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Ep. 40: Joe Biden's Record (w/ Krystal Ball & Josh Fox)

Jan. 14, 2020

Ep. 40: Joe Biden's Record (w/ Krystal Ball & Josh Fox)

Briahna sits down with the Hill's Krystal Ball and filmmaker Josh Fox to dissect Joe Biden's record on criminal justice, climate change, foreign policy, trade, and more.

Rising at the Hill: https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising

Josh's show The Truth Has Changed: http://www.internationalwow.com/tthc.php

Transcript

Joe Biden: Some of my own party have said that it was a mistake to go to Iraq in the first place. And believe that it's not worth the cost, whatever benefit may flow from our engagement in Iraq. But the cost of not acting against Saddam, I think would have been much greater. And so is the cost, and so will be the cost of not finishing this job. The President of the United States is a bold leader, and he is popular. I wish he'd use some of his stored-up popularity to make what I admit is not a very popular case. But I, and many others will support him when he makes the case.

Briahna Joy Gray: It's game time, friends. The Iowa caucus is just weeks away. After more than a year of headlines, town halls, spicy tweets, and 40, yes, 40 episodes of this very podcast, voters will finally get their say about who goes against Donald Trump this November. With Bernie Sanders leading in Iowa for the first time, and with the most diverse, most working-class coalition behind him, this has become a two-person race between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. That's why it's time we get specific about why it has to be Bernie.

If you tune in regularly, you already know why Bernie is the most electable candidate. He's got the head-to-head polls, the enthusiasm, the money, in small dollar donations of course, and great polling in key swing states and early states. We also know that Bernie has a quality that takes a lifetime to cultivate and is impossible to fake: integrity. Throughout Bernie's long career, he has consistently taken tough and lonely positions, only for history to prove him right. This was true of the Iraq War, NAFTA, and the PATRIOT Act. This is part of why Bernie polls so well among independents, the largest voting group in the country, and is particularly strong in critical Rust Belt states that went for Trump in 2016.

Bernie excites people. And he makes first-time, and non-voters want to come out to vote for something, rather than simply against Trump. He's uniquely equipped to withstand Trump's habit of painting Democratic opponents as compromised insincere elites. Joe Biden on the other hand, has a different record. As tensions with Iran capture headlines, we're rightly reminded of the signature foreign policy debacle of the 21st century. Mainly, George Bush's war of choice against Iraq, which killed thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Biden not only voted for that war; he was instrumental in whipping support for it in the Senate.

As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden backed up the Bush administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And that the U.S. had no choice but to eliminate this threat. In 2002, Biden said...

Joe Biden: I do not believe this is a rush to war, I believe it's a march to peace and security.

Briahna Joy Gray: How did that pan out? If you think Trump won't bring up Biden's war record in the general, well, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Donald Trump: On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy. She is, she's trigger happy. You look what she done... and look at this, I just wrote this down. Iraq, Libya, she voted Iraq, let's go into Iraq.

Briahna Joy Gray: Let's talk trade. If you're young, or don't work in manufacturing, or both, trade might not seem like an important electoral issue to you. But Trump hammered Democrats on trade, and it mattered.

Donald Trump: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened-

Hillary Clinton: Well, that's your opinion. That is your opinion.

Donald Trump: ... in the manufacturing industry. You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation, where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50%. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.

Briahna Joy Gray: In the 1970s, over a quarter of all jobs were in manufacturing. Now, it's closer to 10%. And the women and men who lost those jobs aren't confused about the acronym soup, that is TPP, PNTR, and NAFTA. They remember all too well how their jobs were sent overseas. And Trump will make sure they know that Biden voted for each and every one of those deals.

Is student dept an issue closer to your heart? Well, throughout his career, Biden co-wrote and supported bills that vastly increased student loan debt. And then, was instrumental in passing the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill that made it all but impossible to get rid of student debt by declaring bankruptcy. And here's a key fact, Biden, you'll recall, was a senator from Delaware, where many of the nation's financial services are headquartered. That's no accident.

Seniors, listen up. This is critical. Biden has a long record of attempting to cut or restrict Social Security which millions of seniors rely on as a key source of income. In 1984, he worked with Republicans to pass a one-year freeze on Social Security and Medicare. Something even Reagan shied away from in prior years.

In the 1990s, he again sided with Republicans in support of a balanced budget amendment, that would've left Social Security wide open for cuts. During his 2007 run for President, remember, there have been a few, Biden came out strongly in support of raising the age of eligibility for Social Security. And in 2013, the Obama-Biden administration itself proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which earned them praise from none other than, Paul Ryan. Remember, this is what Biden means when he says he can work across the aisle. He means siding with Republicans to pass priorities not even Republican voters want.

This is Hear the Bern. A podcast about the people, ideas, and policies that drive the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, and the movement to secure a dignified life for everyone living in this country. My name is Briahna Joy Gray, and I'm coming to you from campaign headquarters here in Washington, D.C.

This week's episode is all about drawing contrast. So, first, I spoke to one of the clearest, most important voices in Media, Krystal Ball, who co-hosts Rising on the Hill TV. Krystal explained how she became a left-media maven, why Biden is a liability in the general election, and something I've wanted to know for ages; how she came to be named Krystal Ball. After Krystal delivered the signature insights we've come to expect from her, I spoke to Josh Fox, an amazing documentary film maker, and surrogate for the campaign, who has been a leader in the fight against fracking. Josh was able to help me draw important contrasts between Biden's environmental record and Bernie's. And as the world quite literally burns, the conversation couldn't be more timely.

Krystal, you are a co-host on Rising, a wonderful online show for The Hill, where you and your co-host provide a perspective that is largely absent from the media, I would say. Would, would you agree with that?

Krystal Ball: I think that's fair to say, I mean for those of you who haven't watched Rising, basically, it looks very, it's a morning show. It looks like a morning show. Got the nice set, we've got the nice cameras set up, we've got all of that. But my co-host who's on the right, and I'm on the left, tend to have a very different approach and focus in politics than your typical morning show. Both of us are, I would say what unites us is our willingness to call out our parties-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... on either side and to challenge power wherever it is. It's the only sort of anti-establishment show that has both a right and a left perspective. Honestly, it's been really exciting to see the amount of enthusiasm there is for that just honest perspective where we're not... I'm not there to cheer lead for the Democrats, he's not there to cheer lead for Republicans, we're there to actually call it as we see it. And the other piece of this is, both of us have a real passion for sort of working class centric-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... politics focused around the multi-racial working class. And so, you also get a very different product when you try to put that at the center. Look, we're not perfect, we're always trying to learn, we're always trying to figure out how to do things better. How to respond to the people who are listening to us, or who might watch us but it's, it's been exciting to be part of and, and see how people have responded to it.

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, what's so interesting is that despite you and Saagar being on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, how much simpatico the two of you have.

Krystal Ball: [Laughs] Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: And I found that echoed in a lot of my experiences when I'm out in the world. On the campaign trail, talking to people who are ideologically diverse, I often find the more intense disagreements I have are with people in my own cohort, my peers, classmates of mine from law school or what have you, who need to be sold more on certain ideas like corporate greed, or the corruptive impact of money in politics. More so, than Democrats or Republicans who are of a, a lower socio-economic status. Or who have more first-hand experience of what it is to actually engage in markets in a serious way. Being on the ne- on, on, on the bad side, on the losing side, shall we say, of markets. So, it's incredibly refreshing to hear you guys talk because even though it is this left-right show, the fight is not, never, ever, that I've seen, between the two of you.

Krystal Ball: Yeah, I mean, we do, like I disagreed with his take this week. We definitely disagree at times. But we actually, if I can shameless plug, we just wrote a book together called The Populist's Guide to 2020. And we kinda tried to synthesize the shared parts of how we look at the world into various themes. And the first one I think is really the foundational. It sounds kind of dark, because it is kinda dark. It's called core rot-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... where it's basically makes the case, look, GDP growth is great, and the stock market is high, and unemployment is low. And so, there's a lot of like happy talk about the economic situation for the country that was going on also in the last administration as well. Meanwhile, you have people literally killing themselves, I mean, the spike in suicides-

The, the worst addiction crisis in our nation's history, and you look at these pieces and you go, "What is going on here?" And so, we both start from that shared place, and also from the shared critique of essentially, we have been sold this bill of goods that we'll be happy if we just buy the next piece of cheap Chinese crap, right? We'll be happy if we just, you know, if we just work some extra hours, if we, you know, if we put our, our family and our community and everything below our work status, our achievementism, and ultimately no matter where you are on the economic ladder, that has proven to be so hollow.

But it's been so convenient for the big corporations who wanted to just, like suck all the resources out of these small towns, ship jobs overseas, et cetera, by saying, "Well, the ultimate goal, the only thing we should really care about is the GDP and the stock market." We have lost out on what it means, I mean, just fundamentally to be like a human being in a healthy community, in a happy society. So, Saagar and I both share that sort of fundamental analysis in the rot in the core values, and cohesive communities of our nation. And then we go from there. I mean, he's an immigration restrictionist, I am definitely not. I mean, we have very real differences.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: He doesn't believe in legalizing marijuana, I definitely do, right? So, there are a lot of differences there, but it's amazing when you just are able to clearly view the current state of America, how much overlap there actually is from there. So, that's what people are often confused on this, they're like, "Where are you guys politically, and how can you be on opposite ends of the spectrum?" Because they do pick up on that much agreement. But fundamentally, it's because of that shared diagnosis of the sort of fundamental structural issues in the country.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. So, I want to ask you for those who aren't as familiar about your background and your kind of path to Rising. You have been described as the, the anti-Rachel Maddow-

Krystal Ball: [Laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... in a recent article. But you in fact, used to share a network with her.

Krystal Ball: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: What was that like and what was your trajectory there?

Krystal Ball: Well let me I'll start a little bit before that.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: Which is, I ended up as an accidental media figure because I ran for Congress.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm, of course.

Krystal Ball: When I was 28 years old, and it was my first campaign experience at all. But I was very frustrated with actually some of the same issues that to this day animate news, corruption, right? I was a new mother, I had my, my first little baby girl during the 2008 election.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And that was an incredibly eye-opening experience even from stupid sounding simple things, like when I'm shopping for a baby bottle. And I realized that some plastics lobbyer or whatever-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... has made it so that they could keep this toxic BPA chemical in the baby bottles that have been banned in every other country. Where does that come from?

And it comes back to the money, it comes back to the corruption, it comes back to politicians who put their short-term political interests above even the safety of a baby bottle. So, it's really essential. So, some of those things, and of course coming out of the Iraq War, and the Bush years, et cetera. That motivated me to get into politics and I jumped in headfirst, had this crazy race. And then, a lot of people will notice these stupid party photos of me come out at the end of the campaign.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: And you could imagine as a young woman, like with, especially with this weird name, Krystal Ball, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: It's so, how, so hard to get people to take me seriously.

And I did. I built this organization.

I called, I mean, we're able to do money in politics a little different today, but I called every Obama donor in the country. I didn't have any wealthy friends.

I called everyone in the country to fund this campaign. People had taken a chance on me and then these photos come out. And it was devastating.

It was devastating.

But the irony is, out of that, after I lost, it was 2010, not a great year to run as a Democrat in rural Virginia.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: Timing was not amazing.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: After I lost, because of the media attention I had gotten from those stupid photos, that's what propelled me into the media world. So, the very thing that someone had tried to weaponize to destroy me-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... is the only reason that you and I are sitting here. Talking today with me having the, being so lucky to have the platform that I have. So, after the campaign, I start getting asked on all the cable new- you know, I get in the pundit line-up, right? And I, fine, okay. I actually, I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to raise these issues that I'm concerned about. This is not what I expected, but it's another way to do it.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: So pretty soon, I get offered a part of this panel show, The Cycle, as one of the co-hosts there. Great friends of mine still that were there. I mean, I don't want to trash the experience I had MSNBC, which was really formative, and really important. But kind of a watershed moment came in the build-up to 2016. It wasn't even, now let's see, it was, it was very early on. Hillary Clinton hadn't even gotten in the race, yet.

Briahna Joy Gray: Oh, okay.

Krystal Ball: It was still like an idea of maybe she's not gonna run, we're not, we all kinda knew she was, but ... So, I did this monologue that still is on Rising.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: Like, the monologues are kind of the centerpiece. So, we did monologues on The Cycle as well. We said, "Please don't run Hillary, because here you are taking this money from Goldman Sachs, here you are this emblem of the establishment, here you are closer, and more comfortable with, with the Wall Street and the fancy folks now than the regular people. It's gonna be a disaster. But what's gonna happen is you're gonna freeze the field, and we're gonna be, end up with you and we're gonna lose, right?" So, I gave this monologue, it's obvious now in retrospect, right? But at the time, no one else really wanted to say it. And this gets to your piece about the media, why didn't they want to say it?

Even though I wasn't the only one that knew this. It was, it was pretty apparent to a lot of folks. Well, it's because, you know, then you get crosswise with the Clinton campaign, and they look ascendant, and they got a lot of money, and they're hiring a lot of staffers, and you're never gonna get that interview with her. And so, very quickly after that, you know, I get a call from, from the bosses, and they're, "You know, you can say what you want about Hillary, but if you're gonna do another monologue about her, you have to get it approved by the President of the network." Because someone in Clinton world had called and they were unhappy.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And so, it just gives you an insight into-

... the way that this happens. I was never told I couldn't say anything, right? I was allowed to do that, that monologue. I was allowed to say it. But, you know, you know what you'll be rewarded for saying, and you know what you will be not necessarily punished, but you may not get that promotion. You may not have your contract renewed. You may not ultimately get those interviews or have that access to this world-

... that a lot of political journalists, analysts, anchors, et cetera really sort of make their career off of. So, that's kind of just some insight into how this thing works on the inside.

Briahna Joy Gray: So, what do you make then of some of these pundits who, who seem to, some more than others-

Krystal Ball: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... rather persistently beat a drum that's out of step with what the facts, whether they be polls whether they be other estimations of enthusiasm, like crowd size, or favorability ratings-

Krystal Ball: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... who persistently seem to downplay or ignore Bernie Sander's successes in the course of this race? Do you think that they are in a position where they're being given these kinds of tasks that are warnings of approval, or it's just one these wanting to be asked back? Knowing that certain kinds of opinions are going to fly. And that if they were to say, you know, Bernie is surging look at these great California polls, he's number one in the most diverse state in America. Like, if he's, if they were to say that, God forbid, they might not actually be asked back in the, in the future. Like, how, how cut and dry do you think that kind of negotiation is?

Krystal Ball: It's, it's not cut and dry. No one is there telling you like, "You can't say Bernie's doing well." But there's a whole range of factors, I mean, part of it is that awareness of the perspective ... Look, we're all, I'm a natural pleaser, right? A lot of us are natural.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: We want to, like I want to get the A, I want to say the thing that the host wants me to say.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: Like, I know what the host wants me to say.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. Yeah.

Krystal Ball: Right? And that's very, the, the people that excel at this often, that's the type they are. They know what the host wants them to say, they know what they're likely to be asked back on if they do say, they know the opinion they're supposed to put out there. It's all, I mean, cable news all very predictable, right? You basically have like differing people saying the same things over and over again-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, yeah.

Krystal Ball: ... hour after hour, it's pretty much what it is. But there's another piece here that I think is really important, that isn't just a cable news piece, it's an elite media piece in general. Which is that they aren't surrounded by people in their normal lives who are likely to be Sanders supporters. So, right, who's giving to Bernie's campaign right now? It's Walmart workers.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: It's Amazon warehouse workers.

Briahna Joy Gray: Teachers.

Krystal Ball: It's teachers, right. And so, the people who are writing those stories in the New York Times are who are opining on cable news or who are anchors there, they don't personally know those Walmart workers, right? They're not penetrating into their circles.

So, it's a very human bias thing to say, "Well, I don't know these people." And to just sort of discount it, to say, "Well, the polls are probably not right, and he was yesterday's news, and this is a new day."

So, when you already have that psychological bias of not seeing it in your own world, and then you add to it the career pressure of, it's better for me to not see it at all, that's how you end up with movements like Senator Sanders being discounted. I would also say it's how you end with the Trump phenomenon being discounted.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: Because, same thing. The, the people who were animated for him, they weren't penetrating these circles. And so, it was just completely discounted. I remember, I don't know if you remember, I remember all the takes were like, "Crowd size doesn't matter." "And here's why." "Crowds, sure, they'll vote, but they're much less than the massive population." Very similar echoes of what we're hearing now in the Democratic primary to again discount the obvious momentum of certain candidates.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. So, I mean, those of you, I mean, and there were, there were, you weren't the only one, but there was a small, it was a small cohort. So, it's you know, Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs-

Krystal Ball: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... wrote that article back in February anticipating that Hillary Clinton was gonna run up against some of the problems that she did. Michael Moore famously anticipated some of the issues that Hillary Clinton was going to encounter. And now we're in a place where, kind of for the first time in this race, Bernie Sanders has been more explicit about drawing some contrast between himself and Joe Biden. And the reaction from some in the media has been that these differences that he's begun to, begun to articulate are just not that important. And so, I'm curious from your perspective, what you perceive as potential hang ups that Joe Biden might encounter in a, in a matchup against Trump, that are largely not being discussed by the media, but I think are being highlighted by some of the critiques that Bernie has been leveraging about his history on, on trade, and, and Social Security, et cetera.

Krystal Ball: Yeah. Well, there's two pieces to that, right? I mean, the most important piece is who's gonna be a good President? Right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Of course.

Krystal Ball: Who's gonna be a good President, and so what do we have to go on? Of course, people are gonna say what they think is the right thing to say, and what sounds good on the campaign trail, what polls well, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, they'll, sometimes going that route, the poll tester route, doesn't always work out-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: So, well or so safe. But what we have to go on is a person's record.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And we have long records with Senator Sanders, we have long records with Joe Biden. I don't think Joe Biden is a bad person.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: I don't think he's an evil person. But I do think if you look back over the course of his career, he has basically been on the wrong side of almost every significant issue in essentially my lifetime. I mean, he has bought into this sort of prevailing and often wrong political winds throughout his career. So, whether you talk about, you know, him joining up with Reagan to cut budgets, and cut taxes, and smearing "welfare queens"-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: ... which, as you know, is an incredibly racist, disgusting smear that ultimately a lot of Democrats bought into. I mean, Bill Clinton is the one who ended welfare as we know it out of hysteria about welfare queens. Biden was part of that, right? Biden was part of, he wasn't just another vote on mass incarceration, he was a key architect of a devastating system of mass incarceration that we are only now beginning to even start to grapple with. Of course, on the, on trade, right? Vote for NAFTA. Still, still to this day supports and believes in the Trans-Pacific trade deal that, you know, Hillary Clinton called a gold standard, and then decided it wasn't politically safe for her to do that, and backed away from. He still supports it.

Right? So, this is, he's been on the wrong side of all of these issues, and then maybe the most salient one right now, today, is on issues of war and peace. I mean, Congress has completely abdicated their responsibilities with regards to their war powers, right? I mean, I know that people are out there yelling now about how Trump is taking this power, and its blank check, et cetera. The truth is that, most members of Congress didn't want to have that responsibility. Why? Because when they got it wrong in the Iraq War vote, that has stuck with them throughout their careers, as it should. And the thing with Joe Biden and Iraq is not only was he ... Hillary Clinton was basically another vote, an influential person, but another vote. Joe Biden was actually an integral part of the build-up to that war. He was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: He wasn't just another Senator. He was the Democrat in the most influential leadership position, and he helped facilitate the case of lies that was made that got us into war. That killed thousands of our citizens, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, trillions of dollars, destabilized an entire region. I mean, the reason we are where we are right now with Iran, there is a direct line to be traced to that vote. And look, I wasn't in a position of power, I was in college, and I knew the case was BS. So, if you're there, you have to expect more from our leaders. And that's what it comes down to me, as an issue of judgment, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Yes.

Krystal Ball: People make mistakes. A lot of people, good people got that one wrong, but if you look over a pattern over his entire career, you see consistently that he went with the winds, rather than going with the right call, that history bore out to be the right call. And to me, that's the most important thing. So, look, that speaks to how he would actually perform as President. Which again, is ultimately the most important thing. But we have to acknowledge a lot of his supporters are with him because they think he can beat Trump. And we all want to beat Trump.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: We all want to beat Trump.

Briahna Joy Gray: Of course!

Krystal Ball: Right? And so, I think what has been smart about the case that Senator Sanders has been making about him in recent days, which you know, I wanted him to make earlier.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: But I'm glad he's made it [laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: We heard you loud and clear.

Krystal Ball: Is that those, the fact that he was wrong on those issues also is an electability issue. When you were part of stripping jobs out of those all-important Midwestern states. And why are they important? Yes, because of, they're swing states, but also because human beings live there and their lives were devastated, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: When you were part of that, when you part of getting us into these endless wars, right? Those are easy attack lines that look, President Trump can just run the same playbook he ran last time. You know, my outlet is The Hill. There's actually Amie Parnes has a piece up right now saying that a lot of Democrats and not like, anti-establishment Democrats like us, but a lot of in the mainline Democrats are pretty worried that Joe Biden is gonna be a Hillary Clinton replay. And I think-

Briahna Joy Gray: Oh, do they have that, that level of insight? I'm just, I [crosstalk 00:26:50] little-

Krystal Ball: According to this piece they do.

Briahna Joy Gray: Okay. All right. I have to read that.

Krystal Ball: Well, I think that's why you see Michael Bloomberg jumping in.

Briahna Joy Gray: Sure.

Krystal Ball: You know, because there is this angst. The Iraq War stuff, Trump can run to his left on trade, can run to his left even, you know, potentially again, on healthcare.

So, these are real electability issues. The Social Security stuff is a disaster.

This is something people don't realize, and I know I'm going on at length here, but I dig into the polling crosstabs rather obsessively.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And Economist/YouGov, which is not a perfect poll, but they have some very elaborate cross tabs especially on issues, and people don't realize that Social Security is the number one issue for seniors, and is the number two issue for African Americans.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: So, this is an incredibly critical thing. Of course, because this is survival for far too many Americans rely deeply on this. And, and Joe Biden throughout the course of his career, up through his time as Vice President with Barack Obama, has been looking to cut Social Security. That is just the facts over a course of a long career. Looking to go to Republicans, looking to cut. You know, I think that's an essential issue to talk about, but I also think it speaks to that electability issue. Trump will certainly be ready to make that case if he were the nominee.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, I think those are all such important points, and I think the barrier I find when talking to people about the ways in which Biden can be cast as kind of a Hillary redux. And so, some folks, many of whom supported Hillary for reasons, you know, that I understand entirely. See it as a kind of personal critique of Hillary, or like a personal critique of Biden, or a personal investment in believing that the thing that they did was wrong.

Krystal Ball: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: When I say put that to the side, we can have, we can have a debate about whether-

Krystal Ball: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... or not you think she should've given the Wall Street speeches. But at the end of the day, if you know it's going to be weaponized in this way, you have to be clear eyed about the fact that that's a vulnerability for your candidate. And we can't have this inter-party debate about the sum and substance of what's going on here. At the end of the day, you have to acknowledge that Trump doesn't care about hypocrisy, he doesn't care about what his kids are up to.

Krystal Ball: No.

Briahna Joy Gray: He doesn't care about any of the things that liberals themselves, we, our hands are tied in making arguments against ourselves because we value those things, you know? Trump not only doesn't value them because the Republican Party tends to play a little fast and loose with some of those principles-

Krystal Ball: [Laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... but Trump has never cared. He's never presented himself as a person who is consistent or has that kind of integrity.

Krystal Ball: That's right, yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: He has constructed his own playbook and we refuse to even read it because, or, you know, a lot of establishment Democrats refuse to even read it because they think it's somehow diminishing themselves to acknowledge that he has a strategy that is compelling and frankly has worked. So-

Krystal Ball: That piece that you bring up is so important, I think people don't understand. Because I hear this a lot, and rightfully so. Like, well look at Obama, look at... They're cashing in on the President. Like, look at, I mean, this is ridiculous what he's doing. However, Donald Trump didn't run, nobody is surprised, right? No one voted for Trump because they thought he was gonna be paragon of virtue on these things. Whereas Joe Biden is trying to explicitly make a moral case. Right? Biden values. Let's get back to these values. And so, if you're running on a moral case, you have to be unimpeachable on that front.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's absolutely right.

Krystal Ball: That's the bottom line.

Briahna Joy Gray: And, and that's why I say this again and again. I feel like Bernie Sanders was made in a lab to go up against Donald Trump, because when else are you gonna find someone that has a record that is lengthy, inscrutable, and also demonstrates that you actually have that kind of judgment, have the kind of foresight that is lacking in other candidates? And to show that, you know, we have, there's a lot of discussion about all of the septuagenarians in the race.

Krystal Ball: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: Everybody who's leading is old. [Laughing] From Warren, to Bloomberg, to Trump. But the reality is that it presents a really unique opportunity for us to do this kind of play-by-play.

Krystal Ball: That's true.

Briahna Joy Gray: And obviously, I came to this campaign, you know, I started writing a large part because I was frustrated by the media narrative in 2016. And I came to this campaign as a leftist writer for the same reasons. But I didn't expect to like Bernie more-

Krystal Ball: [Laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... to the extent that I have over the course of being on this campaign and learning more and more about his record in a grander level of detail that I didn't before. So, thank you for all of those insights. I can't let you out of here without, without asking you... Excuse me... about your name [laughs].

Krystal Ball: [Laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: I mean, what is-

Krystal Ball: You buried the lede there, Briahna.

Briahna Joy Gray: And not, and not just your name, but I'm curious about where your politics came from and how you were radicalized, as it were.

Krystal Ball: [Laughs] All right, well, let's start with the name.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: By the way, it is my real name.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: I always get that question. It is my name, I didn't like, my parents did it, I didn't get to pick it [laughing].

Briahna Joy Gray: I mean, what are they like? I'm just so curious.

Krystal Ball: They're so they're wonderful, let's just say, but they're also just like really normal middle-class people.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: I think my name was maybe like the biggest rebellion of their life.my dad said that the official story, which I don't even know how true this is, or how much of this is like, a rationalization after the fact. My dad is a physicist. And he did his PhD dissertation on crystals.

Briahna Joy Gray: Aww.

Krystal Ball: I have two older sisters, Heidi and Holly, normal names.

Briahna Joy Gray: Okay.

Krystal Ball: Everyone thought I was gonna be Heather. It was the 80s.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: And apparently not. Not that there's anything wrong with the name Heather. Krystal, also very 80s name. Also, a great name.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, I rep for the Krystal.

Krystal Ball: [Laughing]but my mom turned to my dad, and said, "You get, you can name this one." And they had actually had this conversation with an aunt of mine about funny names to put with Ball, Basket, Base, Butter, et cetera.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm, cool.

Krystal Ball: And my aunt had suggested Krystal, and everybody laughed, but my dad was like, "I kinda like that."

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Krystal Ball: So, yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: I love that because my, my mother loves creativity. Like, she is attracted to creativity. But when it comes time to do the creative things, sometimes it goes a little bit left. And she wanted to name me, like a name that went with Gray, like that.

Krystal Ball: Hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: The best she could come up with was Charcoal Gray [laughing]. And thankfully my father put the kibosh on that. But sometimes I think I could be-

Krystal Ball: You could be Charcoal.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... coming to you from HQ, Charcoal Gray [laughing], from the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Krystal Ball: There you go. Well, listen, for me, it's been a double-edged sword, you know, whatever, it is what it is. It's my, it's funny when it's just your name, you know?

Briahna Joy Gray: It's just your name.

Krystal Ball: And so, you just, you're, you're kind of used to it.in terms of my politics, I would say for me, a really formative time was, I lived with my husband and our young daughter in this town on the border of Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and West Virginia, actually where the three come together, called East Liverpool, Ohio. And it was the first time that I lived in, you know, a de-industrialized town.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And this was a place that had been actually the pottery capital of the world. Like, all the plates and dishes were all made there. That mostly went overseas in like the 50s.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: And now, then it became the next town over, there was a steel mill. You know, thousands and thousands of good union middle class jobs.

That mostly went away in the 80s. And so, you have this, this town that's just devastated. I mean, it's just the infrastructure is crumbling, or you can see in the downtown, this once beautiful, iconic place that people come from towns around for Christmas shopping, and, and to go to shows, et cetera, it's just, just falling apart. And what really impacted me was if you go up and down the Ohio River, every town has the same story. It's just town, after town, after town. That was really the first time that I had seen that, and, and that shaped a lot of my politics to this day. It was, was kinda born and brought about during that period of living there.

Briahna Joy Gray: I think that's a really good point to make, and, and place to end. Because when we were talking about Biden being on the wrong side of a trade deal, and what the impact of that was for Hillary's campaign in 2016. There's a way in which people who don't have those experiences can perceive that as an abstraction. And trade for people in certain kind of milieu is this kind of abstract principle that doesn't really affect their lives personally.

Krystal Ball: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: And when I think Trump was running on trade, I don't know that the pundit class, and a lot of the kind of, professional managerial class truly understood that, what was kinda going over their head as a not that salient campaign issue was going straight to the ear worm of many, many Americans. And I hope that we are more attuned to that, and continue to bring the voices of folks who are more directly impacted by those kinds of policies to the floor, and take them seriously as we head into, to 2020.

Krystal Ball: Yeah, absolutely, and just two really quick last thoughts on that. Number one, when I was at MSNBC, I was told no one cares about trade. When TPP was being debated-

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs] My God.

Krystal Ball: ... and I wanted to cover it more.

Briahna Joy Gray: Wow.

Krystal Ball: You know, no one cares. And it was because of that, again, in their circles, no one cared. So, no one cared, you know?

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: That was the assumption. There was no data to back it up, it was just an assumption. Number two, and this is like, you know, I'll just, I'll leave it on a parting thought, even though it's its own can of worms in and of itself. There was this, to me, very stupid debate, very divisive debate about, oh, you know, was it economics?

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Krystal Ball: Or was it race? As if those two things are separate. When people do well, they feel good about each other. When you feel like you're in a zero-sum game, that's when things get ugly. And so, to me, those things go together, hand and glove, and that's not to deny any of the, the ugly racial undercurrent, the backlash to Barack Obama, all of that, that Donald Trump tapped into. I just want to be clear about that.

Briahna Joy Gray: Of course.

Krystal Ball: But I also don't want to, I'm not in the business of looking into a person's heart, and saying, "Your motives were pure, and yours weren't." I think we as a party should be and those of us who care about the future of the country should just be concerned about trying to address the issues, trying to make things better for people, whether they're worthy or unworthy, or good or bad, or in between. That's I think the business that we should all be in.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. You don't get to be the President of just part of America [laughs].

Krystal Ball: That's right, that's right. You sign up for the whole thing.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. Well, thank you so, so much for joining us. I know the listeners are gonna be thrilled to have you here. And you're always welcome back.

Krystal Ball: Thank you, Briahna. Great to see you.

Joe Biden: If the Lord Almighty had come down and said, "Look, we're gonna go in, and we're gonna take out Saddam, but let me tell you, this administration is really gonna mess this stuff up, and the aftermath." Then I'm not, I think I still probably would've voted, because I believe that you had to enforce those international agreements that Saddam made. I didn't count on them being so incompetent.

Briahna Joy Gray: I'm really glad to be joined by Josh Fox, documentary film maker and climate activist here in the studio today, who dropped by unexpectedly, and I get to pick your brain about what you've been doing in the activism world. And also, some upcoming projects that you have opening soon?

Josh Fox: Yes, very soon.

Briahna Joy Gray: It might be now, in the past, depending on when this airs.

Josh Fox: Yes, right. Hopefully before it airs.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: Well I, no, I was just hanging out with Jane Fonda doing Fire Drill Fridays, which she's been doing for almost three months now. Jane Fonda moved to Washington D.C. to get arrested every Friday.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's wild.

Josh Fox: And people are joining her in-

Briahna Joy Gray: For, for climate reasons? [crosstalk 00:37:58].

Josh Fox: ... for climate reasons. It's called Fire Drill Fridays. It's inspired by the Fridays for Future of Greta Thunberg, and she took up that mantle and said, "I'm Jane Fonda, I'm 82 years old, and we're all gonna dress in red, and get out there, and get handcuffed somewhere on the Capitol to draw attention to climate change." So, she's been bringing celebrities and activists together and a lot of people have been arrested. Thousands of people.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's incredible.

Josh Fox: It's amazing.

Briahna Joy Gray: So, you're, you're, you know, broadly a climate activist who specifically really made your bones talking about fracking, and shedding light on this particular environmental harm. But I still think a lot of people don't necessarily understand fully. So, can you walk us through a little bit ab- tell, tell us what, what fracking is, and why it's so particularly harmful?

Josh Fox: When you said, made, made my bones. The fracking is the bones of the Earth.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: You know? It's these deep shale formations, rock that contain gas and oil, in the cracks and fissures, in the fractures of these rock formations. So, what we go down there as we, we refracture the bones. And we get those, the marrow, which is that traumatic Earth past history, right? The decomposed remains of the last mass extinction.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: Which is the oil and the gas.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: And it's down there, and we extract it to fuel the new mass extinction which is, you know, climate change. But what fracking is is, you take high pressure water and chemicals, lots and lots of carcinogenic chemicals, and you inject that into those strata, at pressures that rival cluster bombs. So, you have these tanks of water, nine million gallons per frack, and you send that a mile down under the surface. And then you broke, break apart those foundations and it releases oil and gas. That oil and gas [laughs] then comes to the surface. A lot of what I was working on was gas fracking. So, hydro-fracking for gas. Which of course, the Obama administration and the natural gas industry were, was, were saying, "This is better than coal."

Briahna Joy Gray: Right, until recently-

Josh Fox: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... it was kind of a status quo position among Democrats to be supportive of fracking as a, what, a better alternative?

Josh Fox: Yes, we changed that.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: That's one of the things we changed. And Bernie Sanders is a big part of that.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: Because in 20- in 2008 when I first got involved with this, because my family was offered a gas lease-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: ... in a part of the Marcellus Shale, as part of that frontline community in Pennsylvania. Luckily, our house in the Delaware River Watershed, right? Which is this water source for 16 million people downstream. Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, and New York City.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: So, we were able to amass a huge coalition of people, but I made this film called Gasland, which took me all across America. And it interviewed people who had fracking all around them. In Colorado, and in Texas, and Wyoming, and Louisiana. And, to a person, and to a case, they had fracking contaminants and methane in their water supplies. They had volatile organic compounds in the air. It was a health crisis. We warned that this would engender cancer clusters, and now we're seeing that happen in Western Pennsylvania. Kids, teenagers. Getting rare cancers that the only thing that's different in those areas is that fracking has happened. And we know those VOCs and those carcinogens cause those kinds of cancers. So, this is an inherently toxic process, it's, it's carcinogen dependent, and it's incredibly destructive. But from the climate perspective, and this is what's so important, fracking and fracked gas, even though they went to D.C. and they posited themselves as better than coal, fracked gas is actually the worst fuel that we can develop if we want to curtail climate emissions. Because we burn the gas, that creates CO2. But it leaks, it's a gas, it leaks everywhere.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: It leaks into the atmosphere directly, and that methane is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a warming agent.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: When you add all the emissions together, you get actually a profile that's worse than even coal, which is an awful, awful fuel. So, fracktivists all over, which is what we call ourselves, say we want to transition to renewable energy. And lo and behold, as early as 2014 when we banned fracking in the state of New York, which was a six-year project, Bernie Sanders came out and said, "I support these people." Which is incredible, and then in the 2016 election, I was able to get involved and work on fracking as part of the campaign. And at the platform committee level, we created an amendment for the Democratic platform, you can look this up and read it, that the Clinton campaign agreed to, even though they didn't want to do the ban. We tried hard, but they wouldn't do it.

We got them to say, "We're gonna dis-incentivize fracked gas power plants, pipelines, and infrastructure." Because right now, we have fracked gas infrastructure exploding all across the United States. And this, these projects are power plants and LNG terminals, that would put us dependent on natural gas, fracked gas for 40 years. This will blow past all of our climate targets.

Briahna Joy Gray: I think that's a really incredible point to note because in 2016, and now, and we were just talking about this a little bit before we started this interview. There is a cohort who would like to obscure the differences between candidates in a primary.

Josh Fox: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: And while I entirely understand the urgency of all coalescing behind a candidate in a general election. In a primary, you have to be extremely aware, and I think it's the job of the media as well to make it ex- extremely clear to voters that there are sincere enormous stakes on the line, both from a health concern perspective, from an environmental perspective, in each one of these granular differences between candidates. So, if you had in 2016, as you do now, candidates that are for a ban on fracking, versus the overwhelming number of candidates who are not. Candidates like Bernie Sanders who have, has received top marks from climate groups versus others. The unique commitment in terms of the dollar amount that he's put behind his Green New Deal plan compared to others. These are not trivial differences to paper over and act as though we're all kind of on, on the same team in this, in a primary context.

Josh Fox: Let me just say one more thing about that, right? And this campaign is so unique, and such pioneer, and such a pioneering campaign because it is our obligation through this campaign to educate people. Not just about the differences between different candidates, but how, why these des- differences are so crucial.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Josh Fox: Right? Fracking now is the number one source of increased climate emissions on the face of the Earth.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm, I didn't notice that.

Josh Fox: It's now number one, number one, number one, right? So, the gas industry came to D.C. and they lied, and the politicians bought it, and then the politicians lied about it. And you know, that's why it's so crucial as a campaign, that we pick up the mantle-piece of the media, right? Who's not doing their job. The media is not going out there and saying, oh, yeah, there's a huge difference between Joe Biden, who has f- natural gas company advisors as members of his campaign Heather Zichal, who from the Council of Environmental Quality, right? At the White House, during Obama, I would go and plead our case. "Please ban fracking in the Delaware River basin," to the CEQ, right? Because they had a crucial vote on the council, right? She left her position at CEQ, at the White House, to take a lucrative board position at Cheniere Energy, one of the number one- one of the top fracking export companies in the world.

Briahna Joy Gray: Jesus!

Josh Fox: So, now she's working as Joe Biden's environmental advisor, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: This is not a small fractional difference. This is not like a like what you said, like, granular. This is not at all granular.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, yeah.

Josh Fox: There's a difference between the number, exposing the number one cause of climate emissions rising, and an actual solution to climate change, right? And the media is not doing their job in exposing these differences, so we have to do that. We have to take up that mantle-piece and say, "This is, how do you dispel?" Because that's a form of misinformation.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right. So, what do you think is going on there? We were talking about this a little bit before. What do you think is going on with the choice of certain members of the media to collapse the differences between these campaigns, particularly when it comes to this, this kind of environmental differences which you would think, giving, you know, the left, the reportedly leftward tilt of the mainstream media, they would all be kinda similarly invested in pushing back at least in this area of climate, climate change?

Josh Fox: Well, that's a very difficult question to answer, but before I answer it-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: ... let's cut to our sponsor.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron. See, if I was on the mainstream media, that's exactly what would happen.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Josh Fox: And you've kinda, you've answered the question. Okay, all right [laughs]. Right. Every time I used to go on all those TV programs, my appearances would be book ended by ads from Exxon, or I would watch them online, and there was a banner ad running along the bottom, BP, Shell, Chevron, you know what I mean? Come on. So, [laughs] you know, of course I'm kidding, we do not have fossil fuel advertisers on this program-

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: ... which is one of the reasons why we could tell the truth.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Josh Fox: And the truth is a very important thing, because what we know is that the fossil fuel industry has been creating misinformation, for basically the whole history of our understanding of climate change, right? ExxonMobil's own scientists predicted catastrophic, they used the word catastrophic, results from climate change. They pegged us at 415 parts per million by 2019, they were dead on.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: Those were Exxon scientists. They said, "This is gonna be a disaster." They hid that science, and then they went out and they pursued their business model, which was to destroy the Earth. And so, when you take a look at who's sponsoring those TV stations, this is the most powerful industry on the face of the Earth. And so, it's not often you get to tell the truth about what they're doing, until there's a cutoff point. So, we have to be really, really honest about the fact that we cannot talk about climate change. We cannot talk about fracking without talking about misinformation, without talking about smear, without talking about propaganda, and without talking about how the mainstream media is failing in their duty to talk about climate change. This is not boring stuff.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, no, not at all. And that leads us to your most recent project.

Josh Fox: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: Where you would engage some of these subjects. Can you tell us a little bit about what you have going on now?

Josh Fox: Yeah, well, okay, so, the project is a, is a performance piece that I've actually been touring all across the United States. I tour all of my movies, so this time, we toured sort of the second half, which is when I go on stage. And then we're gonna make the movie about that afterwards, right? So, it's called The Truth Has Changed. And what do I mean by that? I mean that the way that we process truth in America has collapsed. Facebook, and when Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress, right? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and said, "Well, we have, we're gonna say that politicians can lie in unlimited fashion, on our platform, with no repercussions." This could have been interpreted as the end of journalism itself. Because this is the largest news platform in the world, and Mark Zuckerberg saying we're gonna abandon a hundred years of journalistic standards, right? Truth verification, truth seeking, completely vacated. We have no obligation to this anymore. And this is extremely scary. So, The Truth Has Changed actually goes back through the last decade of the fossil fuel industry's attacks on me, which went on for 10 years, and still go on today.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Josh Fox: which they've spent hu- tens of millions of dollars according to our estimates, on attacking my films, Gasland, and How to Let Go of the World, and the Standing Rock project, that I did called, Awake, a Dream from Standing Rock. And how they followed me around the country. And who were those people? Andrew Breitbart Phillip McAleer, James O'Keefe, Steve Madden. Okay, Steve Madden then figured out how to take those techniques of smear and misinformation, that were aimed against fracktivists and aimed against climate scientists, and turned them into a way to completely misinform the entire electorate. Because through Facebook and Google, right now that we have addressable ad technology, and we know exactly where people live, and we know their psyche, and we know their insides, we know their profile because we have all their data from Facebook. Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon's company, collected 5,000 data points on every adult American. 5,000 things they know about you, they know about me, they know about everybody watching this program, 5,000. I can't even name 5,000 data points about myself.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Josh Fox: About my, you know, my mom, or my, my girlfriend, I can't. But they do. So, they know these things unconsciously about you, and about me. They know our habits; they know what we like. And they're able to target ads specifically at different groupings of people. Psychologically, demographically, and that is an extraordinary complicated effort that's algorithmically made possible by the way Facebook and Google delivers information. So, the heights of smear and misinformation now are specifically targeted at different people, and different groups of psyches. This is insane. And this is amazing. Remember what we saw in the last election of Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom. 88% of their advertisements were misleading.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: 88%. This is completely abandoning truth altogether. So, The Truth Has Changed is about journalism, it's about fossil fuels. It's about those techniques of misinformation, and how they specifically tie to white supremacy. That is a link that not a lot of people are making right now.

Briahna Joy Gray: Do you have any, do you present any insights rather kind of in that, do you call it a show? A one man show?

Josh Fox: Yeah, oh, yeah, it's a performance.

Briahna Joy Gray: Okay, do, do you have any insights in, in there about how we could best push back because, you know, as part of this campaign, we have all of this independent media, right?

Josh Fox: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: We have this podcast, we have a Twitch stream, we have the largest following count on Twitter and social, and we use it to put out our own content, right?

Josh Fox: Mm-hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: That covers issues of the sort that are largely ignored by the mainstream media, issues relating to poverty, and, and organizing, and labor, and working people's issues. But you know, outside of someone like Bernie Sanders who has, you know, nine million people following him on Twitter and can access folks directly, what do you see as a way to kind of push back against the mainstream media?

Josh Fox: Well, we have to go to the independent media, I think. And I think there's amazing people out there, journalists, independent journalists with great integrity who are doing their jobs. I think that that... I mean, look at Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman. Look at what's, what's happening with Rolling Stone's climate reporting for example.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Josh Fox: That's a fascinating example. Rolling Stone's a rock and roll magazine.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Josh Fox: But they're doing great climate reporting.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, they were always willing to publish some of my pieces that other mainstream news outlets were not happy about.

Josh Fox: They put out short film that I made called, The Sky Is Pink, which is about how the oil and gas industry will argue things that are absurd just to create a so-called debate. Yeah, that, so you have to seek out sources of truth. The piece The Truth Has Changed starts with a teenage girl, in one of my audiences after Gasland, or after one of the films, I can't remember which one. And she just raises her hand, she's like, "How do we know what's true?" She says, "You say all these things about how climate change is bad, and fracking is bad, but we can look online, and we can see that people are saying the opposite of those things are true. So how do we know?" She's truly befuddled, like it was really sincere, it wasn't a gotcha question, it was sincere. And I can see all the dinner table arguments written on her face.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: And I realized I couldn't answer the question quickly, which is part of the reason why I made this whole movie, and this whole play, and this whole effort. I think that the key to answering that question is don't stop asking that question.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: Don't ever stop asking the question. Don't just accept information, and because it's coming to you in a way that's gonna be emotional, it's gonna be tailored to you, right? Your newsfeed is different than my newsfeed, everybody knows that. There's no such thing as our newsfeed anymore [laughs]. These days, you get your own news, right? And pretty soon, it'll be like, "Hey, remember when it was cloudy on the, you know, your, the day of your high school graduation? Well, the Trump campaign is facing those kinds of storms this week." You know, it'll be so tailored to people, and I'm not joking. Like, that is what's coming through. So, you have to do, you have to do the work, the truth takes work, the truth takes organizing, but you also can't just stay in this one little narcissistic pool where we mirror ourselves and drown in this information. We have to be in groups and rooms full of people. That's why these campaigns are so important. That's why going out to events is so important. Because you can feel, and you can compare information, and you can understand, and you can understand that the truth is a pursuit just like democracy is a pursuit. Just like making our lives better is a pursuit. Which is what I love about this campaign. Is it's not about easy answers, it's not about slogans. It's about actual policy, understanding these policies, and moving forward. And I think fundamentally, that challenges this notion right now, of, you know, authoritarianism [laughs]. Which is what Donald Trump is about, right? Which is why I was saying this ties back to white supremacy.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: Steve Bannon, and his white supremacist campaigns in Europe, he's raised $100 million for these neo-fascists, in some cases, actual Nazi groups, right? And so, you have those people tied up with Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica was given a contract by the State Department. By who? Rex Tillerson.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm.

Josh Fox: That dewy, dimpled denier, you know?

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: CEO of ExxonMobil, who then, you know, was running the, he was the Secretary of State. So you start to see these connections, and that's what I'm trying to do with this piece, and start understanding that complexity and truth has to do with our effort to find it out, and has to do with our ability to contact each other and get out of these, these mirrors, so. This is all just related back to climate change though, because the more we get off the planet and, and into the cyber sphere, the more we forget. We have to protect the terrestrial reality that we're in.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, I mean, this sounds like an amazing project. Where can people find it, and when?

Josh Fox: Okay, so, it, it opens at the Public Theater in New York City, which is really exciting, on January 11th, through the 19th, and it has an eight-day festival run there. It's a festival called Under the Radar. And then it goes in March, to Miami, to the MDC Live Arts Festival, there for 10 days. But I'm gonna tour it all across America. So, we're going to Houston, we already have an invitation there. We're going to Seattle, we're going to Chicago, we're going to Denver, we're gonna go all over the place. And the way I've toured in the past is the same way I tour my films, right? So, sometimes, we show them in a movie theater, and it's a legit, cool place. And sometimes we show them in a 1000 seat hall and people show up by the droves, and other times we do it in somebody's backyard, at a barn, because they're organizing against the fracking industry there, so.

Briahna Joy Gray: Nice.

Josh Fox: You can go to thetruthhaschangedtour.com, and actually request that we should come, and that's a possibility. And our first priority is always to tour to the places where there's a movement that's actively trying to fight the fossil fuel industry, or perhaps the primary states.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: Which is also possible, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Josh Fox: So, we're trying to sync up with some, with various calendars. But often times, I'm having a screening of either the film, or any of my films, or having a performance, or having this sort of circus come to town, can help matriculate new folks into the process. Cause they go, "Oh, yeah come see the movie," or, "Come see the play." Whatever it is. And then people are more open to that than maybe going to a political rally first stage. And then there's an awareness in this, there's immediate action that people can begin.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's really smart, that's really great. Well, thank you, I'm so glad I was able to nab you today.

Josh Fox: I am so happy, too. I mean what a wonderful coincidence.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs].

Josh Fox: See, all good things come from Jane Fonda.

Briahna Joy Gray: [Laughs] I love it, we have to get her in the studio sometime too.

Josh Fox: I'll try, I'll work on it.

Briahna Joy Gray: All right, well thank you so much Josh. It's great to talk to you always.

Josh Fox: You're one of my heroes. You're really trying. No, what you're doing is you're educating people in the service of the campaign, but also in the service of us just making this country a better place. So, thank you.

Briahna Joy Gray: I appreciate that. I appreciate you, thank you so much. That's it for this week. Before we go, a quick reminder to check your local primary rules, which may require you to register or re-register before a certain deadline, in order to participate in the upcoming election. For example, South Carolina, you have until January 30th to register. States like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Oregon have closed primaries. Meaning that you have to be registered as a Democrat to participate in the Democratic primary. So, check your local rules, and make sure your voice is heard. Also, make sure you've downloaded the BERN app, where you can get lots of alerts and information along these lines. That's B-E-R-N, the BERN app. Hear the Bern is produced by me, Briahna Joy Gray, Ben Dalton, and Christopher Moore. Let us know what you think at [email protected], or else take to Twitter with the hashtag, #HearTheBern.

I love, love, love to read your feedback on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or wherever you get these episodes. So please be sure to rate, review, or like us whenever you get a chance. But really, really, really download the BERN app. Seriously, I went on Chapo last week, asked people to download the BERN app, and apparently there was this huge spike. So, let's not let the Chapo boys, as wonderful as they are, and the Chapo women, shout out Amber, show us up. Okay, I'll see you guys next week.