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November 23, 2022 73 mins

Jordan Klepper has heard a lot of 9/11 conspiracy theories, including this shiny emerald: Osama bin Laden was a CIA operative named Tim Ossman. Together with Dr. Joan Donovan, research director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Jordan unpacks how the early days of the internet and social media have shaped 9/11 conspiracy theories that are still appearing two decades later. They are joined by veteran and filmmaker Korey Rowe, who co-produced “Loose Change,” one of the first viral conspiracy theory films on 9/11. They discuss the legacy of the film, how the right has weaponized conspiracy theories for political gain, and what conversations we should be having about the role of the media.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Think back twenty years. Maybe you're in school or college.
A friend comes up to you with the twenty dollar bill.
They say, check this out, and they start folding it
in a kind of weird way, kind of in half.
Then it comes to a point then you realize it's
the shape of the Pentagon and the image on the
bill is now the twin towers who smoke coming out
of them? What did the government know about nine eleven
before it happened? If you ever experienced that, or if

(00:23):
you ever had that thought, then congrats Alex Jones. You're
a nine eleven conspiracy theorist. This is Jordan Clapper Fingers
the conspiracy September eleven really was the ground zero of
conspiracy theories. Chances are you can name one. Jet fuel
can't melt steel beams? George Bush did it? What about
Building seven? Osama bin Laden is a CIA operative named Tim.

(00:47):
What's that you don't know about that one? Well, someone
told it to me just a few months ago at
a Trump robway. People were talking, it's been Laden still
alive him? Um, are you doing math right now? Now?
I'm trying to remember his real name, Tim Osama Osama
bin Laden, Yeah, Tim, Tim someone forgot his last name.
He's him is not the most saughty name and he

(01:08):
wasn't say from the c I A needless to say.
When we heard about Tim bin Laden, we were like,
let's get to the bottom of this huckleberry. And even
though our unverified non tipster couldn't remember Tim's real last name,
we found it. His name is Tim Osman. Totally fake guy,
but his name is Tim Osman. So I want to

(01:28):
go through this conspiracy theory with a person who is
a specialist in media manipulation and the effects of disinformation.
Dr Joan Donovan, the Research director of the Shorenstein Center
on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard. Joan, ready
to hear this story of a man named Tim. Yeah,
I know a few Tims, so interested to find out
if I knew you. You may know that this guy

(01:52):
lives just down the street from you. Again, disclaimer, his
name is not Tim. Here we go. Let me walk
through this for you guys. So this nutterbutter of his
story starts in nineteen eighty six in Sherman Oaks, California,
classic classic Bin Laden. He's twenty eight at the time,
wearing doctors and he's representing the interests of the muja
Hadeen in Afghanistan. He's at a Hilton Hotel in Sherman
Oaks to meet a couple of FEDS and the name

(02:13):
he's been assigned by the CIA is Tim Osman. Now
at the Hilton Osama Bin, Tim Osman Lawden is told
by the guys from the US government that the CIA
doesn't consider their group truly representative of Afghans, and Tim
gets pissed. He wants to lobby the d C Movers
and shakers for support. Now, the theory claims there is

(02:34):
evidence that Tim tours US military bases other parts of
the United States, including possibly the White House. He's even
given special demonstrations of the latest equipment, pretty high end stuff.
How do we know all this? And by no, I
mean how do we make it all up? Because one
of the Americans there to meet Tim is a guy

(02:54):
named Michael Reakin Shudo, a man linked to the Chinese
industrial and military group Norinko, whose name is misspelled a
dozen different times on the most official looking website explaining
this conspiracy theory. He was apparently a loose end and
he had to be taken care of, so he gets arrested,
accused by the US government of being delusional, accusing him

(03:15):
of modifying something called Promise software in the desert, which
obviously doesn't make sense because and I'm quoting from the
website here, sand isn't good for computers. I mean, that's
a fact. So Rick and Shuto, which sounds like a
delicious advertiser, is put in prison and accused of making

(03:36):
all this stuff up. But if he were really making
it up, then why is there evidence that the modifications
the computer software was made in an office in nearby Indio, California.
That's the story of tim Osman rest in Power of
Fake King. It's a strange way into what is probably
the original Internet conspiracy theory eleven. And that is why

(03:57):
Joan is here. First of all, Joe, any reactions to
the tale of tim Osman, I mean it sounds legit,
uh Like, you know, clearly we've got a reputable news
organization digging up facts and and we've got you know,
layers of editors and others that have been activated. You know,

(04:20):
hundreds of thousands of dollars must have been spent on
this investigation. So I'm on board. You buy it, and
you're a pro here had you well, of course, of course,
you know what's interesting about things like this is essentially
when you're being told something that is a liicit information
that you feel like you're getting information that nobody else has,

(04:42):
it does make you listen closer. It makes you want
to dig deeper. And when it comes to the early internet, uh,
we you know, we think a lot about well, what
are you know? What isn't government telling us? Right? And
and you have all of this new information s that
you have access to. And so the moment when the

(05:04):
attacks on nine eleven happened, we all were concerned, but
none of us really knew what the internet was at
that point. You didn't even have major news organizations taking
you know, their websites very seriously at that stage. And
so if you were going online to find information about
what happened during nine eleven and you were digging in,

(05:26):
you would be drawn in by the novelty and the
outrageousness of stories like this, and you may uh then
find yourself moving between a network of websites and message
boards discussing uh these theories and others. And so it's
it's unsurprising. But also we've had you know, twenty years

(05:47):
of this now and it still looks a lot like that. Well,
when we look at nine eleven conspiracy theories, where do
we start? Where do you begin to hone in? I
recently published a book with my co authors called me
Moore's and in the book, we wanted to explain how
basically the Internet affects how people understand politics and communication,

(06:12):
and so we decided to go back into looking at
Occupy and what we were interested in Occupy was understanding
the rise of Alex Jones. And as we were digging in,
we couldn't ignore the fact that Alex Jones was also
one of the major contributors to nine eleven conspiracy theories.

(06:34):
But it wasn't the same then. It wasn't like he
was online pushing this so much. He had a lot
of UH television stations that were airing his show and
a few months I think it was July before UH
September eleventh, he had a show where he was showing

(06:54):
people the White House UH number and suggesting people call Congress, say,
we know a terrorist attack is about to happen. We
know that bin Laden is going to be involved. They're
going to blame it on him, and you, as a listener,
have a role to play, and I won't want you
to believe Alex Jones. I want you to go get

(07:15):
these news stories off my website. I want you to
call these major newspapers. I want you to find out
these statements were true by the White House about preparing
for martial law, and I want you to let them
know that if there is any terrorism, we know who
to blame, and that participatory conspiracy being part of the
action is something that Alex Jones has been able to

(07:39):
really hone in on and bring people into these worlds
um as part of his media making. You say, you're
saying some and you're saying this is July of two
thousand one too. So there's people who are paying attention,
they're hearing this before it happens, and see this happening
and draw a connection that gives validity to a lot
of his theories. Does that that building, it builds his

(08:02):
base and but it what it does is it actually
he actually loses his television um uh networks? So uh,
people are you know this is kind of crazy? This
is really out there. Uh, you know, it's very obviously
xenophobic in some ways, although cancel culture wasn't really a

(08:23):
thing then you you could be openly xenophobic or islamophobic
and the good old days before yeah, before you when
you could get away with it right. Um. But by
and large, when we were trying to study at the
rise of other kinds of political communication online, we did

(08:45):
keep coming back to nine eleven conspiracies and especially means like, uh,
jet fuel can't melt steel beams. Why do we even
remember that turn of phrase? Nine eleven is an inside job? Uh?
You know, these turns of phrase can be very potent
and popular, and they they're really sticky, and so they

(09:05):
those kinds of um key phrases also became really important
explainers or shorthand for groups of people that had started
to come together on message boards and in in email
lists that eventually be called became to be called truthers. Now,
I think what's interesting about this, you know, and on

(09:27):
this podcast we're looking at a bunch of different conspiracy theories,
and we often talk about how these things spread on
social media and the internet, looking at this as one
of the uh, the birth of these types of conspiracy theories. Uh,
it's also the birth of the internet at the time.
Can you give us a little bit of background of
how the Internet is being used at this this point

(09:48):
and how how people are using it to pass information,
how people are getting information, understanding these theories. So this
is before social media, so we're not in the era
of social networks in the same way that we think
about early Facebook or early Twitter. But we are finally
starting to have high speed Internet in our homes, which

(10:09):
allows for the transmission of video. And this is a
really important aspect of how we understand UM the world
around us, because it's no longer that you're getting your
video from UH cable um stations. It's no longer that
strictly UH and this opens up a whole new world

(10:32):
of broadcast, creativity, innovation. And at that moment, there were
a lot of people who were going online, making videos,
making content that we're anti mainstream media. And I would
say that in that time, even when I was using

(10:54):
the Internet then I was someone who would consume these
kinds of videos. I wanted to know more about what
was going on in the world. I didn't always trust
mainstream outlets. I certainly didn't trust the government. I mean,
I'm a child of the rage against the machine generation, right,
So we always want to question and ask more and so.

(11:14):
But online everything is done through hyperlinks at this point.
So you're on a website, there's a page on the
website with a bunch of links, and so you're really
traveling through this very um labyrinth like information ecosystem where
people are linking you to things or your following sets

(11:36):
of links, and you never really know where you're going
to end up. But you always take it um with
a grain of salt. You think about it. There's no
institutional power behind this message. You don't always know where
you're getting the information from, so you approach it with
a kind of radical skepticism at that stage. Back then,

(11:59):
the internet was really a place for weirdos and geeks
and people who wanted to understand more about the world.
And and we're sharing things for the love of one another. Uh,
And I thought that was really you know it was.
It was actually kind of a nice time in a
weird way, um, because you could find your people. I

(12:21):
remember entering in with skepticism around that time as well,
and partially because of my lack of familiarity with this
new tool. Right if it feels as if everybody was
skeptical in certain ways because we weren't experts on it.
We didn't really know how this was working or what
we were getting information on. But it was sort of
like the wild West in a very curious way. And
perhaps I'm speaking more to myself of somebody who was

(12:43):
always afraid of taking big steps into the unknown. So
I was always cautious about those things. I guess I'm
curious about at that time what kind of conversations or
were their conversations about the Internet and how it should
be regulated and used. So there's this landmark legislation that
is essentially a legislation of decontrol. It says UH section

(13:06):
two thirty essentially says that websites or computer services are
able to moderate contents as they wish, but they're not
going to be held responsible for the content on their
UM services. So that means that if you're a server,
or you're an email host or your domain registrar, if someone,

(13:27):
if some crazy person puts up stuff that's illegal, it's
not your fault, right, You're just providing this basic infrastructure
and is So that law gets past and you start
to see different web services blossom, and you see um
groups of people still feel like they have mastery over

(13:49):
the means of communication, they are able to build their
own servers, they're able to register their domains, and so essentially,
at that time, on line regulators and many people using
the Internet were very optimistic that there weren't going to
be these major crimes committed. Uh, most legislation or people

(14:13):
were concerned with, um, child pornography as we know um
or maybe people don't know, but the the Internet's backbone
and the innovation around the Internet actually came about as
the pornography industry came online. And so the way in

(14:34):
which we remember Internet history. UM. As a professor, I'm
always telling my students, you know, like there was really
you know, it matured around pornography. And so it's not
like the we endeavored to build an Internet that was
going to be the place for uh, you know, this

(14:55):
free and open library of information where everybody's getting access
to of the world's knowledge. Like you remember, al well, right,
follow the porn and that's I mean, that's always been
the history, right, isn't that? Also think the innovation towards
home movies, uh, like allowing people to watch it at
home primarily came because people wanted to watch pornography at home,

(15:17):
and so the technology follows the porn. If only if
we could only aim pornography at a working democracy, that's
what I mean, then we can technologically get to a
good place and yes to be like, oh, thank god,
we have a lovely democracy that responds to the needs
of its people. How do we get here? Well, people
wanted to watch democratic porn. Fine, Okay, it's weird, it's

(15:39):
a little strange. But no king here, no king shaming,
as long as my vote counts. But if you think
about it, then as as we describe the history of
the Internet, and we're not talking about then like, you know,
we want people to have access to legal uh you know,
law libraries, and we want people to have, you know,

(16:02):
access to the greatest science. A lot of that stuff
is still behind paywalls. And so at that time, the
early Internet, um, you know, maybe the wild West doesn't
really even describe it, um, but it was a bit
of a free for all, and the major innovations weren't
you know, necessarily tied to any particular like public interest

(16:25):
or social good, and so conspiracy theories and conspiracy communities
we're not just a place where you could you know,
jump in and say things and contribute. But these were
also communities where people thought that they were building some

(16:47):
kind of knowledge, some kind of um resistance to the establishment, right.
And so the Internet had in its infancy this relationship
to liberation, this relationship to if we had the facts
and we were able to communicate freely, we wouldn't need governments, right,

(17:10):
And so there is a kind of techno libertarian uh
ethic that undergirds the rise of these kinds of communities online.
I love it. I want to take a quick break,
and when we come back, we'll be joined by Corey Row,
a filmmaker who created one of the first viral conspiracy
films about nine eleven. We'll be right back. Welcome back

(17:33):
to Jordan's Clapper Fingers the Conspiracy. This week, we're talking
about Osama bin Laden and as apparently rich history as
a guy named Tim from California who turned into a
CIA operative, and we're also going to look at a
few theories about what happened in the wake of nine eleven.
I'm here with Joan Donovan, who you've been hearing from,
but we also have Corey Row with us today. Corey
is a filmmaker and a veteran. A few years after

(17:54):
nine eleven, he made a film that went crazy viral
called Loose Change. Was one of the first conspiracy theory
films on nine eleven, and since then a lot has happened,
both for the aftermath of the film and for Corey himself.
So we're going to talk about some of that. Corey,
thanks for being here, Thanks for having me on. Let's
talk a little bit about Loose Change. How did you

(18:15):
get involved in making this film. I was a soldier
in Afghanistan and Iraq and my best friend Dylan Avery.
Him and I were communicating from you know, him in
the United States and myself overseas, and you know, just
talking back and forth, and largely it kind of came
from a place of Dylan didn't really know what was
going on with me, uh and different things that nature

(18:35):
and you know, started to just kind of dig into things.
Now it is it correct? It started out as a
fictional narrative story and then morphed into becoming more of
a documentary style film. Yes, that is correct. Dylan Avery,
who is the director of the film. You know, he
was always aspirational and he always wanted to make a movie,
and he started to write a script in the post

(18:57):
nine eleven era, and then in doing so, and you know,
writing that script, he was doing a lot of research
about September eleven and uh, you know, on the internet,
researching different things and coming across different information that the
film started to split kind of from like a narrative
and then there was sections of documentary. And then he
did his first screening and the the immediate response was like,
this documentary is very interesting. You should drop all that

(19:18):
narrative stuff. Because we had no ability to act or
do anything of that nature, and our cameras were terrible,
and uh, you know, it was basically still like pre
DSLR days and we had no money or equipment to
actually make a movie. But he did have the ability
to kind of edit together, you know, small chunks of
information on a laptop, which was really a new technology

(19:39):
at that time. The fact that we were even able
to get a camera at all and a laptop and
be able to shoot content and edit that, you know
on a PC um was a revolutionary at that time, UM,
and it was really intriguing for us as young men
and as myself, um, coming out of the military. It
was technology that I was interested in and it was
something that I enjoyed going, uh, you know, shooting footage,

(20:01):
and I started to do it while I was in
the military, making videos from my battalion and things of
that nature. And then once I got out after my
second tour, I joined Dylan in d c uh and
he was already in the process of releasing Loose Change,
and I just kind of came on board to help him,
uh produce that film and really get it out there
as much as possible. And it just caught onto things
that were really early on at that time. Google Video,

(20:23):
which is kind of the predecessor to YouTube, was just
coming online and it was a way that we were
able to share information, uh. And we didn't even really
do it a lot. We we uploaded like a version
of the movie in English, and then other people all
around the world would download it and they would change
it into their language, German, Korean, different things of that nature,
and then re uploaded to Google Video. And during I

(20:43):
think it was two thousand five and two thousand six,
Loose Change held you know, the first top video positions
from one Day eighteen and all these different languages, uh,
and it was just again was taking off in a
way that nobody expected and nobody really could have foreseen.
It was just kind of the culmination of perfect circumstance
answs between technology that was available to filmmakers early on

(21:03):
the growth of the Internet, as you guys have been
talking about UM as well as you know, and this
is really I think the big thing is at that time,
there was a huge response to the Bush administration. You know,
you guys just talked a lot about why you know
that these groups kind of came together and that that
nine eleven was the beginning of the digital conspiracy theory,
which I agree with. It just kind of it was
all a response because the Bush administration wasn't investigating nine eleven.

(21:27):
At a certain point, the Jersey Girls who were victims
of the nine eleven UH or family members and nine
eleven victims were demanding investigation into nine eleven, and the
Bush administration, who was already entrenched in war in Afghanistan,
was like, no, we're not going to investigate this. We're
we're focused on the war right now. And that's when
they started to be this like huge uprising of people
are like why won't you investigate it? You know, what
are you trying to hide? And then you know, for

(21:48):
people like myself who were overseas and fighting these wars,
it was you know also you know, disheartening. And then
you have movies like Michael Morris Fahrenheit Night eleven that
were coming out, and so there was a lot of
anti war, anti Bush amnistration feelings within the nation that
really caused these things to kind of culminate in different areas.
And once they did investigate nine eleven and they came
out with a nine eleven Commission report, of course there

(22:09):
was a large upward to that as well, because it
really was an efficient, sufficient investigation and didn't answer most
of the questions that the family members were asking for
in the first place, which is I believe why society
and members of that society like myself reacted in the
way that we did to create media that was to
educate people about things that could potentially be going on.
So they got more you know, invested with the Bush

(22:31):
administration and what they were doing. Walking through your headspace
a little bit there, quite because so we're talking, you're
you're getting involved around two thousand four, two thousand and five,
is that correct? How old are you at the time?
I was twenty two coming out of the military too,
and you're you're in Iraq. Yeah, actually I turned nineteen
in Iraq. I turned I was I turned nineteen Afghanistan

(22:52):
and then I turned twenty Iraq. Sorry, that was the
exact years. You're in Afghanistan and then you're how are
you feeling? Told youre in Iraq? How are you feeling? Uh?
You know, really on like everybody, I drank the kool aid.
There's even news articles out there of my hometown papers
saying terrorism has got to be dealt with. But it
was in Afghanistan that we were told that we were
going to Iraq, well before the general public was and

(23:12):
then I got to live that firsthand. Um, you know,
knowing that knowledge, coming back to the United States, seeing
them drum up the war effort for Iraq with the
false intelligence that we all know is false intelligence. Now
that we directly lied to the American people and murdered
innocent people in Iraq. Like, let's let's say what it was.
Are you feeling this and doubting that as you are
in Iraq? You know, I remember a very specific conversation

(23:32):
in the emergency room of Medical City in Baghdad with
a father whose daughter's head was blown off, and he
was like, this is what's gonna happen. He goes, you
guys came in here and we have let you do
what you you're doing. And he's like, it's gonna get worse,
and it's gonna keep getting worse and until you guys
leave because we will never stop. And this is what's happening,
is you're killing innocent people like my daughter. And guess what.

(23:53):
Exactly what he described to me on the first wave
of that invasion is what I saw not only on
my invasion, but every subsequent one after that, as it
just continuously got worse as one administration handed it to
the next, and things in that region of the world
just turned into absolute garbage. So personally, for somebody who me,
you know who who you know stepped forward and was
fighting for the American government and then to learn that

(24:14):
they're just basically lying to the American people so that
them and their buddies have a blank check to rip
off American taxpayers, and then it's like, all right, well,
we should probably have a conversation about this as citizens
of our country, right because this is fucked up. I'm sorry,
I'm just gonna say, for what it is like this
was a terrible time in American history where the government
was just running amok and and citizens were genuinely upset

(24:35):
and concerned, you know, and that's that's where we you know,
what I like to really focus on is the fact
of where these kind of things came from. It's fascinating
to hear that that's the story we don't get to
to know, Like what what what? What you're walking into,
where you're coming from as you start to put together
loose change, I guess, so you have your experience in
Iraq clearly affects your point of view and your opinion
towards the American government clearly a lot of distrust and

(24:57):
the information you're getting. And uh, did you see the
internet the way that Joan has kind of described it
as a place to to find community, as a find porn,
to find point? Yeah, I guess first of all, do
you first go and find board and then like, oh,
I could also use this as a place to find
community and or to put out information? Seek out information?

(25:18):
Is your take on the internet at that time? Similar
what my take is on the Internet is kind of
a cause and reaction that we always see throughout human
society as we continue to evolve. Right, information was growing
and things were happening, and so this this, these things
started to go in one direction or the other. And
it's really the largest question here is can human nature?
Can humans survive mass communication? Which is what we're really

(25:39):
at the beginning of here, and at the beginning of
the Internet was and so for me to just kind
of see all this different stuff was crazy, But for
us it was definitely a way to what I would
call weaponized information. We were able to use these new
platforms to get stuff out there in a way that
was never done before. So Dylan's a filmmaker, and even
at the idea is let's create something narrative and successful

(26:00):
in that sense, did things shift and you saw yourselves
as as activists as opposed to filmmakers at some point? Yeah, definitely.
I mean, you know, we were given a pretty big
hat to wear. It wasn't something that we asked for.
We were young kids would be the best messengers for that,
of course not. Dylan just made a great video that
was you know, very uh, that was caught by people's

(26:20):
you know, people could receive it or they liked it,
or you know, what about whatever about it was something
was new and like she said, you know, they felt
like they were on the inside of information, and so
it grew exponentially and you know there was you know,
memes later on about you know, college kids pickup lines
was have you seen loose change and that kind of thing.
But it definitely morph Like we're talking about two very
different errors of time here. We're talking about the creation

(26:41):
of loose change in the base of the Internet, and
then where we are today, which is wildly different. Right,
we'll get into some of the content of loose Change
and also where we are today, Joe and I want
to bring you in here. Loose Change becomes some say,
one of the first viral hits, something like a hundred
million people watched it were affected by it. What was

(27:02):
it that made it go viral? From your perspective, Joane,
did we have even a concept of virality at the
time when this was launched in two thousand six? No, Well,
the things that used to go viral online at that
time were you know still what goes viral these days,
which is pictures of animals, cats, uh, you know, funny names, um.

(27:23):
And you have to remember that, like video is new
at that stage, right, and so but what really UH
was this ground swell of interest was small groups sharing
this link, getting involved in discussions about this uh a

(27:46):
film in this documentary and the community around it that
we're also digging out different pieces of information and putting them, putting,
putting this really big puzz a together UM on message
boards where people were communicating with one another and trying
to add to the story, right, and in that way, UM,

(28:12):
the early Internet is highly participatory, and I think that
one of the things you don't get with UM the
kind of conspiracy that we would think of with JFK
is the narratives come down, but there's not a lot
of ways in which you can interact with the narrative.
You can believe it or not. But with U nine

(28:32):
eleven conspiracism, you had this ongoing daily dialogue that you
could participate in and that you could add to. And
so UH that community building and even this idea that
you were a truth seeker rather than someone that was
merely just you know, consuming what the mainstream media is

(28:55):
telling you. And you were like this drone that was
just living your life, right, You weren't going to look away,
you were going to look further and further and deeper
and deeper into this, and people were meeting each other,
they were having uh you know, conventions, they were uh
making memes together and sharing them, and so it was
a highly participatory moment for the culture. And because you

(29:19):
thought that you were finding things that government and other
UM groups were keeping from you, uh, that really made
you want to dig in more and understand more. And
the military component I think is really important here because
when people feel like they're being lied to and the

(29:40):
democracy is at stake, they're willing to do things that
they otherwise wouldn't have been willing to do. And so
at the same time, not just online you have these
um uh media that's traveling, but you also have uh
a fairly intense and high war movement that is consuming

(30:03):
this information and then bringing it into the streets uh
and trying as best as they can to stop US imperialism. Corey,
I know you don't think of yourself as a conspiracy theorist,
and then you have you have passionate views about right
wing conspirasts like Alex Jones. What's the cleanest way to

(30:25):
separate in your view? What the differences between you and
someone like like Alex Jones. Alex Jones is definitely someone
who's turned this into you know, a money making operation.
He's become very wealthy out of this, and he's gotten
himself into very high political places. I mean, let's remember
and again, this is something I really need to harp
on here because we've had a whole conversation about conspiracy theories,

(30:46):
and we need to talk about when this really got
out of control, because for a long time, this nine
eleven conspiracy stuff kind of really quieted down. My life
had moved on. People weren't talking about this anymore. I
wasn't getting nearly the messages that I still get to
this day, until the candidate of Donald Trump came around,
and that candidate of Donald Trump utilized Alex's Alex Jones's

(31:07):
platform to promote himself and to align himself with this
kind of base of people, and then decided to use
that in his you know, presidential career, with the assistance
of Fox News to perpetuate these conspiracy theories on a
level that's never been seen before. Again, you're talking, we're
talking about two very different things here to twenty year
old kids who made a you know, college level movie

(31:28):
and put it out for free on the Internet. And
then the President of the United States utilizing Fox News
to weaponize conspiracy theories to ignite a base to try
to overthrow the country. And then now we're in this
kind of post era and they used this and they
took this in. What's so ironic about it. It's the
same group of people that hated us when we made
this video because we were anti war, we were leftist,
we were liberals, we didn't want to we were pacifists.

(31:50):
I'm you know, not into guns and that kind of ship. Uh.
And so now to have the same people that hated
us using this material to propagate their own nonsense is
kind of very interesting thing to me. Uh. And furthermore
on on Alex Jones, Like, you know, obviously we're talking
about him. He just got hit with about a billion
dollar fine after you tie in legal fees and all
those different things, as as he as he should, and

(32:11):
so let's really focus on what that is. That's the
the shooting and the fact that he's claiming that the
people are actors and all that nonsense, right, And so
what's the difference between those two events, between nine eleven
and Sandy Hook eleven was response by family members in
an era when there was information that wasn't being disseminated
to the American public, and it was not only conspiracy
theorists who were interested in that information. The American media

(32:33):
was perpetuating nine eleven for decades afterwards, with every little
bit of new information that was coming out. Uh. But
back to you know, Sandy Hook, that kind of conspiracy
came up within a couple of months, and it was
generated on the Internet by people who were not directly
related to the event, which is very different than the
nine eleven situation where this took years to culminate. And

(32:53):
so for us, we were coming from a place where
we were trying to do what we believed was honorable,
using using the things that we had available to us
at the time, and we believed in what we were doing,
and we're trying to make it the most scholarly piece
of evidence that we could put out there, and we
always that's why we did so many revisions, and that's
why we kind of remove things, and we admitted to
our mistakes, and we consistently try to just have a

(33:14):
conversation about it so that we could always get a
new investigation and that was always our aim and the
reason we wanted that new investigation was to support the
family members who also wanted that new investigation into nine
eleven and never they never got it. What what is
your what is your relationship with with it? Now? Uh?
Knowing where we're at, obviously, we're in a very different
place than we were, We're across social media is very

(33:35):
different now and like you're an older person, information has
come out, there's distrust across the board, and I know
you guys have revised the film, but there's even a
cottage industry that's brought up to debunk theories that you
guys were putting out there as well, like how do
you see that film currently? I mean, I'm the producer

(33:56):
of that film and I will be for the rest
of my life. So my job is to make sure
that it doesn't disappear because it's such an important piece
of information that we need to analyze and have a
conversation about. And I also think you still you still
have the same questions about uh, nine eleven that you
had in that film. Do you have those today? There's
definitely you know, there's a lot that film has put
out twenty years ago right, and during that time, so

(34:17):
much more information has come out from the from the
United States government with redactive documents and different things of
that nature. But there's still some major questions for me
that need to be answered. This is a lot of
infinite questions and it's a delicate conversation. I think, Corey,
I can see UM. I think you bring up something
that I think a lot of people on the left

(34:39):
on the right are grappling with right now. We should
be skeptical of our government and the institutions around us,
and I think we're looking for what that line is
of what is healthy skepticism and what is skepticism that
is degrading faith in institutions. Uh. I think there are
there are critics of UM, something like louis Cha Change

(35:00):
and some of these the Truth or movement. There are
critics that live within victims families who feel like this
UM takes the responsibility off of the people who perhaps
perpetuated the horror of nine eleven, and it adds disinformation
out there that it erodes faith in institutions. But I'm

(35:20):
sure there's we should be more skeptical of the institutions
and the information that we have. I think There's an
argument too of if some people would argue that what
you're putting out there's misinformation, it's also in response to
a government that is putting out misinformation. You're fighting a
war in Iraq that is based on misinformation, which puts
us in this fucking place right now where where it

(35:43):
doesn't feel like we're getting healthy, good information. Joan, I
think I look to you when it comes to theories,
where is the healthy line? How do we show distrust
in UH positions of power without eroding distrust or eroding
trust in sort of our society. Well, I what's interesting
about government or the state is I don't think there's

(36:06):
anybody that's ever been really satisfied with the state. I
don't think that there's a UH utopia anywhere where people
are like, you know, who's doing a good job our government? Right, Like,
it's just not something you hear, right, especially as we
get into different issues. But back in the early aughts,
people were using you know, there was a familiar meme

(36:27):
going around bush line people died, right, and and he
had made these statements about quote unquote a massive stockpile
of biological weapons. Other had others had argued that um
you know, Uh, well, we don't know if there were
nuclear weapons, but we're pretty sure, you know. And so
there was a lot of hedging back then about what

(36:49):
to do and how to do it. But when you
say massive stockpile um and people are doubting that, it
tends the government's tend to double down on that. And
for nation, we've seen that meme repeated over and over.
Obama lied, people died, you know, Trump lied, people died.
It keeps coming up, right, And I think that as

(37:11):
we imagine the role of government in our lives and
what governments should and could be responsible for, we're at
another crossroads right now with um, the role of NATO
in the Ukrainian and Russian war going on, and is
it the fact that NATO is fighting a proxy war

(37:33):
with you know, with Ukraine suffering all of the uh serious,
serious casualties. And so I think that it's important for
people to be skeptical of of governments and very powerful
people um making these decisions when it comes to massive casualties. Now,

(37:55):
that doesn't mean we should just throw our arms in
the air and say everything is endlessly corrupt and there's
nothing we can do. Because I do at the end
of the day, and I think maybe Corey agrees with me.
I do believe in the power of people and the
power of people to come together to formulate their own ideas,
to dig in and look at what kind of evidence

(38:19):
is out there, and we do need to have more
facts and public interest information circulate throughout our society. And
the last point I'll make on this UM, which is
to say, I think we need a lot more journalism.
I think we need a lot more investigation. I think
when it comes to who's going to hold these people accountable,

(38:40):
it's going to be UH journalists who are going to
be able to get the goods. I don't think we
can rely on UM law enforcement and those other kinds
of institutions to get to the bottom of corrupt governments.
It just doesn't really seem to be doing the job.
Journalists have always played this role of digging in, finding

(39:03):
and piecing together UH different bits of information and creating
that narrative. And so in many ways, Corey and and
those that made Loose Change UM weren't necessarily your traditional
style journalists, but they do UM are. They are the
archetype of this early form of digital journalism where people

(39:27):
were uh doing more than asking questions, but really trying
to make media to mobilize audiences and to get people
to think differently. And hopefully what it does is it
instills in people a skeptical attitude about how do you
critique and understand information? How do you piece it together? Um?

(39:48):
And then further than that, how do you hold accountable
people in power that are telling massive lies? And I
think that that's where the the big question about studying
disinformation and comes in right now is because UM, we
don't necessarily know who's going to hold the very very
rich and powerful UH to account for spreading lies at scale.

(40:16):
I think the most recent example of that is is
trying to understand who is responsible for the January six
insurrection and and what does that mean to hold someone
responsible for an event like that, Corey. When you look
at the information on the internet, who should we trust
to ask these questions? And what information should we be

(40:38):
trusting on the internet? UM, I think we're in such
a gray zone right now that we don't have an
answer to that. And I think what we need to
kind of come to terms with this effect that we
as a society won't have an answer to that. But
I think, and this is my idea, this is my solution,
This is where the line is um for me, is
that we need to educate our children better right from
the start. If you ask any kid in America now

(41:00):
what we're Columbus's three ships, they'll tell you right. And
so we know how to teach our children good information.
We just need or we know how to teach our
children information. We just to deed to make that good information.
And so I think we need to kind of just
accept the fact that where we are right now is
kind of where we are, and of course we need
to tombstone engineer that as best we can, but we
need to do our research on how this misinformation is

(41:20):
affecting us and how it's driving us and the things
like Joan is doing and trying to to grapple with,
and then figure out a way that we can instill
that information into our children early on so that they
grow up with the right tools to be able to
discern good information from bad. And I think that's a solution.
Of course it's not perfect, but it at least push
us in the right direction. And it's very much what
like Jones said, there's no utopia humans aren't perfect and

(41:42):
we never will be, and so we need to just
kind of keep working towards something better and leave it
better than we found it. And so in this instance,
with this new digital age, we have created this new
weapon of mass communication, and we need to figure out
how it really adjusts to humans and how we can
use it as a benefit instead of what we've created,
which is this kind of individualistic society where everybody thinks

(42:04):
they're the center of the universe. And figure it and
tool it, retool it into something that's more beneficial for society,
you know, like, how is how is the societies of
going to be using the internet? Can we envision that,
Can we envision how they transmit information, good information, factual information,
and try to reverse engineer that for our own society
and start to implement those rules so that we can
get to that place for the next generation. Because as

(42:26):
I see it, right now, our current generations, we just
gotta let us go. We're done, Like we don't even
have a chance. Come on, come on. It's a very
optimistic point of view. I've been watching Jordan's pieces, and
I like what I see out there is like scary,
so like I'm not sure there's ever coming back from that. Right,
And and we think Trump was so bad, wait till
the next one comes down. Because when I was in

(42:47):
the army, the one thing I always had a new
first sergeant like every eight months, and I was hoping
that the next first sergeant would be better than the
last one. And he was never better. He was always
worse than It always been new rules and restrictions and uh,
and so I mean, I hope you know I used
to be optimistic like ten years ago, right, we all
used to be optimistic, but then the last ten years happened,
and now we're a lot more pessimistic. Uh, we'll put

(43:08):
a bow on this, and I want to We're gonna
talk about a couple of things. But uh, kind of
the final question for both of you within this segment here, Uh,
what what do you think the legacy of Loose Change is, Corey?
I think Loose Changes the first viral video of the Internet.
It's the only documentary that people are still talking about
now all these years later. There's a lot of different

(43:29):
stuff comes out, and I'm proud of that fact, Like
I helped make a piece of media that was like
truly just long is going to live past me probably,
and that's cool. And what I think it's turned into
is the digital version of a band book and we need,
you know, And then the statement goes any band burger,
but any band book is worth reading, right, And so
again I think that Loose Change needs to exist on

(43:49):
the Internet so that we can have the conversations about it.
Are humans going to continuously use pieces of information like
loose Change or anything else to you know, push their
own views? Of course they are. That's human nature. And
it doesn't matter if it's loose Change or Zeitgeist or
something they saw on Fox News. They're gonna use whatever
they need to use to to propagate their point of view.
But I like to look back at loose Change as

(44:10):
the culmination of an amazing series of events that nobody
could have seen coming, and it really did rock the world.
Like you know, it still goes on to this day.
And what's super interesting about it is how it's morphed
throughout these years and to me to see, you know,
how it's been used incorrectly by other people, to especially
American presidents and Alex Jones and and these different people.
We we need to latch onto that not and not

(44:31):
be afraid of it. We need to understand why it's
happening and do the studies that that she's talking about
so that we can understand why these things happen and
then again equip our our children to be able to
deal with them better. I was not trained for the
society that I was pushed into. Right in high school,
I was like, Hey, we're gonna do this. Need to
pinta san Raealoss Columbus Day. And then, you know, on
my eighteenth birthday, essentially I'm invading Afghanistan, and then on

(44:52):
my nineteenth birthday, I'm invading uh, you know, Iraq. And
I get to live firsthand at this early stage in
my life seeing the American you know, foreign policy just
as horrible as it really is. And I mean imagine
the psychological, like just breakdown that I went through as
a human being, trying to understand that everything that you
were raised to believe in is an utter lie, like

(45:12):
and and that it's just complete facade and the thing
that you think was you were believing in it's long
long gone. Joan, what do you see the legacy of
loose change as I think, you know, I think about
it in a broader sense than it wasn't just the
the video and the evidence presented in it, but it's

(45:32):
part of a moment where um, you know, Corey, I
appreciate you talking about how it was translated into many
different languages. People felt that they could pick it up
and take elements of it, translate elements of it, and
make it their own. And it really shows us how
this kind of participatory Internet culture was going to develop,

(45:57):
was that people were going to take information, they were
going to remix it um in many ways. Uh. And
you know, no, no shade, Corey, but we don't even
remember the authors of it, right, Like it's anonymous in
that sense. It becomes a piece of the culture, and
you know, clips of it people I'm sure will remember.

(46:19):
Means that come out of it are definitely something that
have lived on. But by and large it was you know,
born of the Internet and then created and became the
infrastructure in the in the content on which many different
kinds of communities based their worldviews. And I think that

(46:40):
when you come into contact with that, uh, those ideas
very early on as you're making your identity. And I'm
you know, I'm sure eighteen other people in your life
where either going off to college or starting new businesses
or uh you know, um not going to war, but
it was. You know, it's a really unique time in

(47:02):
American culture with the technological shifts that people were grappling
with and the uncertainty we don't The thing that nine
eleven itself introduces to the American psyche is that, uh
it can happen here, that the war can be brought home.

(47:22):
And as a result, you get this uh paranoia in
society about the other and about being attacked, and you
don't feel as if you have protection and security from
the government, and so finding one another and using information
and building knowledge together becomes an incredibly powerful mode of solidarity.

(47:49):
And I think that, you know, as the Internet has
progressed and things have changed, those groups of people that
found each other in those uh moments after nine eleven,
that we're sharing um these kinds of theories UH continue
to be in community with one another and continue to

(48:11):
be critical of the state. And the last thing I'll
add about this moment, especially around conspiracies. Sometimes communities have
to use conspiracy as a way to protect themselves from
UH governments and government overreach. It's not uncommon for if

(48:34):
you take a situation like Flint, where people were saying,
there's something wrong with the water, there's something going on,
and people were really dismissive at the beginning of the
Flint water crisis because people hadn't really learned how to
do science and and to build science around of the
pollution and flint. And so sometimes rumors and conspiracy can

(48:58):
help communities come together and focus on a problem. And UH,
and sometimes it's it's true. And I think that elements
of what came out of loose change or out of
that moment that we would have called conspiracy end up
challenging power and becoming an important, UH way in which

(49:19):
we resist tyranny and author authoritarianism. We need to take
a quick break, but when we come back, I want
to dive into how social media companies are dealing with
disinformation or if they even are at all. Welcome back, everybody,
joan UH. If posting a conspiracy theory on YouTube is

(49:41):
media manipulation, is the company that lets it remain posted
participating in that manipulation? Well, it's a good question right now.
Um Legally the answer is is no. Although there is
an interesting case that's being picked up by the Supreme
Court where UH there was some terrorism content that was

(50:04):
posted on YouTube and the terrorists made money off of
it because it was monetized, and so now the Supreme
Court is trying to figure out if YouTube was funding
terrorism essentially, and so that is a very unique thing though,
but by and large, companies get a big pass on

(50:28):
their products being used to spread conspiracy UM. It's only
been since about eighteen that companies have decided that they're
going to inforced terms of service around UH lies and disinformation.
I think was the first time we saw info Wars

(50:48):
and Alex Jones get d platformed. He was probably one
of the most famous UH people that have been moved
off of these platforms, and that had a lot to
do with public pressure by activists and advertisers to ensure
that the information that was being provided on these platforms,

(51:09):
even if it was entertainment, was not defamatory, libelous, hate, harassment,
or incitement. The question always becomes, you know, where is
that line and if you if you have to censor
him for this, then you have to censor this person
for this, and before long no one can say anything.
And I mean I've dealt with this personally as well,
like loose change lived on YouTube for years. It's hundreds
of millions of you, so many people have put it up.

(51:29):
I had it on my own channel just because I
needed a place to park it for free, so that
people could see it, analyze that, have conversations about it,
what have you. And of course over the years people
have complained to YouTube about it, and they would send
me warnings about it and things of that nature. But
one day, essentially right after around two thousand eighteen, I
just one day got an email from YouTube and it
was like, we've taken down loose change for hate speech. Uh,
you can't, you can't fight against this. This is just

(51:51):
something we're gonna do. And and and of course I write back, like,
what exactly is the hate speech within loose change, Because
there's nothing in loose change that's trying to incite a riot,
There's nothing in it that's a defamatory towards anybody, And
it's just a it's a piece of information after information
that we're putting forward. And so YouTube has the ability
as a content provider to not allow me to put
my video on them, and and that's their business, and

(52:11):
and that's that I understand. I think that's a great
line for companies to have the ability to shut those
things off. I think it was amazing that Twitter was
able to turn off Donald Trump, right, and I hope
he never comes back. But at the same time, these
are all crazy people. They're gonna keep talking. It's our
responsibility not to listen to them. There's you know, I'm
driving through Amsterdam, New York the other day, there's a
guy in the bus station just yelling at everybody that

(52:33):
drives by. If I stop and listen to him and
start broadcasting him on national television, well that's more on
me and and the people watching then the person who's
yelling at the bus station. Um. And so at my point,
we need to be able to live our life. We
need to be a free person in a world, and
not because we're Americans, but because we're humans. And you
have the right to live your life. And as long
as you don't hurt another person physically, alter that, you know,

(52:55):
change their life in any way, then you should have
the ability to live your life however you want. And
then we're seeing that pushback between regulation, the state and
people who want to live their life and do their
own thing, and you know, self identify as a cat.
We're but we're in a tricky spot though right now,
right like you keep talking about um, loose Change or
all these things as pieces of information, and you're right.

(53:17):
We should be able to have access to information, to
have conversations around information. I'd love to live in a
society that can have complicated, thoughtful conversations, uh, that can
be extended and interesting. Sadly, it doesn't feel like we're
in that society very often. But putting something controversial on
an online space might not just be information anymore. I

(53:40):
mean it it is an act that incites distrust, and
it's it's an act that could incite um, excitement and
interest and curiosity for sure, But I don't know if
it is neutral anymore. And so is it Is it
a cop out to say it's just information? Aut Jones
can put that out there, it's just information. Like this
information has a reaction and causes a reaction, it is,

(54:03):
and people should be held accountable when that information takes
things to the next level. And again, why I was
never invited on the Daily Show before Donald Trump? Right,
even when Loose Change was at it's heyday, Like what
you guys wouldn't even talk about it. And now twenty
years later, post Donald Trump, we're having these conversations not
because a DVD was made twenty years ago, but because
a president used the national platform to propagate lies to

(54:25):
the American people, which caused them to try to over
overthrow the United States capital. And every single person that
was there should be held accountable and they should be
put in jail, and the president should be held accountable,
and we should learn from that as a country and
as a society. And that's the line, right, because if
you go over line, you start to hurt other people,
you take away their freedoms, are you're you're impeding them
from living their free life. That's where the line is.

(54:47):
And and we were never there before. We were never
having those conversations. It wasn't even part of it now
post Donald Trump, because we have this now, we live
in a world where we have to deal with with
all this craziness. And it was there because corporate wanted
to make money, because politicians want to be reelected. And
exactly like you highlighted in your last piece, how many
people that are running for office right now believe that

(55:08):
the election was stolen, right, And it's a ridiculous amount
of them. And that's not because of Loose Change. That's
because of a president who used Fox News to propagate
lives to American people. And this is a trend throughout
current American history and new media where these or administrations
are using media to lie to the American people, to
propagate for their own profit and personal growth, and then

(55:29):
they just get to retire and go do whatever they
want to do. And and so of course people are
starting to get pissed, and so yes it is information.
Yes it does stir stuff up. But I wasn't into
conspiracy theories before Loose Change. I'm not in conspiracy theories
afterwards because I don't believe it's a conspiracy theory. I
believe these are things that we actually need to talk about,
that these are actually things that are happening in our country.
And and as Jones just supported beyond, like, we know

(55:51):
that the American government was longing to us about the
war in Iraq and no one's been held accountable. So
where does that line go again? If people are hurt
or people are killed, and the freedoms are impeded in
any way, than that has to be held accountable for.
But people having conversations and discussing free information. We can't
limit that otherwise nobody gets to say anything. Yeah, I
think Corey. One of the things and this is something

(56:12):
that I think a lot about is the scale is different.
So social media introduces a different relationship between free speech
and audiences or listening. Right, there's no obligation to listen.
There's also no right to broadcast. There's no right, um

(56:32):
in that sense of of being the right to reach
eighty million people. Um, we don't have. We we actually
have laws against uh using broadcast to do um uh
inciting things. And so the so for me, you know,
Alex Jones isn't necessarily just having conversations, but he's moving

(56:57):
between that and mobili sing audiences. And it was held
accountable right and went to far across the line. And
so now we have, you know, a consequence to that
which is exactly the way. And I wonder if that
consequence is actually you know, reflective of how out of
scale with or out of touch with reality. But the internet, uh,

(57:18):
in social media companies have become like finding someone a
billion dollars, It almost seems comical. But when it comes
to the scale of the Internet, more is different. It's
different when millions of people are doing a thing versus
even a regional radio station. And we've never had broadcast
rules attached to the Internet in the same way that

(57:40):
we have broadcast rules for television and radio. And so,
you know, what I would love to see is us
moving more towards accountability for people that have access to
and are broadcasting to larger audiences. So maybe it's the
case that if someone's you know, talking to their you know,
twenty five friends on a discord server, uh, maybe that's

(58:04):
not something we need to bother with. But when somebody
is reaching a million people and they have these calls
to action and they are, especially in the case of
profiting from political oppression, are profiting from lies and disinformation,
that we should have some new regulations to ensure that

(58:26):
they're not able to hurt people. And so I think ultimately,
until we understand the scale question and how more is different,
we're not going to be able to completely address, well,
what is free speech mean in the context of the Internet,
especially when I could just say your name and say

(58:46):
you did this dastardly thing and there's really no retraction,
there's no way to uh. Yeah, but it's gotten so
much worse than that, right, Like, we're we're we're way
beyond that at this point too, because now you can
have a kid walk into or I'm sorry, I walk
down the street with an air fifteen shoot and kill people,
and you have half the country that supports that person,
and you have political candidates news stations who then fight

(59:09):
for that person. And what's even worse is, again it's
not just about groups on the internet. Now we have
CNN and Fox that no matter what the question is,
it's going to be a debate from one side or
the other. And it is sickening. No matter what side
of the conversation you are. Right. If you're a conservative
and you're watching Fox News and you see CNN, you're like,
oh my god, this is just absolutely ridiculous. But if
you're a liberal and you're watching Fox, you're like, you're
the same position. There's a really interesting book of one

(59:32):
of my team members wrote called Networked Propaganda, and it's
about these media ecosystems and how the media has developed
over the last twenty years, but particularly looking at the election,
and the right wing media ecosystem is very different from
left and center media. UM and what's interesting about the

(59:53):
right wing media ecosystem is how quickly they will coalesce
around a story in a narrative, and if the facts
don't fit, it's party over the news. Right, You've got
to get the party line. And you know this isn't
in the book, but the controversy around dominion voting machines,
and how if you said negative things about dominion on television,

(01:00:17):
dominion is able to sue you. If you're saying negative
things about dominion on the internet, it's it's going to
be decided by the courts. Um and And I think
that that moment where we start to realize that these
media companies are constricted in some ways by these different mediums,
and the regulatory systems around those mediums eventually are gonna

(01:00:42):
be uh tested in the courts. And you know, when
it comes to left and center media, they do not
have the same kind of UH infrastructure online, They don't
have the same kind of motivated audiences uh in order
to spread and distribute the news as the right does.

(01:01:03):
The right has an incredible distribution muscle through Facebook and
Twitter and YouTube. Um. And so we're going to see
over time how these different media ecosystems interact, and but
I don't know, you know, like I'm you know, I'm
a big joker. I get it. Clinton News Network MSD

(01:01:26):
n C. I'm with you. I'm with you, you know. Um.
And I don't know if cable news is really going
to survive the Internet era. Um. But what we're dealing
with is a difference of well, do we want news
or do we want partisan politics that looks like news? Right?
And some of this is I know, I can tell

(01:01:48):
Corey for you it comes down to well, who's getting
paid out? And you know, and I agree with you,
we should follow the money, always follow the money. But
also I think the light for me, or the optimism,
comes in where the Internet is a huge international project

(01:02:08):
and we could reimagine some technology, some design so that
we have room for news, we have room for fact
based discussion we have and right now what we have
is social media, which is essentially trying to monetize any

(01:02:29):
bit of information that it can uh and it's not
designed uh specifically to spread uh public interest information. And
I think that that's where we get into a lot
of our problems because you know, we used to rely
much more on traditional media to get information out there,
and now the gates have shifted, and I wonder, you know,

(01:02:51):
at the end of the day, are we going to
be able to depend on Elon musk in, Mark Zuckerberg
and you know Kanye is buying parlor, We've got Trump
with true social are we going to be able to
trust social networks to get this public information out there?
And if not, what are we built right? Uh? And

(01:03:15):
how do we get there? And that's those for me
are the big questions moving forward? Well, let's you know,
I want to ask one final question in that world,
because I know there's disagreements here, but it sounds like
we we want a similar thing, which is to have
free flowing information and conversations. The question is where do

(01:03:35):
those conversations live? And what you just described, Joan is
a sloppy social media system, Uh, doesn't know how to
manage disinformation. It's now being run by Elon Mouski is
running Twitter, who is throwing stuff willie nilly at the wall? Um,

(01:03:56):
what where are we supposed to have these conversations? One?
What can these platforms do? Or is there a platform
where this this type of healthy discourse can live or
we just are we just screwed. Uh, Corey, what do
you think? Well again, I mean this stuff has always
been around, right, it's just more visible now. KKK existed
before the Internet, and they had their little meetings and

(01:04:17):
they put on their costumes and they did all those
different things. For me, this is an issue with information
in the way that it's broadcast throughout American society, is
that we just broadcast hypothetical so like, well, broadcast information
about a case before we know all the facts, and
we have immediate like you know, here's a car chase,
we gotta cover it. Uh. And so we've gotten away
from kind of fact based journalism where we're just we're
just broadcasting whatever we can do to keep people's attention.

(01:04:39):
What do you trust? Where do where do you go
when when you're looking for information? I don't trust anyone
like I I don't. I don't. I've blocked every major
news application because I kiss can't handle it's all nonsense,
Like it doesn't matter, Phoe, what do you click? You
wake up? And what do you click? I read stuff
about cameras. I read stuff about New York state legalization.
I'm I'm into just different articles. I let Google news
Feed give me stuff that tailored to my interests, and

(01:05:01):
I block anything about Biden or Trump because I just
can't handle it. I think if you support a politician
at this point, it's basically the same as supporting a
football team. So it's just like they're just there so
you can buy a jersey. Uh. And so for me,
I'm what was the question. I don't know, I feel
I got lost again, that's what it was. Sorry, So
we're we're broadcasting hypotheticals, right, and her question is how

(01:05:23):
do we fix this? Right? So there's I think the
conversations can exist online because even if they don't exist online,
like I was saying the KKK, they'll have their little
meetings and so, but it's up to the mainstream media
to to really grow a backbone here and start to
and again it's part of the conversation that we need
to go and how we evolutionize the mass communication. But
the media we need. We need to trust the media again.
And that's I think one of the major problems in

(01:05:44):
America and the world right now is that people don't
trust the media, and that's because they're reporting on hypotheticals.
They're going to report for a political base and there's
no true information that you can follow anymore where you
would normally just clock into the six six pm NBC
News and get the World Report. Uh that that you
can't do that anymore without hypocrisy, And and and that again
what I said at the beginning, hypocrisy is more visible.

(01:06:05):
People are upset because they know the government has been
lying to us, and it's proven at this point over
major things for at least two decades. Now it's in
my life. And so, like you know, how do we
hold people accountable? How do we adjust this? And again,
like Jones said, let's focus on changing some regulations. Let's
focus on, you know, putting information where it belongs. And
like I said, let's focus on and envisioning how the

(01:06:26):
future societies communicate accurately, and let's try to reverse engineer
that for our society and start to build those building blocks.
But do you do you feel the same responsibility as
somebody who put information out there as the mainstream networks? Do?
I feel absolutely no responsibility over anything. No, I mean,
I'm living my own life. I'm living my own life.
If you want to do your thing, go do your thing.
If you want to make because again everybody makes videos,

(01:06:48):
And what we're really talking about is a technological evolution
where people are able to carry a camera and disseminate
information online. And guess what, It's in everybody's hands right now.
We have all human knowledge in our pocket. We have
a camera that can broadcast to everyone in the world
same time. And what do we do with it as
a society? And we're seeing it. We're not doing the
right thing. We're not growing as a society. We're making
things worse. So I don't know, but but you have

(01:07:09):
a clear distrust for the medio ecosystem. But you yourself
are a part of that. I mean, twenty years ago,
I made a DVD. I don't we don't have we
don't post on Facebook. I'm not out there promoting loose change.
I don't talk about it unless somebody reaches out to
me to ask about it. And I only do major
news at this point because the littler guys just are
normally tailored in one conspiratorial direction to the other, for

(01:07:29):
the right to the left, And so I like to
have real conversations with with people like yourself, so we
can have a real conversation about this stuff and kind
of push it in a direction so that people understand it.
I've seen too much lazy journalism where they're just like,
loose change is responsible for all the disinformation on the Internet.
It's like that is the laziest thing you could do.
Like you're not digging into the conversation at all. You're
not even looking at the information. You're just trying to
get clicks. And that's where we are at with reporting

(01:07:51):
right now. We're just trying to get clicks. And you
yourself know that you have to do crazy things. You
have to go to Trump rallies and ask people in
same questions that I would be terrified to ask them
in person. Don't my spot, Corpy, don't blow up my spot.
It's crazy. You're a crazy person, man. But I love
you and I really support everything you're doing too. And
I just want to say I love The Daily Show.
And John Stewart was my fucking hero and still is
as a veteran to be standing up for my rights

(01:08:12):
when no other political candidate is like, I would vote
for him if he ran. That's the only person I'm
interested in. I tell you, I think you'd have some
backers for sure. Um Joe. If we can't trust the
people running these platforms. How are we supposed to trust
and use these platforms? Yeah, I think you know, it's
up to us to work together. I think journalists have

(01:08:35):
a huge role to play Journalism organizations have a huge
role to play outside of news media and corporations. I
think journalists, still like academics, have a passion for the truth, right,
And I think that we we are truth seekers. And
I think that that's an important thing to hold on
to in a time when people feel like there's no anchor,

(01:08:59):
that there's no there's no truth out there that we
can access um And in some ways, I think that
that post truth a society really favors authoritarians. It really
favors those who are willing to lie to us at
scale and and to press us, because we then deactivate,

(01:09:21):
We then step aside and and and walk away from
the responsibilities that we have to one another. UM. So,
when it comes to someone like Elon Musk, you know,
he's not your typical homo economic ast rational actor. He
didn't buy Twitter to make money, right, He spent forty

(01:09:44):
four billion for a product that he probably could have
built on his own for less than a billion dollars.
But what he was buying were the networks that we're
all part of. He was buying the networks of journalists,
he was buying in the networks of politicians. He essentially
bought the chessboard that global politics is being played on

(01:10:07):
at this stage. There's really not a lot of ways
in which anyone else could UM have that kind of
influence rather than being the owner of a large platform.
And I think that Musk's political aspirations in terms of
being part of the the global conversation about the war

(01:10:31):
and in Ukraine, UH, what's going on in Taiwan UM
at the end of the day, are also being driven
by his business decisions around selling cars and who the
markets are that are going to buy these cars. And
he is going to be able to um, you know,

(01:10:53):
gain some kind of political favor with different governments if
he UH uses Twitter in that way. And so think
that there's a very big risk to allowing our communication
commons to be owned by single individuals that don't have
the public interest at the core, especially when it comes

(01:11:15):
to communication. UM, you guys are old enough to remember
long distance calling. You know you want to call free
towns over it was gonna cost you twenty five cents
a minute. Uh. You know, we have a remarkable new
innovation here where we can call across the world. I'm
calling you from Ireland right now. I mean we can
call across the world for free and UH reach our family,

(01:11:40):
reach our friends, reach our collaborators, colleagues. And that's something
I don't want to lose in in this moment where
we're going to see this massive shake up around what
social media is, how much platforms cost, and eventually how

(01:12:00):
these networks are going to change our society, especially our politics.
And so I think the time has come if we
are going to fix this for regulation around UH truth
in advertising, knowing your customers, UH, political advertising online needs
to have much more oversight. We do need to know

(01:12:23):
exactly how much money these platform companies are making and
where it's going, how much they're investing in content moderation,
can they actually enforce their terms of service? Uh? And
as we move into understanding social media as an industry,
I think we can start to fashion a public interest

(01:12:45):
Internet that will provide the kinds of information and forums
that people need in order to UH participate in UH
elections and to participate in our political systems. But right
now we're at a very very early stage, UM, and

(01:13:07):
it's going to take a lot of work to build
those institutions. Follow the money, follow the pornography. We'll get there.
UM and follow me on Twitter, oh self promotion, don't
follow me. Don't look for me. I don't want you,
don't don't look for me. I'm not here. I was
gonna say, Corey, I can't imagine you're big on the

(01:13:29):
TikTok no I I watched it for like a week
and then I got tired. I got an Instagram follower
with sixty or Instagram with sixteen followers. I'm not. I
don't do anything anyway. I own a business. I make videos.
That's my life here. Well, Joe Donovan, Corey Row thank
you guys for great conversation to healthy skepticism, trust and
blowing all that ship up. I love it. Listen to

(01:13:51):
Jordan Clapper figures the Conspiracy from The Daily Show on
Apple podcast, the I Heart Radio app, or wherever you
get your podcasts.
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