Ep 202: Ideological Shaping of the Possible Part I: Democrats & the Black Box Corporate Consulting Industry

Citations Needed | May 29, 2024 | Transcript

Citations Needed
42 min readMay 29, 2024
Joe Biden, then Vice President, with Communications Director Jay Carney and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 2009. (AP)


Intro: This is Citations Needed with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

Nima Shirazi: Welcome to Citations Needed, a podcast on the media, power, PR, and the history of bullshit. I’m Nima Shirazi.

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: You can follow the show on Twitter @citationspod, Facebook at Citations Needed and become a supporter of the show through Patreon.com/CitationsNeededPodcast. All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated, as we are 100% listener-funded.

Adam: Yes, as always, if you can support the show by Patreon, we are very grateful. It helps keep the episodes themselves free and the show sustainable.

Nima: “David Plouffe’s advice for 2020,” Axios shared in 2019. “James Carville: ‘Stupid wokeness’ is a national problem for Democrats,” CNN reported in 2021. “Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary under President Obama, discusses the debt ceiling deal and the latest job numbers,” MSNBC announced in 2023.

Adam: On a regular basis, American news media clue us into the latest prescriptions from so-called Democratic strategists: people who’ve served previously as advisers, cabinet members, or other high-ranking or high-status positions within Democratic presidential administrations who’ve also gone on to make millions from corporate consultancy and PR. Whether Larry Summers, David Plouffe, or some other cable-news fixture, these figures are consistently trotted out to give a quasi-liberal, professional face to plain old pro-war, anti-Left austerity politics.

Nima: It’s an obvious conflict of interest. If a presidential alum joins the board or C-suite of Uber or McDonald’s, for example, they shouldn’t be given the authority to weigh in on regulations or labor policy, especially on media platforms that claim to be somewhat left-leaning. If they work for a military contractor-funded strategic consultancy firm or, as is sometimes the case, directly for a weapons maker themselves, they shouldn’t be offering talking head opinions on issues of war.

Adam: But within US media and politics, there’s a widespread taboo against acknowledging this revolving-door politics between the private sector, Gulf dictatorships, black box corporate consultancy firms, and high institutions of American government.

Nima: Instead, it’s simply accepted that every White House, State Department, or Senate job is actually just an audition for a cushy board membership at Amazon, McDonald’s, Raytheon, or some shady consultancy firm.

Adam: On today’s episode, part one of a two-part series on corporate influence peddling in the US political system, we’ll discuss the blurring of lines between Democratic and Republican politics and corporate PR, examining the revolving door between high-status government jobs and the consultancy blob — as well as how cable and print news media give PR flacks a platform through which to treat horrible policies as just another product to sell Americans.

Nima: Later on the show, we’ll be joined by Jeff Hauser, founder and Executive Director of the Revolving Door Project.

[Begin clip]

Jeff Hauser: We have normalized the process of switching teams, going from enforcer to the enforced upon. We need our executive branch to be reining in corporate misconduct. We need our Congress to reign in corporate misconduct. And then you go to the side of the corporations, and that’s considered normal. It shouldn’t be, but within political circles, it’s viewed as ad hominem. You’re attacking people who are often very well-liked, and that doesn’t get you very far.

[End clip]

Adam: Previously on the show, we have talked about conflicts of interest in media with corporate flack jobs, PR, especially these kind of black box consultancy firms, which we’ll get into in more detail, and people who appear as commentators, pundits, op-ed writers at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc., who oftentimes don’t disclose and of course, we have no way of really knowing oftentimes — especially when they work for these black box consultancy firms — who their corporate clients are. Oftentimes, they’ll be on the board of directors of corporations without disclosing them. And we wanted to sort of put it all in one main episode because it’s something we’ve touched on here or there, but never really have given it a thorough examination. And specifically, this kind of gentleman’s agreement element to it, which is to say, the reason why both parties don’t ding each other over this is that both parties do it. Republicans are a little more on the nose, a little more shameless about it because they don’t really have the pretense of not being corrupt corporate assholes. But it’s more sinister when the ostensibly liberal or progressive party, this becomes pretty much par for the course, which is to say, high-status White House jobs are used as basically an audition for a job at a large corporation that these very same government entities are supposed to be regulating and providing a counter to. And this type of revolving door politics is the bread and butter of the neoliberal or pro-corporate democratic consultancy class that rotates in and out of these corporations, PR firms, consultancy firms, and think tanks, which we’ll discuss in part two.

And so we thought it was worth an examination of this gentleman’s agreement. Why this taboo is never really discussed in media and politics, largely because there’s a symbiotic relationship between media, which uses these pundits as talking heads, as op-ed writers, as columnists. And everyone sort of agrees that it’s completely normal for someone to go from a regulator or a White House spokesman into the corporate consultancy business or the Defense Department, into the weapons consultancy business, and then rotate back in the government when their guy’s back in power and continue this process until they’ve amassed tens of millions and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars. We argue in this episode that that’s bad and an institutional conflict of interest that actually informs —

Nima: [Laughing] What!? That’s how Washington works, Adam.

Adam: We’re so corny, we’re so naive. And that this is actually not a good way to run an ostensibly liberal or left-leaning party in a country, and in fact, is part of the corporate co-option of the Democratic Party that has led to the focus on war and austerity politics, which, in case you don’t know, we’re not huge fans of on the show.

Nima: Now, American political officials have been enjoying lucrative positions within the private sector, namely within consultancy firms and PR work, since at least the 1970s. A New York Times article written in 1986 attributed the rise of this phenomenon to a desire of government officials to advise conglomerates in geopolitical risk. In other words, to tell them where in the world they should and shouldn’t do business. Citing the 1973 oil embargo against Israel and the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, the Times wrote:

This is when the international consulting business took hold, when corporations started searching for people who might be able to give them some forewarning of catastrophe and some way to take advantage of all of those petrodollars in the hands of oil-producing states.

It was then that political-risk analysis became fashionable in a big way, with the use of inside staffs and outside experts.

Additionally, the Jimmy Carter administration had been further cementing ties between the political and corporate worlds in the 1970s. In 1976, the newly elected Jimmy Carter appointed three IBM directors to his cabinet, one of them Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State had for years been alternating between high-ranking positions in the public and private sectors. Prior to his time in the Carter administration, Vance had already served as general counsel in the Pentagon in 1961, then became Secretary of the Army, then Deputy Secretary of Defense, later becoming a board member for a number of corporations, including The New York Times and Pan American World Airways, otherwise known as Pan Am.

Cyrus Vance with Jimmy Carter at Camp David, 1978. (White House Staff Photographers Collection)

Adam: A few years later, in 1982, the revolving door relationship would be solidified when Henry Kissinger founded Kissinger Associates, the consultancy firm that has advised a number of conglomerates including American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Volvo, and Coca-Cola. Kissinger was following in the footsteps of several lower profile advisors to presidents Nixon, Carter, and Reagan who’d gone into the consulting world. Kissinger’s consultancy firm was instrumental in spreading new liberal economic policy worldwide. As Christy Thornton wrote for Jacobin in 2023:

After the Mexican government announced in August of 1982 that it would be unable to make payments on its outstanding foreign debt, and some forty other countries followed suit and announced their own defaults, there were widespread fears of a systemic collapse of the financial sector. In response, the IMF and the US government devised rescue packages that would restructure the commercial debt of countries like Mexico. Much of this debt was owed to the largest banks in the United States, such as Chase Manhattan, JP Morgan, Citicorp, and American Express — many of which were clients of Kissinger Associates.

In addition to advising these firms directly during the debt crisis, Kissinger used his public platform, including newspaper columns and interviews on major news networks, to advocate for debt relief structures that would be particularly advantageous for his clients.

For example, Kissinger penned at least 10 pieces in the Los Angeles Times between 1984 and 1985 alone to promote these arrangements.

Nima: The blurring of these boundaries continued into the Clinton years. There are few starker reminders of this than James Carville, the “consultant” often credited with playing a major role in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential victory. And Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Clinton from 1997 to 2001. Albright left government in 2001 to found the blackbox consultancy firm Albright Group, which later became the Albright Stonebridge Group. Each of Clinton’s three press secretaries eventually started working in corporate communications as Reporter Julia Rock noted in a 2022 piece for Jacobin.

After leaving the administration, Clinton’s first press secretary, Dee Dee Myers became the co-host of the CNBC talk show Equal Time as well as a consultant for 119 episodes of the NBC show The West Wing. In 2015, Myers took a job in corporate communications for Warner Brothers.

As of 2022, Clinton’s second press secretary, Michael McCurry was working at the communications firm Public Strategies. There, McCurry fought net neutrality regulations, which would have prevented internet service providers from charging different rates for different websites or content. Back in 2006, McCurry published a piece on CNN headlined “Upgrading the ‘creaky’ Internet” in which he made an early argument against net neutrality.

Adam: And Clinton’s third press secretary, Joe Lockhart co-founded along with Dee Dee Myers and other Democratic Party alum, the lobbying and PR firm Glover Park Group, whose clients included Pfizer, Visa, Microsoft, and the NFL. In 2011, Lockhart took a position as vice president of communications for Facebook. He moved on to executive vice president of communications for the NFL in 2016 and in a 2018 memo, stated, “the two years in this role feels a lot like my two years as White House press secretary.” In 2020, Lockhart became managing director of Rational360, a PR firm. He’s also become a political analyst for CNN, naturally. As Julia Rock notes, Lockhart has used his platform to run interference for Democratic administrations. Let’s listen to a clip from a January 2022 episode of Brian Stelter’s CNN show Reliable Sources in which Lockhart complains that the press is too mean to Biden.

[Begin clip]

Joe Lockhart: There ought to have been a dividend for returning truth and decency to the White House, and we didn’t get that. We didn’t get it at all. We’ve kind of returned to the snarky attitude that we saw with Trump and in some respects, to Obama. And I’ll give you an example about some of the decisions that get made. As I said, from the very first briefing, the Trump spokespeople lied. They lied every day, every briefing, and the majority of those briefings were aired live on television. Jen Psaki is in there now telling the truth. She’s telling us what’s going on in the government, what people need to hear, and they’re rarely on live television. So, that tells me that this is more about entertainment than it is about news. It’s more about getting viewers than letting people know what’s going on in the country.

[End clip]

Adam: Yeah, and Joe Lockhart here is disclosed as a political commentator, not mentioning that he runs a PR firm with a who’s who of corporate clients. And we saw this really ramp up during the Obama years, which kind of turned this into a fine art. Again, those who entered the Obama White House and those who helped his campaign aren’t stupid. They saw what happened with the Clinton alums, how they all cashed in. They saw, of course, what happened with two Bush alums who all cashed in, went on to go work for various similar corporations, and so they followed suit.

In 2013, after leaving the White House, Obama’s first press secretary, Robert Gibbs was hired as a contributor on MSNBC. At the time, he was already on the board of directors of Yelp. The same year he began at MSNBC in 2013, Gibbs and Ben LaBolt, the former national press secretary for Obama’s presidential campaign launched a PR firm called The Incite Agency. Its client list now includes Airbnb, Uber, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. In 2015, Gibbs was hired as the global communications chief at McDonald’s, which is also one of Incite Agency’s main clients. McDonald’s hiring of Gibbs was likely a form of soft lobbying, a strategy to gain political leverage and influence within the White House to combat regulations. For example, in 2014, the National Labor Relations Board, or the NLRB, determined that McDonald’s may be considered a “joint employer” with its franchises, meaning that McDonald’s and other corporations would share legal responsibilities for the working conditions at their franchised locations.

Nima: Meanwhile, labor activists were continuing the long pursuit of a $15 minimum wage. As Forbes wrote in 2015:

With a renewed focus on the corporate image of the company in the capital, Gibbs’ political clout is vital. At a time when many of McDonald’s troubles are rooted in regulatory issues, such as those concerning wages, franchise rights, and the fast food industry, the company realized it had to ‘lobby up,’ as Peter LaMotte, senior vice president and chair of digital practice at Levick, put it.

‘McDonald’s is in a situation where their world is changing, and they can no longer hire just a communications executive, but someone that brings something else to the table. Gibbs brings D.C. to table,’ LaMotte explained. ‘They hired him more for who he knows than for what he does.’

Now, Gibbs’s replacement Jay Carney stepped down from his role as Obama’s press secretary in 2014, joining CNN as a commentator. The next year 2015, Carney left CNN to take a top-tier PR post at Amazon. reporting directly to CEO Jeff Bezos for reasons very similar to those of McDonald’s. To further develop and leverage the Washington connections that Carney held.

Jay Carney, center, with Jeff Bezos, 2019. (GeekWire File Photo / Todd Bishop)

Adam: Carney has continued to appear on cable news and in print as an authoritative source, oftentimes flouting his experience in the Obama White House. In 2021, Carney wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in ostensible support of a $15 minimum wage amid questioning from figures like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren relating to Amazon’s labor issues and antitrust. The headline was “Why Bernie Sanders Praised Amazon.” It was a somewhat clever piece of PR that argued that Amazon, though already an amazing company, welcomes scrutiny. Here’s an excerpt from the column in The New York Times:

While we fully agree that a company of Amazon’s size should be scrutinized, we also believe people should know that Amazon is doing exactly what many lawmakers and critics insist the private sector should do. And because Amazon is a large company with hundreds of thousands of employees, as well as contractual relationships with hundreds of thousands of other businesses of all sizes, what we do can generate positive ripple effects across the country.

So, of course, there’s no need to talk about anything like, say, the importance of unions. In fact, Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, especially in light of the “job shortage” of 2021 and the tight labor markets, was a concession to stave off unionization, which had emerged in several comparable companies and was emerging throughout many low-wage labor markets at that time. Additionally, Bloomberg reported in 2018 that Amazon workers’ apparent raise actually resulted in less pay overall. The company eliminated at least some bonuses and stock rewards, which for some employers reportedly, at least, according to Bloomberg, created an overall reduction in their income.

Nima: Yet another Obama alum, David Plouffe has had a similar career trajectory. Plouffe, the campaign manager for Obama in 2008 and later advisor after Obama’s victory went on to consult for companies like Boeing and General Electric, returning to the White House and later leaving again in 2013 to become a contributor for Bloomberg TV as well as ABC News. In 2014, while maintaining his media jobs, Plouffe started as the senior vice president of policy and strategy at Uber. At the time, The New York Times reported:

Mr. Plouffe plans to use at least some of his campaign experience in his new position at Uber. ‘This is a company that loves data and utilizes it, which is something that I’ve utilized a lot,’ he said. ‘If we can use data in smart and appropriate ways to tell our story better, people are more likely to use Uber for transportation.’

Mr. Kalanick said Uber also needed Mr. Plouffe to compete against the strong taxi lobby and to make sure it faced fewer roadblocks in the new cities it entered.

‘Uber has been in a political campaign but hasn’t been running one,’ Mr. Kalanick said in a statement. ‘That is changing now.’

Adam: While fundraising and lobbying for Uber, Plouffe was welcomed on the cable news, including CNN and MSNBC and Bloomberg to talk about electoral politics with no mention of any potential conflict of interest or his laundry list of corporate clients. And in fact, many overlooked, especially around the 2016 election, the fact that at the same time, he was working with the Saudi regime and Uber to help raise money. At that point, Uber was in the process of negotiating a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia that Plouffe was central to. And in fact, this led to one of my all-time favorite tweets, which is a Uber Saudi Arabia account. This is from March of 2016 which tweeted out: “David Plouffe: The government in Saudi Arabia wants to make it easier for people to get around and that’s exciting #UberEverywhere.” This was part of a broader PR rollout for Uber to present itself as a champion of women’s rights by allowing them to take Ubers when their male guardian wouldn’t drive them around. And Plouffe was part of that PR strategy when they announced just a few months later, the $3.5 billion investment from the Saudi investment fund.

Now, Plouffe is a mainstay on MSNBC even to this day, and in fact, even just recently, he was featured on a segment of the MSNBC show The Beat with Ari Melber along with Olivia Julianna who’s kind of, I guess, a Zoomer influencer of politics, and they talked about the importance of TikTok and how important TikTok was for the Biden White House. And less than one month later, it was announced that David Plouffe was hired by TikTok as a paid consultant to help them lobby Democrats to prevent the banning of TikTok, which, of course, we’re not huge fans with because it’s done for all the wrong reasons. But obviously, he is a dedicated mercenary who will pretty much work for any foreign government, any Gulf despot, or any corporation that will pay him. But of course, he probably should have mentioned that or at least, I assume he was in discussions with Tiktok at that time. He probably should have mentioned that he was about to join TikTok.

Nima: Yeah, that maybe should have been on the little chyron with his name on there instead of like, former Obama official.

Adam: And this is one of the problems with a lot of these black box consultancy firms. These are just the ones we know about. I mean, especially a lot of these consultancy groups which we’ll get into, like Albright Stonebridge, is that they’re private. We don’t know who their corporations are. Now internally, I don’t know if MSNBC or CNN or The New York Times has a disclosure policy they’re forced to sign. I doubt it’s very enforceable. It’s not an affidavit where if you have a conflict of interest, you have to let us know. And many of these consulting groups, one of the reasons they’re so powerful and corporations like them is that they are totally opaque. They’re not required to disclose their corporate client list unlike say, lobbyists because it’s a more informal, more high-level form of lobbying, right? David Plouffe is not getting hired by Uber to raise money from Saudi Arabia simply because he’s a super nice guy with good communication skills. Obviously, he’s leveraging his contacts within the Democratic White House and Washington more generally in order to curry favor. So, if they’re avoiding sort of explicit black letter lobbying, that’s considered okay, but as long as you sort of avoid explicit lobbying, you can kind of influence, especially through media channels whenever one wishes.

Nima: Now, this brings us to the Biden administration, arguably the Democratic administration with the deepest ties to the consultancy and PR blob. Continuing the long tradition of press secretaries moving on to corporate consulting and media gigs, former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki took a job at MSNBC upon leaving the administration, again running interference for the current Democratic administration while on air. Psaki had previously worked at the Democratic political and corporate communications firm Global Strategy Group, which in 2022, was revealed to have helped attempt to bust the union at Amazon Staten Island warehouse. Psaki was also a senior partner at the consulting firm WestExec Advisors. There, Psaki’s clients included rideshare company Lyft, GE, and the Israeli surveillance firm AnyVision. Now, WestExec, which I just mentioned, was founded in 2017 by Antony Blinken, Michele Flournoy, Sergio Aguirre, and Nitin Chadda, all former Obama administration officials, and some current members of the Biden Administration. Blinken, of course, is now Secretary of State, while Flournoy was initially expected to be appointed as Secretary of Defense under Biden although Biden swerved and appointed Lloyd Austin instead.

Jen Psaki at a press briefing. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

And as journalists John Guyer and Ryan Grim wrote for The Intercept back in 2021:

Blinken, now Secretary of State, advised household names like telecommunications giant AT&T, defense contractor Boeing, shipping magnate FedEx, and the media company Discovery as a WestExec founding partner. He worked for Big Tech pillars Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Uber. He helped niche companies like speakers bureau GLG, art seller Sotheby’s, and biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. Blinken also lists clients that are global investment firms and asset managers, like Blackstone, Lazard, Royal Bank of Canada, and the multinational conglomerate SoftBank — which does extensive business with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He even advised the consulting group McKinsey & Company. Though Blinken left WestExec in July 2020 — after The American Prospect inquired about the relationship — each of these businesses has an international profile that may impact his calculations as he implements Biden’s foreign policy.

Adam: The institutional conflicts of interest within the Biden White House picks were documented during his lame-duck period by a number of journalists, including Jonathan Guyer and Ryan Grim. But of course, Citations Needed’s own Sarah Lazare, who wrote this article for In These Times in November of 2020: “Biden’s Foreign Policy Picks Are From the Hawkish National Security Blob. That Is a Bad Sign.” Which, of course, knowing what we know about the backing of Gaza is sort of maybe more relevant now than ever. And later, she would write a story for The American Prospect, detailing that 28 members of Biden’s White House had worked for organizations funded by or had clients of either Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates. But this was pretty standard stuff.

People like Linda Thomas Greenfield who was tapped to serve as the UN ambassador, as we know, she worked recently at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a secretive global strategy firm, sort of similar to McKinsey and Company, that we mentioned earlier. And this is all pretty par for course. And what’s interesting is that when this is covered in pop culture, it’s not seen as a bad thing that these high-ranking government officials keep revolving to the private industry where they make a ton of money and leverage their connections and prestige and brand and government jobs to get high-paying PR or “consultancy” or strategic advising jobs while simultaneously, of course, appearing as pundits on cable news and writing columns for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post. That that’s not a bad thing, actually. What it is is evidence of their sacrifice.

So, just two pop culture examples. In the 2011 film Too Big to Fail, directed by Curtis Hanson, it was based on the Andrew Ross Sorkin book Too Big to Fail that came out in 2009. If you know anything about Andrew Ross Sorkin, he’s kind of a Wall Street suck-up who writes The New York Times DealBook. He’s a regular contributor on CNBC who’s pretty much a kind of insider’s insider on Wall Street. The book portrays Henry Paulson, for example, who was CEO of Goldman Sachs, and then, of course, had to turn around and bail out Goldman Sachs. In the movie, Cynthia Nixon makes a point of pointing out that he’s actually sacrificed a great deal to enter public service under the Bush administration so he’s not actually leveraging his corporate ties to go help his industry before he goes back to the corporations, that he is actually a patriot serving his country.

This is a repeated theme in The West Wing, which references the fact that people like Sam Seaborn and John Spencer’s character, Leo McGarry, come from the corporate world. They’re either corporate lawyers or corporate consultants. I think, in the opening scene that we sort of flashback, are introduced to Sam Seaborn as he’s helping an oil company avoid liability, that this is not a bad thing. This actually shows that they sacrificed tens of millions of dollars working for some evil corporation.

Nima: To go into public service, their civic duty.

Adam: Right, and so, a lot of pop culture examples have this revolving door component, right? This implicit payoff is actually not framed as something that’s venal or institutionally corrupt or something that especially leads to ideological capture, right? If you sort of only pull from corporate lawyers and PR hacks, the idea that this would somehow give us a government that does not view itself as adversarial to corporate interests but in fact, views them as part of the same cloth is in fact a good thing. It sort of shows that the serious people, they’re highly educated people, they’re rich people so therefore, they’re important. And that they have in fact, made a tremendous sacrifice by taking a year or two years as a press secretary or a speechwriter or an undersecretary of defense and that when they go back to the private sector, that’s actually them sort of reverting back to their normal state. That this was sort of a Peace Corps two years, you know, after college thing where they go and do their charity for humanity.

Nima: To discuss this more, we’re now going to be joined by Jeff Hauser, founder and executive director of the Revolving Door Project. Jeff will join us in just a moment. Stay with us.


Nima: We’re joined now by Jeff Hauser. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today on Citations Needed.

Jeff Hauser: It’s great to be here.

Adam: So, let’s begin by talking about the revolving door. If you wouldn’t mind, I want to sort of discuss the kind of broad cultural element that goes into this, which we’re calling in this episode, a sort of gentleman’s agreement, which is to say people don’t really talk about any potential or inherent corrupting elements of people going in and out of government into high-ranking corporate jobs and private sector jobs and organizations funded by these corporations that they are ostensibly supposed to regulate, combat, etc. while they’re in government, especially when it comes to these sort of shadowy consulting firms, which we can get into a little bit later. And so, I want to begin by talking about this kind of general code of silence, unless someone’s handed a sort of cartoon bag of money, it’s not considered corrupt even though, obviously, as you argue, and others in the activist space have argued that there’s an implied corruption there. And this is, of course, setting aside campaign financing, which we can talk about a bit later. This is just sort of direct work, but I want to talk about this gentleman’s agreement and how you perceive it in your work and how sometimes, if you say, well, this is maybe not the best idea in the world, people look at you like you have ten heads.

Jeff Hauser

Jeff Hauser: Absolutely. So, there’s a common-sense intuition that if you completely reverse sides, that you’re a little bit of a traitor, and you may never have had serious loyalty in the first place if you’re willing to switch sides. So, that’s why we don’t generally say, Hey, we only need alumni of the mafia to join the Justice Department in fighting against organized crime in all sorts of worlds. We even get upset when our athletes switch teams. If a player from the Boston Red Sox joins the New York Yankees, they become anathema to all of New England.

So, we have this as a common-sense intuition generally but within professional political circles, the intuition is completely reversed. It is assumed that at all times you are capable of being a mercenary and entirely loyal to whatever institution you work for, and that it is more than okay, it is expected that you will switch teams.

So, I know the term “normalize” has become a little bit of a punching bag as it refers to the Trump era, but I think it really applies here. That we have normalized the process of switching teams, going from enforcer to the enforced upon. We need our executive branch to be reining in corporate misconduct. We need our Congress to rein in corporate misconduct. And then you go to the side of the corporations, and that’s considered normal. It shouldn’t be but within political circles, it’s viewed as ad hominem. You’re attacking people who are often very well-liked, and that doesn’t get you very far.

Nima: You know, about that, the idea kind of rests inherently on government, being regulatory, right, being protective, being in the public interest, and then these other roles being, you know, more about, serving power or making profit. How do you see even that kind of binary thinking operate when it comes to let’s say people who are kind of viewing this from the outside and those who work it from the inside? Are they seeing themselves as switching teams? Or do you think that there’s more of a linear trajectory or maybe overlapping Venn diagram that doesn’t make it so binary, you’re on one side, then you’re on the other side, that when you’re working in this field, if you’re working in DC, are those lines may be not quite as bold, right? Are they a bit blurry?

Jeff Hauser: Well, I think the way people see it often is that they exist within a clique, a community that is of practitioners on both sides of a specific issue area. One thing that people may not realize is how technical many areas that are within the government’s purview are, and so that the people who specialize in it have a unique set of skills. They are less interesting than Liam Neeson’s specific set of skills, but they are very particular nonetheless. So, if you are part of the antitrust bar, you have a set of legal skills that most lawyers do not graduate from law school with. The same if you are a securities lawyer, if you become an expert in utilities and have worked at FERC. There are a lot of acronyms in the federal government, and most of those acronyms require a lot of expertise. And there’s a revolving door between people who work at the acronym, be it the FTC, the FCC, FERC. There are a lot of acronyms that begin with the letter F for federal. There’s a whole bunch of them. You have a specific set of skills, and you go back and forth between the private sector and government. And when you’re doing that, you are essentially loyal to what has become the status quo and the conventional wisdom within that field.

And so, the conventional wisdom within antitrust had shifted to the Robert Bork Chicago School consensus that only very narrow corporate behaviors were problematic. And people in government believe that, people outside the government believe that. So, when people were working in government, and they saw something that transgressed even the Chicago school’s vision of antitrust, they would bring forth cases, and they would do so in a loyal manner. They weren’t necessarily selling out in bringing that case, but they did not feel comfortable moving outside of that consensus, saying, hey, has this consensus shifted from what the law was as written or what better economics would suggest it should be? Should we be fighting against power? Should we be fighting against this cushy consensus that works so well for corporate America? You don’t want to push outside of these clique-ish conventional wisdoms if you are part of it because you will be punished if you are in government and you push too hard. If you bring a securities case against a firm too aggressively, you will be blackballed on Wall Street. So, it’s not that people throw every case, they’re incredibly disloyal. It’s not quite that sort of binary, but it is that you will live within a certain accepted conventional wisdom that often shifts far away from the public interest.

Adam: Let me ask a question about disclosure because this is the kind of lowest of the lowest bar, it’s the kind of lowest good government liberal bar. But even sort of basic disclosures, which is our focus, which is media, are never really forthcoming. And I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that even some of the editors who assign, you know, opinion writing in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal or bookers at, you know, MSNBC or CNN, they themselves don’t even necessarily know who these kind of roaming pundits’ corporate clients are. Not to make excuses because I don’t think they really even ask.

But for example, take David Plouffe who pivoted out of the Obama administration into a kind of total mercenary. He helped broker the Uber Saudi deals we talked about at the top of the hour. He’s worked for who’s who of corporate America. And at the same time, he has this sort of private consultancy, which they euphemistically referred to as Democratic strategist. Or, if you’ve worked in the Obama White House, if you have that kind of sheen, you get former, you know, Obama, such and such, right? Don’t ask what I’ve been doing for the last — it’s like James Carville, right? Former Clinton — it’s like, that was like, 80 years ago. What has he done since then? Meanwhile, of course, he can go on and give these broad ideological broadsides against Bernie Sanders and progressives. We see this time and time again, especially on MSNBC. There’s this sort of Democratic strategist guy who comes on and goes, Well, you know, real corn-fed America is not going to go for this radical socialism. And everyone goes, He’s so smart. He knows the people. I mean, and he pulls away in his limousine with his personal driver, right?

And I want to talk about disclosure because I think it’s, again, it seems like a bare minimum thing one would want to ask. And you know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written about this for FAIR or other organizations. I know, Washington Post, for the longest time, had a columnist who was literally a lobbyist for oil companies. I want to talk about what efforts you’ve seen in your space to get more disclosure, to get some of these black box consultancy firms like Albright Stonebridge, etc., who no one knows who their clients are but meanwhile, they’re writing op-eds all the time or appearing on cable TV.

Can you talk about what your standard of disclosure would be? What do you think best practices would be? I want to get a little prescriptive here. If I’m like a booker or an editor and I’m listening to this, what would be a good thing to do if someone with a nebulous title like pollster or strategist reaches out to do an op-ed. What would you say? Like, hey buddy, who are your corporate clients? What would you envision that looking like?

Jeff Hauser: Sure, I think there are two steps. First is deciding who to interview and what to ask about in a pre-interview, and this can occur both for in-print or online or on television or in podcast or whatever. You should ask people, hey, these are the current topics, do any of your clients or any of your significant personal financial holdings have a conflict of interest here? Because I don’t think we should expect that bookers know this, both because it’s hidden or sometimes it’s not hidden, but it’s obscure. If you have a holding in a company that is privately held, even if it’s disclosed, they may not even have a website. Like, it could be at some sort of business-to-business firm that is not in the public eye. So, I think it’s important that bookers make sure that the person that they are interviewing is without a conflict of interest. And then, even when you’re introducing the person, it’s important that you make clear to your audience that there are potential conflicts of interest, and so that if the audience wants to come to a different determination about the guest, they should be able to do so. And I think that means identifying people as a pollster for both Democratic and corporate clients. That is very few words, but adding in not just a democratic pollster but a pollster for Democrats and corporate clients at least begins to open up people’s ears.

Nima: You mentioned this idea of conflict of interest, and I know we’ve been speaking a little bit abstractly. I mean, we mentioned David Plouffe, but you’ve written recently about Larry Summers, and I’m wondering if you can just illuminate us and our listeners a bit as to someone who might be, like, the biggest walking conflict of interest in these spaces, whether it’s in media and academia and government and private sector. Talk to us a little bit about Larry Summers and the place that he holds as a certain exemplar of exactly this problem.

Jeff Hauser: Sure, Larry Summers, you would think could be a figure who’s in disgrace and should be kind of outside of the public eye based off of his track record of pursuing neoliberalization under Bill Clinton, being run out of the office of the presidency of Harvard University, all sorts of other matters. But it’s important to note Larry Summers is the most important pundit about economics in the United States, full stop. I mean at the level of the Sulzbergers at the New York Times. I mean in terms of whose articles and comments result in the most clicks at Bloomberg. There is no person more important to American elites, when thinking about the economy, than Larry Summers. He is almost always wrong and even when he’s plausibly right, it’s usually because he said there’s a 1/3 chance of this, a 1/3 chance of that, and a 1/3 chance at something else, and he manages to get one of them right. So, this guy is wrong, but he is important, and he is almost always introduced as former treasury secretary and former president of Harvard University, economics professor of Harvard. But this guy is involved in an incomparable number of corporations. He is on the board of directors of several companies at this time. He is a formal board advisor to double-digit firms in addition to the firms on whose boards he serves. We have tried to figure out how much time he is dedicating to these jobs compared to what Harvard Business School or other reputable organizations would say should be the time commitment of a member of a board of directors or a formal board advisor. Let’s just say that, I mean, if you’re a Harry Potter reader, you would need that thing that Hermione used to —

Nima: The time turner.

Jeff Hauser: Yes, you would need a time turner. So, he would need to be, amongst other things, also a wizard in order to be fulfilling his responsibilities to all these corporations. Let alone the fact that at Harvard University, you’re supposed to spend more than 80% of your professional time as an academic, and none of these exploits are academic whatsoever.

Adam: Yeah, well, he would probably say, look, directorships are just influence-peddling mechanisms. You show up once every few months and you get a $300,000 check. Yeah, I think that’s probably what he would say if you had him a few drinks in private.

Jeff Hauser: Yes, which would also suggest that the firm could actually have some liability for adding him to the board of directors. You know, most recently, he is now one of the three people on the board of directors of OpenAI. So given how important AI is to the world and Open AI’s importance to our current bubble about artificial intelligence and our financial markets and all sorts of science fiction scenarios and what have you. Yeah. I mean, is it great that the best-case scenario is that Larry Summers is utterly indifferent to his responsibilities to being on the board of directors of OpenAI? I mean, it’s like damned if you do, dystopia if not.

Nima: [Laughing] That’s quite a gamble.

Adam: The man has such an ideological commitment to disciplining workers that even if there’s an outside shot, AI can help do that. Even as a propaganda tool, he’s all for it. He needs to make sure that we do not have workers being comfortable. That’s been his primary task since 2020 especially.

Jeff Hauser: Yeah, I noted that a firm Doma that Larry Summers has been on the board of directors of since 2019 was just taken private off of the stock exchange. That’s a firm that’s about real estate and machine learning. So yeah, he is all about FinTech, crypto. He is all about opportunities to get one over on workers and celebrate the latest technological fad.

Nima: But I think it’s so important as you noted about disclosure, when he is then described, either quoted or referenced or appears himself in print, digital, on air, the chyron describing who he is is never going to reference this stuff, right? I mean, we keep talking about this, like this idea of disclosure that seems, as Adam said, like the lowest possible bar, you’re still just going to have Larry Summers noted, as, you know, former Treasury secretary. And so, this just carries through to all of this kind of venality whether it’s Barry McCaffrey, you know, a general talking about war and talking about weapons contractors on MSNBC or John Brennan, former CIA director, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, all becoming media pundits and also having these corporate and board gigs, think tank gigs on the side that just are never disclosed. And so, what we are thinking of as readers or consumers or viewers, receivers of media, even the framework in which we’re supposed to understand expertise is being gamed.

Jeff Hauser: Absolutely, it is assumed that these are serious people who care first and foremost about their reputation and that they are so dedicated to the public interest that when they are talking they don’t think about their economic self-interest. That is particularly ironic for figures like Larry Summers who are economists whose entire worldview is based upon the assumption that individuals act to advance their individual economic self-interest. But it’s still ridiculous when it comes to former generals or the like who are part of the military industrial complex. It is really hard to get people to see from outside of their own personal interest. We want to create institutions that either can survive the fact that people have individual self-interest or can direct their self-interest in the best possible channels. And right now, it’s just considered to be an attack on people to think that they might actually take into account their economic self-interest, and that’s just absurd.

Nima: Because it’s basically like all of these people are just the walking embodiment of that famous Upton Sinclair quote, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Jeff Hauser: Yes, but Washington, DC works a lot better, and it’s just a lot easier to exist in socially if you neglect the wisdom of that quote.

Adam: Yeah because there’s an ever-present question on the show, which is the difference between ideology and venality, and in many ways, the banality becomes the ideology. It doesn’t really matter because it sort of assumes that this pay-to-play thing is simply part of the game and that you yourself are on your own island and you’re incorruptible and that it doesn’t influence you personally in some sort of solipsistic sense. Therefore, anyone bringing even the specter or this sort of image or the appearance of conflict of interest is seen, as you said, it’s ad hominem. It’s like, how dare you attack my integrity? And it’s like, well, a) I am attacking your integrity. Get over it. And b) whether or not you personally feel that is irrelevant and even whether or not it actually is is irrelevant because that’s the whole point of conflict of interest policies. That’s why they’re predicated on perception. Because that way, you don’t have to get into that kind of whiny like, well, I personally wouldn’t do that. Well, yeah, it doesn’t matter, though. I mean, the point is, you should probably not be working for the people you were regulating five minutes ago.

I want to ask a bit if you would, I want to ask a question about shame. And I think the central issue here, really is this kind of, and I don’t want to, like, look too rose-tinted on the past, but I do think with the total corporate takeover of the Democratic Party in the ‘90s, the kind of rise of the attendant neoliberal ideology that kind of informed it. And I really think this was almost explicitly kind of embodied by Obama as well. It’s this idea that class conflict is this relic of the Cold War. This idea that like you said, you have to choose a side as this artificial thing from the past, man. And that Reaganism effectively won, and we were debating against the kind of nicer version of the meaner version. And this idea that you can somehow work for both Wall Street and Main Street was, I mean, I think explicitly, again, part of Obama’s sales pitch. He raised more money from Wall Street than John McCain did in 2008 but at the same time, he was also going to represent the sort of forgotten working man and have, you know, relations with unions, etc. And I think that’s kind of not borne out to be true. As they say in my home state, an ass cannot ride on two horses. At some point, one has to choose.

And I think that’s kind of what we’re getting at here. I think that’s kind of the crux of this issue, which is that, like, you really can’t go work for Amazon and McDonald’s and represent workers. You just simply can’t. And to the extent to which you do something pro-worker, it was incidental or because the unions forced you to, right? And that life does boil down to choices, which then brings the question, which a lot of them say, is that, like, well, where am I supposed to go after I leave government? And the way they say that is, you would think that they were at the soup kitchen, that they sort of had no choice, right? And they’ll even use the line, the sort of Malibu divorce lawyer line, right? I’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Where am I gonna go? You know, what am I gonna eat? Spam? So, let me ask you the question then: where ought government workers rotate in and out of because it is, by definition, a temporary job or a job that’s subject to the kind of whims of the electorate and very possibly in 2025, the whims of The Heritage Foundation who is going to make these decisions. So, where should people go who work in government, assuming that our listeners are not Maoists who think the US government should be destroyed? It kind of has to exist. Where ought these people go?

Jeff Hauser: I mean, there are a few options. Obviously, think tanks, nonprofits, progressive political organizations do exist, and there are job opportunities there, but they don’t necessarily have job opportunities for all of the four thousand political appointees in the Biden administration, let alone comings and goings from Capitol Hill or the senior ranks of the civil service who might, as you said, get pushed out by the Trump Project 2025, which is its own topic and is relatively terrifying. And it’s also true that government service should pay better so the jobs that are career really should be career. And particularly thinking about that on the hill, where the compensation is genuinely not good, given the cost of living in Washington, DC. And there’s a reason why Hill staffers are so regularly only in their 20s, and it’s not denigratory of people in their 20s to say that, like, there’s something going on wrong if everyone who works on Capitol Hill is old if they’re 30.

I think it is important, though, to think about how life was before the 1970s and before professional political life in Washington, DC became so expansive. There were far fewer lobbyists. There were far fewer influence-peddling mechanisms. And far fewer corporations had retainers with government experience to do politics whether or not they were formally lobbyists or not lobbying formally. Before political influence became an industry, people actually returned to civilian life. Most people who rise to a level in politics that have serious influence have skills that can generate a solidly upper middle-class life without selling influence. Like, if you’re a lawyer, write a will or something. Even litigation between corporations is not influence peddling. It’s one thing to be advising a utility on how to game the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s another thing to just like, this company is in a business dispute with this other company, and you went to some law school, provide litigation to them. You did PR in the government? There are PR jobs outside of politics. It turns out that lots of people are trying to influence public opinion, and not all of them are trying to do so for political purposes.

Jeff Hauser: Just go sell toothpaste like your father’s father. Don’t try to make Amazon seem fucking like a pro-worker institution. You make me sick.

And the thing is, these people are much better paid if they are doing PR or something like that in service of politics because that’s where they have particular expertise. They are relatively unique. They have distinct CVs. They can charge a greater premium. But it’s not a soup kitchen job to be applying those skills in a non-political arena. That’s what I would say. Civilian life, it doesn’t stink.

Adam: Yeah, because that’s what they’ll say. Because, I mean, we referenced two pop culture examples of neoliberal spin for this practice. One was Curtis Hansen’s film Too Big To Fail, based on the Andrew Ross Sorkin book, where there’s a scene where Henry Paulson is getting shamed for working at Goldman Sachs. And I think it’s Cynthia Nixon, or one of his aides, who’s like, You know how much he sacrificed to leave the private sector to come work for them? He did this as a patriotic duty. And it’s just totally an earnest, sanctimonious moment. And then, of course, The West Wing does this constantly, where they’re like, Well, you know, he left a job making $950,000 a year as a corporate lawyer to come work here. And it’s presented as a sacrifice. And this is how a lot of people present it right. But that strikes me as not true because you do the couple years in government to sort of parlay it into a much bigger paycheck later because people have this thing called delayed gratification. Can you talk about this sort of spin that’s been put on it too both in pop culture contexts and kind of general media narratives that these people who leave large banks to go regulate their old banks? It’s sort of like Jimmy Stewart leaving Hollywood to go to fight the Nazis. It’s sort of like they’re doing their patriotic duty.

Sam Seaborn of The West Wing, played by Rob Lowe.

Jeff Hauser: Yeah, it’s absurd to think that the distinct public honor of being one of the like, I don’t know, 50 people in the history of the world have been treasury secretary of the United States. That is valuable just because it does not come with a salary although you can, you know, wine and dine out on it forever, the stories you can tell. So, even if you’re not selling influence, you will be much better off. You can write a memoir.

Adam: Prestige matters.

Nima: Totally.

Jeff Hauser: Yeah, we should not express gratitude for people when they actually buy prestige. That’s why people buy seats in Congress. They do it for personal gratification that is not necessarily directly economic but at a lower level, lots of people are doing it economically. Lots of people are actually making more money as alumni politics than their skills would have earned in the free market if they had never been in politics. And those people are going to be particularly sensitive to avoiding making any enemies while in government service that might hinder their ability to cash in externally.

Nima: And then, to roll back in if the case may be,

Jeff Hauser: Oh yes, lots of people get rich when out of service, and they move up the ranks each stint in service. So, you have people who you know, Clinton, Obama, Biden and during the Bush and Trump years, they made a lot more money, and everything they’re doing works out. And sometimes, you have situations where until the recent anti-monopoly appointees, especially at the FTC, it used to be that to get a serious job, it was considered a positive to have done work in big law on the other side. So, to even get a better job in government, you need some sort of pro-corporate work in the intermediate timeframe to increase your stature. So, you gained stature in government by how much you sold out while in the private sector. And again, none of this is about burnishing your skills in the real economy. This is all about the influence-peddling game.

Nima: So much of what we’ve been talking about — the show is called Citations Needed — is, in a way, discoverable. You can do a little digging, you connect some dots, and you’re like, oh, this person had this role in government, and then they moved on to this thing, but then they’re on MSNBC, and their chyron says this. But for you, as someone who’s been doing this work, digging even more deeply for years and years, what’s something you’ve learned about this DC revolving door politics and private sector shuffle that most people, maybe even those of us who are interested in exposing this type of venality and corruption still might not know? Something that maybe is even surprising to you.

Jeff Hauser: I mean, I’d say the positive thing I’ve discovered is that more of these people are sensitive and have thin skin than you would think. And so, well-articulated criticism can play a role. And this has been why, I think some people that we were critics of getting jobs have done better jobs in government. Some of that’s about their incentives for the next bigger job down the line and helping give progressives a stake in the executive branch has helped alter the incentives for people who are all about ambition. But some of it is, people just don’t like being criticized. Obviously, there are certain types of criticism that people get used to tuning out so I think the criticism has to be calibrated to a certain extent. Not all derogatory language will work as well as other criticisms. But I think these people are thin-skinned, they are sensitive.

But inside the world, it is amazing how much the problem is the people who are nice. The corporate sellouts who are personable are way more dangerous than the corporate sellouts who treat people poorly. So, I think we’re almost better off with the jerks because you can do politics on the jerks. They don’t have as many friends. When you raise criticisms, people do not leap to defend them in the same way. But it’s a lot easier to keep Rahm Emanuel away from, you know, halfway around the world than getting him a big job in DC because Rahm Emanuel is an asshole to so many people in DC. If we have to have neoliberal sellouts, I guess I rather them be assholes.

Nima: Beware the nice ones. It’s like that whole line about, you know, ‘Well, George W. Bush is a guy you could have a beer with.’ It’s like, well, I mean, he’s still a war criminal so, like, I don’t know. So, yeah, there’s a kind of sinister element to that.

Jeff Hauser: His dad was famous for the handwritten note. I mean, you know, like the largest Christmas card distribution list and everything was handwritten. Yeah, it’s crazy. That old-school stuff does work. Sometimes, people reach out to the Revolving Door Project in order to try to curry our favor. And I try to kind of avoid these people socially.

Nima: I think that’s a good place to leave it. This has been so great. Thank you again, Jeff. We’ve been speaking with Jeff Hauser, founder and executive director of the Revolving Door Project. Jeff, thank you again so much for joining us today on Citations Needed.

Jeff Hauser: I had so much fun. Thanks for having me.


Adam: Yeah, I think the issue of disclosure is the most bare minimum, basic baseline ask, I know this is something Jeff has come against on social media and in other interactions, where he says, you know, This conflict of interest should be disclosed. And then everybody, again, reaches for the smelling salts and the fainting couch and says, How dare you impugn my motives? And it’s like, well, that’s the whole point of disclosure. Conflicts of interest are not about motives. They’re about obvious conflicts of interest. That’s the whole point of conflicts of interest is disclosure.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: It’s not about your own solipsistic interpretation of your conflicts.

Nima: It’s about broader transparency and accountability.

Adam: It’s about perception. I mean, that’s the problem with a lot of these consultancy firms, and this is why so many people gravitate towards them, is they’re all secret, we don’t know. And of course, the line between venality and ideology is sometimes blurry, because over time, if you have enough fidelity to a sort of generic corporatism or corporate ideology, that lends itself to making more money in the long term.

Nima: Well right, because you don’t necessarily have to be paid to say something you wouldn’t otherwise say. You’re paid to say the thing you would already say.

Adam: Or it’s both, right, because I think one shapes the other, which is to say, like, if I’m signaling to corporate clients that I’m open for business, the best way to do that is to go on MSNBC and shill for the pro-corporate position, because then I make it clear that I’m not some, you know, I’m not in the tank for unions, or I’m not a socialist, I’m not sort of one of these icky, you know, ideological, progressive ideologues, or whatever. I’m open for business, and then from there, this blurring of the–

Nima: Punditry as job interview.

Adam: Yeah, because neoliberalism is fundamentally a blurring of the private and the public. You know, people talk about private-public partnerships, that really only means you privatize the gains, but you socialize the risk, which is to say you get public funds. The way you sort of muddy those waters and signal one’s adaptability within those systems is through punditry, is through pro-corporate ideological production, and then that signals one’s willingness to become a quote-unquote “democratic pollster” and work for Amazon or Big Pharma. And this is all sort of blurry by creation, because what they’ll say is they say, Well, I truly believe this. And like you said, it’s like, yeah, I believe eventually that’s true.

Nima: Sure.

Adam: But the reason why you truly believe it is because of this dynamic where you do have a gentleman’s agreement, where you can’t really call out people for being venal, and then that becomes its own ecosystem, and that, of course, I think, ends up producing dogshit media because and dogshit commentary because they are both institutionally and sometimes directly conflicted.

Nima: Yeah, and one of the other sides of this coin, if there are multiple sides of this coin, rather than just two, is something that we’re going to talk about next week, Adam, when we bring the idea of think tanks into this conversation. So it’s not just the corporate consultancy, but it’s also these pseudo-neutral, very expertitian-focused think tanks, so we’re excited to get into that, but that will do it for this week’s episode of Citations Needed. Thank you all for listening.

Of course, you can follow the show on Twitter @citationspod, Facebook Citations Needed and become a supporter of the show through Patreon.com/CitationsNeededPodcast. All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated, as we are 100% listener funded. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: Citations Needed’s Senior Producer is Florence Barrau-Adams. Producer is Julianne Tveten. Production Assistant is Trendel Lightburn. The newsletter is by Marco CarTolano. Transcriptions are by Mahnoor Imran. The music is by Grandaddy. Thanks again, everyone. We’ll catch you next time.


This Citations Needed episode was released on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

Transcription by Mahnoor Imran.



Citations Needed

A podcast on media, power, PR, and the history of bullshit. Hosted by @WideAsleepNima and @adamjohnsonnyc.