Mark Levin, a Jewish American talk radio host and former Reagan administration official, makes no effort to hide what he thinks. Indeed, what his three-hour radio show’s 14 million regular listeners and the millions more who watch his top-rated show on Fox News every Sunday love most about Levin is that he gives them the unvarnished truth as he sees it. And Levin does so with a combination of intellectual depth and populist passion.
Levin’s massive audience insulates him from the growing fear of censors that now plagues conservatives in America. At a time when progressive propaganda has become a substitute for news reporting at liberal media organs across the United States, fresh from four years of unrelenting media assaults on former President Donald Trump and his supporters, Levin is a leading voice for millions of Americans who feel increasingly marginalized and besieged.
Ahead of the release of the Hebrew edition of his New York Times bestseller “Unfreedom of the Press,” (Sella Meir Publishers), Levin sat down for a conversation with Israel Hayom. He explained what moved him to research the roots of media bias and why he believes the rising extremism of the U.S. media poses a threat to the future of the most powerful democracy in the world.
Levin sees a direct link between the U.S. media’s longstanding hostility towards Israel and its burgeoning anti-Americanism. He also sees parallels between the overwhelmingly leftist Israeli media and the U.S. media.
Our conversation was broadcast last week to mark the official launch of the Hebrew edition of his book. What follows are excerpts from our discussion.
“As somebody who watches the Israeli media, the Israeli media is a disaster,” Levin begins.
“The American media is a disaster. But at least in America, we have conservative talk radio. You have a few outlets in Israel—not many. And we have Fox News where at least we have some conservative opinion shows. You have nothing like that in Israel. You pretty much have a statist media that backs the left—as small as the left is now politically, the media remains overwhelmingly leftist in Israel.
“They are constantly, in my humble opinion, trying to undermine the conservatives, the hawks, the Netanyahu administration. And yet the people of Israel have pretty much rejected the media, haven’t they? At least in the last number of elections. The Labor Party really only exists in The Jerusalem Post and some of the other media outlets there. But it’s appalling to watch it. It’s appalling to watch the lies about the prime minister because I’m very familiar with his legal situation and the law in Israel.
“And I would say the other problem is basically—I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble—the founding socialists pretty much adopted the Italian parliamentary system. So you have 412 parties that are constantly running, and if you can pick off three guys maybe you can get a coalition. So it’s this constant state of play which is unstable, I think, for democracy.
“Now that said, in my own country over here, we have disasters looming all over the place. Part of the problem is our media. Our media here is a one-party media. I call it ‘the Democrat Party Media’ because that’s what it is. We have individuals in our media who worked in Democrat presidential administrations, Democrat presidential campaigns, who worked for members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, and vice versa.
‘The Israeli media is a disaster’
“The media in our country is at the tip of the spear dividing our country in many vile ways. They talk about incitement of an insurrection in our country and they’re attacking former President Donald Trump for that. He didn’t incite an insurrection.
“If the president of the United States wanted to lead an insurrection, I don’t think he would’ve sent 200 militia guys from all over the country into the Capitol. I think he would have sent in the Marines. But that’s quite beside the point. What about the left, and their language and their incitement? How do we know that doesn’t anger people and cause people to do things they ought not to do?
“But all that said, it’s kind of hard to maintain a republic, a civil society, rational debate when you have a media that has no interest in reporting the news. There are many ways you can affect the news—one is by censorship, not reporting the news even though something is newsworthy. And the other is of course with political bias. I am 63 years old and I have never seen anything like what is going on in our country before. The media are not really a profession anymore. They are social advocates.
“Let me just say this, in our journalism schools today there’s something taught called public or social advocacy. This is something that goes back a hundred years in our country to the progressive movement, the neo-Marxist movement. And you have it in your country too, trust me. You even have it on your Supreme Court.
“This is what it is: You don’t teach anything—science, math, history, language, literature, without it having a patina of social activism. In other words, it’s got to be placed in some social activist category. So you don’t just teach math, that’s too rote. In our journalism schools they’re being taught, ‘Don’t just report news. You have to give it an angle—and certainly not a conservative angle or a free-market angle or a constitutional angle. No, no, no. It’s got to be the left’s angle because only the left believes in humanity. Only the left is compassionate. Only the left wants progress.’ And that is what we are getting out of our media in the U.S. today, and I daresay in Israel today.”
Q: In terms of the commingling of media and government, it’s hard to know sometimes where the media begins and the government ends. The most outstanding example of that was during the Obama administration when Obama’s information czar, his deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, was placed in charge of selling the Iran nuclear deal while Rhodes’ brother, David Rhodes. was the president of CBS.
Rhodes bragged in a media interview about how he created an “echo chamber” around the deal. It began with the administration, went through “experts” at allied think tanks, and was digested by reporters whom he noted derisively “literally knew nothing” about Iran or its nuclear program and were in no position to question the propaganda they were spoon-fed by Rhodes’ echo chamber. That echo chamber was responsible for falsely portraying a deal that guaranteed Iran would get the bomb inside a decade as a non-proliferation agreement. It also demonized deal opponents as warmongers and agents of a Jewish financial conspiracy that extended from Jerusalem to New York. And it worked. The merging of the media with the administration on the Iran deal looked an awful lot like fascism. How do you view this unity of forces and combined action?
A: That is a perfect example. He was putting out propaganda. They deliberately lied about everything. They knew the government of Iran wasn’t moderate but they were claiming it was moderate. They knew the government of Iran wasn’t trustworthy but they said it could be trusted. All those people are back. I just want my Israeli brothers and sisters to know, all those people are back in the Biden administration, and then some.
You’re going to have your hands full. We have our hands full here. And if you can’t have an honest media—which you do not have in Israel and which we do not have in the United States—it’s hard to preserve a free society.
I would though slightly amend what you said. The media are only part of the state when the left controls the state. Otherwise, they try to undermine the state as much as they can.
So as long as they’re Democrats, the media is fine. You can see the treatment here with Biden. Biden doesn’t hold press conferences. Biden is not challenged. Biden is signing executive orders like some kind of king. We don’t do that in the United States. He’s signing exceedingly radical executive orders, so he’s legislating through the executive branch. We have this system of checks and balances here which is relatively formal. And you don’t hear any talk about impeachment. You don’t hear any talk about violating the Constitution when it comes to Joe Biden.
I call the media in our country when it comes to Biden and Obama “The Praetorian Guard Media.” They not only do not want to report on what these guys are doing—they seek to protect them. And they protect them during their campaigns and they protect them when they are in office.
And what I do in the book, it’s chapter and verse. I don’t just give my opinion. I’ve got hundreds of endnotes in this book. I’ve got an enormous number of examples. I’ve got some in the media criticizing others in the media. You know, some “old school” guys who are liberals saying, “You know, we can’t do this,” and yet, they’re still doing it. You know it’s actually getting worse in this country. And it’s because, whether it’s media in this country or Hollywood, or academia or the Democrat Party, they’ve all been devoured by this progressive, sort of neo-Marxist movement. They’re all kind of one and the same, moving in the same direction.”
When I write these books, and I’m working on another one, it’s really quite depressing. What you find is that these so-called intellectuals and masterminds of critical race theory have as their intention, literally, to bring down a society. You’ll get it in Israel. It will come in the form of the Palestinians, the Arabs. We get it here in the form of everyone other than Caucasian Christians. And I would argue that they have a voice certainly in a corner of the Democrat Party but a growing part of the Democrat Party with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], and these anti-Semites and anti-American types. It is a growing part of the Democrat Party. The media not only do not condemn them, they promote them. And the Democrat Party doesn’t condemn them. They seek their reelection.
Q: One of the things you discuss in your book is how progressive Jews over time have covered anti-Semites. You devote a chapter, for instance, to how the Sulzbergers—the progressive Jewish owners of The New York Times—deliberately hid news of the Holocaust from their readers and in so doing, helped the Nazis to expand the pace of the genocide of European Jewry unabated.
Today we see progressive American Jewish organizations and leaders calling for the Biden administration to deny civil rights protections to American Jews who are being persecuted by progressive anti-Semites through the BDS movement and other anti-Israel campaigns. So these progressive Jewish groups are actually enabling progressive anti-Semitism and allowing progressive anti-Semites to get off scot-free for harming Jews. What do you make of this?
A: Well, you’ve got groups like J Street, and all the anti-Semites go to J Street and they speak. And they’re all given a plaque and patted on the head. And then they feel that they’ve spoken to Jews around the world. I’ll just be honest. I’ve said it on the radio. These are self-hating Jews.
‘Liberty always finds the cracks’
I don’t know what their problem is. But you know, we’ve always had this phenomenon. There’s always been a corner of Judaism that is self-hating Jews. I would argue that these are some of them. So the anti-Semites and those who are very hostile to the current government in Israel, they go to these groups. And they speak. And they feel like they’ve spoken to “the Jews,” and they haven’t.
As for reportage of the Holocaust, I didn’t feel enough Americans were aware enough of what the New York Times did and didn’t do during World War II and the Holocaust. It wasn’t just the New York Times. It was all the American media. Old man Sulzberger was a secularist. He was hostile to the Zionist movement. He was hostile to Orthodox Jews. And he was a Roosevelt sycophant.
The Roosevelt administration was very hostile to the Jews. They wanted to keep the Holocaust quiet, as quiet as possible. And the New York Times assisted them. The American media assisted them. This is what happens when you don’t have a media that is responsible, that is independent, that is going to report “the news” as opposed to its opinions.
President Trump refers to the media in America as “the enemy of the people.” And when he says that you have the New York Times saying, ‘That’s outrageous, that’s like Hitler.’
I mean, are you kidding me? You guys, who hid what Hitler was doing, you’re casting aspersions? But the New York Times really hasn’t changed in many ways. As I write in the book, they still are extremely hostile to Israel. They are very sympathetic to Hamas and to terrorist activities.
The book isn’t about Israel. But I don’t know how you can talk about America and America’s principles and the way America’s covered without talking about Israel, and Israel’s principles and the way Israel is covered in America.
We also get in this country from our media—depending which media outlet—that Israel is an apartheid society, a racist society. It’s the same things they say about our country, they say about Israel. So it’s kind of hard to write a book, [about] what I call “Unfreedom of the Press,” and ignore what’s going on with Israel.
And finally, it’s hard to ignore it as a Jew. I see the overlays. I see the animus towards Israel, the animus towards the United States, and really, I think that the American people—forget about the elites—I think the American people and the Israeli people have such a connection, such a love for each other. You know when we clear out all the race-baiters, clear out all the academics, and clear out Hollywood and clear out the media and clear out the politicians, I really feel that’s the case.
Q: During Trump’s tenure in office, and most notably during his last months in office, it seemed that social media platforms abandoned their role as open platforms for all—including conservatives.
When Facebook and Twitter began, conservatives raced to join. They believed this was their chance to finally level the playing field because Facebook and Twitter and the rest gave the conservatives that have no voice in the liberal media an opportunity to be heard. But in Trump’s final months in office, these platforms betrayed their conservative users, they joined the liberal media to shut them down, censor and block them.
The most stunning moment came when, after weeks of aggressive censorship, they banned Donald Trump from all the major platforms while he was still president. How are people supposed to respond to this?
A: Donald Trump used Twitter to get elected, to help get around Big Media. But Big Tech is controlled by multi-billionaires, I mean multi-multi-billionaires who [are] quite liberal, and they’re all Democrats. I think they decided that that was never going to happen again. So they’ve all been extremely partisan in the way they allow people to post information in terms of news. They and Big Media were quiet about Hunter Biden, candidate Biden’s son, who is corrupt as hell.
I quit Twitter and Facebook on my own. I gave them about a month. I brought over as many people as I could to Parler.
[Parler, an alternative free speech platform, was shut down by Big Tech last month, after millions of conservatives responded to Trump’s expulsion from Facebook and Twitter by joining the new platform.]
‘People have given up a helluva lot more for liberty than Twitter and Facebook’
Parler, before it was shut down, had about 20-21 million followers. Five and a half million of whom were mine. I think that’s one of the reasons they got whacked, quite frankly. What our media has tried to do is they’ve tried to destroy Parler, to take it down. They called it “right-wing.” In America “right-wing” is pejorative. I know in Israel, not so much. It’s an open platform. I don’t even know what their politics are.
I told everybody, “Let’s go to Parler.” I’m not going to be censored. No more scarlet letters. I don’t need left-wing kook billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg or the goofball with the beard, Jack Dorsey, telling me what to do and putting all these conditions and censorship. It was like “Holy Mackerel, what’s going on here?” So I said, “You know what, I’m gonna get the hell out of here. I have enough [of an] audience myself and I don’t need these people to be dinging me all the time.”
Q: Do you think the events that followed the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill were sort of an inflection point for social media platforms—that they became something different after Jan. 6 from what they were before Jan. 6 in terms of censorship?
A: I think they saw an opportunity on Jan. 6. When the thugs stormed the Capitol building, they took that opportunity and they are still taking that opportunity, as are the rest of the left, taking that opportunity to turn America inside out.
But there will be pushback. There’s pushback already. I’m not going to keep my mouth shut. Other radio hosts are not going to keep their mouths shut. My friends on the opinion side of Fox, they’re not going to keep their mouths shut. We do have something now called podcasts. But here’s the problem: Those same companies we’re talking about own the platforms. They can pull the plug on podcasts.
But I think if they keep this up in America, people are going to rise up. I don’t know how, but you cannot keep silencing people, you cannot keep abusing people and keep calling them those vile, vicious names, and then through policy destroy their wealth, destroy their jobs, destroy their personal identity.
You can’t keep treating 100 million people that way and expect there to be no response. This is why I say to the left, “You talk about incitement? You’re pushing people to a point that scares the hell out of me.”
Because one of the relief valves is speech. And if you’re going to crush speech and then crush people, day in and day out on television and day in and day out on social media, people in the end don’t like that very much.
Q: Today’s world is different, media-wise, than it was just two years ago when your book was first published. We’re in a time when censors that are more powerful than humanity has ever seen are bearing down on the Right on Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. How are people supposed to respond to this? These platforms gave people unprecedented opportunities to share their views and now they are clamping down on freedom of speech in a way we’ve never experienced. What do you think people should do?
A: We use their tactics. Not the violent ones. We learn from the BDS movement. I’ve been saying on American airwaves—we need to BDS them. We need to have a BDS movement against Big Tech, and if it’s not Big Tech, then their advertisers. They can’t survive without their advertisers. They take our data, they steal it from us, they sell it to each other [and] they sell it to commercial entities. We need to find out who those commercial entities are. We need to BDS the major television networks just like the left does.
Q: One of the problems with saying “I want to leave Facebook,” or “I want to leave Twitter,” is that people really do want to have their voices heard. They don’t want to lose their freedom of expression. They’re not market makers. They’re market takers. They’re the little guys with their 150, 500 friends on Facebook and they want to communicate with them. What are they supposed to do?
A: People have given up a helluva lot more for liberty than Twitter and Facebook. So my advice is just to give it a year. And then other companies are going to pop up. Because once Parler figures out how to do it, others will be able to do it. When you look at YouTube, there’s another small entrepreneur out there called Rumble. And YouTube and Google are trying to crush it. I used to have 4,000 followers on Rumble, but then two weeks ago I said, okay, I’m done with YouTube, and now I have half a million followers on Rumble. Come join us. You could talk. There’s a lot of people to talk to on Rumble. There’s going to be a lot of people to talk to on Parler.
Water always finds the cracks. Liberty always finds the cracks. We’re going to find the cracks and we’re going to use them and exploit them. We’re going to compete against these people once and for all. What we reject is their attempt to crush us, and their attempt to use government to advantage them. This is what we need to fight. So you’re either in this fight, or you’re not. Get the hell off there. Try other sites. We still have more ways to communicate than we did 20 years ago.
Q: Any parting words for your new Israeli readers?
A: Whenever I come to Israel, and I go to the Western Wall or what have you, people come up to me. I just want you to know how much I appreciate the Israeli people, the way I appreciate the American people. It always really puts a big smile on my face when someone comes [up to me] with the Israeli accent and says that they listen to me on the radio. And I get Israelis who call my show at three and four in the morning Israel time, and that’s always a lot of fun too. Some of them are Americans living in Israel, or Israelis. I just want you to know you’re heard by 14 million people, so feel free to call in.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish News Syndicate