InfluenceWatch Podcast

The podcast where we go beneath the surface to reveal the web of connected influence, money, and motivation driving the news.

About the show

The podcast where we go beneath the surface to reveal the web of connected influence, money, and motivation driving the news, sourced primarily from our website InfluenceWatch.org, the Capital Research Center's online encyclopedia of the donors, non-profits, and influencers driving politics.

You can watch the video version of the podcast at: http://bit.ly/2rnQygY

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Episodes

  • Episode 230: The Dictatorship of Woke Investing: ESG

    August 5th, 2022  |  19 mins 40 secs

    We’ve discussed “woke capital” on the podcast before with author Stephen Soukup and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. But now we turn to a related topic: Environmental, Social, and Governance — "ESG” – investing. ESG strategies adopted by fund managers—perhaps most notably BlackRock—can place left-of-center social policy goals as equal considerations with investors’ returns in investing decisions. Making matters worse, some state pension funds are following ESG strategies that would leave taxpayers on the hook if trendy liberal activism cost the funds the returns they need to pay their obligations. Other states—most notably West Virginia and Florida—are taking action to prevent their state funds from engaging in ESG investing. Joining me to make sense of it all and to explore what can be done about it is Lee Schalk, Vice President of Policy at the American Legislative Exchange Council.

  • Episode 229: Agency with Ian Rowe

    July 29th, 2022  |  26 mins 41 secs

    We’ve heard a great deal lately about education in America, from discussions about school choice post-COVID restrictions to whether or not curriculum is being developed that helps children learn to succeed at something more than simply activism. Our guest today has a keen interest in all these issues and has written a book called, “Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for All Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power” (Templeton Press, 2022). The book lays out strategies to help children learn more about what they accomplish rather than what holds them back. Please welcome to the Influence Watch podcast Ian V. Rowe, Senior Fellow at AEI and Senor Visiting Fellow at The Woodson Center, as well as founder and CEO of Vertex Partnership Academies, a nonprofit charter school management organization.

  • Episode 228: The National Lawyers Guild

    July 22nd, 2022  |  19 mins 54 secs

    Who are the “Legal Observers” in green caps and vests who appear whenever the Left is engaged in a public demonstration? They are probably members of the National Lawyers Guild, a radical-left association of attorneys, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers. Joining me to discuss the NLG is my colleague Robert Stilson, who recently wrote an in-depth history of the group for InfluenceWatch and CapitalResearch.org.

  • Episode 227: Why Does Labor Care About Abortion?

    July 15th, 2022  |  25 mins 21 secs

    Were any liberal organization not to weigh in on a Supreme Court decision overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that invented a nationwide right to abortion, one might expect organized labor—ostensibly dedicated to improving workers’ wages and working conditions—to be that abstaining faction. If one expected that, one would have been wrong; Big Labor, in keeping with a longstanding practice of “social justice unionism” that sees it advocating not only for abortion access but for a broad left-wing social agenda, condemned the Dobbs ruling, placing it in an incongruous alliance with “woke” corporations now vowing that they will offer access to abortions as employment benefits. Joining me to discuss organized labor’s relationship with woke capitalism and social justice unionism is James Sherk, the director of the Center for American Freedom at the America First Policy Institute.

  • Episode 226: The Omidyar Nexus

    July 8th, 2022  |  17 mins 4 secs

    You know Soros and Steyer, Buffett and Bloomberg, but you may not be familiar with one of the most important left-of-center billionaires of all: Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Through vehicles such as the Democracy Fund and its affiliated “social welfare” Democracy Fund Voice, Omidyar supports left-of-center and anti-populist causes to the tune of millions of dollars per year that are increasingly in alignment with the Democratic Party. Joining me to discuss Omidyar and his advocacy philanthropy is my Capital Research Center colleague Hayden Ludwig, who has written a five-part series for CapitalResearch.org on Omidyar’s Political Machine.

  • Episode 225: What is the Taft-Hartley Act?

    July 1st, 2022  |  21 mins 55 secs

    Seventy-five years ago last week, the U.S. Congress overrode Harry Truman’s veto and enacted the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act. The law corrected imbalances of power among individual employees, employers, and labor unions that had emerged after the passage of the original Wagner Act in 1935 that had culminated in the largest strike wave in American history from 1945 through 1946. The law restricted “secondary” boycotts and strikes targeting “neutral” businesses, authorized the National Labor Relations Board to hold unions accountable for unfair labor practices, and explicitly recognized states’ powers to enact “right to work” laws that prohibit contract provisions requiring payment of union fees as a condition of employment. Joining me to celebrate the legacy of the Taft-Hartley Act and discuss where labor policy might be headed in the future is Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

  • Episode 224: What is Jane's Revenge?

    June 24th, 2022  |  18 mins 10 secs

    Since the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade, a wave of vandalism and arson has hit pro-life advocacy groups and crisis pregnancy centers that promote alternatives to abortion. Claiming responsibility for the attacks is a collective calling itself “Jane’s Revenge.” Joining us to discuss who, or what, Jane’s Revenge might actually be is Kevin Jones, a reporter for Catholic News Agency.

  • Episode 223: Anti-Trust Crackdown

    June 17th, 2022  |  23 mins 46 secs

    The actions of Big Tech companies—most prominently Twitter and Facebook’s decision to ban then-President Donald Trump from their platforms—have led conservatives to consider invoking anti-trust powers of which they have long been skeptical to crack down on these companies’ power. Joining me today is an advocate of that approach, Jon Schweppe of the American Principles Project, to make the case for an antitrust crackdown on tech companies.

  • Episode 222: The Chalkboard Review

    June 10th, 2022  |  23 mins

    After teachers unions staked their political positions and the future of public education on keeping schools closed—excuse me, open for virtual learning—and students in masks, a “parents revolt” has erupted nationwide, with parents and their advocates taking a greater interest in schooling issues. Some in the education field have also become alarmed at ideologically charged teaching influenced by critical race theory and the “learning loss” experienced by students as a result of the COVID lockdowns. Covering these and other issues is the website Chalkboard Review; joining me to discuss the project and key issues in education is Tony Kinnett, co-founder and executive director of Chalkboard Review.

  • Episode 221: Anti-trust and Distrust

    June 3rd, 2022  |  16 mins 40 secs

    The actions of Big Tech companies—most prominently Twitter and Facebook’s decision to ban then-President Donald Trump from their platforms—have led conservatives to consider invoking anti-trust powers of which they have long been skeptical to crack down on these companies’ power. Joining me today is a skeptic of that approach, Paul Steidler of the Lexington Institute, to discuss the case against an antitrust crackdown on tech companies.

  • Episode 220: Ep. 220: Dictatorship of Woke Capital

    May 27th, 2022  |  21 mins 48 secs

    Last year, we had author Stephen Soukup on the podcast to discuss his book The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business. In recent months, “woke capital” has taken a few major hits: heterodox billionaire Elon Musk has bid to purchase Twitter with a promise to expand free speech on the platform, Florida’s state government responded to an intervention in social policy by Disney by stripping it of a special local governance privilege, and Netflix all but told “woke” employees that if they didn’t like the company’s producing content they disagreed with, they could take a hike. We welcome Stephen back to discuss where woke capital is, where he sees it going, and whether this pushback is the start of a trend.

  • Episode 219: How Teachers' Unions are Failing our Students

    May 20th, 2022  |  20 mins 56 secs

    By fighting to keep schools closed—excuse me, open for virtual learning—for a full year in the jurisdictions in which they hold the most power, teachers unions sought to expand their power. Now public-school enrollments are tumbling and evidence is piling up that the school closures harmed students’ mental health and expanded the racial achievement gaps the unions claim to seek to close. Joining me to discuss the teachers unions’ attempts to spin their school closures and her organization’s efforts to counter their influence is Ashley Varner, vice president of communications and federal affairs for the Freedom Foundation.

  • Episode 218: Civil Asset Forfeiture

    May 13th, 2022  |  22 mins 59 secs

    Hello I’m Michael Watson and this is the InfluenceWatch Podcast. In much of the country, the cops can take your stuff even if they aren’t able to convict you of a crime through a process known as civil asset forfeiture. This week’s guest, Scot Turner, executive director of the advocacy group Eternal Vigilance Action, tried to fix this when he was serving in the Georgia State Legislature; today he joins us to discuss asset forfeiture, how he tried to reform it, and the obstacles to protecting due process and the Fourth Amendment.

  • Episode 217: The SCOTUS Leak

    May 6th, 2022  |  35 mins 29 secs

    Join our host, Mike Watson, as he, Sarah Lee, and Ken Braun discuss the unprecedented SCOTUS leak that happened earlier this week.

  • Episode 216: Governing for Impact

    April 29th, 2022  |  15 mins 53 secs

    Join our host, Mike Watson, as he interviews CRC Investigative Researcher, Parker Thayer, about his latest discovery. It's a leftist group funded by George Soros: Governing For Impact.

  • Episode 215: States Newsroom's Latest Frontier

    April 22nd, 2022  |  20 mins 13 secs

    Must Read Alaska writer, Suzanne Downing, joins host Michael Watson on a discussion about Arabella's latest venture with the States Newsroom in the Last Frontier State. Just a reminder to our listeners that as a 501(c)(3), our mission is to investigate those working to influence the public policy process, not weigh in on election outcomes or support or oppose individual candidates.