knew before they selected her. And this was one of the many myths that was created by the news media because it helped in that narrative. In other words, if the McCain people didn’t really vet her very well, then all the things the news media supposedly found out about her, many of which turned out to be utterly false, are far more plausible. And so it just helps their narrative in trying to destroy her. So one myth begets another. In other words, if the public bought, which I guess many people did, this myth that she wasn’t properly vetted, then it’s a lot easier to buy into other myths, like she tried to ban books and said that the Iraq War was a mission from God or her child wasn’t really hers, that it belonged to Bristol. I mean one myth begets another myth. If you buy one, you’re far more likely to buy the next one. And it really was a snowball situation and obviously Tina Fey played an incredibly important role in helping that snowball down the mountain.
Jason Hartman: Just generally, being a media personality yourself and doing this project for your film, talk to us, John, if you would, about some of the ways, maybe in general or specifically that the media commits malpractice and influences things. I mean it seems that journalism is really almost a thing of the past. Investigative reporting feels like a thing of the past. You got John Stossel out there and a few others. But it seems like they’re almost reading the talking points of their favorite candidate nowadays.
John Ziegler: Well, the cable news networks have really allowed all supposed reporters to let their hair down. Most reporters were liberal for most of our modern history, but they were kind of constricted by their own standards. But because we have so much fragmentation now because everything gets said and forgotten five minutes later and there’s no accountability. It allows these people to now…And I think Fox News Channel unfortunately has given them license to do this as well because in their minds, well, we’ve got to combat Fox, so it allows them to really let their true colors show. So now all the old rules have really been thrown out the window. And all that matters are ratings. That’s it. It used to be ratings used to matter a little bit but now it’s all that matters. It’s kind of like sports. Sports was always a little bit of a business, but now it’s 100% business. Well, news used to be a little bit of show business. Now it’s all show business because the economic climate has changed. And I’m not just talking about the recession, but the environment that media outlets work in is completely altered. I mean being a media outlet used to be a license to print money, whether you’re a radio station, a newspaper, or TV station. Now you’ve got to struggle just to make a profit if you’re lucky. And, unfortunately, journalism is inherently incongruent with being a business trying to make a profit for many reasons, one of which is to do good journalism, especially investigative journalism. You’ve got to be one willing to spend a lot of money that might not create any product because you’ve got to follow 100 leads before you find one that actually goes somewhere. And, two, you’ve got to be willing to piss off a lot of potential sponsors, which never happens anymore. So the watch dog has really become a lap dog and we saw it very clearly in the 2008 campaign. And as far as the specific ways in which they do it, there’s lots of ways. One of my favorite examples, and people can see a clip of this in the film, in the news section at our website, was what the media did with Joe Biden’s statement at a fundraiser. You may or may not remember this. It was in the middle of the campaign and he told some democratic fundraisers that there was going to be a crisis in the first six months of the Obama presidency, that he was going to be tested by the world. And, most interestingly, he might not handle the situation all that well and that these people needed to stick with him when that crisis hit because it might not be obvious that he did the right thing. I’m stating almost word for word what Joe Biden said. So how did the media handle this? Well, first they tried to ignore it until Fox News Channel went bananas with it and some other outlets. So then, what NBC did, and I found this amazing, Andrea Mitchell, who’s probably one of the worst offenders, especially considering the fact that she’s considered to be a legitimate reporter and actually have some gravitas because she’s married to Alan Greenspan – she’s really nothing more than a liberal hack. And what she did is she actually used audio in her story about this Joe Biden episode that was from the wrong event in the wrong city on the wrong day. But because it sounded kind of like the same subject and it was far, far more beneficial to Obama, actually with Biden using the phrase “He’ll be tested” and they’re going to find out he’s got steel in his spine, completely ignored the crux of the story, used audio that was actually beneficial to Obama. And I show clips in my film that indicated that she didn’t even know that there were other elements of this tape where Biden says that there’s a good chance he won’t handle the crisis well because I don’t even think she knew. I have a very strong suspicion that what happened was she heard about the controversy, went to the Obama people, and say, hey, do you have audio of this, and the Obama people said, why, Andrea, yes we do have audio. Why don’t you try this? They basically snookered or she wanted to be snookered and she snookered the American people about which audio this was. And then the next phase of the story was…and I prove this in the film as well, the news media wait for Obama, the messiah to come out and tell them how they’re supposed to respond to it and Obama says what Joe really meant was that the next president, whoever he’s going to be, will be tested. Now, that’s not what Biden said. But from then on out, we show every single television outlet parroting word for word what Obama said, Obama’s version of this which was the next president, whoever it might be, is going to be tested. No, that’s not what Biden said. Biden said Obama will be tested by a crisis, a generated crisis meant to test the metal of this guy. That’s a direct quote from Joe Biden. So that’s a classic example. From the beginning of the story to the end of the story, they use all sorts of tactics to minimize and dissipate any impact that it has. And, finally, I’m sure that the vast majority of the American people are either unaware the story even happened or don’t remember it properly or didn’t think it was that big of a deal. So it’s very, very rare that you have a situation that the news media can’t dissipate a story if they don’t want it to. The Reverend Wright story is a classic example of this. Most people laugh when they hear the concept that the Reverend Wright story was dissipated or spiked, as there was a controversy two weeks ago involving this journalist, which is a bunch of liberal reporters on an email list. They were conspiring back in the spring of 2008 to spike the Reverend Jeremiah Wright story. And a lot of commentators were, well, what are you talking about? That story wasn’t spiked. Everybody knew about it. Well, that’s not accurate. That story was in fact spiked, not on Fox News Channel, but on most of the other outlets it was maybe mentioned and for one day they showed the clips and maybe they showed his race speech the following week, but it was all put in a very improper context. And the real part of that story to me that was incredibly important was that it exposed Obama as a liar, his narrative as a fraud, and that everything we thought we knew about him or that he claimed to be was not true, not accurate. And instead, the media decided it was better for him to make this about race somehow and then praise the hell out of his racist speech, which by the way, in retrospect looks like a complete fraud as well. So there are many, many ways in which the news media works to do their dirty work. And I don’t believe it’s a conspiracy. I just think all these people pretty much think alike and they follow one another and there’s very much a herd mentality. And we certainly saw that in 2008. And the result is that this country has really gone very much towards socialism, in a way that I’m not sure is reversible. And a fine human being, Sarah Palin had her reputation destroyed to the point where I don’t believe that she will ever be a viable presidential candidate on a national level. And those are both travesties, not to mention the fact that Barack Obama was a man who did not deserve to be President of the United States and got elected by a very healthy margin largely because of it.
Jason Hartman: I mean Obama is most obviously to any thinking person an empty suit. And that would be the least of Obama’s worries being an empty suit, or our worries about him I should say. Obama’s obviously on the left, the far left, but how did Obama, when you’re looking at way back to the primaries with all of the democratic candidates, how is it that Obama got to be just the darling of the media? How does one position themself?
John Ziegler: That’s another very good question. My theory on this is the following, and I think this is very sound and backed up by my film Media Malpractice, I think what happened was in late 2007 the news media was looking at how the Presidential primaries were going to go and they were scared to death of the following possibility, that Hillary Clinton was gonna trounce everybody in the democratic field, because you gotta remember, she was a lock. I mean it a mortal lock that she was going to be the nominee and that the Republican candidate might be somebody like John McCain and that he might win early, although at that point in time his candidacy was not doing well, but I actually always believed that McCain was going to be the nominee because I thought he was the only one that was suited to win the nomination at that time. But the main thing that the news media was scared of was having both primaries end early, or even worse having to talk about the Republican primary alone for an extended period of time, and then having a Hillary/McCain general election, I mean that’s just death. That would have been boring as hell. And frankly, those two people actually kind of like each other. And here’s what happened. So they decided, and this happens a lot, and this is not the first time this has happened. The media will generally try to find a challenger in these primaries just to keep the story going, just to keep it interesting. Gary Hart had his moment against Walter Mondale. Pat Buchanan had his moment against George Herbert Walker Bush. This is something that happens almost every 4 years. And so Obama was chosen as somebody who is young, bright. He’d given that 2004 convention speech. He’s black. So there’s all sorts of interesting elements, far more interesting than any of the other losers on the democratic side. And so they started to give this guy a little bit of play thinking, you know what, this is harmless, Hillary’s still gonna win. He’s not gonna muss up her hair. Maybe he’ll be the VP nominee or if Hillary doesn’t win the general, he’ll be in good shape for 2012, we’ll groom him for the future. And then something that would not have happened in previous years occurred, and that is this, MSNBC, whose ratings are absolutely horrendous, was able, because of overnight television ratings which did not exist in any previous presidential election, at least not to the extent that they did in 2008, was able to determine to the minute, whenever they did a Barack Obama story or carried a Barack Obama speech that there was a spike in their ratings. Now it didn’t take much of a spike because they didn’t have anybody watching to begin with. But they were able to perceive a discernible spike. And now because ratings are all that mattered, they decided to follow that spike. And that’s how the snowball started down the hill because MSNBC became, for all intents and purposes, the official network of Barack Obama. And that created this momentum, this grass roots movement which fed on itself. And then once he starts winning…he only won…People forget he won the Iowa Caucuses with barely over a third of the vote, which is really not all that impressive. And then this was before anybody really started to be concerned about him or be critical of him at all, even Hillary. And so that’s when he got his wings and the news media blew the wind at his back, and I think Hillary was completely stunned. And by the time she realized what she was up against, because you’ve got to remember the Clintons had always been media darlings, I don’t think she realized that the media had left her for a younger, hotter mistress. And that’s clearly what transpired. So, in retrospect, it’s really not that much of a mystery. It really was just the media acting on their own self-interest which was to keep the primaries interesting and they allowed Obama to catch fire. Hillary was late in figuring out that this fire was serious. And, finally, because he’s black, she was in an impossible situation, because obviously she can’t attack a black candidate in a democratic primary, because even if she wins, man, she’s got a problem in the general election. So she really kind of…I know there’s been a lot of criticism of the Hillary Clinton campaign. I think that their only real big mistake was that they did not put enough time and effort into the Caucus stage. But, frankly, the rest of their campaign strategy was really pretty good and they really should have won. And, to this day, I find it rather amazing. In fact, my wife is a school teacher in Los Angeles who actually got in trouble by one of her student’s parents who was upset because prior to the democratic convention, she actually told her class the truth which was that Obama had not actually clenched the democratic nomination, which was true. The news media never told you that. But by any use of math that had been used in any prior primary fight, Obama had not won enough delegates to win the nomination before the convention. But the news media decided that they were going to add in these superdelegates that were not committed to him, that could have changed their minds at any moment. I mean they were not legally committed to him. And yet for the first time ever that was added onto his delegate total because they were so dead set on him winning, which is really the first time that the news media acted against their own self-interest. That’s how much they loved Obama because the holy grail for political reporters has always been a brokered convention. And they had the potential of a broker convention in 2008 on the Democratic side, but they chose instead to bolster the candidacy of Barack Obama over the tasty possibility of having a brokered convention. So that’s just how deep the love of the media was for Barack Obama in the summer of 2008.
Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause. We’ll be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: Hey, John, I want to switch gears here for a little bit and talk more generally maybe about free speech. Obviously, this is the first and most important part of really what has made America great is that the ability to have debate, dissent, assembly, etcetera, etcetera. And your book entitled The Death of Free Speech, I remember John Stossel’s program when he would talk about how free speech is really dead on college campuses unless of course you’re a leftist then free speech is welcome. But if you disagree with those views, there’s really no such thing as free speech. What is going on with our cherished first amendment?
John Ziegler: Well, first of all, one of the problems with this discussion is that the definition of free speech is a little bit different for every circumstance. And so let me define the terms a little bit because there is legal free speech that would be under the constitution, Congress shall make no law bridging freedom of the press and speech, which of course has happened many, many times. And, fortunately, the Supreme Court has reversed some of those laws that Congress has made which do bridge the freedom of speech. And then there’s what might be called accepted social speech. And that goes a little bit more to what you’re talking about with regard to college campuses and political correctness. Because political correctness really has, for all intents and purposes, dramatically curtailed free speech in a very, very liberal direction. One of the reasons why I am so pessimistic about the future of the country and the future of the conservative movement is that I kind of laugh at conservatives that think that, okay, we’re going to win back the Congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012 and everything’s going to be back to being okay. Well, first of all, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. And, two, big whoop, because we have already ceded almost every major argument there is. And the way we’ve done that is in allowing the truth to be unacceptable in public discourse. Immigration is a classic example of this. We’ve already lost the immigration debate. We lost the immigration debate the moment that the news media was allowed to use the word immigration instead of illegal immigration. And we lost it the moment that we’re not allowed to call people doing things illegally illegal. That’s somehow racist. There’s all sorts of terms of speech now that are deemed to be politically incorrect or racist or therefore not acceptable in the public discourse of speech that are not just acceptable, but they’re the truth. And this is basic stuff and we see this in all sorts of different arguments, which the right has potentially out of wimpiness and fear out of their own shadow has allowed to be taken away from them. So I don’t know how in the world you come back from that when you’re not even allowed to use all the weapons at your disposal even though your own works in a country that is allegedly founded on the concept of free speech. So those are two different things really, the social…I’ve been fired from many jobs in television and radio for things that I have said. But I’ve never once denied the right of the company that fired me to do so. I can never even sue over it, because I don’t have a constitutional right to have a talk show in this country, although sometimes it appears as if, with all the talk shows that there are, that people do have a constitutional right to a talk show. But that’s another story for another day. The reality is that I didn’t agree that I should have been fired. I didn’t believe that that should be the way that our society should be run. But legally, they’d have a right to do that. From a legal perspective, I’m actually slightly more optimistic than I was when I wrote The Death of Free Speech. And finally, The Death of Free Speech was rather prescient in a lot of ways. If you read it now, some five years after it was published, you’ll see that I outlined a lot of the challenges that we were facing. And a lot of the predictions that I make turn out to be true. And, thankfully, there is still a very, very slight 5 to 4 majority for some semblance of The Constitution in the US Supreme Court. And there have been a couple of very pro free speech decisions that have come down in the last year or so. Ironically enough, I didn’t necessarily agree with the facts of at least one of the cases because I was somewhat involved in that case. It was a case involving a movie that I was a consultant on called Hillary: The Movie that I think the Supreme Court kind of got duped on even in taking the case. And I’m not sure it really had that much to do with free speech. But perception is reality, and they ruled in a way that really tore down a lot of the campaign finance law, which was very much anti-free speech. So as long as the five so called conservative justices remain on the Supreme Court, I think that we have at least some beachhead against all of our legal free speech rights being eroded. Now, that being said, as soon as one of those five dies, especially under an Obama presidency, then all bets are off because the last line of defense will no longer be there. And I do think that, in the long run, free speech rights are in grave jeopardy. Because I do think the social rules we make for speech will eventually, and already have, make it into our law. And here’s what I mean by that. I think we pretty much set the rules for long enough in our society where people just accept that if you say something that is politically incorrect that it’s perfectly fine for you to lose your job or to be ostracized from society or whatever. And I think that that’s subconsciously or maybe even consciously will seep into our laws. It makes it far easier for lawmakers to make laws to actually ban certain things from being said, either directly or indirectly. We’ve already seen this in Europe where they have laws which directly ban people from saying certain things, which is just bone chilling as far as I’m concerned, but I think that’s where we’re headed in this country, mainly because there’s not gonna be, and I prove it in my book through poll results and anecdotal evidence, there’s not gonna be a public uprising once the United States government does, in fact, take our free speech rights away because the American public doesn’t cherish our free speech rights. And if we don’t cherish them, and we’re not willing to fight for them, then eventually they can and will be taken away. And I do think that that’s really where we’re headed in this country.
Jason Hartman: Are we headed for a fairness doctrine issue? I had Pat Buchanan on the show quite a while ago and he said that’s just never gonna happen fortunately.
John Ziegler: My view on the fairness doctrine is quite unique. It’s literally unique among conservatives. It’s unique for a couple of reasons, one because I’ve actually been a radio talk show host and I also happen to be very good friends with the only democratic congressman that I’m aware of who has signed Congressman Pence petition against the fairness doctrine.
Jason Hartman: Which just, right there, with its name, John, just the name of it, makes it sound okay, doesn’t it?
John Ziegler: Well, it does. But let me tell you what my position is on this and why…I, first of all, don’t think it’s ever going to happen, because I think this is one of those very few issues where people do get it. I mean the right is so energized about this issue that I really do think that there would be an uprising under those circumstances. I mean if you took Rush Limbaugh off the air, that type of thing, that would be really stupid on the left’s part because politically it would be too obvious. It would be seen as a farce. I think people have been educated enough on the topic to where they would fight back hard. The left is pretty stupid, but I just don’t think they’re that stupid. And I also, and this is the part that’s the most usual about my position as a conservative, I actually welcome in some ways…Even though it will be horrendously anti-constitutional, and from that standpoint, I will abhor the fairness doctrine. It will be completely, blatantly unconstitutional and anti-free speech. But from a practical standpoint, I actually would welcome the fairness doctrine as a conservative. And here’s why. Because conservatives have unfortunately allowed themselves to be boxed into their only little communication silo of talk radio, the Drudge Report, and Fox News Channel.
Jason Hartman: Right. They could be on the mainstream media, the NBC News, yeah.
John Ziegler: And the mainstream news media is completely leftist.
Jason Hartman: Right.
John Ziegler: And so within 30 to 35 percent of the news media…Let me put it this way, only 30 to 35 percent of the American public, maybe 40 on a really good day, is really exposed to anything that’s on talk radio, The Drudge Report, or Fox News Channel. That leaves a very solid 60% that are never exposed to any of that. And all they’re getting, to the extent they’re getting any information other than what they watch on their entertainment shows, to the extent they’re getting any news information, it’s all leftist. And the right doesn’t even get a say, doesn’t even get a voice. So I actually think if the fairness doctrine were ever instituted in a remotely fair manner that it would benefit conservatives because conservatives would get their message out to a far larger audience. And, frankly, I think the history is very clear that whenever conservatives are given an even close to even playing field with liberals on the facts and on an argument basis that the conservative argument carries the day, although I’ve lost some confidence in that because of the American educational system. We’ve had two generations at least of American children that have been brainwashed and aren’t smart enough to figure some of this stuff out for themselves, but the reality is I actually think that the fairness doctrine is kind of like the briar patch. Oh, don’t put me in that briar patch, please. I actually think conservatives would win in that briar patch.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, that’s interesting. I wrote an article several years back. And you would be interested in this because you have alluded to it before. I call it the monologue media versus the dialogue media. And basically what it’s saying is that the reason all of the new media tends to lead to the right is because it is a dialogue, whereas air America has tried the new media, the left doesn’t work in the blogosphere, the left doesn’t work on talk radio. The left doesn’t work where people can truly interact because in my opinion it can’t withstand the scrutiny of debate.
John Ziegler: That’s interesting. It’s possible. I’ve always believed in the theory that certainly left-wing talk radio doesn’t work because talk radio is inherently anti-establishment. And if the establishment media is leftist, then by being even more leftist you’re not gonna get much of an audience. I mean what’s the point? So I think that’s part of it. I might disagree with you a little bit about the left and the blogosphere. You know the Huffington Post has been extremely successful.
Jason Hartman: Well, but the Huffington Post is really a unique business model. Buchanan writes on the Huffington Post. People contribute to it that are outside of that belief system, right?
John Ziegler: Yeah, I guess. It’s pretty clear to me where the Huffington Post is coming from. And I know, myself, I’ve been blasted in the Huffington Post pretty hard. But, anyway, it’s an interesting theory. I personally believe that fragmentation of the news media and media in general is one of the worst things that’s happened to this country. And it’s not just politically. Culturally, socially, sports-wise, I think it’s really stripped us of our communal experiences. Television used to unite us, now it literally divides us. And I think that it’s really put us into all these little subgroups where we’re literally not even on the same page. I mean forget about being on the same page. We don’t even agree on how many pages are in the book at this point or even what the title of the book is. We don’t agree on anything because we’re dealing with our own set of facts, whether it’s from MSNBC or Fox News Channel or from the LA Times or the New York Times. Wherever it’s from, they can construct their own little universe now. And I think that’s extremely dangerous. And I don’t see any way around it. I mean I always tell conservatives in my speaking engagements, even though I love Fox News Channel and talk radio, you give me 1984’s media environment again and I’ll take it because, one, it was far more substantive. I mean, my god, I mean at least there was some meat and potatoes in the news in 1984, now it’s all cotton candy.
Jason Hartman: Well, it’s interesting. What you’re saying is…on the face of what you’re saying, John, that sounds like an incredibly bad perspective in a way. I’ve got to just say that. I’m not calling you out on it because I know what you mean. But why shouldn’t everybody have a voice?
John Ziegler: When I say 1984, I’m not referring to the book of 1984. I’m talking about the literal year 1984, which is really the last year before cable exploded in this country and the networks kind of started to lose their grip on what was happening.
Jason Hartman: But not in talking about Orwell. I’m just saying that the concept of having a few monolithic big media players versus a bunch of diversity of opinion seems negative on its face for a free speech or freedom guy, right?
John Ziegler: Well, I guess the way I look at it is this. It’s kind of like a team picture. I would ideally like television, and I’m using television because it’s the most prominent form of media there is today, I would like us to all have the one picture and have everybody in it, whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, gays, straight, you name it, I want everybody in that picture. Instead, what we’ve now decided to do, is everyone gets their own team picture. And I don’t think that’s healthy. I don’t think that’s positive.
Jason Hartman: That is divisive. I agree with you. It’s just an interesting perspective you have. You’re right about that. I remember saying on KFI that LA is so fragmented. We don’t even have a football team. There’s nothing people can have in common in the greater LA Southern California area. There’s nothing.
John Ziegler: The ultimate example or proof of this is we literally don’t even share the same weather. If you, and especially in certain times of the summer, you can drive 20 minutes, depending on traffic, from say West LA to the valley or Orange County to East LA and the temperature change is 40 degrees. You can’t even say nice day to somebody. Forget about the fact that they’re not likely to speak the same language as you. So I mean LA is pretty much the ultimate example of this because there is no Los Angeles. Los Angeles are people who have never lived here, is really about 1000 different communities from Santa Barbara to San Diego that have nothing in common, don’t give a damn about each other, and don’t even have a football team to unite around. And I think sports is really…I think fragmentation has killed sports more than almost anything. I mean politics and sports are my two favorite things. And I think fragmentation has destroyed both of them and it’s highly unfortunate. And there’s no fix for it unless the economy gets so bad that all of these cable networks go out of business which I wouldn’t mind.
Jason Hartman: Very interesting perspective. Well, John, you have a lot of them. We appreciate you joining us today. And just give out your websites again if you would.
John Ziegler: People can check out the movie trailer and get the DVD with the full length feature documentary on the 2008 election media coverage as well as the Obama voter video and the exclusives there, Palin interview, and our website www.HowObamaGotElected.com.
Jason Hartman: Alright, John Ziegler, thanks so much for joining us today. Appreciate it.
John Ziegler: Thanks for your time.
Narrator: Now, you can get Creating Wealth in Today’s Economy Home Study Course, all the knowledge and education revealed in a 9 hour day in the Creating Wealth boot camp, created in a home study course for you to dive into at your convenience. For more details, go to JasonHartman.com.
Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional, information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. (Top image: Flickr | charlesfettinger)
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