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How The National Review Sold Its Soul to Google – by Emerald Robinson – Emerald Robinson’s The Right Way

Posted by M. C. on September 9, 2021

So to sum up Jonah’s defense: “first, it’s absurd to think that any money changed hands, but yes money did change hands, but nobody could possible think that such money influenced what we wrote!” The problem for Jonah Goldberg was that, actually, I did have an insider at his magazine who confirmed that National Review editors declined to publish anti-Google articles. I sent Jonah a note telling him that “the problem for you is that I do have evidence.” I added that my source would be happy to come forward and publicly identify himself if Goldberg or anyone else at the National Review wanted to continue denying the story.

Emerald Robinson

There were rumors in the summer of 2018 that an audiotape was circulating that would send shockwaves through the think tanks of Washington and the conservative intellectual movement in particular. A top Google executive had been recorded telling his fellow employees that Google generously donated to conservative think tanks and magazines to dampen criticism of their anti-conservative bias. In essence, Google was buying off Conservatism Inc. and the GOP establishment to stay silent while Google monitored, harassed, and excluded Trump supporters. If true, the tape sounded like a smoking gun: incontrovertible evidence of the corruption and double-dealing of Conservatism Inc. that would permanently discredit it with Republican voters.

I was told that the tape had been offered as an exclusive to the Wall Street Journal. Months went by, and nothing happened. (There were rumors during that time that Big Tech lobbyists were trying very hard to get the Wall Street Journal to kill the story.) Then I began to get a series of messages from various anonymous sources that the organizations that were guilty of taking Google money to stay silent included: the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Cato Institute, CPAC, the Weekly Standard and the National Review. (A weak article appeared on September 27th by John McKinnon in the Wall Street Journal but it hardly mentioned the tape or its implications.) This was, needless to say, a huge story: was it possible that the entire conservative intellectual movement was being bought off by Big Tech companies?

Finally, I was approached by an insider at one of the think tanks who confirmed the main details. You could say I broke the story (since the Wall Street Journal piece had really buried it) on Twitter on October 30th, by saying:

BREAKING: Source tells me that NeverTrumper mags took cash from top Internet company to suppress stories of bias against conservatives & Trump supporters. Audio recording of top tech executive explaining strategy has leaked to major newspaper.

My hope was that it would shake the Wall Street Journal out of its lethargy: either publish the contents of the tape or let someone else use it. It would also sow panic among the guilty — who would want to get out ahead of the story in order to spin it. So it was not surprising that one of the first people to attack my story was Jonah Goldberg, one of the chief editors of the National Review. (It’s important to note that my tweet had not named his magazine as one of the guilty parties.) Goldberg was dismissive of my reporting on Twitter: “LOL. Love the idea you have sources.”

Jonah Goldberg had, once again, given himself up at the first sign of shooting.

On December 10th, Wired magazine ran a big piece describing the leaked Google audio tape and its significance:

The recording also offers candid insight into Google’s efforts to stop or water down two then-pending pieces of legislation, most notably a bill aimed at inhibiting sex trafficking that also removed some protections shielding internet companies from liability for the content on their platforms. “We’ve worked really hard behind the scenes for the last nine months to try to modify that bill, to slow it down,” said [Google Director of U.S. Policy] Kovacevich.

On December 13th, Allum Bokhari at Breitbart also ran a piece which did not mince words about what Google’s money had paid for:

Audio recordings obtained by Wired reveal that Google cooperates with and funds a range of establishment conservatives in D.C. that help it fend off scrutiny and oversight from politicians. The organizations named in Wired’s report are the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and the Cato Institute. […]

One of the Google-funded think tanks had its pro-Google op-ed published by National Review. Now the story had legs. It was running on multiple outlets, and it was taking off. It also looked like none of the guilty organizations were going to acknowledge the story or issue a public statement about it. They were so high and mighty and corrupt that they were going to stay silent to weather the storm of bad publicity. So on December 14th, I ran another tweet to bait the line:

It looks like conservative mag National Review was taking Google cash too. To suppress conservative speech on social media. Was this something that @NRO donors & contributors knew was taking place? Let’s ask @JonahNRO @DavidAFrench & others today.

Do I even need to tell you who swallowed the hook and started screaming? On December 18th, Goldberg did another piece attacking me and the Google story. This article was called “Emerald Robinson’s Stupid Lies” and it opened with the usual “kill the messenger” non-denials:

One of the problems with the political moment we’re in is that there are powerful incentives for people to be stupid and dishonest. The ingredients of this imperfect storm include: a populist climate where nearly all institutions are distrusted, appeals to feelings of persecution will be richly rewarded, political principle for many people is measured by blind loyalty to (or hatred for) a particular personality, stirring controversy is valued regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence to support an allegation or clickbaity innuendo, and conspiracy is counted as courage. All of this leads to a kind of socially constructed garbage heap that will either attract flies, vermin, and other scavengers, or turn people into them.

This was the story of Milo before his self-immolation. This is the story of Infowars and Gateway Pundit. And it is the story of the failed-actress-turned-faux journalist Emerald Robinson.

Now, there are only two possibilities here: Either Robinson is an idiot or she thinks her fans are.

The sum total of her “evidence” that NR took Google cash to suppress conservative views comes from a Breitbart story about a Wired story. Here’s the gist: Google gave money to CEI, where Iain Murray works. Iain wrote a piece for us in which he disagreed with a New York Times writer who thinks the government should break up big tech firms, including Google. And . . . that’s it.

You see, dear reader, it’s not that the editors of the magazine got caught taking dirty money to hurt their fellow conservatives, it’s the crazy people who report this stuff! This opening amounted to almost a blanket denial that the National Review had actually taken any Google money at all. Realizing at some point that this was, in fact, not true, Goldberg slipped into the second to last paragraph the following confession:

I learned that Google gave some money to the National Review Institute for the Buckley Prize dinner only because I asked about it this week (something Robinson could have learned were she an actual reporter of some kind, rather than a MAGA infomercial hostess). But that just proves my point: No one is telling anyone what to write or not write. This is a joke.

So to sum up Jonah’s defense: “first, it’s absurd to think that any money changed hands, but yes money did change hands, but nobody could possible think that such money influenced what we wrote!” The problem for Jonah Goldberg was that, actually, I did have an insider at his magazine who confirmed that National Review editors declined to publish anti-Google articles. I sent Jonah a note telling him that “the problem for you is that I do have evidence.” I added that my source would be happy to come forward and publicly identify himself if Goldberg or anyone else at the National Review wanted to continue denying the story.

Guess how many people from the National Review contacted me to do so? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

So I had basically caught the editors of the National Review in bald-faced lies about taking money from Big Tech companies like Google to remain silent while those same Big Tech companies censored and de-platformed other conservatives. This was, of course, an unconscionable betrayal for The Flagship Conservative Magazine to commit against its own readers — but they did it anyway. Meanwhile, I was hearing from sources close to the National Review Board that the loss of donors and subscribers was so serious that drastic action would need to be taken. (The magazine had lost about half of its subscriber base in less than two years.) The board was also adamant that Jonah Goldberg and David French were the main culprits behind the astonishing collapse of the magazine’s influence, and that they needed to go. Everybody wanted them off the masthead in order to survive.

A month later, Hayes and Goldberg announced the launch of their nameless magazine with no investors by sending out tweets on their personal accounts that people could get “more info” by emailing them at A few weeks later, they were soliciting strangers to give them $1,500 a year to get a newsletter.

In February 2019, Axios ran a story about “a new conservative media company” (that didn’t even have a name!) with the news that Jonah Goldberg would be “leaving the National Review in the coming months” to join forces with the recently fired Stephen Hayes. Axios added that Goldberg and Hayes were “seeking investors.” It also contained the curious reminder that he would remain at some offshoot called the National Review Institute. In other words, the National Review was happy to pay Goldberg from its sister organization for the privilege of not publishing him anymore at the National Review!

You just can’t quantify that kind of popularity.

Goldberg was very touchy about the idea that he had been removed from the magazine. He wanted people to know that it was his idea to leave the National Review to fax out a newsletter from his basement (with no name and no money) along with Stephen Hayes. The Drag Queen Story Hour enthusiast David French even tweeted: “There’s news. There’s fake news. Then there’s the absolute premium-grade BS I’m reading on MAGA Twitter and elsewhere claiming that Jonah Goldberg was pushed out of National Review. Completely, totally false.”

What made this so funny was that David French was himself removed from the magazine a few months later! Where did he go? Well, he went to work for Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes and their little newsletter of course. The three of them were now free to plummet into new depths of unpopularity together. The most intellectually bankrupt and vitriolic of the Never Trumpers had finally been thrown into the dustbin of history.

Did the editors of the National Review learn anything from this debacle? Of course not. The feckless Rich Lowry recently handed the magazine over to the world’s only living Evan McMullin voter Ramesh Ponnuru — who was absolutely nobody’s choice to steer the magazine back to popularity. (If anything, Ramesh Ponnuru represents an even greater slide into snide effeminacy than Lowry, and few thought that was possible.) Defeat seems to be the brand for these boys. In any culture war, Rich Lowry and the gang have always been the first to stand athwart history, crying: “We surrender first!” They’ve been so weak and defeatist during the Trump years that a year’s subscription to the magazine could be marketed as an estrogen supplement.

Meanwhile the funding of the magazine now relies even more heavily on Big Tech money: the back page of the June 1, 2021 issue was a full-page Facebook ad. Inside the same issue, in case you missed the point, there was a two-page ad from Google. The National Review didn’t bother trying to win back its old subscribers by becoming more conservative. Instead, it flipped them a giant middle finger. This final insult might lead us to think the unthinkable about the soy boys who sank Buckley’s flagship. The same feeble metrosexuals who attacked the Covington Catholic boys, and printed pro-Jeffrey Epstein articles, and tried to discredit Carter Page, and pushed the Russia Hoax might not actually be conservatives after all. Their role does not seem to be halting the Left. Their role seems to be: pretending to be conservative in order to persuade actual conservatives to lose gracefully to the Left.

Conservatives must finally recognize something that’s very depressing and very important: the conservative intellectual movement in America didn’t just fail. It aided and abetted the Left for money. The Left bought off the Right’s leading conservative intellectuals. And its think tanks. And its “flagship” magazines. This is not hyperbole or conjecture. I’ve got the receipts. Until conservatives understand the depth and breadth of that betrayal, they won’t have any chance of rebuilding that movement out of the ashes any time soon.

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They Never Learn: National Review Demands Marijuana Criminalization | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 1, 2021

The most important consideration is that our cannabis legalization has been a step-by-step, many-decades-long process, not an overnight success, like Repeal. High taxes and regulations have kept the black market in business, as expected.

by Mark Thornton

Aron Ravin, a self-described “nudnik,” who writes for National Review thinks so and I suspect others do as well. This thinking, however, is that of an ever-shrinking minority and it is hard to imagine the pro-legalization trend being reversed. Nevertheless, let’s look at the arguments and why he claims libertarians are so wrong on this issue.

Before we press on, it is important to remember that cannabis legalization is basically citizens of individual states standing up to federal authority and flipping it the bird.

Ravin claims, “I do not, and do not plan to, partake in the devil’s lettuce.” Well, libertarians have never suggested, apart from medical reasons, that people consume cannabis any more than they suggest people consume alcohol, potatoes, pornography or Nike products. Libertarians, above all others, support the right to consume—and not to consume—so that is not a real issue.

The first issue Ravin raises is the increasing consumption of cannabis over the last twenty years, the period when cannabis has become increasingly legal and accepted. For any number of reasons, everyone should have expected this: more legalization, less punishment, lower prices, greater availability, new uses, new forms, substitution for other legal and illegal drugs, means more consumption. So, I’m not sure what Beltway libertarians he hangs out with, but they fail the basic-common-sense test.

But does this increased consumption lead to greater health concerns? Ravin thinks consumers should be concerned with lung cancer and disease, but of course that is related to smoking, which presumably everyone knows about and cannabis smokers typically consume tiny amounts compared to cigarette smokers. While the science is limited, “Smoking cannabis has not been proved to be a risk factor in the development of lung cancer.”

Ravin also notes the correlation between cannabis and psychosis, but does cannabis cause psychosis or does psychosis lead to cannabis consumption? With respect to this first general concern, nobody thinks this is a national emergency requiring people to be put in jail, or even that sin taxes or fines would be appropriate.

Ravin points to the broken promises of legalization. It did not wipe out the black market like the repeal of alcohol prohibition (i.e., the Twenty-First Amendment), it did not prevent children’s access, it did not decrease consumption, and it even did not prevent cannabis growers in California from stealing water. No surprises here.

The most important consideration is that our cannabis legalization has been a step-by-step, many-decades-long process, not an overnight success, like Repeal. High taxes and regulations have kept the black market in business, as expected. Nothing prevents children’s access to anything, but consumption among twelve- to seventeen-year-olds is down, not up, running counter to the general trend of increased consumption.

As mentioned above, consumption in general was always expected to increase, not decrease. In addition to the straightforward economic reasons for this, there has also been a substitution away from pain medications and other pharmaceuticals toward cannabis. Some of that has occurred under medical supervision, but mostly it is just people realizing that drugs like OxyContin, heroin, various psychoactive drug, and other drugs can harm or kill you while cannabis poses fewer such risks.

The last argument he presented is key to the whole war on drugs debate. Ravin notes that cannabis potency, i.e., the percentage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active psychoactive ingredient, has risen dramatically. Cannabis is widely available, and cheap. He thinks the legal product is both cheaper and more expensive because of taxes and regulations.

THC levels in pot today are anywhere from five to 50 times as high as they were in the ’70s. Young people increasingly just want to get high on the cheap, and illegal weed in a legal market is as cheap as it gets. The combination of greater potency than ever before and greater access than ever before is an obviously dangerous one.

The argument is that cannabis is now too potent to be legal. However, high drug potency is actually the number one scientific reason against the war on drugs, not a vault of legalization.

First, cannabis potency has been rising for a long time, at least since President Nixon declared his “war on drugs” in 1972. By the time citizens stated declaring cannabis legal in their own states, cannabis had already increased in potency some twenty times since Nixon’s declaration. Most importantly, it was the war he started that caused higher potency.

This is based on the simple economic concept that if you add a fixed cost, such as transport cost, to two grades of a product, the higher-quality or higher-priced grade will more likely be exported and the lower grades will stay at home or be processed into different products. Top grade Idaho russet potatoes tend to get exported and the lower grades stay closer to home and get turned into instant mashed potatoes.

The same is true with drug potency. Growers and smugglers would rather deal with a product of higher potency, given similar local prices, because it means more “doses” can be more easily transported and concealed without detection by law enforcement. My “discovery” was dubbed the iron law of prohibition by Richard Cowen, then President of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, published in none other than National Review!

However, I’ve been told that the trend toward higher-potency cannabis continues inside the legal dispensaries. Has the law been violated?

Not really. Cannabis consumers have grown up in a black market where the litmus test has been potency, especially if one brand costs the same as another. In addition to this factor, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Higher potency is still valuable to some sellers and consumers.
  2. Consumers can still get a lower amount of THC just by consuming a smaller quantity.
  3. Many new consumers use cannabis medically and some ailments call for very high THC or CDB (cannabidiol) potency levels.
  4. Some consumers do not want to smoke large quantities because of their lungs or the smell and would prefer higher-potency products.
  5. Some dispensaries might tout higher-potency products, like a restaurant advertising a free seventy-two-ounce steak for anyone who can eat the whole thing. They are really trying to sell hamburgers and French fries.
  6. Growers are using more capital goods, technology, genetic engineering, and better harvesting and processing techniques which can readily increase measured potency at low cost.
  7. We should not be surprised if average potency increases, especially if we consider the highly refined THC products.

Even if all of this were taken into account, it would still ignore the legalization of hemp and CBD products, which contain at most only trace amounts of THC. If the market for such products were roughly equal to the legal market for cannabis, it would mean that consumers as a group have effectively cut the potency of their products in half.

The arguments presented by Ravin seem to have some surface legitimacy, but they are based on distortions, untruths, or the illogical pronouncements of Beltway libertarians. Most importantly, the federal government, along with pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco companies have spent money politically trying to put the legalization genie back in the prohibition bottle, so any argument or propaganda will suit their purposes.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute

About Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows.

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