In a specific discussion, Thursday on First Principles with Phill Kline – host Kline talked with CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Star News Network, and host of The Tennessee Star Report, Michael Patrick Leahy about the unholy alliance between Big Tech and social media giants and how journalism has become less objective and more narrative.
Kline: Welcome back to First Principles. And you know, for some time I’ve been saying that freedom is not complicated, but we’re making it so. But now I’m beginning to wonder whether we are free at all.
Today I have the opportunity to interview Michael Patrick Leahy. Michael is a graduate of Harvard University, Stanford University, and started out in marketing and then became a prolific writer.
He has written several books, Rules for Radical Conservatives. He’s written books about the Tea Party. He additionally is a journalist that contributes often to Breitbart News. And he’s the CEO of The Star News Network. And I’ve had the opportunity of working with Michael and it’s so enjoyable to get a journalist who is focused on finding the truth and is disciplined and willing to dig for it.
Because unfortunately, we live at a time when many of those elected officials, those in office, do all they can to prevent us from understanding what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Michael, thanks for joining us today.
Leahy: Phill, it’s great to be with you, and I salute you for all the great work that you’ve done in the election integrity arena.
Kline: Well, I appreciate it, Mike. I want to go back. We’re the same generation, and you broke into journalism about what year was it?
Leahy: I think probably about 2008, 2009. At that time, I was one of the early organizers of the Tea Party movement. I put it together on Twitter, Twitter actually was not as awful as it is today back in 2008.
But a couple of weeks after the election of Barack Obama and their dominance of the left of social media, I thought, well, there must be some Conservatives on social media. So I put a little site up called Top Conservatives on Twitter, and I started ranking Conservatives based on the number of followers. It turned out that there were a lot of Conservatives, and they were both competitive and lonely. (Chuckles)
Kline: Let me ask you, because that takes some time to do that.
Leahy: It did.
Kline: It’s not an immediate revenue generator if it ever is.
Leahy: It wasn’t a revenue generator at all.
Kline: Where did your passion come from? From that?
Leahy: People were really worried about the future of the country because Barack Obama had a far-left agenda. Everybody knows that. We’re seeing it now. And his former Vice President going off even further in a socialist agenda with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I call him the legal but not legitimate President of the United States, Joe Biden. And we can talk about why. I think that’s an accurate description of it. It wasn’t that hard to put it together. I will say that there was a 24 hour period when I got bombarded with, like, 2,500 people that wanted to get on this list.
I crowdsourced with a database guy who automated it, and it was terrific. And we created a hashtag called #TCOT which for a couple of years was sort of the dominant conservative hashtag on Twitter.
And we used it to organize regular weekly calls of activists, many people who you recognize today. I first got to know them by those calls. Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots. Dana Loesch, the radio talk show host, who at that time, had a Sunday evening program on a radio station in St Louis. Mark Meckler was on that early calls.
Kline: You are in the new Populism Hall of Fame then, as well as the last, probably Hall of Shame. (Leahy laughs) Now let’s go back to the 80s. The Ronald Reagan years, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union. And when I dealt with journalists, then, I was frustrated because they generally did he said, she said reporting to appear objective.
And they were pretty much lazy. Now I’m dealing with local journalists, not national necessarily. But at least they would let both sides air it out. We’re seeing a whole new mission for journalism.
They’re actually admitting that they don’t believe the role is to even attempt to be objective, but it’s to push a narrative. Tell me what you think about its evolution.
Leahy: I think you’re exactly right. There are several elements to it. First, we’ve noticed schools of journalism have transformed from just reporting the facts to being advocates of issues. We saw NPR just last month make an announcement that it’s okay for their journalists to also be activists.
That’s incompatible with the concept of objectivity. They’ve become much more brazen. And part of it has to do with the fact that in media, there’s been a huge number of changes since the 1980s.
The rise of the Internet is number one, the consolidation of power, the consolidation of media companies, the virtual elimination of many local newspapers, the movement of local advertisers away from advertising in hard copy newspapers, and to some extent, online local news sites to Google or Facebook, etcetera.
And Google, Facebook, and Twitter are ideologically left-wing and they don’t support the First Amendment, and they don’t support classic American concepts. They are, I would say properly to say they’re profit-maximizing oligopolist nationalists. How about that?
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Photo “Google Censorship” by Mike Mackenzie. CC BY 2.0.