Batya Ungar-Sargon is a deputy opinion editor at Newsweek and the author of Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy. In this episode, she explains how journalism has become a “profession of astonishing privilege,” how the Left has become “the side of the elites and they are focused increasingly on environmentalism,” and why she is “on the side of whatever party thinks class is the number one issue in America.” (Recorded July 6, 2022.)
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, everyone, welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. This podcast, we talked about energy, power, innovation and politics. And we’re gonna get a big dose of politics and particularly the politics of the media with my guest Bhatia Ongar Sargon. She is the author of bad news how woke media is undermining democracy Badea Welcome to the power hungry podcast.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 0:24
Thank you so much for having me.
Robert Bryce 0:26
So, I’ve warned you that guests on this podcast introduce themselves. So if you don’t mind, please imagine you have a minute or less, you’ve arrived somewhere you don’t know anyone, and you’re going to tell them who you are, please tell us who you are.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 0:40
Well, for the purposes of this podcast, I would say a very important thing for your audience to know about me is that I’m a big fan of yours. I think that the work you’re doing is so very important. And there are so few people in that space and you’ve made a real mark. And you’ve given people like me, a real ledge from which to join the good fight and push back against climate extremism, when it’s invigorating, the poor and the working class, while also acknowledging that climate change is real, and something that deserves some amount of attention. So for the purposes of your podcast audience, I’m a big fan of Robert Bryce. I’m also the deputy opinion editor at Newsweek where I am sometimes your editor, and I’m the author of bad news, how woke media is undermining democracy?
Robert Bryce 1:31
Well, great. Well, thank you. There was no prompting there. And yes, there is some conflict of interest here that Bhatia, I’ve met her in April, we met in April at the Urban Reform Institute event in Houston. We both are friends with Joel and admirers of Joel Kotkin and his work. So let’s talk about bad news. I read it a couple of months ago, I was reviewing it again this morning. And it’s a remarkable book, what led you to write it?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 1:56
Well, as I often tell people, this is not actually the book that I wanted to write, I wanted to write a book about how Americans are a lot less polarized than we think. And that political polarization is really an elite phenomenon. You know, people who are not making money off of polarization are not polarized, and you get out of, you know, the medium political centers in America, you get out into the heartland, you you just, you know, Democrats, Republicans working side by side, nobody cares how anybody votes. So I wanted to write a book about that. And I couldn’t sell it. And I was very, very, very depressed about it. Because I, this was sort of this truth that I thought that our nation really needed to hear. And finally, this was the last outing I went on, before the lockdown. I had drinks with a friend and a conservative editor. And she very kindly sort of heard me out. And she said to me, Well, you know, the reason you’re not getting anywhere selling this is because, you know, maybe it’s true that Americans are not that polarized. But then why do I think that they are, maybe you should write that book. And I think that that is actually the book, The bad news is, because what I found was that, you know, you know, the reason that we think we’re so polarized is because there are people making a lot of money off of convincing us that that we are, but that at the end of the day, the real divide in America is not actually even a political divide. It’s about class, and it’s about who is benefiting from that class divide versus who is paying for it. So much comes down to that. And certainly the reason our media is so bad, and why the left wing media is so woke is about class more than it is about politics. That’s the argument I make in the book.
Robert Bryce 3:36
That was one of the things that I in fact, I wrote it down just before I we got online was that if I were going to summarize your book, I’d say it’s your that you’re writing primarily about class. And I think, you know, Joel Kotkin. I’ve mentioned him before Joel writes a lot about this, and particularly in light of California. So you said it yourself that the book is about class, but let me ask you about the word woke because I don’t like that word. My you know, I wrote a piece of that, for I was commissioned to write a piece about California and energy policy in California, and I use the word woke climate policy and my wife read it and said, take that word out. You know, that’s a that’s a that word is. It’s a divisive word. So why is that the right word here in this title for your book? Because that’s, that’s the key part of your argument that you’re making, what is woke and why is this a problem?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 4:25
It’s a really important question. You know, the problem with the word woke is that it was a it was appropriated from black slang. You know, the word in the 70s. And 80s was black slang for you know, stay WOKE meant be aware of systemic racism, be aware of the ways in which the state still sponsors racism, mass incarceration, police brutality, you know, segregation or public schools. These are really important things to be aware of, and really important things for every American of conscience to care about. Indeed, there is no longer a part of and divide about these issues. You know, the last person to endorse mass incarceration who is on our political scene right now was Joe Biden and the last person to fight it and release 5000 Black men from prison was President Trump. So you know, the divide that we’re used to thinking about in terms of, you know, who cares about these issues that are impacting Americans, descendants of slaves descended from slaves specifically, you know that that systemic racism that we’ve had throughout our history, and that persists, sadly to this day in certain tendrils. There’s no longer a partisan divide about the need to address these things with some urgency. Today, the way I use Wolf is we’ve appropriated a term that the black community used to talk about something very importantly, and I think it’s a very legitimate critique to have appropriated a word that was used to talk to speak to something very important. And now we’re using it to describe something bad. So that is for sure, a legitimate critique. And I think if my book had been published by a liberal publishing house, probably the word woke wouldn’t have been in the title would have been something about class. But but the reason I feel that it is legitimate to use it and the reason I feel that it is, I’m proud of the fact that it’s in the title is, I’m using it the way sociologists use it. So there’s now you know, a number of sociologists three or four, who have whose work endorses each other. And they know they pointed out something called the they call the Great Awakening. Now, yes, that is an appropriation, but what they’re describing is something real and something that happened and something that the word woke actually does really fit to describe, what did they notice? They noticed that starting around 2015, white liberals began to have views on race that were more extreme than the views of blacks and Latinos. So the people that they’re, you know, views on race, or ostensibly on behalf of their views cease to reflect how those people think about race themselves, and became this new thing. So what is this new thing? I’ll give you one example from Pew. So the Pew Research Center this year did a study where they asked one of the questions that they should have we’re trying to divide Americans into the different tribes. And one of the tribes that they found was, you know, progressives, okay, so who were the progressives? The progressives are people who, for example, when you ask, when you put the following proposition to them, they say, yes, the proposition is this, America’s institutions are so deeply racist, that they cannot be reformed. The only solution is to raise them to the ground and rebuild them from the bottom up. So 91% of progressive said yes to that, okay. But it happens to be that not only are only 6% of Americans in that progressive camp, but it is the whitest and the most highly educated and the most affluent of all the camps within the Democratic subgroups. Now, you’ll never guess how many black Americans were in that group of people who said, you know, over 91% of them said, America’s institutions are so deeply racist, they must be razed to the ground, and we build it up, just 6% of black Americans are in that group group that is wokeness. It’s what happens when white liberals get their hands on a racial obsession, and start to think and talk about race in a way that simply does not reflect how blacks and Hispanics talk about race, the people that they’re ostensibly advocating on behalf of I’ll just give one more example, because I think it’s a really important point in question. In 2018, it was a Yale study that came out that found that there was a difference in how white liberals and white conservatives talk to blacks and Hispanics. What’s the difference? white liberals, when they encounter a person of color, they, they dumb down their vocabulary, they present lower competence, in order to protect ostensibly protect these minorities from their big vocabularies and why conservatives don’t do that. What makes you do that what makes a person who’s a liberal who thinks they’re on the compassionate side, they’re on the right side of history. They’re the ones who care about minorities, dumbed down their vocabulary, literally, you see a person with darker skin color than you and you assume that they you stereotype them as lower status, lower education, lower income and in need of protection from you in need of your beneficence, your protection, your paternalism, that is wokeness. And maybe that’s the wrong word to describe it. But that phenomenon is real. And it is infecting so many of our liberal institutions and we have to have a way to talk about it.
Robert Bryce 9:43
Well, so. Okay, so how would you describe your politics because the Newsweek I’ve read many of the things you’ve written in this book, was published by encounter press, is that right? Which is notably conservative press. How do you describe your politics?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 9:59
I will call myself a left wing populist.
Robert Bryce 10:03
So you consider yourself a leftist. But if I were going to look at your book and think, Well, this clearly a conservative wrote this right, because it’s much it’s very kind of a, it’s a conservative book publisher, but I would, you know, it’s a little surprising to hear you say that I’m not arguing with you. But the, my perception of the way the book was written was that, oh, you’re a conservative and you’re, you’re calling out in particular, the news news industry for its class bias and so on. But so a left a leftist populace. What does that mean?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 10:34
Yeah, I mean, I even sometimes will call myself like a Marxist or a socialist. I’m like, in a really trollee mood, I’ll be like, I’m a Trump socialist, because I felt I feel like Trump’s economic agenda was so far left, it was further left than what Bernie Sanders was proposing. 2015
Robert Bryce 10:49
How do you? How do you mean that? How do you that’s what do you mean,
Batya Ungar-Sargon 10:53
okay, getting rid of NAFTA, starting a trade war with China imposing tariffs, I got you policing the border, those these used to be left wing propositions, right,
Robert Bryce 11:04
when they’re in their pro working class. I mean, those were things that right. NAFTA, the ideas around NAFTA, that and and and around immigration, right. But numerous authors have pointed this out that, in fact, what are the Democrats doing? If they’re, if they’re interested in protecting workers? Well, then you don’t want free trade you want. You want to protect domestic American industry. And that I think that’s a really interesting point. Trump is a Republican. And but this is also the switch and the two parties, which you also talked about, right that the Democrats are really the the party of its ice at the party of the elites. And Trump spoke to something in terms to the poor and the working class that made the Republican the Republican Party, much more the representative of the poor and the working class than the Democrats even though traditionally that’s not been the, their own view of themselves. Is that fair?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 11:54
Totally. So it’s to me, if somebody says to me, these are conservative talking points, I sort of feel like well, first of all, that’s not an insult, you know, like I some of my best friends are. Like, I don’t get to I don’t I don’t buy that it’s insulting to be called a conservative. I know they mean it that way. But I don’t I don’t accept it that way. But I would say like, yeah, if you feel to the extent that the left wants to say that caring about class is now a conservative proposition, fine, then I’m a concern. I’m on whatever side thinks that class is the number one issue in America that we have to talk about, that it’s causing all of our problems, and that we have abandoned the working class, if the left wants to say that, like the right is now the side that cares about the working class. Okay, then I guess I’m on the right. I think these words don’t mean anything anymore. But I think because they’ve become so elitist on the left, they do say that they do think that it’s right wing to care about the working class, and that to me seating the fight, like why would I allow them to define caring about class out of the left, like, if you know what I mean? Okay, yeah, it’s true. They’ve kicked me, you know, officially out of the left, like new lefties. They hate me. That’s fine. I don’t care about that. But I’m like that to me is you’ve ceded the ground to the populist, right? You’ve said there’s no room for populism on the left, there’s no room to care about the working class on the left, fine. If you want to never rule again, you want to find you know what I think like,
Robert Bryce 13:13
they’re marginalizing the marginalizing themselves with a large group of voters. And, and I think that that’s right. And I, I look at a lot of this through the Climate and Energy lens, obviously. And what do I see it’s elite, coastal organizations, NGOs that have massive amounts of money far more than the fossil fuel interests who they continually demonized. And yet, there’s no pushback from the news media on the effect of the regressive effect of these policies, whether it’s, you know, natural gas bans, or electric vehicle mandates or you know, only things they do nothing for the carpenter and the carpet layers and the end, the brick layers and the, you know, the landscape guys, they get this all punishes them. But somehow that isn’t discussed in at all in the major media outlets. From what I can see it. Is that how you see it, I
Batya Ungar-Sargon 14:06
mean, we 100% And the reason it’s not discussed is not politics, it’s class. And I think, you know, the French economist Thomas Piketty really pointed this out when he said that it used to be that the left was the side of the working class, and the right was the side of the rich. Today, the left is the side of the elites focused increasingly on environmentalism. And the right is the side of the working class focus increasingly on immigration, right, because those are the things each side cares about. When you have nothing left to care about, from an economic point of view, you start looking around for vanity morals, you know, and you land on things like defund the police, you know, for giving $50,000 in student loans, and environmental extremism, because you you know, you have no real struggle left in your life to give your life meaning and so that’s sort of the new frontier and that’s happening across Europe. I mean, what’s happening in the Netherlands right now, totally fits into this. This farmer strike, you know,
Robert Bryce 14:55
is remarkable and they’re dumping manure on, you know, crossings and that farmers are saying What the hell are you doing here? I mean, it just it but it’s the same with the yellow vest movement in France, right? Where the the working class are, are not just protesting. They’re shutting down the economies in these countries because they’re saying, where’s the equity here? Where’s the social equity? Where do we fit into the society here? That’s a really interesting point
Batya Ungar-Sargon 15:23
when the truckers protest and Canada also, I think, fit right into this. Right.
Robert Bryce 15:27
Right. So let me bring it back to because your book really is about the media and full disclosure. You know, I come from the left, right. You know, that was where I started in journalism as a as a liberal. Right. But the I used to think the liberal media that that was a myth will no longer but let me let me. I mean, after looking at it and being in the media, I mean, this is my whole career of more than 30 years, I thought, Oh, well, that’s a myth. But no, I’m clear. It’s clear to me that it is there is a liberal media. But this isn’t things that the first pages of your book, you said journalism, and I think this is a really important point, I want to discuss it at length here. Journalism has become a profession of astonishing privilege over the past century metamorphosing, from a blue collar trade into one of the occupations with the most highly educated workforces in the United States. And along with the status revolution has come the radicalization of the profession on questions of identity, leaving in the dust, anything commensurate to a similar concern with economic inequality, once a blue collar trade journalism, because something akin to an impenetrable cast, and what journalists have done with that power, perhaps inadvertently, is to wage a cultural battle that enhances their own economic interests against a less educated and struggling American working class. The only thing that I would add to that is that it’s that that is also mirrored or mimicked in the urban rural divide, because I see that in the same terms, right, where the rural areas aren’t as affluent, but they are the Trump voters. Right. But how did you come to that conclusion? Because you you give it tell us walk us through that if you don’t mind because I think I wanted to read that section. From Joseph Pulitzer in the penny newspapers and the working and how they were the these the early pioneers in newspapering, were were attuned with the working class and the reporters were working class live with the working class. It talk about that, because it’s I think it’s important to understand that history and you did it very well in the book.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 17:21
Yeah. You know, for like the vast majority of American journalism, like the our rich history of journalism, up until the 20th century, the late 20th century and 21st century, the kinds of people who became journalists were like, the kid who sat in the back of the classroom, cracking Wise, who had a real problem with authority, who didn’t think that the teacher had any right to tell anybody what to do, you know, who was so anti authoritarian, that they couldn’t go work in the factory with everybody else, because they would have been dangerous, right? Because they couldn’t take orders. And so they became a journalist. It was like a very low status job. And when they got there, they were just as anti authoritarian, they would sit there, and they would see their job as like, it is my job to demand justice on behalf of the little guy, all of my friends who I went to school with who now work in the factory, and I live next door to them. I get to meet important people, I get to meet, you know, millionaires and politicians. And what I’m going to do with that opportunity is represent my people who are the little guy who’s the working class, it was a very low status job. You didn’t really have to get a college degree. Most journalists didn’t have a college degree. Most journalists lived in working class neighborhoods. And they made it was a high working group was a high blue collar job. And you know, they made maybe a little bit more than their neighbor. You know, the linemen or the you know, the electrician, right. Today, the kind of person who becomes a journalist is like the kid who sits in the front row of the classroom and every time the teacher asks a question, they’re mee, mee, mee, Mee Mee, you know, the teacher has to pretend they can’t see them, because like, they they do all the homework, every time they go to Ivy League schools, their parents are already you know, in the upper middle class, if not, you know, the elites, they end up you know, with a college degree for sure over 92% of journalists have a college degree, most of them now have a graduate degree, none of which, by the way, makes you a better journalist. You know, and that’s what becomes a journalist and people go to the IBC you know, the New York Times The Washington Post, and PR these people, these people were supposed to be lefty, these people at the forefront of this identity crap, you know, this, like, you know, at the forefront of every one of these defund the police, you know, everything right, they are taking their interns from the top 1% of universities. Okay. And that, you know, so it used to be you had like a thriving local journalism where journalists were still working class, right? They still didn’t make that much but that all you know, Craigslist, put that out of commission, right. Like Craigslist was like the death of the local newspaper industry right now. 75% of journalism jobs are on the coasts, there are national outlets, digital outlets, right. And so you had the status revolution among journalists themselves, and it met an industry that was shifting towards digital media that shifted from, you know, the incentives being to get the widest possible audience to the incentives being to get the most elite audience possible because their data is the data that is most beneficial to collect. And that’s how newspapers making their money now.
Robert Bryce 20:14
So I can interrupt because you made an important point there. And when I was starting in journalism, the way you made it as a reporter, you would start we’re in a small town newspaper, but but the death of the small town newspapers, I saw something was it maybe it was something you had written recently, but the newspapers closing at a rate of two a week or something like that, that those, I mean, they still exist. And I get a lot of my data for land use conflicts from small town newspapers. I mean, I combed them I you know, I use Google News Alerts. But so that constant, it’s not just the the the decline of actual print media on paper. It’s the it’s the closure of rural newspapers in or non major urban outlet newspapers, that’s concentrating the that journalism as a business in coastal big coastal cities. I think you said four out of five, four or five cities that just completely dominate the media business, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, maybe Chicago, you know, I don’t know where else maybe you know, Houston, not really, but I mean, but that that dominance is also part of that stratification of society, rural, urban, college educated, non college educated, but that loss of the working class sensibility by the people who are doing the reporting is that would be is that the that’s the that’s where you’re, that’s the main one of your main points about. Okay, so let me ask the question. So tell us about Pulitzer. And that history, what you know, how Pulitzer made his fortune and how that laid the groundwork for the newspapers of the that became the dominant ones for you know, in the century past?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 21:48
Yeah. So Joseph Pulitzer, was actually the second sort of godfather of American journalism. The first was this guy, Benjamin de who really fell into it by accident. You know, he was a pretty was apprenticed by his father as a printer when he was 14 years old, that was very normal, never went to high school, you know, and he sort of arrived in New York City in 1829. And there was a lot of work for printers. At that time, those there were newspapers, but they were all for the elite. So there were political newspapers, for the political elites. And then there were business newspapers for the business elites. And he kind of realized, like, he was living in a very poor neighborhood. And he realized that the poor in America, it was very unique at the time, most of them could read, there was a ready by 1829, a literary literacy rate of over 90%. It was the first country in the world in the history of the world, or if you stopped a stranger in the street, like you could be reasonably certain that they knew how to read. And they would they were spending their money on reading materials, they were endlessly curious. The city was covered in, you know, covered in print, just, you know, people hanging up flyers, posters, and they would buy these for a penny you could buy, you know, a gallows confession or romance or, you know, a humorous tract or religious track, there was a lot of stuff for sale on the streets for poor people to read. And that was what they spent their extra money on. And so Benjamin de realized this, and, you know, he was also you know, getting poor and poor, he, for some reason, he, he wanted to start his own printing shopping, he was finding it very difficult. Then there was a cholera epidemic, the economy crashed. And he thought to himself, okay, you know, what I’m going to what if I, you know, advertise my printing business, but make it look like a newspaper, but I’m going to target the masses with it. And I’m going to charge a penny for it and sell it on the streets, you couldn’t buy a newspaper on the street before then for the elites, they would buy a $10 subscription to the newspaper of their choice. But you know, if you think about it, like a domestic servant would make $5 a month in at 29. So she’s not going to spend two months salary on a newspaper that has like nothing in it for Benjamin de wanted to make a newspaper that the masses would buy, which meant selling at a price they could buy, and also including in IT stuff that was relevant to them. So the first thing he did was he hired someone to sit in the daybreak court to go in at 4am. And take down the stories like the cops would bring in, you know, everybody they had arrested overnight. And these these people, you know, they’d arrested from like, you know, the demi monde of like New York City would would tell their story to the judge, you know, and he and he hired this guy, George Weiser to take all this down, and then he would put it in the paper. And my god, I mean, those papers just flew you know, the Newsies. He hired all these like young Urchins to sell them on the paper. They just sold out every single day. I mean, he got rich off of this in five years. And he sold it and then he moved on, he ever thought about the newspaper business again. But he started this revolution called the penny press. He was instantly imitated by, you know, tons of other people because they realized that there was a huge market here for news that was relevant to the masses. And Pulitzer basically took this and ran with it. I mean, he was a total genius for this for figuring out that if you cater to the masses if you make them You’re seen and heard and represent them, they will reward you, they may only have two pennies, but they’ll give you one of them. And that that revolution, I mean, and here’s the thing, though this is very important. These papers were not nonpartisan. Okay. They were extremely partisan, but they were partisan on behalf of the working class and the masses. So they would print like Union demands in full. And they were constantly demanding better conditions, better wages. They were very partisan, but they were partisan on behalf of the masses. The problem with today’s media is not that it’s partisan, it’s that it’s partisan on behalf of the elites, you have the right, conservative media is, you know, I’m not talking about podcasts and data I’m talking about, like the legacy, you know, the conservative media is partisan on behalf of the top 5% of conservatives. And the legacy media on the left is partisan on behalf of the elites that we’ve been talking about this whole time, the over educated, you know, coastal elites, the top 10%, you know, people making over 100 $150,000 a year, and there’s no one speaking to 90% of Americans. I mean, I think actually, the podcast industry now is really blowing up podcasts and YouTube shows. And if you look at the ones that have millions and millions of of listeners or viewers, they are catering to a working class audience. I mean, people are finding new material to listen to, but our legacy media is the problem with it is not that half of it is for Republicans and advocates for Democrats. The problem is that, you know, 98% of it is for the top 10%.
Robert Bryce 26:30
You know, as you’re saying that, one of the things when I started in journalism, I was pitching the newspapers, I was pitching the magazines and you know, the the people who were the, you know, the experts and will look at the ads, it would look at the advertisements. And if you look at the advertisements, you know who the audience is for that publication, will so I, you know, I regularly subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, I was a subscriber to the New York Times, but you know, you pick up the times and or the Times magazine is Mercedes, you know, Mikimoto, right, very high end and the same was the journal as well. Right. But you know, high end watches expensive stuff, right? That those are their advertisers will that’s who their readers are, then the readers that they’re targeting are the wealthy. But you make some really interesting point here about the division in where is it? I’m looking for my you see, the defining feature of conservative media is not that it endorses conservative politics, but that it stepped into a class lacuna created by the mainstream press is abandoned an abandonment of the working class. Then you say 29% Rush Limbaugh is dead now. 29% of limbaugh’s audience and 24% of the Fox News audience had graduated only just 29% What just 24% had graduated from college 54% of daytime talk show listeners only at a high school degree or less. So there’s a there’s an educational divide, there’s a class divide, there’s a geographic divide. And now it seems to me that it’s one of the things you address in the book, as well as this stratification of the media where they’re, you know, Fox talks to more to the working class, and the CNN and the others, we MSNBC are talking to the liberal, urban class. And so let me ask the question, how do we bridge that? Or can we bridge it? I mean, you talk about it at the end of your book about what some possible solutions are, but it seems like a really intractable problem because it’s developed over decades. And it seems like this silo, Silo ification this this balkanization of the media has only gotten more extreme.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 28:36
I think we think it’s much worse than like Americans think it is like they Americans are not too bothered by that we are because we want to be able to impact the people on the other side and force them to have our views. So the Pew just had a study showing the difference between how journalists see their work and how Americans see their work. And it was just very funny, like journalists are very bothered by the fact you know, it’s especially liberal journalists that, you know, conservatives won’t listen to them and won’t read their papers and will watch a TV shows. But if the American people are not too bothered by that, you know, they don’t take this very seriously, the news is not very important to them. And politics is not very important to them. And it shouldn’t be, you know, our political system has ceased to represent the people that elect you know, these people. I mean, there’s just total lock jam, and in Congress, especially on the things that, you know, you have total, you know, 85% of Americans want there’s just very little representation anymore. And I think that there’s, it’s just like, we care a lot about what’s in the news and what’s in politics, because we’re in the elites. And so like, it’s very relevant to our lives, you know, but this is, you know, we’ve lost the Benjamin de and Joseph Pulitzer thing of realizing like that this is totally irrelevant to the lives of the vast majority of Americans mean, two thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. What the hell do they care about what’s happening in Ukraine? What the hell do they care about misinformation? Let me tell you, like, I can’t remember the last time I asked somebody so What is the biggest struggle you’re facing today? And they were like misinformation? Nobody. If you ask journalists, of course they’re like obsessed with misinformation because they think they should have the right to tell people what to care about and what to think. And they don’t have that right. And so I don’t I don’t feel like the the silos ation is like that. I mean, I, you know, as part of my job, I watch Fox News and CNN all day, pretty much, you know, I just have them up on two screens. And I’m just following the conversation as it goes along with, you know, Twitter and like seeing where things are going. So I know which op eds to commission. And, you know, I just don’t feel that it’s so you know, you’ll never see the border crisis covered on CNN, almost ever, you know, that’s covered every day on Fox, you’ll never see crime very rarely covered on CNN. It’s covered almost every day on Fox, you know, it’s so it’s like, well, at some point, you’re like, Okay, well, but then there are things Fox won’t cover. Right. You know, actually, contrary to popular opinion, it has been running the January 6, committee hearings, when they run during the day, the whole thing, I don’t know why journalists are allowed to lie about that on Twitter, but you know, there’s a meme going around that Fox isn’t covering it. You know, but there’s a lot of stuff you know, that you know, Trump did that was not great. That would did not get a lot of coverage on Fox, and you know, but it’s, does it really matter if like, you know, everything is does have its outlet? I mean, in a way, I feel like, that’s really good. Because when I look at what happened with the trucker Conway in Canada, and I look at what’s happening in the Netherlands, now, the media is so on the side of the leftist elites, there’s no Fox News. There’s no countervailing force. So the media has been, it’s smeared the truckers in Canada that like 95% of Canadian media smeared the truckers as fascists and Nazis. There was no no countervailing force to say, No, this is a labor strike, like why is the left not on the side of the biggest leg labor strike in living memory. And the same thing is now happening with the farmers, they’re being you know, smeared as extremists, when millions and millions of people in the Netherlands support them and support what they’re doing. And like, they’re literally being instructed to kill off cattle. When when when we’re already struggling with food meat shortages, because of the war in Ukraine. But there’s no media countervailing force. So in a way, I feel a little bit like, you know, is this really that bad? And is it really that bad? If because I think it’s becoming more and more clear how distant the democratic elites are from the people they purport to represent. And as long as you have one side, you know, Fox covering the issues that are relevant to the working class, does it matter that much that, you know, the liberals have created a little echo chamber for themselves where they can, you know, cancel culture each other out of positions of elite?
Robert Bryce 32:34
So you’re saying that consumers are going to find the news that they want, right that despite this balkanization, they’re gonna find it? Well, so let me push back here a little bit, because I looked you up. So you have a doctorate, as I understand in the 18th century novel from Cal Berkeley, so you have a PhD, your doctor, but you are Sargon. So aren’t you one of the elites?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 32:54
Yes, of course. Yes. Yes.
Robert Bryce 32:57
So, but that, does that give you a more a better vantage point, then? Or how do you how How do you square your own elitism, I guess, with your critique of the elite, I guess, would be a provocative question or the way to think about it.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 33:12
I think one of the one of the things that broke my heart about the truckers convoy in Canada was that they did not have any access to the elite conversation, like there was there’s, we’ve we’ve siloed out we have a caste system, and I am in the cast that is causing the problem. Like, it’s very hard for me to think like how many people outside that cast can really make a compelling case against it. I mean, if they don’t know it, if they haven’t been there, like, you know, I remember what I know what’s wrong with academia, because I went through it, like, I can tell you where things are going wrong, like what it’s like, how could you criticize something deeply if you’re, if you have an experience, I mean, you can like morally but like, I used to be woke like, I know what it feels like, which, which means like, I can also do a better job of like, I don’t think these people are cynical. I think they’re just devastatingly wrong, but from like a very sincere place. Like I look at AOC you know, the green New Deal. I think that thing is terrible and dangerous and would replace tons of good paying union jobs with like crappy green jobs that pay you know, $12 an hour I think it’s really bad for the working class. But I don’t for a second think that she’s doing it cynically, she clearly believes and, and clearly is trying to make the world a better place to the best of her ability. She’s just very wrong. And I think
Robert Bryce 34:36
when you because it’s because of that disconnection of not know, I you know, I feel lucky in that in my job. I travel a lot and I speak to a lot of electric cooperatives. So I spend a fair amount of time in rural America. I meet farmers, I meet people who are, you know, small town merchants and, you know, I hear we know them. I mean, these are people I can call up and talk to, but it would, I would, I’d feed back to you as it sounds like you got a PhD with the Cal Berkeley you’ve seen academia and that’s the part that I see in the academic and the Clerici, to introduce a word that you cite to that and credit to to Joel Kotkin that there is a, these, the Clerici is completely disconnected from those working class people from the people who work with their hands, the welders, the farmers, the people to the producers, and the this disconnect is only getting deeper because of this, this class divide, geographic divide, etc. So talk about the clarity. And you use that word in and you cite Kotkin, who is the clarity.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 35:35
The clarity is the, you know, the people you know, we used to be a foreign journalists used to be part of a fourth estate right outside of they’re supposed to have the job is to be outside of power, demanding justice, right, like a perspective from outside of the caste system where you could say, like, Hey, here’s what’s really going on. And like demand,
Robert Bryce 35:54
just speaking truth to power Exactly.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 35:57
Today, because of this new caste system, journalists are part of an elite that goes to they go to the same universities as the politicians who they then end up covering, as the tech billionaires who they’re supposed to be distant from, and they then they live in the same neighborhoods, and their kids go to the same schools, as all of the people who are running things, all of the people who are in that top, you know, 10%, who, you know, they have, I mean, even they’re in the top 10% economically, but for in terms of power, they control massive, massive amounts of power. And it’s self justifying. So you saw this really clearly with COVID. They mistake their economic privilege for some sort of divine right of kings, like a kind of morality, they think that they are more moral, you see this with COVID. You see this with environmentalism, right? Like we were talking before, right? The environmental extremism is both a product of and a cause of, you know, class privilege, right? You know, like you’ve run out of steam, you know, you’re no longer worrying about how you’re going to put meat on the table, because you can afford it. If the price goes up, suddenly, you start demanding things that are going to make the price go up even higher, because you’ll always be able to afford it right? They don’t just they don’t they’re not like satisfied with that they then Miss interpret what is class privilege as a kind of virtue, right? They are the virtuous for caring about the climate, how dare you not clear about the climate? Why are we even having this conversation? You know, though, they’ll say, like, the planet’s not even gonna be here in 1010 years, you know, like, how could you not be on our side, right that you this is same thing with COVID, you know, the class that was able to immediately start working from home, instead of being like, Thank God, I can stay home and protect my children and my mother and my elderly parents, I am going to be so grateful to everybody who has to go out and brave the plague and make sure that this class difference between us to where I’m safe and they’re in the plague, and as soon as possible. No, they misinterpreted their class privilege, again, as virtue, right? We are the virtuous ones who stay home and slow the spread and wear three masks and blah, blah, blah, right, that that move of misinterpreting class privilege as virtue. That is, I think what Joel was talking about when he talks about the Clerici right, that they believe that there’s something not divine they’re not religious, right, which is a big part of the problem if you ask me, but you know, that there’s something you know, good, something that makes them good, they’ve misinterpreted being rich with being good and I think that that is the thing that’s like very important to call out.
Robert Bryce 38:41
It’s interesting you say that about about religion and because at the end of the book, you also talk about the you want people to be more engaged in in churches and synagogues, but I also looked you up. You’re from Gaza, and I don’t I’ve never met No,
Batya Ungar-Sargon 38:55
no, I’m not I’m not actually from Gaza. No, that’s it’s like a we I don’t know what people tell it to me. But Jews actually can’t really go to Gaza. It’s very dangerous. There’s no Jews there. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 39:05
There were there were before. But that was a while ago, so Okay,
Batya Ungar-Sargon 39:09
well, from Gaza. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 39:11
Okay. Forgive me. So then, but our Were you born in Israel, where
Batya Ungar-Sargon 39:16
I was born. I was born in Philly. That grew up in Boston, and then I went to high school in Israel.
Robert Bryce 39:21
Yeah, okay. Okay. All right. So forgive me. Well, so then talk about that, then is that has that going to high school in Israel? How did that form your politics or your worldview? Or did it did that and how did that affect you?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 39:38
Oh, wow, that’s a great question. I mean, I’m definitely like looking at the way the conversation about Israel plays out in America having grown up there like having deep ties to Israeli Jews, but also to Palestinians living in the territories. It’s you see, like how how, how much People want to misinterpret things if it makes them feel, you know, good about themselves. So, I think that’s that. But you know, my opinions about the conflict have shifted over time. And, you know, I think for a lot of people, it’s you know, the more the more you think about things, the more deeply you think about things. You know, it’s depth to keep thinking the same thing. You know, you have to be aware and awake and constantly questioning yourself and, you know, your positions and trying to understand things from a deeper and deeper point of view.
Robert Bryce 40:33
So I’m in no way an expert. I’ve been to Israel twice, but the how important were the Abraham Accords, because, you know, for all there was a, you know, the overwhelming amount of media coverage of Trump was negative, right. But from what I’ve seen that what Jared Kushner was able to accomplish was pretty remarkable. Again, as someone who’s pretty much a neophyte, what was your view on that? I mean, this is far afield from bad news. And, and by the way, my istation Break, my guest is Bhatia Ongar Sargon. Her new book is bad news, how woke media is undermining democracy. So since we started talking about Israel, I just wanted to put that in as a question that occurred to me was, how important was, was Kushner his work? And is this going to be enduring in terms of the this never seemingly never ending conflict in the Middle East?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 41:20
Yeah, it was extremely important. I think for a lot of Palestinians, it was very devastating, because they understood that their former allies had put them on the back burner. You know, it used to be that all these countries refuse to normalize relations with Israel because of the occupation. And now that’s no longer the case. And Israel as a result is in a much better position and no longer needs America as much, by the way, you know. And so I try, to me, it’s sort of like, is it so important that America be, you know, if there’s going to, it’s going to be the case that at some point, America is no longer necessary to Israel, as its, you know, number one ally, because it has normalized relations with other extremely powerful countries. So it’s going to that is definitely going to change like the US Israel relationship, it’s going to change how Israel plays out in terms of American politics. But yeah, it was extremely, extremely important, because countries that were sort of you know, it, you know, like, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like Israel was at war with like the UAE, there was tons of like back channel cooperation and things like that, but it couldn’t be acknowledged. And now there are just billions and billions and billions of dollars connecting those countries. And that is, that’s just going to totally change how things play out, it’s going to change, it totally changed the Palestinians position. And, you know, things were not It’s not like things were moving before that, but it put the Palestinians in a position where they have essentially no bargaining power anymore, because the threats that they could have issued, or whatever the support that they had to back up those threats are gone. So I they cannot be overstated. how important the Abraham accords were, what a huge achievement, they were, but also, you know, devastating to many in the Palestinian community. And, you know, in terms of, you know, as somebody who cares deeply about ending the occupation, one has to think like, Okay, well, what, what now is, where do we go from here, I will also say that, like, you know, Jared Kushner himself is personally enriching himself very much after the fact with, you know, the proceeds of having established these connections, and, you know, that seems to be the norm in America to where, you know, you look like someone like Hunter Biden, for example, right, like using Pollock politics in order to further enrich your family. But, you know, that’s not, you know, I think the Abraham Accords are like, objectively a good thing. I was really grateful for them. You know, we, I think a lot of Jews felt like very, very like this is going to change things for the better. But like, number one, I feel conflicted about people making money off of it. And number two, I would say, you know, what is what is our message to the Palestinians? Like, how are we going to make sure that there is an equitable solution there now that they have lost a lot of their bargaining chips?
Robert Bryce 44:05
Well, and it looks like the Israelis are going to normalize potentially, with the Saudis, which is, which is remarkable. And so now you have the Jewish state with the Shia aligned, and then I’m sorry, with the Sunnis, against the Shia Iranians and isolates, potentially the Iranians further, but by normalizing with the Abraham Accords, if memory serves with Qatar and UAE, that potentially the Saudis are next, I mean, that could be just enormous. It was an Israeli ambassador, was recently in Saudi Arabia. I saw a headline of that some something to that effect, but, but it for, but to me, that’s one of the other examples and, you know, my politics I’m not I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat. I’m disgusted, right. But the, for all of the things that happened under Trump what Trump did, in fact, have some very positive outcomes, but particularly when it comes to the energy part, that’s the part where I say, you know, to go back to the net part about The issues around the Democratic party today their complete disconnect with understanding how important the cost of gasoline is to voters. And we’re gonna find out in November about just how big this you know, the backlash is to this kind of what I would say woke climate policy. But is there is this a permanent shift? I mean, it’s hard to say, of course, but that these the two parties kind of shifting positions where the Democrats are controlled by the elites and the oligarchs, whereas the Republicans are more identifying with the working class, is that going to survive? And for how long? Or do you think this is temporary?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 45:36
I think it definitely depends on who’s going to be the Republicans nominee in 2024. You know, if it’s someone like Nikki Haley, I mean, she’s just kind of like old
Robert Bryce 45:46
school, whether it’s Trump or Trump or if Trump runs again,
Batya Ungar-Sargon 45:50
I don’t think it will be Trump, but like DeSantis, you know, in some ways, he has carried on a lot of Trump’s populist energy, but I don’t know if he’s willing to go. I mean, Trump, Trump, really, from an economic point of view, like I said before, I mean, he really broke the mold. He went further than any Democrat has gone in terms of being like a leading from a lefty point of view, you know, for 50 years. I mean, he really, who who would have, he was such a horrible person, but such a good he did so many good things, but
Robert Bryce 46:20
it’s like how opponent is a proponent for the working class.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 46:23
Exactly. And there is a lot of energy for that on the right, right now. You know, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, you know, even a Mitt Romney, you know, that that model from Utah is very, there’s a lot of welfare support in Utah. You know, so it’s, I think that there’s just, it depends which direction the Republican Party is right now has a really interesting split going on. And people think that the split is over January 6, it’s not it’s over economics, it’s over populism. It’s over, like whether they want to go back to the Mitch McConnell model of like, free markets, and, you know, Chamber of Commerce, all this stuff, or whether they want to head into, you know, lean into the Trump voter and what they were going to trump for, which was, you know, NAFTA, you know, deaths of despair, how do we combat those? How do we restore the dignity of the American family? How do we return to a place where a man can support his family on a single income, right, like, all of these questions, but if you ask me, who’s my money on? Are the Democrats more likely to return to caring about these issues? And these people or the Republicans more likely to lean into their voters and abandon their, their donors? I think my money would be on the Republicans. I mean, just because there’s nothing commensurate happening. on the Democrat side, there’s nothing commensurate. And if you I think build back better is a really great example of this, like to them, that’s their big, you know, building up the middle class, but you talk to Americans, and like, there’s nothing there that they’re interested in, you know, so it’s just this farce of activism that is totally just about their own egos.
Robert Bryce 47:55
Well, you know, when I looked at build back better, and I look at it, of course, through energy and climate related stuff, it looked to me like just a big ball of corporate giveaways. I mean, you know, whether it was electric vehicles, or, you know, more subsidies for wind, and solar, or all these other things that had nothing to do with, you know, high paying jobs. I mean, they talk about jobs, they give lip service to the job issue, but that wasn’t fundamentally what I saw. And what I saw was just massive amounts of spending that would have turbocharged this, what I see as a land grab in rural America for wind and solar and big corporations, bullying, small towns and the rest of it. So what are you writing on these days? Are you got another book in mind? What what? i That’s a, that’s a, I hate that question. When people ask me, because I’m like, Look, I’ve written six sets, they’re incredibly hard. Do you have another idea in mind? Are you letting it simmer for a while?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 48:43
I am. I’m working on my next book.
Robert Bryce 48:45
Can you tell us about it?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 48:46
I’m not yet. Okay. I’m gonna ask you for help.
Robert Bryce 48:54
Happy to help any way I can.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 48:56
I’m not I’m not ready to announce it yet. But it is the book that I kept reaching for while I was promoting bad news that didn’t yet exist. And so I was like, you know, a girl, just just write it. So yeah, I’ll be I’ll hopefully be able to announce it soon.
Robert Bryce 49:11
Do you have a contract? Are you are you still in the formulation stage,
Batya Ungar-Sargon 49:16
but I’m already reporting it and traveling a lot and excited about it. And yeah,
Robert Bryce 49:22
well, that’s good. Because I mean, will my experience is that the next book grew out of the last book that it was just seemed like a natural progression from what you’d written before. And that well, now I can build on that with a different different subject or different, different focus. So just a couple more minutes here, and then I’ll let you go again, my guest is Bhatia Ongar. Sargon. She’s written a terrific book, one that was, to me fairly surprising that it’s called bad news. How woke media is undermining democracy. At the end of the book, you talk about the need for more engagement across the aisle across the divide. And frankly, I’ll tell you, I had a hard time with that here in Austin, Texas. famously liberal town and I come from the liberal left and yet you know when I write about these issues I’ve been roundly rejected by and lost friendships from you know, people are oh, well you just don’t see the world right you know energy supposed to be more expensive? And I’m like no, Who you talking to? What are you doing? This is terrible for the poor in the middle class, but you talk about the need to reengage in churches, synagogues, you talk about the she said, become a champion for the opinions you don’t like you’re championing championing your own future and those of your children. So does that start in, in civic associations in churches? Where their synagogues? Where does that start for you?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 50:36
Well, for me, it starts, like every minute of every day that you’re on your phone or on social media or encountering opinions you don’t like, like I like to say like, every time you’re on the internet, and you see an opinion, from a stranger, and it makes you feel enraged, like, oh, how dare somebody think this, like, you know, every time you have that feeling about a stranger, someone just made a million dollars, you know, like they like this is the whole this is how, you know, the whole Silicon Valley model of like engagement, you know, that’s it’s built to enrage you. Every algorithm is created to make you hate strangers, and they are making millions of dollars every time you feel that way. And so you can deprive them of that money. Every time you see an opinion, you don’t like you can just say to yourself, I’m feeling this way about a stranger, it is not natural to feel this level of, of emotional investment in a stranger, somebody made me feel this way. So they can make money. And I can say no to that. And I think that that is so important. Because, you know, like a democracy is built on the fact that we have different opinions, right tolerance for the opinions of people you disagree with. And, you know, especially now at a time when like Roe v. Wade is again in play, you know, this, I mean, not even in play, right? Like the question of abortion is now going to play out in the most democratic way, you know, at the smallest level of government, like buck up and get ready to convince your fellow Americans because coercing them into accepting a standard that they don’t agree with is no longer on the table. Right. But that this is the work of of sustaining our democracy, of enhancing our democracy and making sure that it survives.
Robert Bryce 52:18
And you quoted Michael Lind, who lives here in Austin. And what did he say was something to the effect of that this politics is messy and right. And this requires that kind of engagement, continuous engagement and that the battle on in the in the public sphere, for trying to you know, come to some agreeable policies that don’t estrange all of us from each other. So a couple of last things, one of the questions I had here, and I just wanted to pose to you before, why is the New York Times so powerful?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 52:49
I don’t think it is, really?
Robert Bryce 52:52
Or is it is just in its its power has declined tremendous over the last few years. Why was it so powerful? And why is its power been undermined, or
Batya Ungar-Sargon 53:02
was the paper of record and because it worked assiduously to make sure that it was a paper that any American could pick up, and see, and accept what’s reported there as having been processed through the highest standards of journalism. And that is very obviously no longer the case. 91% of people who read the New York Times now are Democrats, it took a lot of work for them to squander their legacy, to the point where only 9% of their readers are Republicans. I mean, it’s just a disaster, what’s happened there, and you know, they’ve really harmed the industry more generally. Because there you know, a lot of Americans now just will, they’ll look at it, and they see that it’s from the New York Times, that is already a knock against it. Because and this is not it’s not just people like me, you know, I was I was speaking to a guy who he was interviewing me, his job is to advise investors from this like one of these, you know, multi million dollar billion dollar hedge fund companies, they invest retirement funds, very big responsibility, and his job is to read the news and tell you know, his the investors, what they can expect, what not what to bet on what to bet against, you know, for to the best of his ability, right? He told me and this is a totally nonpartisan guy, his number one job is to protect other people’s money. So he has no reason to not right, be as objective as possible. He told me that to him, The New York Times is an activist paper, and he is always telling his, his his investors, you know, you have to take everything you read there with a grain of salt, because it is so ideological at this point, you know, that is that happened in the last five years, 10 years, and it’s a disaster. And it’s tragic. I mean, I read The New York Times every day of my life, you know, my adult life started when I was 18 years old every single day until about you know, three two years ago i i just couldn’t anymore, and it’s a disaster, but I think that it has squat has squandered its legacy and it is no longer able to
Robert Bryce 54:57
avoid it, it squander it what, why, why and How what was it? Just it? It was it became so rabidly anti Trump. I mean, what what were where were
Batya Ungar-Sargon 55:07
they before Trump started in 2014? I would say, Well, it started in 2011. Really when they erected their online paywall, that’s when sociologists have tracked the hockey stick of woke terminology. So it up until then words like, you know, white supremacy marginalized privilege, the words people of color in the same sentence as the word marginalized, you know, it was sort of like down here. And then starting in 2011, it became this hockey stick, that the, the frequency of those words just started to skyrocket. And it’s because of the way in the pages in the New York Times Yes, yeah. Sociologists, trawl the archives from 2000, from 1970 until 2018. And that’s when it started. We’re still in it. By the way. Why did that happen? Well, digital media. So it turns you know, when you work in digital media, you’re trying to get engagement. And one of the tools for engagement is called SEO, right? Search Engine Optimization. If you can get your story to be one of the top stories on the first page that Google lists if someone types in a question, you’re gonna get a ton of traffic from that, right. And there are tricks to how to do that, you know, certain keywords, you know, the keyword has to appear in the title and the social description and then 10 words throughout the article, right. So you could just see how the New York Times figured this out, as soon as it went digital, right, as soon as it erected that online. paywall was like, this is our future, they started to do this stuff. And so these words, the word slavery, I mean, come on, like slavery is not getting more frequent, right. But the frequency of that word in the New York Times skyrocketed, because they were trying to appeal to an over educated liberal audience who are obsessed with these concepts, because they don’t want to talk about income inequality, because they’re benefiting from income inequality. So they got woke, and they want to talk about race, and they want to talk about gender. So they can still see themselves as the good guys in the social justice battle, right without disrupting their enormous economic privilege, right. That’s who the New York Times reader is, and they totally leaned in. And then in 2014, they had actually a very bad year. And the current publisher who was then, you know, just a part of the team ag Sulzberger, he was tasked with coming up with their future in what was called the times innovation report, you read that report, and it is a beeline for how they got here, how they lost all their Republican he was, like they said, he said he wanted reporters to become social media stars, you know, he wanted them to be driving the conversation on social media, which is exactly what happened. They became so they became stars. And then they started demanding that he fired people who they didn’t like, and he listened to them. I mean, it’s so crazy. You know, they wanted, they started this thing called Project feels, that would sell ads based on how emotional they thought an article was going to make the reader right. Like the whole thing shifted towards becoming, you know, much more of a digital media company, and it led directly to where we are here. All of this is in the book, anybody who wants to know more about more details about this in bad news.
Robert Bryce 58:01
So then what do you what do you what do you what outlets Do you read? What outlets Do you trust? You sound like you read a lot of them. What outlets Do you trust?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 58:10
I mean, it depends what point of view I want to get. I read all of them. I mean, I will say I guess
Robert Bryce 58:16
your background, you were at the forward you were at tablet, then the foreword is the leading Jewish Publication in America that tablet is that you publish there a lot. So anyway, I interrupted but go ahead. So who do you trust? And who do you like?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 58:32
Well, I do like Fox News. I do think they’re speaking to the working class. I mean, not necessarily from an economic point of view, but from every other point of view they really do. I mean, now of course also from an economic point of view, because they can bash Biden for it so they’re covering inflation whereas you won’t really see that covered in the liberal papers. But they are speaking to the working class and I liked that but I wouldn’t you know, if you have to balance that with like other things, I will say I’ve never read something in the Wall Street Journal that I thought was untrue, but you know, like that paper is not for me, it’s for rich people. Like I read it every Shabbat and I feel very poor Well, let me tell you and I’m not poor but you know it’s not for me but I trust everything I read their their coverage of China specifically is very very good. Whereas the coverage in the New York Times reflects that you know, much more of a climate you know, to point of view which is very pro China actually you know, you have people wanting to bring in these cheap wind turbines from China you know like to further like misery the working class so I you know, I if I if I only had to read with like I don’t on Shabbat I can’t I don’t use technology, so I’m only reading one paper and the paper that’s coming is the Wall Street Journal so I but you know, I really liked there’s a populist YouTube show called you know, Christian breaking points with Christian saga. That’s very good. I really liked the good old boys podcast is really good. You know, what else do I listen to regularly? You know, there’s there’s a lot of stuff out there. But, you know, for people who it’s not their job, like it’s my job, you know, I honestly think that it’s just like, there’s just too much news out there. I really believe there’s nothing that a person can learn from the New York Times or CNN that they can’t learn from church or from going to the local bodega and asking the owner what’s up. And I just think that our media is so nationalized, and our national culture is so stymied that it’s just most of it is just trash.
Robert Bryce 1:00:19
But the positive point, which I think you’re making here is though, is that and well, I guess, my own podcast, is that an example of that? And I don’t have you know, I’m no Joe Rogan, right? Although I have the same microphone as Joe Rogan. So sure, SM seven, SM seven, B. And he lives in Austin, I live in Austin. So I’m almost Joe Rogan. But that the the, the way that the digital media has evolved is that it’s flattened the ability for people like me to get in and have my own platform without fear of being canceled, or have some editor say, oh, you know, we don’t like this, we’re not going to run this. So it’s it’s allowed a more more voices, I think, into the mix and people to find the voices that they trust and like, so last thing then. But yeah, what gives you hope. I mean, we’ve talked about a lot of things that are disappointing, disheartening, frustrating, and I’m bullish on America. I’m a homer in that way. I’m totally on board with America and optimism for America. But what makes you hopeful?
Batya Ungar-Sargon 1:01:20
Everything, everything, everything of the American people, I mean, it just, I, you know, I feel very hopeful because they’re too smart for their elites, and then turning away from them. And it’s so clear, it’s just the, the beauty and the genius and the wisdom and the power. And the neighborliness, and the goodness of the American people fills me with hope every single day, I mean, every single day, and I just want to be worthy of those people, like I want to be a force representing their goodness, and the fact that they are not willing to be forced to hate their fellow American because somebody else is making money off of that guy just want to be worthy of that, and be able to widen the platform for that. Because it is so good. I mean, this is the greatest country on Earth. And I really believe the greatest country in history. And you know, this, this is the promised land, and we’re in it. And so I’ve just want to be worthy of that and, and give more and more voice to that and then elevate those people and give them a voice.
Robert Bryce 1:02:28
We’ll stop there. Then that eloquently stated. My guest has been but younger Sargon. She has written a remarkable book, one that was surprising to me and one that had many twists and turns that I didn’t expect and some great history that I didn’t know. Bad news is the book bad news how woke media is undermining democracy. But yeah, thanks for being on the power hungry podcast.
Batya Ungar-Sargon 1:02:49
Thank you so much for having me. This was a real pleasure and a real honor for me.
Robert Bryce 1:02:54
Great, well, thanks to you. And thanks again to all you in podcast land. Tune into the next episode of the power hungry podcast. Until then, see you