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:

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  • 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.

  • Episode 126: Vote-By-Mail Shenanigans

    July 2nd, 2020  |  7 mins 45 secs
    america, conservative, cops, coronavirus, covid-19, george floyd, left, liberal, libertarian, misconduct, police, police unions, progressive, reform, right, teachers unions, unions

    In this episode: We round up some developments related to the organizations behind the Black Lives Matter organization, teachers unions set themselves as a principal roadblock to re-opening American economic and social life, and vote-by-mail leads to shenanigans in Indiana and New Jersey.

  • Episode 125: Charter School Myths

    June 25th, 2020  |  15 mins 55 secs
    americans, black, charter school, conservative, left, liberal, libertarian, press, progressive, public school, race, racial, right, riots, school, unions

    In this episode: Nationwide demonstrations continue against perceived American racial and ethnic groups. And while left-wing activists and the metropolitan press focus on Leftist wish lists and mob-initiated iconoclasm, our guest offers a different answer to improve the material and social circumstances of Black Americans. Jim Waters, President of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solution, offers one such solution, expanding charter schools.

  • Episode 124: Unpacking Black Lives Matter

    June 19th, 2020  |  7 mins 20 secs
    ads ban, big labor, black lives matter, blm, censor, conservative, federalist, google, left, liberal, libertarian, nbc news, police brutality, police unions, progressive, right, unions, verification

    In this episode, NBC’s factually challenged “News Verification Unit” tries to get a conservative website de-funded, Big Labor makes it harder to get fired for committing police brutality than for writing about it with less-than-impeccable left-progressive language, and we attempt to unpack the organizational structure of Black Lives Matter.

  • Episode 123: Police Unions Blocking Reform

    June 12th, 2020  |  15 mins 29 secs
    america, california policy center, conservative, cops, george floyd, left, liberal, libertarian, misconduct, police, police unions, progressive, reform, right, unarmed black man, will swain

    In this episode: Since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody, the country has been rocked by debates and demonstrations over police misconduct. And while radicals on the far-left demand the defunding or abolition of commentators across the ideological spectrum have noticed the problem of police unions, which often stand in opposition to accountability for the bad apples said to infest America’s police departments. Today, we are joined by Will Swain, President of the California Policy Center, to discuss those police unions and the prospects of reform.

  • Episode 122: Protesting, Rioting, and Looting

    June 5th, 2020  |  9 mins 36 secs
    2020, abuse, brutality, conservative, coronavirus, george floyd, left, liberal, libertarian, looting, may, police, politics, progressive, protesting, radical, reform, right, rioting, unions, violence

    In this episode, we’ll continue to cover the ongoing protesting, rioting, and looting and talk about how – although it may feel like we’re in unchartered territory – the country has actually seen this kind of upheaval before. And we’ll tell you a little bit about the primary groups involved in some of the violence.
    We’ll also discuss the blatant hypocrisy of journalists and legislators encouraging mass protests in the interest of social justice after spending months telling Americans they must shut down their lives and livelihoods for fear of uncontrollable outbreaks of the coronavirus.
    Finally, we’ll talk about the death of George Floyd and how police reform – and even defunding police as some more radical elements have called for – will not solve the problem of abusive police behavior, but addressing the hold unions have on police departments might.