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 169: A Democrat Takeover of Election Law? (with guest J. Christian Adams)

    May 14th, 2021  |  13 mins 8 secs
    bills, congress, conservative, elections, ideas, independent, law, left, libertarian, politics, progressive, right, senate, society, unions

    In this episode: In this Congress, bad ideas don’t die—they get marked up by the Senate Rules Committee. And this week it was the turn of S 1, the Senate companion to HR 1, the Democrats’ federal-election-takeover legislation. Joining us today to discuss the potential consequences of HR1/S1 should they pass is J. Christian Adams, right-leaning elections lawyer extraordinaire.

  • Episode 168: The CDC and Lockdown Collusion

    May 6th, 2021  |  16 mins 30 secs
    cdc, conservative, culture, education, fee, guidance, kerry mcdonald, left, liberal, lockdowns, right, schools, society, unions

    In this episode: The hard lockdownists and their allies in the Biden administration repeat the mantra as often as a chanting monk: “Follow the science,” invariably before proposing some policy that continues the ongoing tyrannies ostensibly intended to reduce the burden of COVID-19. But what happens when the science conflicts with the permanent lockdowns, as it does over school closures? Then stakeholders get involved, and the science need not be followed. That is exactly what happened when the CDC issued its guidance that supposedly would lead to school reopenings, which conflicts with the teachers’ unions position of “lockdown today, lockdown tomorrah, lockdown for-evah.” The New York Post and center-right group Americans for Public Trust obtained emails under an open-records request showing that the CDC and the American Federation of Teachers collaborated on issuing unnecessarily restrictive reopening guidance, with at least two of the union’s proposals being issued by the CDC nearly verbatim. Joining us to discuss this special-interest influence is Kerry McDonald of the Foundation for Economic Education.

  • Episode 167: Understanding China's University Influence

    April 29th, 2021  |  18 mins 37 secs
    america, ccp, china, confucius institutes, conservative, culture, education, foreign influence, funding, left, liberal, libertarian, nonprofits, politics, progressive, propaganda, rachelle peterson, radicalism, right, sarah lee, society, universities

    In this episode: CRC’s Communications and External Relations Director Sarah Lee interviews National Association of Scholars Senior Research Fellow Rachelle Peterson about her work related to the Confucius Institutes, ostensible Chinese cultural education centers that function as propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party. NAS has been following the Confucius Institutes for years, observing how their funding by organizations and individuals tied to the CCP, and how they’re possibly beginning to rebrand themselves in light of recent criticism. The subject of American radicalism, donor privacy, and the role of nonprofits in national security all discussed. Check out both NAS’ and CRC’s work on the subject of Confucius Institutes and foreign funding of American nonprofits.

  • Episode 166: Foreign Billionaire Influences American Policy

    April 23rd, 2021  |  16 mins 37 secs
    billionaire, charity, conservative, environmental, foreign, left, liberal, libertarian, media, news, nonprofits, philanthropy, politics, progressive, right, swiss

    In this episode: Federal law prohibits foreign nationals, except holders of permanent resident (or “green card”) status, from making political contributions in federal elections. But foreign billionaires are free to spend whatever they like on news organizations and advocacy groups that otherwise influence American public policy, and that brings us to Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss, the major environmentalist donor who just dropped a bid to buy the Chicago Tribune and turn the paper into a clone of the Washington Post, another national-level liberal propaganda outlet. But a funny thing happened on the way to a Midwestern #Resistance media outlet: the New York Times exposed Wyss’s agenda and he dropped his bid for the Tribune. Joining us to discuss Wyss, the brouhaha, and Wyss’s other projects is my colleague Hayden Ludwig.

  • Episode 165: Is the PTA a Teachers Union Stooge?

    April 16th, 2021  |  24 mins 38 secs
    closures, conservative, covid, covid-19, left, liberal, libertarian, nea, pandemic, parents, progressive, pta, public school, right, school, teachers, unions

    In this episode: We have covered extensively the prolonged and unprecedented closures of schools ostensibly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which continue to see teachers unions insist, even when their members receive vaccination priority or when school districts conduct extensively disruptive “pandemic theater” like closing for deep cleaning that even the teachers-union, er, “stakeholder” compromised CDC has concluded is unnecessary, that in-person schooling is “unsafe,” without evidence. Parents seeking to raise pressure with school officials to reopen schools might have considered turning to the “Parent-Teacher Associations”—PTAs—the largest organizations supposedly representative of parents’ interests, but as our guest Luke Rosiak of the Daily Wire has documented, the PTAs are in fact deeply intertwined with the teachers unions and often function as little more than appendages for the far-left advocacy of Big Labor.

  • Episode 164: Baseball, Philanthropy, and Politics

    April 9th, 2021  |  18 mins 46 secs

    In this episode: Last week, Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest of Georgia election-administration legislation that would make the state’s voter access more liberal than the pre-COVID status quo; in the eyes of Democratic activist and former gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams—who, presaging the actions of another prominent Georgia election-loser of a different political party, never formally conceded the legitimacy of her defeat to Gov. Brian Kemp—this amounted to “Jim Crow Two,” so the game had to go. (For the record, Abrams denies encouraging a boycott.) Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred—previously best known as the architect of such crimes against the National Pastime as the universal designated hitter and starting extra innings with a runner on second base—is only the latest corporate figure to push a left-progressive social agenda from his perch as a 21st-century captain of industry; Big Philanthropy has long been a leftist bastion and Big Business has increasingly deferred to left-wing activists through Environmental, Social, and Governance—E S G—investing. Joining us to discuss the rise of “woke capitalism,” the centralization of “Big Philanthropy,” and what can be done about them, is Howard Husock, senior executive fellow of the Philanthropy Roundtable.

  • Episode 163: Responding to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

    April 5th, 2021  |  20 mins 18 secs
    conservative, constitution, culture, donor, hr 1, left, liberal, libertarian, media, politics, privacy, progressive, right, rights, senate, whitehouse

    In this episode: We’ve discussed H.R. 1 before, see episode 161 with Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshal, and it is important enough to discuss it again. Joining us today is Capital Research Center president Scott Walter to discuss donor disclosure and his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights.

  • Episode 162: Dragging Hollywood Even Further Left

    March 26th, 2021  |  19 mins 54 secs
    billionaire, communism, conservative, culture, hollywood, ken braun, left, liberal, participant media, politics, propaganda, right, socialism

    In this episode: It’s a tale so old it’s a cliché: The left-wing liberal Hollywood glitterati. But even the “normal” levels of bat-guano leftism from the hills above Los Angeles isn’t enough for some people, so at least one liberal billionaire built his own movie studio to make Hollywood even more of a left-wing propaganda outlet. Joining us to tell the story of Participant Media, that billionaire, and the push to make Hollywood even more of a den of left-wing champagne socialist hypocrites is Capital Research Center's colleague Ken Braun.

  • Episode 161: What Would H.R. 1 Mean? (with guest Steve Marshall)

    March 18th, 2021  |  12 mins 13 secs
    alabama, american, attorney general, california, congress, conservative, culture, democrat, labor, left, legislation, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, republican, right, society, steve marshall, stimulus, unions

    In this episode: H.R. 1: It might be the most consequential piece of legislation before the Congress this year—and that’s saying something in year when Congressional Democrats have already spent $1.9 trillion and advanced a fundamental restructuring of American labor relations. But what does this partisan-Democratic proposal to turn all American elections into copies of California’s often-criticized system mean? Joining us is Steve Marshall, the Attorney General of Alabama and one of twenty state attorneys general who signed a letter to Congressional leaders (that we will include in today’s show notes) opposing large sections of H.R. 1.

  • Episode 160: The Worst Bill in Congress: The PRO Act (with guest Edwin Egee)

    March 12th, 2021  |  30 mins 11 secs
    biden administration, big labor, congress, conservative, culture, democrat, ed egee, filibuster, house of representatives, left, legislation, liberal, libertarian, national retail federation, pro act, progressive, republican, right, senate, society, unions, workers

    In this episode: This week, the U.S. House of Representatives again advanced the odious catalog of Big Labor favors known as the “PRO Act” on a nearly party-line vote. While the legislation will likely stall in the Senate as long as the legislative filibuster remains in effect, the proposal remains a priority of the Biden administration, leaving Big Labor’s Sword of Damocles hanging over American workers and American businesses for at least the remainder of this Congress. Joining us to discuss the threat posed by the legislation is Ed Egee, vice president for workforce development at the National Retail Federation.

  • Episode 159: Standing Up to Woke Capital (with guest Stephen Soukup)

    March 5th, 2021  |  26 mins 48 secs
    book, business, conservative, culture, democrat, dictatorship, esg, investing, left, liberal, libertarian, money, political correctness, politics, progressive, republican, right, society, stephen soukup, wall street, woke

    In this episode: We welcome Stephen Soukup, author of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business to discuss…well, woke capital and how political correctness captured big business. (Isn’t it helpful when a book does exactly what it says on the cover?) Soukup is publisher and vice president of the Political Forum, an independent research provider.

  • Episode 158: Power and Influence of Teachers Unions (with guest Lisa Turkeltaub)

    February 25th, 2021  |  34 mins 35 secs
    children, conservative, democrat, distance learning, education, fairfax, fea, leadership, left, liberal, libertarian, lisa turkeltaub, parents, progressive, public schools, reopening, republican, right, school boards, schools, special interests, teachers, unions

    In this episode: Across the country, bold political leadership from both parties has eased or overridden special interest groups’ resistance to reopening public schools, but linguini-spined leaders of both parties have permitted teachers unions to force children to endure nearly a full year of isolation and virtual learning. Fighting the battle at Ground Zero in the DC suburbs have been the parents of Fairfax County Public Schools, who stand opposed by the Fairfax Education Association—which back last summer set a medically impossible standard to return to work. Excuse me, to classrooms, the union has insisted to me that the schools are open for virtual learning. I regret the error.

    Joining us is one of those parents, Lisa Turkeltaub, to discuss the efforts and organizing of OpenFCPS, a campaign group pushing to reopen the schools for real.

  • Episode 157: The Politically Incorrect Guide (with guest Jake Klein)

    February 19th, 2021  |  19 mins 20 secs
    american, authors, culture, democrat, documentaries, left, libertarian, michael malice, pc, pig, podcasters, politically incorrect, politics, progressive, regnery publishing, republican, right, school, series, society, tom woods, universities, web-series

    In this week’s episode: We switch gears slightly and invite Capital Research Center’s Jake Klein, head of our in-house Dangerous Documentaries video production brand, to discuss its latest project: The Politically Incorrect Guides, an animated web-series featuring notable podcasters and authors Tom Woods and Michael Malice based on Regnery Publishing’s book series of the same name that educates viewers beyond the politically correct rhetoric increasingly infecting American universities and society at large.

  • Episode 156: Defending the Freedom of Association (with guest Jennifer Braceras)

    February 12th, 2021  |  22 mins 49 secs
    civil rights, conservative, constitution, culture, dark money, democrat, disclosure, donors, freedom, information, iwlc, jennifer braceras, left, liberal, libertarian, philanthropy, politics, privacy, progressive, republican, right, supreme court

    In this episode: We discuss an issue that is well known to those involved in politics and to donors, but perhaps not as well known to the average voter. So we’re hoping to shed some light on it. The issue is donor disclosure, and we have as a special guest Jennifer Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, project of independent women’s forum, and a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, who wrote a very sharp op-ed on the subject recently, "Freedom Of Association Is Under Attack. Will The Supreme Court Protect It?" We discuss a few cases surrounding donor disclosure that could be heard by the Supreme Court in the coming months.

  • Episode 155: Party Realignment: Radical Republicans, Corporate Democrats?

    February 6th, 2021  |  13 mins 23 secs
    2020, business, capitol, commerce, conservative, culture, democrats, labor, left, liberal, libertarian, parties, politics, progressive, republicans, right, society, tech, wall street

    In this episode: Continuing what has become something of a series on how American big business, big labor, and other “bigs” have gotten aggressively more aligned with progressive liberalism, today we turn to Big Business—Wall Street, Big Tech, and so forth. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce were once stalwarts of the Republican Party, but in the 2020 election they were far less aligned with their historical allies Joining me to discuss the realignment of Big Business support is my Capital Research Center colleague Shane Devine.

  • Episode 154: The Left’s “Dark Money” Machine

    January 29th, 2021  |  13 mins 57 secs
    2020, biden, california, conservative, dark money, election, freedom, georgia, kamala harris, left, liberal, libertarianism, litigation, mark zuckerberg, money, philanthropy, phill kline, politics, privacy, progressive, right, senate, society

    In this episode: We welcome special guest Dan Judy, vice president at North Star Opinion Research in DC. He’s a Georgia native and a fellow UGA alumnus (Go Dawgs!)