Mar 26, 2021 • 56M

New Useful Idiots: Ted Cruz, Penis Mishaps, and Matt Stoller on Big Tech Monopoly (Audio Also)

Is partnering with monopolies the best way to regulate speech, or should we break them up? Also, viewers demand, and get, more penis content

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Appears in this episode

Matt Taibbi
Katie Halper
Useful Idiots is an informative and irreverent politics podcast with journalist Matt Taibbi and podcaster/writer Katie Halper. Episodes feature on-the-road coverage of the 2020 campaign and exclusive interviews, with humor, commentary and dissection of the politics news of the week. Join Matt and Katie as they examine important stories that have slipped through the cracks and what the media got wrong – and laugh about whatever is left to laugh about.
Episode details

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter this week, the latest in a long series of efforts by Congress to demand “accountability” for fake news, hate speech, and foreign propaganda.

“The time for self-regulation is over. It’s time we legislate to hold you accountable,” said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the committee’s chairman.

As one member after another stood up and demanded that the executives clamp down on harmful content, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey pushed back, a little. “I don’t think we should be the arbiters of truth,” said Dorsey, “and I don’t think the government should be either.”

With those hearings on the way, we invited Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, to talk about the issues surrounding speech and tech monopolies. While there’s a rising sentiment among Democratic legislators like Pallone and new New Economic Council appointee Timothy Wu for a re-think of the First Amendment that would enlist tech monopolies as partners in speech control, Stoller outlined a different strategy, based on altering the financial model of these firms.

“The question that we have to ask is not whether you should block crazy people from saying things,” Stoller told us. “The question, though, isn't whether Alex Jones should have a platform. The question is, should YouTube have recommended Alex Jones 15 billion times through its algorithms so that YouTube could make money selling ads?”

In this Useful Idiots interview, Stoller walks us through some of the myths about big tech. Many members of Congress seem to believe the firms don’t intervene enough; Stoller explains that their massive existing levels of intervention are the problem, that the financial incentives of what he calls “surveillance advertising” move firms like Facebook to push users in the direction of ever more enraging, divisive, and conspiratorial content.

“It's like if you were in a bar, and there was a guy in the corner that was constantly egging people onto getting into fights, and he got paid whenever somebody got into a fight, Stoller said. “That's the business model here.”

Check out the video and audio above for more from Matt, as well as for the four food groups, which include: the “Wokewash of the week,” Ted Cruz’s hilarious use of the word “cynical,” and two horrifying penis-mishap stories, including an amazing re-enactment with a doorknob hole, and a lawsuit filed by a man who just can’t hold it anymore.

Watch this space and your RSS feed for more content in the upcoming days!