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 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.

  • Episode 214: Post the Sign or Get a Fine

    April 15th, 2022  |  20 mins 28 secs

    This week, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the consumer price index measure of inflation had surged to 8.5 percent year-on-year. Accelerating inflation and surging gas prices have led numerous states to take action to ease the pain, but few have taken the unusual steps Illinois has to ensure the state’s political class gets the credit it thinks it deserves for it by requiring merchants to post notices or include on receipts statements that certain taxes have been suspended. Joining me to discuss Illinois’s recent tax actions and the state’s compulsory advertising for them is Adam Schuster, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

  • Episode 213: Tech, Musk, & Philanthropy

    April 8th, 2022  |  27 mins 29 secs
    1st amendment, big tech, elon musk, first amendment, free speech, philanthropy, spacex, tesla, twitter

    Elon Musk is a mystifying and complex figure. What do you think will happen now that he is the largest single shareholder of Twitter and is on the board? We are wondering, too. Join Mike Watson for a roundtable discussion with Ken Braun and Sarah Lee about tech, Elon Musk, and philanthropy.

  • Episode 212: A New ERA: The Employee Rights Act

    April 1st, 2022  |  22 mins 14 secs

    We’ve discussed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act on the show before—it’s a laundry list of bad ideas pushed by Big Labor and its allies in Congress that would increase unions’ power to coerce workers into joining and paying dues and increase their power to disrupt national economic and social life. But for supporters of individual employee rights, there is now an alternative model of labor relations reform: The Employee Rights Act, recently re-introduced with an expanded vision of the modern workplace. Joining me to discuss the proposed legislation is Vinnie Vernuccio, president of the Institute for the American Worker.

  • Episode 211: Dark Money & Demand Justice

    March 25th, 2022  |  24 mins 23 secs
    arabella advisors, demand justice, kbj, ketanji brown jackson, scotus, supreme court

    Mike sits down with Hayden Ludwig to discuss the dark money web surrounding Demand Justice and its efforts behind the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the SCOTUS.

  • Episode 210: Race to the Bottom

    March 18th, 2022  |  28 mins 37 secs

    Join Mike Watson as he chats with Luke Rosiak, author of Race to the Bottom. They cover how teachers' unions helped erode public education during the spread of COVID-19.

  • Episode 209: Protecting Big Labor's Paycheck

    March 11th, 2022  |  29 mins 31 secs

    In 2020 as the coronavirus hit and governments ordered mass lockdowns of length and scope unprecedented in American history, Congress passed the “Paycheck Protection Program” or PPP to help small businesses maintain their payrolls with forgivable loans. But before 2021, labor unions were not supposed to receive funds from PPP; my guest, the Freedom Foundation’s Maxford Nelsen, documented as many as 226 forgivable loans made under PPP totaling over $36 million that went to labor unions and related organizations. Max joins us today to discuss this and the Freedom Foundation’s other work on government worker unions.

  • Episode 208: Blackrock Loves China

    March 4th, 2022  |  24 mins 41 secs
    blackrock, larry fink, woke, woke boardroom

    Today, Sarah Lee hosts as Will Hild from Consumer's Research discusses the man behind the "woke boardroom", Larry Fink, and his empire, BlackRock.