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 177: Teachers Unions Running Wild (with guest Alleigh Marre)

    July 9th, 2021  |  13 mins 36 secs
    alleigh marre, community, critical race theory, critical theory, crt, education, free to learn coalition, freedom, k-12, left, parents, politics, pta, right, school, society, teachers, unions

    In this episode: Our regular podcast host, CRC’s Research Director Mike Watson, is on vacation so CRC's Director of Communications and External Relations Sarah Lee is filling in. We are thrilled to welcome a Alleigh Marre to talk about a subject that is everywhere in the news right now and one of great importance to parents and school children. Alleigh Marre leads the Free to Learn Coalition, a group that describes itself as a nonpartisan organization established to support parents, caregivers, and community organizations in their advocacy for quality K-12 education. Specifically, the coalition wants to make classrooms safe enough again that students are: Free to ask questions, Free to develop individual thoughts and opinions, Free to think critically of ideas and concepts and, Free to achieve.

  • Episode 176: Ranked Choice Voting in NYC (with guest Michael Hendrix)

    July 2nd, 2021  |  15 mins 42 secs
    conservative, culture, elections, left, liberal, libertarian, manhattan institute, mayor, nyc, politics, progressive, ranked choice voting, right, society

    In this episode: What do pizza toppings, test data, and waiting have to do with becoming Mayor of New York City? Thanks to the city’s new, confusing, and poorly administered “ranked choice voting” system, quite a lot. While New Yorkers voted last week on their party nominees for Mayor, on the Democratic side they still don’t know who won over a week later. Joining us to discuss the car-crash outcome in NYC is Michael Hendrix, director of state and local policy for the Manhattan Institute.

  • Episode 175: Orwellian Fact Checkers (with guest Chris Bedford)

    June 25th, 2021  |  23 mins 14 secs
    aspen institute, big tech, chris bedford, conservative, culture, disinformation, left, liberal, libertarian, ministry of truth, orwell, politics, progressive, right, society, tech giants, the federalist, woke

    In this episode: It’s a name worthy of Orwell: The “Committee on Information Disorder,” a project of the posh and well-connected Aspen Institute designed to identify “disinformation” for Big Corporations and Big Government to suppress. A notionally private-sector, woke-progressive Ministry of Truth, as it were. Joining us to discuss this effort to control the political discourse is Chris Bedford, senior editor of The Federalist.

  • Episode 174: The History of Big Tech Censorship

    June 18th, 2021  |  22 mins 18 secs
    amazon, apple, big tech, censorship, communication, conservative, culture, facebook, google, left, liberal, netflix, politics, right, social media, tech, twitter

    In this episode: “Big Tech”—the major social media and online communications companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google—FAANG, for short. Especially since Facebook and Twitter banned the then-still-sitting President Donald Trump from their services after the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, conservatives have expressed increasing alarm at the power of Big Tech to remove voices not in alignment with Current Year liberalism from the internet. Joining us to discuss the history of Big Tech censorship and the prospects for reform is James Bowers, managing director of Challenge Censorship.

  • Episode 173: The State of Redistricting

    June 11th, 2021  |  21 mins 58 secs
    conservative, culture, gerrymandering, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, redistricting, right

    In this episode: Our regular podcast host, CRC’s Research Director Mike Watson, joins the show to discuss his latest report on redistricting, a four-part series that lives on the CRC website entitled, “The State of Redistricting 2022.” We take a look at the myths, history, and lies around “gerrymandering.”

    Read more here:

  • Episode 172: Using the Courts to Push Unpopular Policy (with guest Robert Stilson)

    June 4th, 2021  |  16 mins 14 secs
    climate change, conservatize, culture, environmentalism, law, left, liberal, libertarian, politics, progressive, right, society

    In this episode: Radical environmentalists have a problem: Their policies are unpopular, and even a unified Democratic government aligned with them can only advance so many restrictions on personal choice, industrial activity, and employment opportunities before it provokes public revolt. But they have one weird trick to get around public opposition: The courts. Joining us to discuss the tactics that environmentalists are pursuing to have judges force their policies on the rest of us is Capital Research Center’s Research Specialist Robert Stilson.

  • Episode 171: Getting America Back to Work (with guest Megan Rose)

    May 28th, 2021  |  15 mins 28 secs

    As pandemic restrictions have begun easing in the states, employers are facing a new problem: labor shortages due to unemployment insurance bonuses that were intended to help people laid off from work during the pandemic. Many people are still collecting that benefit and it has led to a situation where employers are desperate to hire people making the rational financial decision to take a check over finding meaningful work.
    Joining the InfluenceWatch podcast today is Megan Rose, a civil society fellow at the Manhattan Institute & CEO of a nonprofit organization called Better Together that works to provide a dignified way to prevent child neglect through programs that strengthen families and help keep kids out of the foster care system. As part of that work, Better Together provides compassionate “second chance” job fair programs. Rose began noticing attendance at their job fairs has dropped precipitously in the last year. She wrote an excellent piece at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal about why she thinks that’s happening. It’s called, Jobs Without Takers, and in it she theorizes ways that America’s governors can help get people back to work to benefit the economy, individuals, and families.
    Joining the InfluenceWatch Podcast today is Megan Rose, a civil society fellow at the Manhattan Institute CEO of a nonprofit organization called Better Together that works to provide a dignified way to prevent child neglect through programs that strengthen families and help keep kids out of the foster care system. As part of that work, Better Together provides compassionate “second chance” job fair programs. Rose began noticing that attendance at their job fairs have dropped precipitously in the last year. She wrote an excellent piece at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal about why she thinks that’s happening. It’s called, Jobs Without Takers, and in it she theorizes ways that America’s governors could help get people back to work to benefit the economy and individuals and families.

  • Episode 170: Pennsylvania's "Zuck-bucks" (with guest Todd Shepherd)

    May 21st, 2021  |  14 mins 11 secs
    biden, conservative, ctcl, culture, election, law, left, liberal, libertarian, pennsylvania, politics, progressive, right, society, zuckerberg

    In this episode: When people think “political billionaire,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not the one who usually comes to mind. But after the 2020 elections, maybe he should. The Center for Tech and Civic Life, funded principally to the tune of a reported $350 million by Zuckerberg and his wife through entities the couple controls, provided millions of dollars in grants to counties to support their implementation of mail-in voting and other left-of-center election administration procedures. And there is strong circumstantial evidence that those grants may have favored Democratic counties over Republican counties, contributing to Joe Biden’s victories in battleground states. Joining us to discuss his analysis of these “Zuck-bucks” in Pennsylvania is Todd Shepherd, chief investigative reporter for the website Broad and Liberty, which covers Philadelphia city and Pennsylvania state-level news and politics.

  • 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.