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, 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:

InfluenceWatch Podcast on social media


  • Episode 142: California Proposing a Major Tax Hike

    October 23rd, 2020  |  22 mins 11 secs
    california, conservative, culture, economy, law, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, prop 13, prop 15, right, ronald reagan, society, tax hike, taxes, voters, voting, woke

    In this episode: For over forty years, residential and commercial property taxes in the State of California have been limited by a law known as “Proposition 13,” passed by voters in response to skyrocketing tax bills from steadily increasing property-value assessments. But while California—which hasn’t had a Republican “trifecta” control of its government since Ronald Reagan was governor—was never the blood-red state of partisan Republican memory, changes in its dominant industries (less gritty defense manufacturing, more “woke” information technology), an exodos of its middle classes in response to skyrocketing housing costs, and international immigration patterns that select for the most socialist-leaning immigrants (compare the voting patterns of Hispanics in California with Hispanics in Florida), liberals see an opportunity to break the dead hand of Howard Jarvis with 2020 Proposition 15, a measure to repeal the limitations on commercial property tax. Joining us to discuss the ballot measure, the special interests behind it, and the possible effects the measure could have on California is Capital Research Center’s Research Specialist, Robert Stilson.

  • Episode 141: Big Money Politics (with guest Joe Schoffstall)

    October 16th, 2020  |  14 mins 51 secs
    2020, arabella, conservative, culture, dark money, dc, economics, funding, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, right, society, washington, writer

    In this episode: We talk about the Capital Research Center’s new report on Arabella Advisors, The Shadow Over America, which details a little-known $635 million “dark money” network and is a follow-on to our report from last year, Big Money in Dark Shadows, that initially charted the massive Arabella empire. Joining us today is the report’s author, CRC’s Hayden Ludwig, and another expert on Arabella and the activist Left in general, Joe Schoffstall, a writer for the Washington Free Beacon.

  • Episode 140: The Russia Collusion Archive (with guest Ken Braun)

    October 9th, 2020  |  27 mins 23 secs
    2016, conservative, election, fbi, hoax, investigation, journalism, justice department, left, liberal, libertarian, mass media, media, politics, progressive, right, robret mueller, russia, russia collusion, russiagate, society, trump

    In this episode: For two years former FBI Director Robert Mueller, acting as a Justice Department special prosecutor, conducted an investigation to determine if “individuals related to the Trump campaign are witting of or coordinating activities with the government of Russia related to the 2016 presidential election.” Despite breathless media speculation about the inevitable forthcoming proof of “Russian collusion,” none arrived. Joining us today is CRC’s Ken Braun, to discuss his work collecting and digging through the many key figures, breathless speculators, and clueless G-men for CRC’s Trump/Russia Hoax Archive. We will discuss background to the archive, some of the highlights of it, some of the highlights from it, and take-aways about the Russia investigation and what it tells us about federal law enforcement.

  • Episode 139: Illegal Ballot Harvesting (with guest John.Hinderaker)

    October 5th, 2020  |  19 mins 23 secs
    ballot harvesting, conservative, john hinderaker, left, liberal, libertarian, mail-in-voting, minnesota, populist, progressive, right, think tank

    In this episode: We are joined by John Hinderaker, Minnesotan and President of the Center of the American Experiment, a free market think tank holding the line against the state’s historic populist tendencies. We’ll discuss the Project Veritas allegations of illegal ballot harvesting Minnesota, ruminate on how true defunding the police has never been tried, and talk a little bit about Big Labor in the state.

  • Episode 138: The 2020 Dark Money Influencer They Won’t Tell You About

    September 25th, 2020  |  29 mins 50 secs
    big labor, conservative, culture, dark money, election, fox news, ginsburg, healthcare, justice, labor, left, liberal, libertarian, nonprofit, politics, progressive, project, right, society, supreme court, unions

    In this episode: We sit down to hash out some of the issues of the day as they relate to the research and work CRC is currently engaged in.

  • Episode 137: Shadow Over America (with guest Kevin Mooney)

    September 18th, 2020  |  13 mins 43 secs
    conservative, culture, dark money, funding, left, liberal, libertarian, nonprofit, philanthropy, politics, progressive, right, society

    In this episode: Hayden Ludwig, an investigative researcher at the Capital Research Center fills in for Mike Watson. With us today is Kevin Mooney, a reporter for the Daily Signal and the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania. We’ll be discussing CRC’s new report, The Shadow Over America: Arabella Advisors’ $635 Million Empire, pulling back the curtain on a vast web of liberal “dark money” influencing the 2020 election—right here in Washington, DC.

  • Episode 136: Ford Foundation and The Radical Left (with guest Sloan Rachmuth!)

    September 11th, 2020  |  20 mins 36 secs
    blm, conservative, culture, ford, foundations, left, liberal, libertarian, progressive, protests, right, riots, society, violence

    In this episode: In recent weeks we have covered the actions of Big Philanthropy, and for most of the modern history of philanthropy there has been no bigger force than the Ford Foundation. Today, we are joined by Sloan Rachmuth, Executive Director of Pen and Shield Media, to discuss the foundation’s recent activities supporting the rise of the radical Left, the history of the Ford Foundation, and what ought to be done about Big Philanthropy.

  • Episode 135: Today's Woke-Progressive Infiltration (with guest Naomi Schaefer Riley!)

    September 4th, 2020  |  19 mins 12 secs
    activism, aei, bagman, business, capitalism, conservative, dark money, donor, donors, ford, foundations, funding, george floyd, influence, intent, iwf, left, left-wing, liberal, libertarian, major institutions, money, naomi schaefer riley, philanthropy, police, progressive, public policy, research, right, rockefeller

    In this episode: Since the initial demonstrations following the police-custody death of George Floyd, foundations have pledged over one billion dollars to support efforts to combat alleged “systemic racism.” In practice, that means more foundations have followed the path of the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts and abandoned the business-friendly pro-capitalist outlooks of their founding donors and adopted the socialist and woke-progressive outlooks of their current year managers. Joining us to discuss this consistently troubling development this week is Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. We discuss the recent turn toward left-progressive activism at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the broader problem of Big Philanthropy dishonoring donor intent, and what can be done about it.

  • Episode 134: Big Philanthropy and the Professional Left

    August 27th, 2020  |  27 mins 17 secs
    advocacy, conservative, culture, foundations, giving, jerry falwell, left, liberal, libertarian, logistics, nonprofit, philanthropy, politics, progressive, research, resources, right, society, steve banning, strategy

    In this episode: They say that in warfare, amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics. With that in mind, I’m joined by Mike Hartmann, Capital Research Center Senior Fellow and Director of CRC’s Center for Strategic Giving to talk advocacy logistics, specifically the multi-billion-dollar world of private foundations that sustains much of the Professional Left, the position of the Right in advocacy resources and the effects of the falls of Steve Bannon and Jerry Falwell on those resources, and what is to be done about the advantages Big Philanthropy gives the professional Left.

  • Episode 133: The MSNBC “Cheesecake” Republicans

    August 21st, 2020  |  27 mins 14 secs
    american, conservative, culture, democrat, democratic, left, liberal, libertarian, lincoln project, political parties, politics, progressive, republican, right, russia, russia hoax, russia investigation, society, state, super pac, trump

    This week I’m joined by my colleague Sarah Lee to discuss how recent developments in the investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators illustrates the problems with the administrative state, ask how American political parties might work to improve the quality of their nominees and what they stand to gain from doing so, and investigate the Lincoln Project, a Democratic SuperPAC with pretentions of being more than that.

  • Episode 132: George Soros Turns 90!

    August 14th, 2020  |  9 mins 17 secs

    In this episode: In this episode: Ninety years ago this week, George Soros was born; in the last year for which data are available, he spent $708 million through his two principal Open Society Foundations, mostly on left-progressive activism. Today, I’m joined by my Capital Research Center colleague Shane Devine, who joined us earlier this year in Episode 115 to discuss the left-progressive billionaire’s philosophical and political testament, In Defense of Open Society, as we look on Soros’s life and philosophy, his philanthropic and political legacy, and the people who will follow in his footsteps.

  • Episode 131: Confronting Big Labor

    August 6th, 2020  |  17 mins 58 secs
    big labor, conservative, culture, fight for $15, foundations, labor unions, law, left, liberal, libertarian, minimum wage, politics, pro act, progressive, right, unions

    In this episode: If it walks like a labor union, talks like a labor union, acts like a labor union, and is funded by labor unions is it a labor union? That is the question our guest Max Nelson, Director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation, is asking about Working Washington. A Service Employees International Union front group active in the state of Washington. Freedom Foundation, alongside the Center for Union Facts, filed a complaint with the Department of Labor. They asked the labor department to regulate Working Washington as a labor union because it advocates for changes in workers’ wages, hours, and conditions of employment while taking over fifteen and a half million dollars from labor unions.

  • Episode 130: Exploiting COVID-19

    July 31st, 2020  |  27 mins 1 sec
    2020, big labor, california, cares act, congress, conservative, coronavirus, covid-19, culture, election, left, liberal, libertarian, pandemic, politics, progressive, right, society, union, vote by mail, vote-by-mail

    In this episode: With the world upside down, we are trying something new this week. Sarah Lee, Communications and External Relations Director at CRC, interviews this podcast’s regular host Michael Watson on the coronavirus lockdown and what we can expect in the future. We discuss school closures, union power grabs and more!

  • Episode 129: The Hurdles of Re-Opening Schools

    July 23rd, 2020  |  11 mins 43 secs
    conservative, coronavirus, covid-19, debate, left, liberal, libertarian, lockdown, pandemic, politics, progressive, right, school, science, teachers, union, utla

    In this episode: The demands are clear, government run Medicare for all, state welfare taxes and income tax hikes, and defunding the police. Those are just three of the demands that one teacher’s union, United Teachers Los Angeles, have set out as conditions to return to classrooms this fall. We are joined by Daniel Desalvo, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and professor of political science at the City College of New York, to discuss the ongoing debate over schools in the fall and the role teachers’ unions in keeping them closed, and keeping cities under lockdown.

  • Episode 128: The Far-Left Uses Pandemic for Socialized Housing

    July 17th, 2020  |  9 mins 28 secs
    conservative, coronavirus, covid-19, culture, foundations, housing, left, liberal, libertarian, pandemic, politics, progressive, right, socialism, unions

    In this episode, we look at Marxist-inspired organizations looking to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to fundamentally transform America’s largely private housing market, we expose the institutional foundation behind the curtain of the national pro-abortion movement, and we take a 30,000-foot view of the rising militancy of Big Philanthropy and how it powers the broader Left.

  • Episode 127: Slay the Dragon: Redistricting Myth

    July 10th, 2020  |  21 mins 18 secs
    conservative, culture, democrat, film, gerrymandering, grassroots, left, liberal, libertarian, michigan, movie, political, politics, progressive, redistricting, republican, research, right, society

    In this episode: The message of the film Slay the Dragon is simple, straightforward, and honest: A grassroots movement of Michigander “Voters Not Politicians” outspent by an incalculable margin won a huge victory to defeat evil Republican plots to ensure minority rule. However, that third epithet—honest—cannot be supported by the tangled web of myths, misinformation, and political ignorance that Slay the Dragon puts before viewers. Today, I’m joined by Capital Research Center’s resident Michigander, my colleague Ken Braun, who wrote a four-part series detailing the myths and flaws of the film for Capital Research Dot Org.