Welcome Hey, it's Eric. Welcome to dead cat. I'm here with Tom diaton. And we've got a great guest super excited. Antonio Garcia Martinez, author of chaos monkeys, you have a crypto startup, Facebook executive one point, and very aware. Oh, is exec overstating things?
I think title inflation is pretty standard in tech journalism. So by all means,
we're gonna talk about the managerial class. So you know, you have via management, they're
reporting or if you call somebody exec, if you want to sound like you're sourcing is higher level, that's exactly why they do it. And that can anything be from like product manager, to director to any anything that isn't like I was hired yesterday is like, oh, an exec just told me that this is the strategy. That's right. So if you resource for anyone, you were definitely an exec.
Okay, well, alright, I'll take it.
I feel like our goal with this show is just to sort of understand what's going on, on Twitter and like the cultural war, you know, like, I feel like in classic sort of fiefdom division, it's like, literally, we had, you know, Alex Stamos on last week. And it's sort of like, he's basically on our side of this whole, like, free speech, internet moderation, war. And we're asking him, like, what's the best version of the other side? Like, that's as close as we can get to sort of direct engagement with the other side in your game like you and I sort of had it out, I think, on free speech a little while ago. And so I My first question is such a big one, I feel bad throwing to you, but like, what is going on? Or like, how would you articulate this sort of reporter versus Musk sort of thing, or like base versus whatever? Like, explain to the audience like, what is this conflict that's happening?
I wouldn't presume to speak for Elon or know what's going on yet, obviously. But I have commented, I think a lot in the past on the tech media divide to some degree, because I think I'm one of the few people who spanned it to some degree, I was one of the few people kind of dumb enough to actually write a book about my time inside tech. And then like, I actually did factcheck reporting for Wired shortly after that, and was kind of a journalist, I figure substack, and NSF, NSF sec, as well. And I had my own podcasts and whatnot. So I've played a little bit on the media side of things, which, again, is pretty unusual for tech people. And then definitely very unusual for media people is actually building things in tech. So I've seen both sides of it, I do think there's like a two cultures thing going on, in which they have just morally foundational, different views of the world. And then there's also a lot of like vetting going on by them in I mean, the other side seems like this monolithic other that is acting in some dark confederacy against what is true and good in the world, which I think is just a natural state that humans think about, like the other tribe. And I just think it's wrong very often.
And there's an acknowledgement of power on both sides, right? Like the reporters, look at the tech entrepreneurial class and see them, you know, exorbitantly wealthy, or at least they have access to capital. And then on the other side, I imagine they're looking at us and saying, you know, we have some sort of magical control over the narrative. And what's
the game of you're the elite? No, you're the like, the one thing you don't want to be right now. Is an elite your I am
at an elite. Elite, I wouldn't ever admit it
anymore. I'm like, give it up. Like, how can I be like you, you know, it's just like you get to. I feel like if you get to write but not be blamed for being a journalist, that's sort of the best situation to be in at the moment.
If you could have an entire podcast of millionaires and billionaires railing against the elite, then There literally is no such thing as well. So here,
I would disagree. And this gets back to the comment about the manager elite. Elite obviously means different things, right. But in the context of like America right now, almost 2023. I made a reference to Burnham and Burnham was actually a collaborator of Trotsky started communist actually, and ended up on the right. And he cited a lot in the writing was very formative for like sort of mid century conservative thought. His book is called the managerial elite, which is kind of a classic.
Marc Andreessen has been a big booster of this book recently to lots of Yeah, it's it's big topic of conversation.
Yeah, I think it was in the booklets that he tweeted, the key thing to understand, and I disagree, I think elites an overloaded term to use a tech term, the elite that James Burnham was referring to was not sort of the Wasp elite that ran the US for however many decades, or was not the sort of bourgeois capitalist elite that Marx railed against, for example, or that Burnham used to rail against in his in his Marxist phase. The idea was that there'd be this sort of middle tier, technocratic side to society that would form its own interest group, right. Traditional capitalist, right, like the the original robber barons of you know, Vanderbilt and Carnegie and whatnot. They were the elite. They were the founders. They were the management team. They were the capital, they were everything right? And the dynamic that you see today in which you often have a middle management layer that is politically a one mindset, and the founding class that is another Right, like a lot of these blow up, you saw it, I mean, for God's sake at the Washington Post, that they're all hands that devolved into a screaming match or whatever, right? There's a Delta cut. And I think it's partially generational as well, by the way, just to add more complexity to this muddled thinking, but there's a Delta there between someone who went to an elite school, like an Ivy League school, or Stanford or whatever, and then takes their place in the firmament as a middle management person at a large company. And then there's the founding class employee, who often didn't have that background, or rebelled against that background. They didn't go to Goldman or McKinsey when they got into school, right? They did some weird little thing that grew into this massive thing. And now they're responsible for this. This is
sort of how you have a situation where Elon seems to not be blaming Jack Dorsey, for what happened to Twitter, but blaming the Twitter employees maybe disagree, right? I mean, it's, or maybe that's just incoherent. But it's hard to understand how you could not blame the CEO of a company, but have this idea that basically the employees went off and did whatever they want, or you're sort of rolling your eyes at that. So
no, I mean, look, I admire your attempt to try to put some, like ideological coherence behind what's going on here, because it does seem to be fairly reactive and arbitrary, to the moment of who feels like they're attacked. But I think it's interesting to put it in like Marxist terms, because what we're talking about essentially, is a internecine war between, you know, middle class or professional managerial class and management. So there really isn't almost any blue collar worker to speak of here, which is why this is so you know, it's based on so many. So it makes the stakes seem so incredibly low. Right, you know, no one's livelihood is really at stake here.
The cultural divide between, I don't know, sort of the marc andreessen is David Sachs of the world and the reporter class, like, is this just gonna keep accelerating? Or like what bridges, what bridges this?
Again, you're citing specific individuals, some of whom I know, and so I don't want to speak for them. And I think the divide goes deeper. Like, it's not just a few, they might be lighter about it. But I think there is a divide between the way builders think about the world and the way that media people think about the world. It's just different.
Is this shape? rotators? Wow, no, no, no,
no. I mean, I never want to talk about that again. Why don't you Why don't you lay out to me as it as a builder as a founder, what is the what is the view of the world, I mean, that is so distinct from at the very least journalists, but maybe the broader public.
So I had lunch with a tech reporter that I think all of us here probably knows, and I won't call them up by name, but it's a guy that I kind of know personally and have known before I went before this whole word, or whatever you want to call it started. But it still seems as if we're talking past each other. And I think, here's how I see it. Builders, they can come across as potentially naive or insincere, or too earnest. And I think particularly because a lot of reporters tend to come from the East Coast, just to make a regional just to make a big regional generalization, earnest proclamations of like, the excitement of building come off as like naive and dumb and childish. And I think there's a number of inputs that Silicon Valley and by this, I mean, more than mentality Silicon Valley, it's no longer a place, it's really an attitude. A lot of the inputs, you need to make a Silicon Valley work. Some of them are a little weird, and they're not the inputs you have in other powerful industry. So a childish sense of wonder, this sort of reflects this desire to sort of disrupt everything, no matter what sort of engineering solution ism, that everything seems to have an engineering solution. Many of these which, by the way, I think are legitimate critiques of the culture. I think some of these things are a little bit like, I understand why they need to exist, but it also means that the view of the world is a little bit incomplete. Right?
Yes. Okay. Now to create the conflict. I mean, as clearly a member of the media class. Yeah. I feel like the media class is much more optimistic about the builders, like there's no, there's no, we're searching for positive tech things like there was
not one or Eric rock.
In their domain. The no reporter is like, I mean, there are but like, there's a total acceptance, that sort of CS type, the Mark Zuckerberg type is like going to build sort of tech companies. I think there is no respect that there is any sort of expertise in Paulus policy or like this, where the content moderation fight breaks down so much. Musk declares we're just going to follow the law. This is the framework, they're going to follow the law. He says it over and over again, every expert, whether it's media, people who have focused on it, or people at Stanford or whatever says is ridiculous. And my sentiment was always as soon as Ilan has to literally engage with this and think about it. There's no way he's going to just follow the law, which is literally what we're seeing to happen now. But why does the whole world have to suffer through his naivete on this just being so arrogant?
Why, why is it naive i in terms of
not following the law, like right now?
He's, he's following the American free speech standard, which is the Brandenburg v. Ohio, you know, imminent lawless action yet. Weird, which is what typically rules free speech places in this country he is following along in America,
you're allowed to have the swastika. Right? He banned Kanye over the swastika in America. It is legally the jet tracking is put out by the government, I believe like, and he's banning that from Twitter, right?
I think I think Daxing is dangerous. Actually. It's not against the law. Okay, let me just lay out my view, I don't want to be reactive to the energy because I don't claim to have insight into the view. Well,
I have questions whether they're following freedom of speech.
One thing I've been very consistent on this, in fact, I have a wired piece in 2017. I forget the exact title. But basically saying this is when the whole content moderation regime was kind of spinning up. And I have to say, like, I don't often do this, but like I was right, two things one is going to be impossible to implement is going to be impossible to actually fairly implement at scale, any sort of oracle of truth, whatever you call it, disinformation, misinformation, basically, trying to make things write in an editorial way online, is just not going to be technically an operationally possible one, which it hasn't been. And then too, if you give that much power, and again, I kind of come from that world, I've worked at a company like Facebook, if you give basically, like the effective de facto Supreme Court, or free speech is inside a closed door, conference room, at Twitter or at Facebook or wherever, that is not a good development, you don't want Facebook to necessarily have that power. And if they do have that power that will be either captured by politics, or in by politics, I mean, either the left versus right, or just internal politics. This guy is politically ascendant, inside Facebook, and he has a certain policy and this other guy has a different view, or girl or whatever. And then due to the internal politics, one side wins out or the other. And it's just going to be unsustainable going forward. And in my opinion, that's what's happened. Like ask yourself this, Are we safer now? Or is there more truth online than before? Thanks to this whole content model, has it worked?
No, no, the answer is, of course not. And I mean, to the Facebook side, specifically, I mean, I think one of the biggest failings of the media and just a general multi year embarrassment on the part of the media was the way that we covered Facebook, in the wake of the 2016. election, I thought it was story after story that didn't hold up that said there was a moral Penguicon. And yeah, it was absolutely moral panic. And I think that actually gets maybe a little bit more to the specific mindset differences between entrepreneurs and journalists, or the media or whatever, is the assignation of moral intent. And who is like on the side of what is morally correct? Is it more moral to like, advance humanity and create new things? Or is it more moral to like, bring down the bad actors that they view as responsible for any of society's ills? And I actually think if you think through those two lenses, it's not completely incompatible, you just need to decide like, who is on the side of, you know, whether it's better to try to push things forward at all costs, or to kind of like sit there and ruminate over things and criticize people, maybe on good grounds? And it you know, I don't know, it's a tough one.
I mean, it's, it's definitely the case that there's a certain acceleration ism inside the tech world that by default, stomped on the gas, like, unless there's a good reason faster, right. And I think most people don't look, I think that's one of the unique inputs for the tech side. One thing I do want to clarify, just to finish up the thought in terms of my views on content moderation, because I the incident, like people have argued with including Stamos, by the way and other people in his organization around this whole issue. Yeah, right. And Rene, for example, I've had a bunch of screaming arguments over is that like, Oh, so you're a free speech absolutist or Absolutely, no, I am not. I am not at all. For starters, there again, there's the American Free Free standard in which if you invoke violence or cause violence or have Daxing, out, you go instantly. And then secondly, what I would call sort of common sense decorum, like no porn, no hyper violent video, obviously, going after child predators, right? There's lots of content that you would go after. And that, in fact, there's a whole chapter in chaos monkeys, which is basically a love song to the team that exactly that
huge categories. You're gonna be like hate speech. I mean, that is one of the key ones people are fighting over. I mean, the swastika thing. Daxing like these are all Elon is by facing all the things that people wanted moderated. And that free speech would allow. And so just invoking free speech over and over again and then saying, Well, of course you would want to moderate that makes it I just feel like the arguments have been disingenuous, why wrap yourself in American law, if you're not actually going to use that as the reference point, like, nobody is, Kenny's not going to jail for anything you said, like nobody's going to jail. Like right now you can go online and follow the Elon jet tracker things off Twitter, their legal.
Yeah, but in his case, and again, I really don't want to speak for him because it's not like I'm his lawyer. There was a case of from what I understand, obviously, I'm gonna forgive myself and actual in person harassment of his child, if they come after your family. It's a whole different story, right? I've got children, I think, my family, it would be a different story.
And that that speaks to the level that we've on the one hand, the Facebook side is sort of the bureaucracy, right, which journalists, myself included, you know, we're born to criticize the bureaucracy. That's sort of the funny thing. Normally, I feel like, that's sort of big, you know, anyway, where's the bureaucracy, but that's just sort of individual action of musk.
Oh, okay. But just to quote one thing that Eric, I mean, and again, this is I think one thing that distinguishes because earlier you were saying, oh, you know, the media is a cheerleader for tech. I think that hasn't been true in like 10 years since you know David Pogue was reviewing gadgets. And most tech reporting was like gadget reviews. Tech is
definitely negative. Now I don't want to miss tech report when there's interesting building and builders are doing it. Like I'm hyping up generative AI right now, people want a pod
tearing it down. Everyone should read my latest blog.
Like the media would love things to hype up.
Look at it this way. This, and it's a bigger conversation. I think the nature of journalism, capital journalism is actually changing in a big way. And that's what's really going on. And we're just talking about the specific, like symptoms that we see of it. But I think this business of accountability, journalism, speaking truth to power, whatever the man can quote, the car likes all the time, whatever it is comforting the afflicted and flipping the comfort rather, I don't know that that's sort of like looking at crypto, for example, the sort of media bar has tried to find hostile stories about crypto specifically about for example, Coinbase and American company that's about the squeakiest and cleanest crypto company you can name and the generational villain. The Madoff level scandal was like hiding in plain sight and in fact, got invited to New York Times conference in total right
here. By the New York Times conference. You're talking about the recent conversations. Yeah, yes. Aaron Ross Sorkin?
Yes. Well, I
mean, that was supposed to be like an opportunity. I mean, it was an it was an embarrassing moment. For him. He looked like a criminal spilling water on himself and lying, you know, and to a point that it was part of his indictment.
I mean, Coyne desk was I mean, the media embarrassed itself, and was blind FTX Oh, yep. said yeah, there's no I agree with you 100%. About but coin coin desk helped. flag it, you know, yeah, the media is imperfect. It's like an organ. It's it's just,
but coin desk is an industry rag. Right. Like they broke the story. Right.
Whether their media outlet. I mean, they're specialists. Okay. I don't we don't get any credit for that. I mean, it's just sort of
it's not the democracy dies in darkness people, right. It's a different set of people. Right. Yeah. Here's what I think is really going on. Okay. I think capital J journalism, and I've published pieces about this. And I'm not the only one who's observed this, but I think capital J journalism, the eight call it but I guess not almost a century of journalism, ad supported, which everyone thinks is evil. It's actually good in many ways in which you have relatively objective, both sides journalism, right, the sort of, you know, Woodward and Bernstein, you know, Watergate style stuff. That was a product of the business model. Macy's needed the widest, most nonpartisan, you know, audience to actually advertise with them. There's a bit of a logical stuff there as well. If you go back to 19th century journalism, of course, it was very different. It was more like it is now it's substack. Right? It's pamphleteers. It's, you know, an openly political press, which was right. And that model was both better and worse. In some senses, it was better in the sense that well, there's no pretending to be objective, which I don't think you can actually can't be as hard as you try. On the flip side, the political culture was way more volatile and violent than it was today, right? There wasn't this common? I mean, hell, there was a civil war in the middle of 19th century. Right. And so I think it's politically very volatile and dangerous to go down that road as well. Not that there's anything I think we can do about it. I think the old journalism is basically dead. And those who are pretending like it still exists, right? I don't think the New York Times even pretend anymore. They themselves have said they're basically a collection of juicy narratives, which is fine. That's perfectly fine. And that's really what most people would actually pay for most people actually don't pay for truth, unless your livelihood depends on truth, which is why the Wall Street Journal Bloomberg, ft are doing okay, because business people
between the New York Times and I worked at Bloomberg, I interned at the New York Times no loss of fuel both. I just think the tech people for this narrative want them to be so far apart. They're not so far apart. I mean, Bloomberg people successful ones go to the New York Times, like they're very, the pipeline of New York Times is through the wall.
I would say they're probably there's something different. They're different sensibilities. Yeah, I mean, you know, editorial direction. You know, I do think there is some sort of influence that a broader newspaper has. And it inculcates within the reporters to a degree that informs the narratives that they look for. I am sympathetic to that.
Yeah. What did you say Matt Levine's coverage of tech is rather different than Mike Isaac's for example.
Sure. I mean, they're they're totally different jobs. Yeah.
Different reporters different coverage. I mean, look, here's the here's the interesting thing. I'm glad that you picked up on the idea of juicy narrative. Because I do think that that is a huge part of what drives reporters to cover a story and it's one of the reasons I find it completely insane that people like David Sacks and other people on the podcast have this idea in their head that it is in reporters best interest to write nice and flattering and ask covering stories about SBF at this point, because you know, reporters are politically aligned with him because he's you know, a mainstream democratic voter. We are bias if they're if towards anything towards the juicy narrative, and a Bernie Madoff level downfall of someone who is clearly a character is going to attract any reporter no matter what I just don't buy this idea that reporters are looking to soft pedal anything to do with sandbank and fried because it suits their kind of political interests. I mean, he's a great story. There will be incredible pieces written about him by all the outlets that I'm sure the entrepreneurial class hates, because that's the bias the bias is towards a great story. So I don't I don't know but
it's funny. It's funny you mentioned made off, because I think one of the things that got published is actually coverage of the Madoff scandal specifically made off also made political donations, right. And the media actually pushed the politicians that they donated to, which were both Democrats and Republicans to give it back. And somehow there hasn't been the same push in the SPF case, although he was sprinkling money
made off got charged very, like, as soon as it was public, he was being charged, right, if I remember correctly, and I think part of the issue with SPF has just been these things evolve over time, people were defending Elizabeth Holmes, like tech people were defending Elizabeth Holmes post the Wall Street Journal story. And then it took a long time for that narrative to really turn. And I just think like, there's just smart positioning from people who want to be very critical of the media, who accurately said the media hasn't gone sour enough, fast enough. But it's just like it is going it now the media is just not gonna get credit for accurately recalibrating when their actual charges, which is sort of how humanity works, you process information and the mood evolves.
Here's a question, Eric, I'm going to turn the tables I'm, I'm the podcast, Captain. Now. I see the Captain Phillips thing. You know, it's funny, I often I don't I try not to get embroiled in these cultural war things as a like, they stress me out, and I find them kind of pointless. But I do think they reflect underlying phenomenon, right? Like in machine learning, there's this notion of what's called a statistics of a latent variable. So like you're measuring like, these categories, but actually, there's like another category, that is really what you should be looking at, that's actually driving the phenomenon. And the variables you're looking at are only weakly reflecting that. And that like, you're kind of wrong, if you're not looking at the underlying thing, total. So one of the weird, like binary latent variables that I find, and it applies equally, both to tech and media people, by the way, is I think I called it and what am I substack footnotes Institutionalists versus anti Institutionalists. And the idea here is that there are those who don't think there actually is a viable political Senate like small l liberal political center, and that institutions are not worth rescuing. And, you know, it's either all out political war in the ruins of whatever political life is left. And then by the way, let's just create fundamentally new institutions. And then there are those who, although they might be on the right of the left, they still believe in those fundamental institutions. And I had that thought with someone, I won't name her because I don't wanna drag her into this, but a noted journalist who is in our mix, right. And I realized I thought she was kind of in my camp. And then I realized that actually, they were an institutionalist. They believe in the institutions, even if they publicly have it out with US institutions. And I'm a lesser believer in that, in that the fact that there's a sort of viable center institutionalism, and it's where do you find yourself? Do you think there is a center with savings that the institutions are actually doing or no,
my college application essay was about how this is the most embarrassing thing I could reveal, but the person and saying what college you went to, and Macon, Georgia, you know, around Republicans, and so when John Kerry was running for president, I held up, you know, assign, like, friends, don't let friends vote Republican. And then by the time you know, the Obama campaign was working, I'd like cut off my ponytail. And I was volunteering for the Obama campaign, and you know, his high school state coordinator, for him, and in Georgia. And so it was sort of the evolution in sort of my personal psychology into more of Institutionalists. And I just don't see how anything is achieved, if not, through institutions, I think media is meant to, you know, I feel like the classic media store that the iconic media story, obviously still is bringing down Nixon with Watergate, which is sort of like the failure of institutions. But fundamentally, humanity needs to be organized. And I feel like the only viable alternative to the institutional thesis is this crypto sort of imagination game that you're gonna answer with. And like, it's not here there. What what is the non institution answer, like, Should we be critical of institutions? Absolutely. But institutions are the only game in town.
Yeah, no, I mean, it's good that you started the Watergate thing, because I've often like thrown that in journalist faces. Like you're all trying to be Woodward and Bernstein. I still think it is the Platonic abstract. It's the Aaron Sorkin movie line of like, institutions are corrupt. But ultimately, there's a happy ending. And they come through in the end, and the reformed is an American flag, right. And the crypto thing you're referring to just for reference, I assume it's like biology's network state type thing. Sort of. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I did a review of his book. I know Balaji, personally, as well. I'm a
theme of this will be the named and unnamed people that you're close. Yeah.
Well, it's weird. But whatever I it's, I'm trying to be sensitive, because I know these people. And you know, I don't like trashing people. And I like to network. So I think it's interesting idea, and you might be throwing shade on it. But I'll tell you this, I imagine there was a Bellagio and network state that encompass like the three neighborhoods in San Francisco that everyone in tech lives in, and the two neighborhoods in Miami, and whatever, five neighborhoods in New York, and like the urban archipelago of this network, say I imagined that actually existed and there was like borders and passports and checkpoints. Would you even notice? Or would you not notice because you've never left it? Right. And I noticed that in my life. I'm a little bit weird in that I've often had some weird, rural Redstate place to hide out and so I would cross the border occasionally. But most of I think our cohort wouldn't even notice it exists because they'd never cross its borders. And so sure it's easy to throw shade on the network state not existing. But functionally, it's already here, right in the sense that very few of your friends are our friends live in the flyover and have very different political views than we do are very different backgrounds than we do. And so that fragmentation is already here. And I think what Balaji is highlighting and Balaji is right about a lot of things and hyperbolic about other things, is that we've decoupled like how information I said this in more than one podcast, how information moves around and how we physically move around. And the political structures that govern our lives are now totally decoupled. Right? Like, this is a prism through which I reflect reality. And this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm in San Francisco, California, United States of America. Right. Yeah,
I want to make a very high level point that I want you to do it. Sure. Okay. I'm glad Balaji exists, like, definitely, fundamentally, I think people, elites are way too boring conservative, they don't say anything interesting. The McKinsey ification of the world is terrible. Like I'm against it all. I'm glad Balaji exists. But the problem that I see with tech is that then it goes from Okay, biology only needs to be right 5% of the time, 10% of the time to be interesting. But all of a sudden, these people are literally governing Elon is in charge, we're not applying the startup model. They want to apply the startup model to actual government, they want to apply it to the actual control of platforms. And they're, they're sort of, oh, we'll be right 10% of the time, but it'd be really interesting, doesn't work anymore. And they're criticizing the people who are trying to be right 90% of the time, and therefore are more conservative, you know, conservative, even though they're all Democrats in that they're trying to protect institutions and can't blow everything up every time.
Maybe, but I mean, this might sound like what about ism. But how is what Elon is doing a Twitter any different than what the Salzburg has been doing for the New York Times? For five generations? The New
York Times is one of the best institutions in America. I'll say that that's one we could argue that's where
we disagree. And some people think it should be put to the ground.
Is it is holding it is holding truth together your
Oh, is it now? Oh, I imagined that Mark Zuckerberg actually picked like his smartest seeming son as the next CEO of Facebook and did that for you know, what, is it five or six generations? Yeah. Would you be such a fan of that sort of dynastic
and savagery and timing nepotism rules all over the world? So but you
just accept it, you're fine with it? Do you think that a New York Times employee can criticize a Salzburg as in their internal slack in the same way that you could do it inside a tech company, for example,
Bloomberg definitely did not allow much internal criticism. And I think so many internal criticism doesn't really make sense. I mean, they're hierarchical institutions like, edit, like part of the value is that you have an editor in chief who sort of makes the calls. So I'm not advocating for open dissent. And I think there are plenty of reporters who are annoyed by the people who tried to hijack these organizations from the bottom up, I don't know,
I guess I'm less concerned about the ownership of the New York Times, then the worldview that it is comforting, and the lack of ability to challenge broader structures beyond kind of the most obvious institutions that it will write about. I mean, I think Facebook has been the most egregious example of that, to bring it all back to their coverage of Facebook. You know, 2016 election, the fallout of that The New York Times basically did two things. One, they sent a bunch of reporters to diners across the middle America, to have them interview random people and have them try to explain, you know why they did such a horrible thing, which is voting for Trump. And then they wrote a bunch of stories about how Facebook is also responsible for Trump because they allowed a small number of Russian affiliated actors to, you know, advertise on the platform. None of these are actually dealing with the broader rot that is happening in America that would cause people to take drastic action, like electing a completely unqualified person who had no interest in actually running the country. But the New York Times wouldn't deal with that. And so like this gets back to like, institution, I don't think the New York Times is like that. Maybe it's some result of it being a multi generationally owned family, you know, family business, that is a East Coast elitist view of what isn't, isn't acceptable speech, or it's just the nature of the subscribers and the readers of the play. Like I am somewhat sympathetic to this worldview, that, you know, the entrepreneurial class talks about with the New York Times, but I guess like, I find it so unfulfilling as an American to hear the solution to our problems as let's write a bunch of stories about obvious things rather than dealing with broader challenges. And it seems like there's very little interest in dealing with broader kind of social material challenges that are happening right now.
I rest my case, Tom, you said it better than I could. But I would go further and say that, yeah, if the New York Times grappled with Trump the way it did, is it perhaps because it could do nothing but look down its noses in contempt at those who actually voted for Trump for whatever reason, and that's why they couldn't ask the real questions of why that why that happened. And they'd rather blame $100,000 In Russian Facebook spend, which would never win any election any.
Right. Right. But to be clear, I don't think there were a bunch of other, you know, institutions in America that were doing that either, right. I mean, I certainly don't think Elon is Twitter. And this kind of half cocked idea of free speech and, you know, really just railing against journalists and I don't know, you know, Taylor Lorenz or something is any sort of actual response to it. It's just kind of like, participate Eating in a similar type of culture war, but in like a, an ad logically coherent way.
Yeah, I mean a lot of this. I think there's an unlock to American culture is actually what used to be called WWF when I was a kid or now WWE, right? Like this is all kayfabe. Right? Every every trial done in this podcast, and every tribe has its heel, right. And I often that's also part wider and participate, you can always find a tweet of some idiot on the other side, he's doing some stupid thing. And that doesn't really represent a trend or anything real in the world.
But one side, not to our side desperately wants to talk to your side and your sides. whole strategy is not engagement. Acknowledge that, like Balaji is telling people not to engage. We are inviting I email marketing pitches,
why why why engage? I had second thoughts about this podcast, I must have come on, and I'm gonna write you an email this morning. Thanks. Sorry, I
don't think we're having a productive discussion. Like, or at least like
how many times we've agreed Antonio,
we, we have the all the shame reference points, we see a lot of like, I feel like we should have taken a survey before like, what's your true or false this true or false? This just to see where we were before we came in?
I mean, look, I'm not a scientist about most things. And I'm definitely not like, you know, don't talk to any tech journalist. Ever. I, you know, my mother's a librarian, I myself wrote a book, you know, I think recording history and some drafts and others important. And it may not be within the rubric of like capital J journalism as it exists today. But I think we need to record history, tech is interesting. There's weird as shit that goes on in tech. And I think what I would encourage people to do at this point, rather than talk to reporters, is tell their own story. Like I think more tech people should write books, or have blogs, or address directly their audience. And it may not be seen through the rubric of the framing of what media has. But if we take away journalism as the thing that exists today, chronicling reality and having interesting viewpoints, I think is worth having. And so
I just think this model where everybody is just self disclosing, most people do not give honest portraits about themselves, like, would you want to consume that world like I would love, good conservative media, like actual like fact base reported? Scoopy? Like, I love a conservative outlet that delivers scoops just to show that they're actually trying to get information. But that doesn't exist. And I just don't. But But my question here is, do you really think you could get a good picture of the world if you weren't a super insider who already knew people personally in some area, get information from just people's self published work?
I think it would be different write a memoir, citing my own books, is, which is slightly douchey. But, you know, it was factcheck in the sense that I reconstructed it from emails and texts, and I tried to get the timing as correctly as possible. It was not something like lived experience piece of creative, you know, fiction. That said it was one view right and right, so proverbial elephant thing. So I think they need to be combined. I mean, look, when they need to be synthesized by someone, look, when any tech journalist reaches out and says, Look, I know you know about ads and attribution and tracking all this stuff. And like, I'm just trying to forget the story. Like I don't understand it. Can you just walk me through like, what's the most recent Apple privacy thing? You know what I got on the phone, and in good faith, try to explain it to the person I still do it. Like I forget the Financial Times Brian McKee or whatever he covers or Apple stuff. I've been a source on background or quoted or whatever, more than once. And it's it's precisely because yes, I or Steven Levy, for example. I've been interviewing him so
you believe in journalism does it say for fun on Twitter?
No, no, I interned at journalism as it exists today. I do not, I think chronicling you know, I don't I don't want to fight. Eric, I've often said it. I'm not really a narcissist. I just play one on the internet. This is why I
that I 100%. Agree. Not that aspect. But filtering all of this through Twitter is such a perverted way of viewing anyone's
seen what I earnestly believe on Twitter, but people I am saying
is what scares us, Eric.
Yeah, but I agree. I don't know. Like, I think social media like I retweeted Balaji today, right? He said, one of these classic Balaji isms, social networks to socially filtered tribes or something. Right. And I think what he mean, I don't know, I'm trying to interpret biology here. But I think what he means by that is like, the weird private groups that we're all in, that is a closer approximation to healthy social media, right? And that there's an there's an admin, we all kind of know each other. It's below Dunbar's number of 140, which is like the number of people you can keep in your head. It's like it's like a saner way of doing social media than I think Twitter, which is like a union of worst. It is like the worst part of like, you know, improvisational oral culture, and the worst parts of searchable textbook culture, and it's broadcast to everybody. It's just horrible
with with engagement mechanisms sprinkled in there that you can feel rewarded for, for outrageous viewpoints. I mean, just quickly on your book front, because you didn't, you know, you've written a book, everyone knows you for having written that book. It's very entertaining. But it also like later on, you know, was used against you, right? I mean, this was a situation where, I don't know how often you've talked about this before, but you were hired to go to apple and there was essentially, you know, a Slack led uprising against the fact that you were joining this company and it was filtered through the media in a way that maybe informed some of your viewpoints on on you know, the
Yeah, that's what the other guy said last week. And that's totally not true. I've been fighting with the media when that happened the other day. Oh, yeah.
And, by the way, I'm not saying this as some sort of, you know, damaging your person or anything like that anything I found, I found that whole episode to be rather frustrating on your part, I thought it was journalistic malpractice, or at the very least it was it was one of the elements of bad acting in journalism, which is basically taking any sort of internal information, and creating a story around that. And not every single thing that is leaked to you, as a reporter needs to be made into a piece. And
I Well, that's, that's what that's one of the problems with what I'll call the journalistic epistemology, like, how do they figure out truth, they necessarily have to talk to people who want to talk to them, right? And who is that person? It's typically disgruntled people. It's right. It's a crank, or it's an internal person who has some political battle, and they want to co op the media to try to advance their internal thing, right? Like, dude, I worked at companies and talk to journalists, I know, I know how to score. I know how the score was there. And you're not.
But that's why the noncooperation is so infuriating, because then it's like, well, you're making the media more biased against you. Right? Obviously,
like I said, I think journalists who actually tried to, like, help me understand how this actually works. I am happy to talk with and I think those who are trying to find a villain to cast in their little movie I, I agree, that should be totally an evolution, you don't
think things you don't think character driven? Like you wrote a memoir, like people are going to understand history through people, I think this idea, and this is part of the builder versus writer divide, is it they almost don't want it to be about people they want it to be about,
but because it's not about people care about people care about I know, I know, I know. And I understand it, and that's why the book is a little bit overwritten on the sort of saltiness front, in the sense that like, you know, you have to make it be this personal, like Hunter S. Thompson s thing, when really like, 99% of the book, and this what pissed me off about some of the code of the book 99% of the book is trying to explain how like, the media markets were great. It's like the nerdiest book that hopefully an entertaining way tries understand like, how does a company like Facebook decide to make money? It's not it's not easy, but any good? Yep?
Well, it just because I, you know, do you consider yourself a Republican? Or how much do you speak for them?
Oh, no, I don't talk. I don't address politics at all whatsoever at all? No.
I mean, well, then you can dodge this, or I don't know. But I mean, part of the challenge I feel like we face with the sort of conservative tech Elite is that
they're playing now there's a conservative tech elite, okay.
Are they're not, or you don't name individual people. So I'm just trying to, you know, I'm just saying Sachs and Marc Andreessen, or whatever, whoever that represents.
I think we trick ourselves into thinking a thing exists when we assign a name to it. That's what I think. What do you mean, you've just declared there to be this thing, right. And now there's this thing that we're talking about? It's hard to get polling. It's I'm not sure I'm not sure it exists present, like a view, the political donations inside fan companies as public record, you can look at it does it seem to you that there's some sort of conservative faculty?
So is the takeaway that we're sort of being the media has been hoodwinked by like paying too much attention to like, but my point was just the conflict between like the professed populism, whereas like, the actual sort of policy interests seems to be sort of low government intervention, low taxes. I mean, do you think there is genuine,
here's one thing I will comment and again, in a very distant, abstract, descriptive rather than normative way, one thing that I find it's interesting on the right is, and I think you're you put your finger on it, the traditional sort of GOP Republican was like, you know, small government, low taxes, like the Reagan Republican, and I think you're seeing the creation of capital and capital are new, right? That doesn't perceive itself that way that is more comfortable with using government authority to implement some agenda. And yeah, broadly speaking, sees itself. It's weird because it sees itself in revolt against some sort of elite that it doesn't feel it's a part of, right. And yeah, that definitely is novel. Right? That's definitely not the you know, I was raised in the 80s in Miami, and everyone loved Reagan and this is not that it clearly something has changed on the right and yeah, I don't I don't know where this is going. I don't claim to have an answer. But I think you're right that there is a big there's a big difference.
I wanted to ask you a question about advertising because that is a space that you professionally spent a lot of time in and I covered advertising for a while I think there's an interesting thing going on right now in terms of advertisers and where they play a role in the internet culture wars because you're seeing I mean this is all just about Elon and Twitter but you know advertisers pulling off of the platform because they view it as not brand safe and it's an interesting flip on you know reading about the way Republicans or conservatives you advertisers in the in the 70s and the culture wars then which is basically like they're on our side right they're gonna stop us the left from being too progressive because they're trying to sell the most number of products and you know the Democrats or whatever you know, the the leftist culture warriors, then we're pushing things too far from what mainstream America wanted. What do you think about you know, the internet advertisings role in like being a moderating force on either side?
I think it's to use Tyler Cohen language. It's an underrated Wait in the sense that I think people don't bring it up. I think advertising catches a lot of heat, some of it justified for sketchy data practices. But broadly speaking, the thought that, you know, media has gone to the shitter, because of advertising is like, not only wrong, it's like the exact opposite of the truth, like advertising is, again, I think we addressed this earlier in the podcast, is the thing that maintain this sort of objective, both sides journalism in which, you know, sure, newspapers had certain slides to them. But whether you were the New York Times, or the Cleveland Plain Dealer, or the Chicago Sun Times, you couldn't go to off the rails because Macy's or pick your Normie advertiser just wouldn't want to co appear with like, some radical opinion. And so I think advertising has been a moderating force. I think people again, who advocate Oh, subscription driven journalism is better. I encourage you to go read about the history of 19th century American journalism, and see or, you know, even further back that, you know, 18th century American journalism, Ben Franklin was basically in a non account ship poster who wrote under at least 20 different aliases, the whole Hamilton Berg. Well, the Federalist Papers, your Federalist Papers, it was a very pugnacious time, right. And at the end of the day, the customer gets what they want. And in the case of advertising driven journalism, that means fairly non inflammatory, even keeled coverage, which is what the advertiser wants. And in the case of subscribers, they want their worldviews echoed back at them in more articulate form,
but not to fuel the culture war. It wasn't the media that was saying clickbait journalism was the problem.
Yeah, I'm not I'm not finger pointing here. But but there, there is like a discourse that's like advertising. It's bad and its influence on the media has been bad. And I'm the other side of that
was just making a petty petty point, that clickbait you know, there's no accountability, like, we just get yelled at about clickbait journalism, like, you know, this is how internet fights start. It's like reporters experience, just getting yelled at constantly accused of clickbait when I'm working in Bloomberg. Yeah. And then it's like, it just makes you very hostile. It increases the hostility towards the text that when you're like, I mean, your ad to really broaden this. And I think what Tom is talking about is sort of like, the business model incentives of behavior. And I think often, you know, tech people want to talk about like the business model B, instead of behavior of their own businesses. But then media criticism isn't really judged through the same lens of business model.
Well, look, I mean, to put on my media hat, I guess for one, like, you know, split second. Yeah, I mean, a lot of tech people don't understand how media works, right. Like the clickbait thing. Again, Bloomberg, it's ridiculous, right? People, whatever it is, $2,000 a pop, just use a Bloomberg terminal. It's not about the clickbait. Yeah, right. Like, that's just not what, it's not what it is. Yeah, I agree. I mean, ya
know, but I've actually, my point was less about journalism here and more about social media. Because, you know, we've seen advertisers play a part occasionally, as a response to media outcry against platforms, right. I mean, you saw the ad pocalypse with YouTube, you saw, you know, whatever movement against Facebook. And in the wake of, I don't even remember which controversies that cause big advertisers to claim they were advertising on Facebook. And now we're seeing the same thing happening, not for the same reasons, but with Twitter. And a ton of advertisers are just pulling off of the platform. And I'm interested in your your take on whether because I don't believe advertisers are moral actors. I don't think for the most part, they are trying to advance some sort of moral cause I think they want to see where they believe the direction of the country is at and make sure that they are aligning their products with the most safe place for them to be, which you know, from, you know, from a broader cultural standpoint now appears to be a little bit more liberal or towards, you know, like a broader embrace of genders and identities and things like that, which I know a lot of conservatives are the people that are backing Ilan feel is you know, is woke, and it gets this idea of what capitalism and, you know, as you're seeing advertisers pulling off of Twitter right now, in response to this, you know, content moderation, free speech, absolutism, whatever that his group is pushing. What do you see is, I don't know, what is the role that advertising is playing? Is it a factor that you think that sides should be listening more to? Or are they just in thrall of like the woke leftists?
I mean, it's a good question. I think, do advertisers represent popular will? Are they trying to maximize the reach? Or do they express the will of a relatively small elite class that has certain values? That may not be the net may not be happy representative? I'm not sure. Yeah. I mean, brand advertising is a whole different beast than like the performance advertising that is typically worked on right, you're, you're trying to convey. And for those who don't know what that means, like performance marketing is like, buy this thing, right. It's like the direct to consumer as you see in your Instagram feed. And then brand advertising is some like snazzy BMW or Burberry ad that tries to convince you not necessarily buy that thing right now. But when you're in a financial position to flaunt your wealth, you'll think about I have BMW five series or whatever, right? And it's a very different, it's like vibes versus click on this thing. And a lot of brand marketing has always been a little bit, you know, not exactly a person of the people sort of thing. Right? Because you're trying to events, elite values? I don't know, I, again, I hate damning things right from any side like, oh, this monolithic them. But it does seem like there's a certain set of values that again, you see in the corporation, academia and media that have a lot more in common than they have apart. And it's, you used to have, like, to Eric's point about why isn't there a better conservative media? You used to have kind of right of center newspapers that were like, respectable and not intellectually brain dead? And you could and, you know, a liberal could read and appreciate, right? Like, who's left to the Wall Street Journal?
I mean, most reporters at the Wall Street Journal are liberal. And and like the economist is clearly pretty, definitely liberal by American standards.
I would say the economist is probably like, Institutionalists. And like, very Biden's it's very aligned with the Bible. I wouldn't say it's like, okay, well, but in an
even liberal, conservative term.
Yeah. The Yeah, I won. I'm almost like, fight with us more. I mean, one observation, I think, from this conversation, is that I do wonder how much of our problems are specific to where they happen, right, like, a lot of my frustration with the arguments they have is that they come in Twitter format, and that people basically take advantage of the fact that they can be withholding, right? If I'm a powerful person, I can put out one tweet, and my fans don't expect me to engage with every, like, reasonable argument. And so then I really no obligation to go back and forth. And so then we have these sort of just like spot, we have these statements with no real discourse. And I feel like it just fuels a lot of anger. I don't know, how much do you think it's a Twitter problem, rather than a cultural problem? Like, I don't feel so far apart in view with you like, or at least convinced me where, besides the New York Times, which feels fairly trivial to me, I've yet to be convinced that we're actually ideologically so far apart.
You know, the tourism and startup culture that most startups problems are not really technical problems. Although the founders tend to think that's what it is, it's usually human problems, right? There's a management problem, there's a product problem is something else. I do think I do think social media cannot be fixed, which is why I'm very skeptical of content moderation. And oh, the algorithm will fix things. Well, guess what, WhatsApp doesn't have an algorithm. And if there's been all sorts of fucked up shit, thanks to WhatsApp, right? There's, there's no algorithm there. So I don't think there's fixing it. That That said, I do think there's forms of social media that are more kind of humane and normal for the average use case than other ones. So like, again, like who thrives on Twitter, you have to be like a total narcissist, or the most disagreeable human on the history of it makes me angry, right? It makes you angry, and you have to like being angry, or you have to be so disassociated that you don't get angry, keep it like, right, you know, like, I've had conversations with people like Barry Weiss, to a lesser extent metaclass, he has mad TB. And they're very good at what they do. Right? Like, they're, they're like born to be on Twitter and drive engagement. I don't mean that in a bad way. Right? But it's like, Man, I cannot do what you do. I can not just get up in the morning, say a thing, and then get kicked in the face by 10,000. People.
You're gonna want to get out there, though. I mean, I don't know how much you try to mix it up and just throw bombs into the crowd, but you're pretty good at it. Like I would say, among the class of people in tech, who you know, are, in certain ways spokesperson of the mindset feel like you're out there. You know, you're, you got a lot of Miami stuff. I feel Yeah,
to me the perfect. You know, the perfect tweet to me is, it's a tweet that both pleases, or pisses off both camps equally. That to me is the perfect tweet. You can read it in both directions, and everyone gets pissed off. I don't quote, tweet and like dunk on people that match me very rarely. Yeah, I just I don't like playing the game. I think it's bad. I think it's negative Mojo.
Yeah, I agree. I don't know. I mean, I don't know what comes after it, though. And it seems like the alternative that we're moving towards, which is just smaller and smaller networks, is just going to eventually push itself towards even more insular thinking, right? I mean, maybe it won't be as angry, which is some sort of benefit. But if the at least there was some sort of exchange of ideas, I've seen a lot of Facebook, people arguing this that like, you actually are more exposed to other viewpoints on your on social media than you would have been? Yes. Prior to it.
I think that's true. There's a number of studies you can cite. And these studies can prove almost anything. But I don't think filter bubbles are real in the sense that I think the problem is that you're actually exposed to viewpoints that are diametrically opposed to yours all the time, right, and presented in the most like outrage producing way. I mean, again, the reality I think I mentioned this earlier, like disconnecting what we see and think and talk with, from the sort of bubble of community and the little border on the map that would typically have defined your linguistic and cultural and political boundaries. That's a real problem, right? Like the US used to be a lot more regional right. They Atlanta Journal Constitution could have its little editorial policy that flies in Atlanta, and the guy in LA never had to get pissed off about it. Right. And there wasn't some way to like, Oh, look at this stupid Journal Constitution. Yeah, yeah. And then then there's a cancellation or just dogpiling, whatever. Like, it was just hard to like I you know, I mean, we're all probably roughly the same age. And we're being raised in the 80s. If you wanted to read New York Times, like you have to find a copy was hard. Like, it didn't matter what the fuck happened in New York, you didn't care. There was no way to create that you were just defined by your little world. And we've we've strayed from that, and I think I have a very aggressive blog policy. I think, Eric, I probably had you blocked at some point. Sure.
I started blocking. I don't block like newsmakers, but I block their sick infants. All
right, I do it all the time. I have like a hair block trigger. And by the way, I've I've had people ask me like, hey, like, we had a misunderstanding. Can you unblock me? I'm like, Sure, bro. Like, let's just get over this move on. I do that all if I would, I wish there was was like a seven day block button like timeout. So I just don't have to see you for seven days. But then it's okay, we're back. Right? I think we have to recreate the walls. It's the only way to live in society. Like I don't want to sit here and argue the moral foundations society every day, with the entire internet like I just can't do it's exhausting.
It's exhausting. Yeah. And I actually find, by the way that most of the people that I've blocked over time are people that I like it personally. And when I see them acting a certain way on Twitter, and I start feeling negatively about them. I'm like, well, that's not how I actually feel about them. Can I ask you that? Because you are certain friends with certain people that do you know, quite publicly attack media and journalists, when you talk to them in person? Are they ranting about us? I mean, do they really truly spend their time offline being like these fucking guys?
I can't divulge confidences,
I'm not even naming names. I'm just saying like, Is that even a topic of conversation?
I mean, less than the other side probably thinks, but definitely more than zero.
Do you think? Like, do you think both sides are debating in good faith? I think they think they are what's your assessment of good faith, the failures and success are like when it's genuine and not perceived to be and when it when it's not like,
I mean, I'll refer to again, something I said earlier, which I think that the latent variable we see in society is between Institutionalists and anti Institutionalists. And when you say good faith, what you mean is, you and I, even though you might be one point in the political spectrum, I'm another we can find some common ground that we can discuss the thing. And I think the difference is some people think that can happen and some people think it can't happen. And I think that's the delta. And I think if you're feeling increasing radicalization, or like a hardening in the tone from the tech side, is because more and more people are giving up and ever having that common ground.
Yes. Okay. That's the most reassuring thing ever. But I guess as somebody who isn't, you won't let us talk about specific people. But if you're a techno optimist, shouldn't you believe that society can be fixed, therefore, these gaps can be bridged? Therefore, in speech, there should be an attempt to bridge them like that's the ideology, I can't connect. It's like you're a techno optimist. But you are, you believe in sort of doom and gloom about sort of human sort of us being able to be reconciled.
But but maybe nuking the journalist is the fix, right? If you're looking at it from their point of view, right, that, that that's the that's the fix. Yeah.
Do you believe that are like we Yeah. Which is, like, let's get what, I don't want to walk away from this. I feel like where we didn't, where you didn't really say your strong, truly held position, like, engaged with the actual journalist in front of you like, what is the what would the solution be? Get rid of just like, shut down all the papers? Or like, what? And what is the policy vehicle to get there? Or what's the way? What do you even expect?
Okay, I don't think anyone Well, the century some people would probably say that I don't think anyone would seriously entertain, like, literally killing the journalism industry, as it exists.
I mean, she talks like that.
Well, okay. You know, ball, she has his views. I think, I mean, the nature of journalism is changing. Like, we talked about it the Woodward and Bernstein model. I think it still can exist, like I see I see pieces even coming out of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but are still pretty good. Like I read, it's like, okay, like, you know, yeah, if I was a layman, this is a pretty good sort of summary of like, kind of what happened. I think it's rare, but it does happen. But I think yeah, the juicy narrative thing is what's happening, people that just want to see narratives and I think I would be satisfied if like, and you hear this a little bit in the Elan rhetoric, at least from what I've read, that like he wants everyone on an equal footing, like being a journalist, doesn't just let you docks people and show up on their door. It's like, I don't like where's the special like, I was, again, like a factor journalist who got paid by like respected Conde Nast publications. Where's my little special magic journalist card? Like license to docs thing? I am double Oh, seven license to dogs. Yeah, I can show up at your doorstep and nobody else can anyone else does it. Oh, and it's a threat to safety. But I do. You're defending democracy? Like what the hell? Why? Right?
We you don't? Well, I mean, I'm an interesting place, right? Because I'm not a news organization. Right. So what gives me sort of this journalistic principle is whatever sort of ethical sort of class status that exists in journalism and only that and And I feel like showing up at someone's door to ask them a question is like a great example here where totally if you just had some, I mean, if you had somebody show up, you're at your door. I mean, I think this is actually easy now that I think about it for one second, if someone shows up at your door, and they're not trying to publish a piece, they're clearly showing up as a threat, right? Like, what is your need to reason. Whereas if you're a journalist showing up at the door, I think people see it as a threat because they see the power of journalism. But obviously, it is actual sincere attempt to get comment, in a belief in good faith like I this is where the not believing that there's a real possible bridge makes journalism so hard, because there is like Bloomberg runs, and almost to my frustration, would run statements from the subject that I thought were like so flatly like false, that we shouldn't even like, give them error. But I do think media companies are bending over backwards to represent what these people believe, by going to their door and trying to get comment when they won't respond.
Okay, but you know, a lot of a lot of that falls into the so Sir, when did you stop beating your wife category? It's like, you can frame questions a certain way, and you frame a source a certain way. And that's where the journalistic bias comes in. I mean, again, but you have to accept that journalists have some sort of Crown like, Oh, I am on the fact finding mission. Anyone else who shows up on your door is a threat. And I think that's a hard dichotomy to maintain. When you have a media that's perceived as being extraordinarily biased.
Yeah. Oh, I, you sort of said in the beginning of this conversation. And this is where I can't quite square the circle, that like part of the value of ad based sort of shared media, is that we created sort of this collective narrative. And, you know, if you have that model, then you have people who are sort of empowered by society. This literally the first amendment, I had to look it up the other day, just to reassure myself mentioned the press specifically like it is part of the bedrock of America. He talks about all the Founding Fathers being writers like it, there is press, this sort of is a unifying force that allows people to see the culture through a shared lens. Like you just don't believe in
that anymore. No, that's not true. But But you, I mean, not not that I'm a constitutional originalist, but the press as it existed in Ben Franklin or George Washington time, sure, very different than the Bloomberg of today. That's the difference, right? And again, many would argue that the press that the founding fathers were thinking about is more encapsulated with what perhaps you're doing right now, with this podcast, journalists are more
supportive of me than your tech builders. Like let me tell you, I, I have not had the door open to tech builders, by being independent. It's exactly what did
they gain talking to you? They're, they're gonna get screwed, because they don't believe
they're not gonna get screwed, honestly, like, are you getting screwed? Like I am? Are you getting screwed? Like,
oh, but I, you know, I You're not doing a story on me. Right? Like, this is like
more trying to interrogate your views. That's what I do professionally. Like, yes, I'm happy to air the recording of Marc Andreessen if he wants to do the interview, but like, it's cowardice and disingenuous and like I respond, like, I'm begging you have an argument? That's what we're here for.
Again, why would they do it?
Because they see everything through strategic, a strategic lens and not through,
you've imposed that because I every CEO, and just like talk to any CEO, and they will have the story of when they got burned by whatever, Wall Street Journal WaPo New York Times, they'll have the I got sucked by the reporter story. And that's what sets the tone. That's why you're seeing it, what's the upside? If they want to address their audience? Are they you know, as a CEO, there's two reasons to talk to the media one is obviously brand building of some sort, establish a certain tone recruitment, etc. You can message those channels directly now why why would you need the journalist isn't the gatekeeper anymore? Is the reality. Sure.
Yeah. Audience their strategic lens, and then there's this earn it is the earnest key that I'm looking for on the right. That's why I feel like I'm in a strong position on this, like, yeah, this strategic lens, I've been all over the progo direct, you know, I I wrote the story about Andreessen Horowitz going direct, like, I totally understand that. But if people on the other side have sincere views, having them out, like you're doing here is part of it.
Okay. Well, I, you know, Bradley, one thing that I think is interesting is that this whole notion of like building and doing in public, like what Elon is doing with Twitter, the fact that he's kind of live tweeting this complete reboot, like whatever you think of it, the fact that he's actually like tweeting what's happening as it's happening is something that would never have happened in the corporate culture of 10 or 15 years ago. And for those who are fans of it, and he does have many fans, if you look at the replies, I think that level of directness, that freshness comes off as authentic and real and not fake and not stay home.
Sure. But no, I
mean, I think it's
his predictions about what happens in the future are extremely inaccurate. Well, Pete, but
you know, journalists have gone to the extreme against Elon now I think it's because because Twitter is such an open air debacle in In so many I think unassailably true ways or you know what I mean? Like it's unassailably true that it is a mess right now. But you know, is
it that but it's but they're dia user through the roof. And it's the greatest show to
them. I mean, he's he claims that they are we don't I haven't seen
anybody he leaked the deck slides and Casey Newton would have reported on the real numbers instantly from the Twitter Growth Guy. Had they been fake? Right? Like, oh,
I missed I missed that.
I mean, we can see report on the
numbers, say, Elon posted slides from what looks like a growth chart. And if they were fraudulent, which is what you were, you know, perhaps floating, then the real numbers would have leaked instantly, because there's a level of scrutiny being applied to Well, look, I
missed that. I certainly think like setting a car on fire is also going to get a lot of people gawking at it. And if your ultimate
revenue certainly down, right, are you questioning that? Like,
I don't know. I mean,
I was I was actually gonna give Elon some credit here. I do think that because there's such an extreme view on journalists part that he is doing such a certain job when running Twitter, there's this desire to throw everything that he's done to this point, you know, throw it in the same light. And I think there are reasonable people can make cases on the value that Tesla has given to the society broadly. And I actually think SpaceX, and specifically Starlink are like great, great offerings. And I can use that for personal reasons. So like, journalists aren't willing to accept that now because it's a great story to throw Elon under the bus. But,
right. I mean, Elon has been just a fanboy for one second, I mean, the most transformative individual of our time in the long range view of history between space exploration, and electric vehicles. Full disclosure, I own a Tesla three, I like the car a lot. That's been a transformative thing. And if anything, right, like, I think I want to joke that the Fermi paradox, which is this paradox, and like, why don't we see more human life in the universe, is that every planet evolves to the point where the most ambitious smartest person buys their version of Twitter, and then the whole society falls apart. And they never actually get to Mars because they get so distracted with Twitter, flame wars. And I hope that's not what happens with you. Because I would wish,
I wish there were more people making that argument honestly, and saying, Elon, you're trying to get us to Mars, why are you fighting with there are on Twitter, but not as many not as many as it should be like that because things have gotten so tribalist and defensive in the interactions there that I would feel like people that truly believe he is the greatest entrepreneur of all time, or instead saying he is the only free speech warrior in the world. You know, they're saying that instead of like, Elon, you should be focusing on Mars right now. What are you doing? I mean, I'm
gonna say saying extremely sanctimonious, which I'm sure you're think most of what I've said has been sanctimonious. But I mean, journalists are super biased towards honesty, right? I mean, they what's Oh, come on. Yes. The problem with Elon is that he's an inveterate liar he lies all the time.
Oh, yeah. And Aaron listed is just utter God's own truth do that's the
goal. Like you know, what?
You don't know if I'm on if I don't know if I'm with you.
I think that a lot of the hate is the spin around the manipulator
so many times over the course of decades. But like any any any like objective observation on this character would have been like, boy, Elizabeth Holmes does not seem like she's an honest actor. Up until this point, journalists are incredibly gullible we go, we're fucking
out there. If your goal isn't that aligned with like believing and caring about honesty, because you're taking someone at their word,
that's quite the rhetorical horseshoe. By the way. This reminds me where that NPR showed left, right and center where they had like three different people. Yes, like we've got this weird triptych going on. One thing you could do. And I know it's unrealistic. But you could get jobs in tech, for starters, right? Like one thing I note that I think is the missing bridge. It's like it's easy to opinionate. About and Pacific. What about tech, and I hate sports analogies in general. But when you're sitting in the stands versus standing on the field, and I think a lot of journalists want to name names, I think that they're kind of players on the field. And really, they're just loudest guy in the stands. And I think if they were ever in the position that anybody who's worked at any level of authority in tech, like, you're sitting at a little standing desk like this one, you've got some dashboard, and you're tasked with making that number go up into the right. And that number is some like complex thing around user engagement, monetization, content, moderation, whatever it is, it's some weird multifactor thing and a very real business and technical and political environment. And you have to grapple with that reality. I think, if a lot more journalists than just the commentariat because, you know, at this point, there's academics, there's substack, whatever it is, I think those people would benefit from being in that position, and understanding the difficulty of what that means to build something, to ship it, to monetize it to scale it and all the problems does imply and I think I wish we had more journalists who would do that.
I mean, to make a broad point on this, and I think it's very insightful point you're making, but it's it's a problem that has existed throughout culture, right. I mean, to think about Ratatouille, or I just saw the movie the menu, right? The restaurant industry bristling at critics, who really don't know how to cook aren't experts in their field is something that has existed throughout like art and culture where the creative class bristles At critics, but the public find the critic fight has at least in the past, found the critics necessary as sort of a vehicle to differentiating and are learning about. And so attack. I think one thing you're going to say, and I'll let you say it is, the tech maybe doesn't need the critics anymore. No, but to the, I feel like just is so powerful, that they're bristling at the critics is actually much more impactful to society in a way that a chef can sort of be angry about it, but then still still accept this as part of life.
So yeah, my response was not gonna be that critics don't exist, or that tech is beyond criticism. I mean, if even if you recast monkeys, it's a bunch of criticisms of tech and tech culture, kind of implicit professional critics. Yeah, well, yeah. And people have made this argument too before online, when I've when I've criticized media. I think the the fault in your analogy, is that the analog, the journalistic analog of the restaurant, critic, restaurant critic, is taking the users side or the eater side of the restaurant. And they're having the same experience that the consumer would have and saying, you know, I have a distinguished palate, I've sampled 100 restaurants, here's my take on it, because I'm an informed consumer. The analog to that is not tech accountability, journalism. It's what tech journalism used to be, which is mostly gadget reviews, and kind of being I'm a professional consumer of tech, like, what thing Do I buy? Or what do I use? And that's a very different flavor of criticism.
Well, I think a lot of the fights are over. I'm a professional consumer of content moderation, especially since these user the twit, the reporters are the ones getting harassed. And so they're like, Oh, I've thought about this a lot. This is how this company handles it does. This one does, you know, I mean, those are a lot of the fights about content moderation right now, and they are sort of professional consumers of content moderation,
but I think including and especially in content, moderation, the experience of being behind the dashboard and trying to do content moderation, that scale would I think be very educational to those critics. And if there's one thing you notice, among them, with the exception of Stamos, who I think was the guest before, who has been kind of in that seat, almost nobody in that class would commentariat has ever done it. And as a result, by the way, Stamos, I think is one of the most reasonable voices within that class.
Yeah, but I mean, the problem in life, and you know, I think there will be more cross pollination, I mean, the top tech sub sack right now who I adore this guy, gurgly rice, pragmatic engineer, was Uber. Yeah. And he gets all these scoops to drive and he's very negative on Elon. He's actually very culturally aligned, I think with the journalist class. But you know, he was in industry, and it gets him lots of scoops from developers. And I, I think it's great. So I want to see more than that. Of that. I don't think it'll solve any of the problems that you think. And I think the reality is that specialization, just like in tech is very valuable in reporting. I was an anchor on my elementary school newscasts, like there's such disrespect for how hard it is like, journalism jobs were dying, like, Do you know how many people from like the Crimson are like, Oh, my God, you actually went into journalism? I feel like that just crass like condescension, towards journalism, when it is actually, top journalism jobs are extremely rare. And so I think the idea that it's just like, oh, yeah, like, go have a totally different career, and then figure out journalism just ignores all this specialization that exists in any industry?
No, but if I can actually argue a little bit of Antonio's point here, I do think maybe what you're describing is not necessarily having a different career, but having like, at least an ounce of empathy of the people that you're writing about? No, because you know, it Listen to me, I think one of the most formative things for me as a journalist was the fact that most of my time was spent at a journalism startup at the information, which was not always a very functional company. Frankly, you know, I don't want saying this on the podcast, it was really tough early on. And I've as I've read stories that have come out about startups, and just saying, you know, this is a total catastrophe, I've actually been like, Look, I've been at a company that was tough, that had like a lot of problems early on, I've seen that you can get through it, I've seen that the feeling in the moment isn't the encapsulation of everything that the person who's leading it is and what the company stands for. And journalists tend to forget that they you know, you get the negative, you get, you get the critical sourcing from people at the company who frankly have an agenda doesn't mean what they're saying is wrong, doesn't mean that what they're saying isn't some element of the truth. But if you haven't experienced, at least in some way, what it could be like inside the company, and that there could be multiple perspectives. Not even just the CEO, but other employees there that feel slightly differently about it. You if you don't understand that, you're not going to be a very good reporter. And I think what we're what what I totally
agree, I mean, part of the problem is like, Yeah, I mean, it's terrifying that as a 20 year old, you know, with like, no experience in life, you're given a lot of power over powerful people as a journalist. So I accept that, that there's sort of, but some of that is just the like, if if journalism was like a very lucrative industry, maybe we would just right yeah, recruit away like the former CTOs. You know, like some of it is like an economics is important.
But here's the one thing I would push back on that and what I think maybe founders can understand Letter from journalists is that I've discovered over time, I don't think, at least founders, CEOs, people at a high level, their companies really always know everything that's going on. I think they're often extremely focused on the business that they're, you know, the money, they're trying to make the up into the right looking at the looking at the dashboard, all the things that you need to run a successful company. And they often have very little insight into anything outside of that. And so what comes off as like journalists, attacking them, can be legitimate criticisms by employees at their company, that because their company is so not functional, in a lot of different ways, they have no outlet with which to express it. And they take what I consider and Katie's talked about this in a previous episode, the fairly nuclear option, which is talking to a person they don't really know in order to make some sort of changes. Now, that's the most generous interpretation of someone leaking. But I do think it is the case. I do think it is the case more often than founders were willing to recognize. And I think it is a myopia on the part of executives not really knowing what's going on in their company. And rather than assuming that there is something that they could change and address, they sort of push it off on the journalists. And in many respects, we are just a mouthpiece for people inside companies that are that are, you know, airing grievances. And I think that's missed a little bit in the dialogue on the other side. Maybe you don't see that I was that was my most generous. Wait, no.
Snitches get stitches. Don't talk to the journalists who work at a tech company.
But we do. I do think the media criticism to just point out like, doesn't acknowledge that reporters are talking to sources, right. I mean,
sources Yeah, you
don't believe it? Like, do you believe that? Oh,
no, it's a lie. It's some guy who just somebody who just got canned or just suffered psychological reversal internally, and they're going in blabbing to a mouthpiece and you're presenting them as if that's fact and it just isn't, it isn't the entire picture. And I look and I'm as postmodern as the next guy. And I realized there's no capital T truth in human literature here. But you're just getting, you're just getting it well, you're just getting a hyper skewed view of, of, of what's going on. And you know, how you throw like, fact checking his value to be clear. Again, I've written fact check pieces before it does have some value. But the way to cheat in journalism is not to like lie and make things up that's like, that's too easy to catch and too dumb. It's the framing of the story. It's who you choose to quote who you choose not to quote, you know, there's all these various tricks you can play to give factcheck truth, a certain slant, and that appears in the world is truth. And the average layman has no way to cross check that because we're not insiders. Right.
I agree. 100%, with what you just said. Yeah. That said, I just think that, cynically, the anti media crowd is intentionally making the media worse by depriving their own voices to the media. And that's only pushing them closer to employee source and not budget if the reason that the public likes these stories is because there's clearly more appetite to understand counter narratives of what's going on, like
you think so actually, I disagree. I think the whole negative 10 Shorts tech, actually sours people, and they would, they'd rather hear, I don't know, the occasional positive story about it.
There's a reason Twitter's so negative. I mean, that's what travelers like, if it
bleeds, you're supposed you're supposed to elevate the discourse here, Mr. Journalist,
I am trying but I can't I mean, I honestly can. I feel like yes, I that's where it subtracts your advantage. But really, it's just like having excess profits. I mean, that's why media was great. In some ways before because they were so profitable that they could put values above profits. Yeah. Now now, there's squeezed
people forget newspapers actually used to make a lot of money, right? Look at the financials of newspapers up through like the 80s and 90s.
Because of the news stories, though, it was because of course, it was like, you know, the bullshit stories in the back of the paper.
Sorry, we'll let you go. But now this
can make one confessional. Can we go into confessional mode? Yeah. Something not that many people probably know about me. You know what my first job was in high school in high school like my first w two like actual paycheck I got.
Did you throw out newspapers or something?
You got to do for that. I worked. I worked on the city desk on newspaper. I was my first actual paying job was a journalist. I was at the Sun Sentinel, as a news intern on the city desk. And I'd go around and report stories on the ground back when you had police reporters listen to police scanner and they'd hear about the shooting go racing off back before the internet. And then the job after that was Miami Herald actually throughout the senior year high school. And then I originally picked my college based on journalism programs and the whole plan was becoming a journalist. There's a whole sequence of events how we ended up in the stem side instead. But that was my first actual paying job. There. Now you know, my secret there
and now you're full of resentment against That's right. I was yeah, what's
your what's your like? Rose?
bet no one was actually what
I was gonna ask like, what's your what's your moment that that turned you against journalism? Like, was there like a crusty reporter like in the Miami Herald who was no, you're never gonna make it kid.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, that the experience is actually super positive. I think one thing I think tech doesn't realize like back in the golden age of journalism, like a newsroom. I'm I'm sure you've had this experience probably worked out at Bloomberg. I worked
for Sun Sun. Oh, 1.0
Did you really? Yeah, intern? Yeah. Yeah. And like, the newsroom used to be an exciting place to be right? Because again, there was no Internet, right? Like, shit happen, right? And the people who knew about it, were sitting right there next to some guy would literally run out to report on a thing. And there was this feeling of you're in the center it almost like a trading floor. It was felt like this buzzy center of action. And you were part of recording the realities of life. And it was kind of very exciting. And that's that's kind of not journalism anymore. Well, I guess the New York Times is probably that way if you're actually sitting inside the newsroom, but, but things have changed a lot. Now. It's now it's tweets and subtext. Yeah, I feel
like in the world, there's a lot we don't know. Like, do you feel like there's a lot that needs to be uncovered? Or you think fundamentally, we're uncovering most of it?
Who's we the journalist? Is the world like, do
you think the world is sufficiently surfacing? Secret facts? No, of course, everybody that's desirable.
That's why I wrote chaos monkeys, because I felt Tech was so interesting. And it was being so badly reported, someone needed to write the book that like 100 years from now, people are gonna ask, like, what happened when humans like ported their brains online? Like what was it like? And I felt it you know, and obviously the completely narcissistic way that writers operate that okay, I'm gonna go right at least well, you're
only a narcissist on Twitter. I yeah, I feel like you're not being very consistent.
Well, that the artists temperament is a difficult one artists are terrible people by probably no.
My narcissism contains multitudes.
Well, thank you so much for coming. I feel like that's a great place to end. And as long as unless there's a last word you really I feel like I pushed you a little so if you You're, you're free to say anything you want. No, no. Thank you, Eric. Thank
you. Thanks. Thanks, Tony now Silicon Valley Goodbye, goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.