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Preserving Freedom in a Woke World

Episode #14  |  December 16th, 2020
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In This Episode:

YouTube, Twitter and other social platforms are shadow-banning content, including preventing users from seeing anything that isn’t aligned with Democratic views. Trish’s own audience on Parler has exploded as Republicans find a new home for free thought, and now Chris Pavlovski, CEO of Rumble, a public-first video platform, speaks out against YouTube’s questionable policies. Then, small business owners are suffering as the U.S. goes back onto lock down. Andrew Gruel, owner and chef of Slapfish Seafood shares his story and fears about the future of the restaurant industry. For more from Trish Regan follow her on twitter @Trish_Regan & visit 


Andrew Gruel

Owner/chef Slapfish Seafood & Food Network host/analyst

Chris Pavlovski

Founder & CEO of Rumble


Trish Regan:               [Music plays] One of the biggest problems in the election cycle, frankly, is the inability I think of voices to be heard. I mean, I’ve always prided myself on welcoming intellectual diversity, which means I want to understand all viewpoints… all sides. But right now in this environment, you can’t. Because Big Tech and Big Media are shutting down an entire point of view. I mean, it’s crazy – especially when you look at some of the polling that went into 2020… also 2016, but 2020. Nobody would’ve thought that Donald Trump had any chance at all because all the polls – just like they said in 2016 – predicted that it was going to be a landslide.

Why? Because nobody’s going to even admit that they’re conservative in this environment. Well, what are we turning into? I mean, is this the USSR? Increasingly, it’s starting to feel like that. Or China when they’re clamping down on content as they are doing. So this is troubling for me as somebody who believes very firmly in our first amendment and wholeheartedly in all of our freedoms – including our freedom of speech and our freedom of thought. This is very much being challenged.

Well, a company – there’s a few little companies out there that are trying to do something. I mean, myself included with But another company that’s out there right now trying to make sure conservative voices are being heard is a platform that’s going straight up against YouTube. And the name of it is Rumble. Welcome to American Consequences With Trish Regan. I’m so glad to have the CEO and founder of Rumble on this program here with me today. Chris Pavlovski. Chris, welcome to the show.


Chris Pavlovski:         Hi, Trish. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on with you.


Trish Regan:               So, I mean, I’m just looking at it and I’m like, “This is crazy to me.” I mean, look. I’m not even in the scheme of things ultra-conservative. I’m actually a registered independent who prides myself on, you know, just wanting the best for our economy and the bet for our future. And I’m willing to go with the party that’s willing to deliver that. Increasingly [laughs] in recent years it’s been conservatives. But nonetheless, I’m willing to hear all sides. And yet, those sides aren’t always willing to hear me. I’ve seen it all the – I mean, it’s a shadow banning. Let me even back up for the sake of the listener right now. We’ll get to shadow banning in a second. But tell me why it is – I know what I’ve been up against – why you started Rumble.


Chris Pavlovski:         So it goes back to I guess 20 years ago when I was in my parents’ basement, building websites. I started a video site back then. And like many others – like eBaum’s World and CollegeHumor – we all have websites that we built that we’re sharing funny videos, funny pictures, etc. And then in 2005, YouTube came along. And by 2007 when Google acquired YouTube, they kind of crushed all these websites. And then, we kind of were out of business. We weren’t able to generate any revenue anymore. We weren’t able to get any search traffic anymore because YouTube cut us off all the traffic.

And Google, you know, got embedded on phones. And they kind of took over the entire market. It was an epic shock to the Internet and small website owners like myself. And we had to come up with new ways to do things. So by 2013, I decided to get back into video and back into the space because I saw a major shift happen. And it was with the small creators. Small creators like myself that were creating content on platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, we’re watching these big multi-national corporations like them make billions off the backs of our content.

And if you look back at YouTube when YouTube first started, what was it that made the platform? It was content like “Charlie bit my finger.” Home-based content that people like myself and everyone else creates. And that was on the front page. By 2013, that kind of content was no longer on the front page. It was no longer being surfaced. It wasn’t in suggested videos as much. And you watched basically a small creator get completely destroyed, and you watched all these other platforms make billions on the backs of the small creator’s content.

So the very foundation of Rumble when I started Rumble in 2013 was based on the fact that the small creators were getting censored. Their content was not getting distribution. It was not getting monetized as much anymore. In most cases, it was never getting monetized. And you watched companies like Facebook and Snapchat make money off your content, where none of it was being shared back. So that’s why we started Rumble in 2013. It was to kind of bring some life back to the small creator and get them the distribution and monetization that they deserve.

Now you fast-forward to 2020 and look what has happened. By 2018, 2019, YouTube makes more policy changes – they continue to move the goal post. They continue to censor even more. Now they started censoring big influencers, very popular people. And then by 2020, you start seeing the president get censored on various different platforms. And now the sunlight on politicians getting censored, the president getting censored, it’s just – the goal post has just moved so much in seven years it’s unbelievable. So now that’s what’s kind of leading to all of… you know, all the action you’re seeing on Rumble today.


Trish Regan:               Huh. So I guess one of my questions is – so yes. Everybody is getting censored. And I see it constantly. I’ve seen it on Facebook. I’ve seen it on YouTube. I’ve seen it on Twitter. They call it shadow banning. Basically, they have algorithms that get kicked into place where if they determine that it’s conservative content, they kind of suppress it so that it doesn’t go out there at the same speed as something that’s not conservative. And so, this is highly problematic. I mean, especially in our society today given that we all want the chance to be heard.

And it’s also highly problematic because – let’s face it – Twitter’s not a news organization, right? The New York Post is a news organization. Twitter is not. The New York Post publishes a story after having researched it, and then Twitter is suddenly saying, “Nope. Can’t be printed here.” And so, that’s where it starts to get very opaque in that if Twitter is just supposed to be the highway on which the information travels, then why are they suddenly telling you got to take a detour, you got to turn around and can’t go down that road”? So you guys, you’re effectively trying to be a highway that doesn’t police this thought. Am I correct in saying that?


Chris Pavlovski:         Yeah. And I would go a little further. Like, we just want to be an open platform for everybody to create their own home so that they can distribute and monetize their contents freely without any restrictions. And what we saw happening – last week, was it – how YouTube is starting to dictate editorial policy on their creators… I’m not sure they can say they’re a platform anymore, right? I would argue that they don’t even fall under Section 230 with that.

Because what’s the difference of the New York Times dictating their editorial policy on their writers, then now that YouTube is dictating editorial policy about not writing about the election in the way they want creators to talk about the election in the video? What’s the difference? I would definitely say that makes them a publisher more than it does a platform. And that’s the fundamental shift that we’ve seen. It’s progressively gotten worse, and I think last week was a major move on Google’s part – Google/YouTube’s part – to dictate editorial policy. And I think I now do think there’s a very strong argument to say that YouTube is no longer an open platform.


Trish Regan:               Well, I mean and this gets to the anti-trust issue. I mean, Facebook now facing that anti-trust suit. I do believe it needs to be broken up because it’s gotten too big, and it makes it harder, frankly, for companies like yourself to really have a voice, which is why it’s important that you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important that people recognize it and seek out these alternatives. But simultaneously, it’s important that the government recognize when some companies have frankly just gotten so big that they’re willing to squash any competition that comes along. That’s problematic.

But let me get back to the ad revenue itself. So, you know, what do you do about an advertiser that says, “OK. Well, I just don’t want to be aligned with anything perceived as conservative”? It would be their prerogative, right, to say whether or not they want to advertise and in Vogue or The Economist or whatever. And so, isn’t it their prerogative to say to you like, “Well, I want to be in this video but not the other”? How do you negotiate that?


Chris Pavlovski:         So that’s true. So all advertisers have the choice of where their money is going to be spent. And I think the best way to fight back on that is to have conservative advertisers advertise in conservative content or content that they like. I think that’s their choice. That’s their wallet. And I think they should make that choice. And in 2021, this is actually going to be one of our core, you know – in addition to adding livestreaming to our platform, this will… really refining the advertising platform to really tailor to making sure that we don’t get hit by advertisers and pulled by advertisers and having all these attacks on us… to really solve that in a way that no one else has solved it.

So that’s something I’m going to be doing a lot of work on in 2021. And it’s something that I will – you know, I personally look to defend. And I will always defend when it comes to that. I want to make sure that everyone gets the monetization they deserve and advertisers advertise on the content they want to. And there’s a large pool of conservative advertisers out there that would have no problem advertising conservative content. And there’s actually a lot of advertisers that will advertise on everything. If they don’t want to be on certain content, I do believe that is their choice.


Trish Regan:               I would look at it and say [laughs] conservatives are people too, hello? You know, conservatives are big participants in the economy. And so, it’s somewhat foolish of advertisers to just say, “I’m going to disregard all of these people.” It doesn’t make a ton of sense. And I think a smart business ought to sort of grow up, if you would, and recognize that people are people. And there’s lots of different ways to reach them. And whether you’re choosing to go through MSNBC or whether you’re choosing to go through a Rumble account, you want to reach – I would think – a diverse number of Americans.”

And the best way to do that is to effectively check off these bucket lists. And because they – and I think there are good examples of this. Historically. Fox was able to do that. And they really catered to an audience that was seen to be conservative. But there was still plenty of people that wanted to advertise with that audience. It’s crazy to think that companies – again. I’m just a pure red-blooded American capitalist. It’s crazy to me that a company would say, “OK. I don’t want that business because that business is somehow not the kind of business I like.”


Chris Pavlovski:         Yeah. No. Absolutely. Like, I think it’s discriminatory to label an entire group and say, “I don’t want to advertise amongst that entire group just because of their political leanings.” I don’t agree with that. I think it’s wrong, and that’s why Rumble exists – is to make sure that no group is discriminated against. And whether they’re a small creator or whether they’re creative, it’s just that’s not what anybody stands for. And I don’t think advertisers are standing for that either. And if they do, they should be exposed for doing that.


Trish Regan:               So I want to just tell the listeners right now what’s amazing to me is something that’s happened on both Parler and on Rumble. I just recently went and registered – like, I don’t know, a couple weeks ago. I only put two videos up. And I have about double [laughs] the subscribers on Rumble right now than I do on YouTube. And the other thing that I would point out is that on Parler – which, again, is trying to employ a similar tactic… I don’t know.

I may have 750,000 Twitter followers. I just registered for Parler a few months ago, and I’ve got over a million Followers there now. So what is that about? Why am I growing on your platforms? I mean, I get it. I’m seen in the conservative community as someone who’s aligned with values of freedom and live free or die and truth. But why is it that I’m able to grow so much faster there than on these other platforms?


Chris Pavlovski:         This is the best question. And it’s one that not enough, you know, media outlets are asking – is, “Why is it that everyone’s growing on Parler and Rumble significantly to thousands of percent faster than they would on these other platforms?” And here’s the truth, and this is what kind of gets me upset… it’s because you see all these media organizations labeling these other platforms as echo chambers. Rumble is not an echo chamber. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

The real echo chamber are the platforms that are suppressing content in suggested videos and suppressing content like yours from being discovered. That’s a real echo chamber. It’s actually disguised as not being an echo chamber, but in fact it is. Because they’ve created one. With Rumble, it’s open. It doesn’t matter if you’re Left, if you’re Right, if you like cats or you like dogs. If you’re going to look for certain content on Rumble, you’re going to find it. And this has been the best story about Rumble that not enough people are talking about.

And same for Parler… is that you have creators like yourself that have doubled your YouTube audience in a matter of weeks – here’s another case study. Devin Nunes is joined back in July – late July, early August – on Rumble. He has 10,000 subscribers on his podcast on YouTube, and now he has 350,000 on Rumble. I’m not going to sit here and say Rumble is bigger than YouTube. It’s not. It’s far smaller. It’s [laughs] so small in comparison to YouTube.

And we certainly don’t have better AI to suggest videos in front of the right audience. So, you know, your guess is as good as mine. And we all know what that guess is going to be. But clearly, something is wrong. And there is echo chambers being built on these other platforms, and they’re not who they say they are when they’re giving you a free choice and a free shot. It’s just not happening. And you can see that in the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Your numbers don’t lie. Devin’s don’t lie. Dan Bongino’s numbers don’t lie. No one’s numbers lie on Rumble’s platform.

Those are real – that’s a real audience. In addition, those are verified users, meaning they actually put their phone numbers in, their personal phone numbers, to get an account on Rumble. You can’t just open up an account like you can on Reddit and hide behind a username and not be verified and have a hundred different accounts on Reddit. On Rumble, you have one account. That’s it. And it’s tied to a phone number and an e-mail address. That’s far greater of a subscriber than YouTube will ever have or Reddit will ever have. So it’s very suspicious to see these growth numbers on these other platforms versus Rumble and Parler.


Trish Regan:               So I have a question for you on the subscribers themselves. Are they Rumble subscribers? Are they subscribers to particular channels on Rumble? They’re not subscribers to the individual creator. They’re Rumble subscribers. Am I correct in that?


Chris Pavlovski:         So they are subscribing to your channel. So if they like your content, they’re subscribing to your Channel. So that subscriber is now going to get all your content. They’re going to get an e-mail notification when your content is pushed onto the platform. And they’re also going to get another notification. What we actually want to do – and it’s much different than YouTube.

And I think this goes back to the emphasis of you building your home on Rumble and you kind of styling the home in any way that you want – is, we want to actually provide a transparent transaction between the creator, so yourself, and the actual subscriber By providing you the information as long as the subscriber allows you to user their information… to e-mail them directly or what it may be. So that’s the next step. That’s one of the things we’re looking to do in 2021, is to really have you kind of own and get that data on that subscriber that wants your content as long as obviously that subscriber agrees to it.


Trish Regan:               Right. No. That makes sense. And that would distinguish you and I think probably help you with more creators to come to your platform. Speaking of creators, I thank you. I’m one of your featured creators on there, and we’re going to keep putting more and more content onto it. It’s clearly resonating with the audience. But how have you recruited people in? How did this start? How did you come up with the name?


Chris Pavlovski:         [Laughs] Well, they’ll start with the name because that’s a great story. In high school, I had a really good friend that kind of made it really well in the domain space. And then, one morning when I woke up on my birthday, my 30th birthday, it was a birthday gift from one of my friends. So it was a very generous birthday gift. Like, I was already starting a video site. He knew I was going to get back into it, and he was like, “This is the perfect name. Run with it. Happy birthday.” So it’s a great little story that I have with a friend of mine that gave me this name, which is Rumble. And that started back in 2013. What was the second question that you had there?


Trish Regan:               Well, it was just, “How did you start, and how do you get more creators to your platform? How do you keep growing it? What is sort of the plan or the actions that you’re taking right now to keep growing this into something bigger?”


Chris Pavlovski:         So what’s happening now is, it’s just become a lot of word of mouth. The growth. So when you see the growth that you’re seeing and the revenue that you might see if you start using a platform like other creators who were making significant amounts of revenue… it all become sword of mouth. It’s just been like, “Hey. You have to use this. You have to try it. It’s doing really well.” But when it first started – like the first time we had a real… it was Devin Nunes back in July. It was the first person to really kind of use the platform in the political world and give Rumble a try. And we were predominantly cats and dogs prior to that.

So if you were to talk about our politics, our politics were cats and dogs at this time. But when Devin joined, he was the very first one. And he just came completely on his own. And he was just looking for a place to kind of, I guess, test to see how it would go if he would put his content on another platform and how well it would resonate. And boom. It just happened overnight, and next thing you know, you have multiple different people joining.

And now, I feel like we have millions and millions of users. We’re seeing five million users a day on Rumble this week alone like every day. So it’s been crazy since then. And it’s all been word of mouth and people sharing and letting people know. And I think a lot of it has to do with the growth and revenue, the growth on subscribers and the growth on views. And you see that, why would you invest your time on YouTube when you can’t grow like that? You just – your ROI is not there.


Trish Regan:               Back again to how you’re able to sort of navigate all of this. You have effectively algorithms that would put advertisers and content based on the kinds of eyeballs that they want. And you’re basically just not dinging? Is that – for [laughs] lack of a better word, you’re just not dinging content that might come from a more conservative viewpoint?


Chris Pavlovski:         So the first priority is to make sure that you get to put any kind of content on Rumble that’s within the law on Rumble. So as long as it’s not adult material or it’s illegal, you have the right to do that. When you get to the advertisers, they have more of a choice of whether or not they want to put ads on you. And that kind of gets sticky. This is the part that I really want to solve in 2021.

Now with all the users that we do have and all the advertisers we do have, we don’t have nearly as many advertisers as we do users right now. So we’re kind of limited on that. But it’s one of the things that we’re looking to growth immensely in 2021. And there are no algorithms at this point. We’re kind of staying away from that. But what we are doing is just making sure that what we want to do is make… well, the advertisers – I guess there are algorithms behind the software that we do use to place ads on the right content, the content they want to go on.


Trish Regan:               So I think that, you know, part of your future then and the creator’s future is, in part, just the country becoming more accepting of diversity and more willing to listen to all sides. We heard the president elect talk about the importance of unification and how he wants to unify the country. I think a big part of that unity will be having respect, if you would, for different viewpoints. And you don’t have to be a socialist to be considered popular [laughs], if you would.


Chris Pavlovski:         Yeah. No. Absolutely. We’re at a point right now where, like, 10, 15 years ago platforms were banning people for putting adult content on their sites or putting illegal content. Now they’re banning you if you debate science or if you debate politics. Science itself grows on the very debate, in the very challenges and opinions that people provide. You just cannot do that. The goal posts are so discriminatory now. They’re so wrong. And we being – Rumble just needs to tilt that scale back into the territory where everything is not discriminated against. And that’s what we’re trying to do.


Trish Regan:               Yeah. No. I really do think it’s important for society, it’s important for our culture, to be able to be diverse in our thoughts. And to me as an intellectual, the best way to actually hone one’s argument and to come to a conclusion, by the way, on anything is to understand all sides… and if you don’t understand all sides, then forget about it. I mean, you’re just not going to be able to reach the most informed conclusion on any issue.

So it’s pretty critical. What you’re doing is really, really fascinating. I would encourage everybody to check it out. We’ve been talking with Chris Pavlovski, the founder and CEO of the new site, Rumble. It’s been around for a little bit, but it’s really been taking off., which is the YouTube alternative and more acceptive, shall we say, to diverse content in good ways… in ways that need to happen. Chris, thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it, and I’ll see you on Rumble.


Chris Pavlovski:         Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. [Music plays and stops]


Trish Regan:               You know, we’ve talked a lot about how our economy’s under so much pressure. Small business owners are under pressure, right? Think of all the local restaurants that are getting shut – New York City, for example, where you can no longer dine indoors. We’re seeing in L.A. they don’t even want you to dine outdoors. It’s getting really crazy, really insane. So how is this – how is a small restaurant owner supposed to cope with this?

How is a big restaurant owner supposed to cope with this? Joining me right now for some insight into what things might look like over the next few months, I’m so happy to have with me the incredible chef, Andrew Gruel. He’s the owner and chef of Slapfish Seafood. You may recognize him from the Food Network where he’s a host and analyst there. Chef Andrew, great to have you here.


Andrew Gruel:            Well, it’s wonderful to be on the show. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.


Trish Regan:               So gosh. I mean, what are you hearing? What are you seeing? What are you thinking?


Andrew Gruel:            Well, the reality on the ground is that restaurants are shutting down by the minute. Most restaurants right now across the United States are just barely making payroll if not having already let go of the majority of their staff. And they’re in that final stage of running it as an owner/operator before they have to completely shut the doors. And that’s now a hyperbole. That is really what’s happening.


Trish Regan:               So they’re shutting their doors. They’re laying off people. And what happens – I mean, what are you even seeing with your own experience at some of your own locations? Are you able to keep them open? Have some of them had to shut down?


Andrew Gruel:            Yeah. We’ve had to shut down a couple. I own Slapfish, but I also have a couple independent concepts as well that my wife and I have set up over the years. We had to shut down, unfortunately, our first location which was independent location called Butterleaf. Which was a plant-based concept we had to shut that down in April. We just couldn’t survive. We lost everything, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars. 100% gone. No recourse at all. We had closed two of our Slapfish locations that were hoping to reopen, but there’s just no opportunity because they’re full-service raw bars, oyster bars, beer bars, etc.

And we had to lay off employees. We were able to distribute some of our employees across other stores. But as the new wave of shutdowns come into effect, it doesn’t just hurt us because we have to close. It also hurts the general psychology of the consumer mindset which then forces them to go out less. So we’re losing sales as well in that regard. And really just trying to keep as many of our employees employed, our team members employed, ahead of the holidays.


Trish Regan:               I mean, talking about bad timing. You know, you have really become sort of a symbol of the frustration that I think a lot of business owners feel right now. You don’t have a lot of use for Newsom’s policies, it sounds like, on this front. Tell me what you think of what Gavin Newsom’s doing right now in California and how it’s really going to affect everyone.


Andrew Gruel:            Well, Newsom from the beginning has completely mismanaged the state in the midst of this pandemic, right? I mean, from day one it’s been an absolute disaster from the gross misappropriation of funds that have come into the State of California which we’re now finding out about… I mean, breaking as we talk right now in regard to the potentially $8 billion of unemployment benefits that have been fraudulently used. We saw the improper use of funds for PPE in the beginning stages. But throughout the process, right – even in the summertime – Gavin Newsom shut down beaches. And he did it ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

So let’s put the business element aside for every single business that’s trying to survive in a coastal community. But the mere fact that he told people, “You cannot go outdoors and on wide open beaches,” forced people into backyard parties. We are, you know, by our very nature – we’re social people. When you tell us that we can’t interact with other people in certain public places, it’s inevitable that 95% of us are going to go into some private environment. And that’s where these spikes come from. So it’s really just makes absolutely no sense.


Trish Regan:               And I hear you. The idea that you’re going to close down a public park or a public beach when you’re outside, by the way… at some point, it just gets silly. But not just silly – really, really offensive, and frankly becomes a total violation, if you would, of our civil liberties. So you’ve become – in some ways – sort of the poster child for this. Because not a lot of people, especially out there in California, are really willing to stand up and say, “Hey. Wait a second. This is getting crazy.” Do you think this has been just overly politicized in ways that have gone so far above and beyond protecting people?

Andrew Gruel:            It has been completely overly politicized. Good point. And what’s happened is that we’ve completely lost sight of any reason, logic, and fact. Ad facts can be disseminated into data and science, which from the very beginning, it was, “Follow the data. Follow the science.” And here I am following the data and science. And when it doesn’t fit the particular narrative a lot of people want it to fit, then you no longer follow the data and science… at which point you follow the emotion.

And what we’ve seen is that when emotion takes over when it comes to public policy, you’ve lost control. And I’m up against it because I’ve said, “Look, these decisions” – right? Policy always has tradeoffs. And everybody understands that and kind of… you know, one-on-one econ tradeoffs. But when you start to ignore the tradeoffs – there’s always going to be a cost-benefit – and you start only focusing in on the emotion as your counterargument, then that’s when people start to behave in manners which can actually be even more destructive.

So when people say to me, “It’s horrible that you’re allowing people to dine on your outdoor patios. You’re killing grandma,” and they’re pointing their finger at me and calling me a murderer, that is the most illogical yet emotional argument. When in reality, by us shutting down our outdoor dining as I had mentioned earlier, we’re forcing people to dine in their own homes, patios, potentially indoors. And as we’ve seen from the numbers, these are the scenarios that are causing the spikes in hospitals, et cetera.


Trish Regan:               I just think that, pretty simply, we’re a pretty resourceful country, and we have lots of resourceful business owners like yourself. And you don’t want anybody to get sick. You absolutely don’t. You don’t want to be responsible for that. Nobody, by the way, wants to get sick. Let’s not forget that. I mean, it’s not like people are out there trying to get this. And so, at some point you got to have some faith – right – in the individual business owner and in the individuals themselves to take proper precautions. I mean, I look at Gavin Newsom, and clearly he had enough faith in himself – right – to go have his $400 lunch at French Laundry. But he doesn’t have enough faith in the rest of the people in California to be like, “OK. You know, you all can go out to dinner too.”


Andrew Gruel:            Bingo. And I’ve said that from day one in regard to Gavin’s hypocrisy dinner – is that I don’t have a problem with what he was going, because he was making his own choices, and he was utilizing his own liberties to do so. But if he’s allowed to do it, then the rest of us are allowed to do it. It’s not as if he has a separate reign, and then the rest of us plebians have to live underneath this communal brain that he controls the switches to. You know, perhaps there’s a big nutrient vat there. You know, we all can make our own choices.

And that’s a great point you make about… none of us want to get sick. You know? Whether it’s the flu or whether it’s coronavirus or whether it’s just a common cold, we all practice the necessary controls in our own lives in order to avoid getting sick. Heck, my wife and I, we’ve got four kids. We have a baby right now – eight weeks old. We’ve done absolutely everything from isolating ourselves in order to make sure that the baby remains healthy. Does that mean that I am a sensationalist? No. It means that I’m trying to be smart and prevent the baby from getting sick.


Trish Regan:               You know, congratulations by the way. That’s a very special thing. A fourth child. My goodness. You have your hands full. Let me ask you about a story that’s making the news right now out there in California. There’s an effort right now, actually – one of the guests that we had on the program quite recently, Tom Del Beccaro… and I would encourage people to listen to last week’s episode if they’re interested. But he is leading the push right now to basically recall the California governor, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who’s also a contributor to American Consequences as well as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have just endorsed this idea. Do you think it’s going to come to that? I remember I actually used to live out there back when Gray Davis was recalled.


Andrew Gruel:            I do think it’s going to come to that. I think the threshold will be met, and I think it’ll be done very quickly. Right now, what’s happened is that Newsom has not just offended those who don’t like his policies by political nature – he’s also offended his own. Because what he’s done is that he’s made everybody put a magnifying glass on the politicians who are breaking their own rules. And all the other politicians and the elected officials who are getting caught now are mad at Newsom because they want to keep breaking their own rules, and they kind of thought they had a hall pass to do so.

But when Newsom got busted, everybody put a magnifying glass on the behaviors of all these other elected officials. So they’re even mad at Newsom. That’s what’s ironic about this. They’re mad for a different reason. They’re still mad, but they’re mad for a different reason because their own hypocrisy is getting called out. So I think the threshold is going to be met. And then, the question becomes, “What do we do about it?” Right? “Do we replace one evil with another, or do we” – heck. I said it jokingly this morning. “I’m going to step up. I’m going to run for governor here.”


Trish Regan:               Wow. Wouldn’t that be something? Maybe it shouldn’t be a joke. [Laughs] In all seriousness. I mean, one of my frustrations with too many lawmakers, too many politicians, is that they don’t have any sense of what it is to meet a payroll or to run a business. And we need more people from the business community involved in politics. Because I think you will have more empathy, right, for what everybody is up against. Whereas a politician, they have a very different sort of field of vision, if you would. And I’d argue that this is sometimes a problem on both sides.


Andrew Gruel:            That’s a great point. And I’ve said the same. It’s that at the end of the day, to the politicians that are in charge right now in California, we are numbers on a spreadsheet. We are nothing more than data. But behind that data, there’s people there. There’s humans. There’s families. There’s children. There’s that soft element. And every single day, those are the things that I’m addressing.

Do you think Gavin Newsom has had to sit down and try and talk to an 18-year-old about the fact that her boyfriend is being mean to her? Do you think he’s tried to meet payroll every single week? Has he covered shifts in his own business, maybe with somebody on a totally different level, because that person couldn’t come into work because they had a crisis at home? I mean, when I’m sitting in the dish pit scrubbing grease off of a pan in the midst of all of this, I don’t think that’s something that Newsom has considered.

And that’s where I even joke and I say, “Look. As a small business owner, I guarantee you I could’ve done a better job managing this crisis than Newsome has done.” Heck. You know, when no relief package has been given to the restaurant industry, we started three days ago… I said, “You know what? I’m going to start my own restaurant fund, and we’re going to distribute – we’re going to distribute money in denominations of no more than $500 to struggling and out-of-work restaurant workers. And we raised almost $30,000 in just a couple days. And we’re going to do that transparently, and we’re going to do it because nobody else is stepping in to do it. So if the small business community has to step up and do that, then that’s what we’re going to do.”


Trish Regan:               How would people be able to help you on that, Andrew?


Andrew Gruel:            Right now, it’s been activated as a GoFundMe. And it’s all over my social, but we are in the process of expedited our 501(c)(3) so that we can amplify the effect. Because what we have seen is a groundswell of support –  nonpartisan, of course. This is not a partisan issue. I think that everybody understands the common-sense nature to this. And they understand what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable.

And there’s been an egregious overreach in regard to the local governments here and governments all over the United States. But at the end of the day, who’s being left out are these independent workers, right? These small businesses, families. And those people still need help. And if Republicans and Democrats can’t get together in Congress in order to provide that help minus any port that they want to throw in there, then we’re just going to have to do it ourselves.


Trish Regan:               You know, I want to mention something that’s very specific to your industry and also in your neck of the woods. There’s two sort of iconic restaurants that have just announced that they have shut down… two really beloved landmarks, if you would. The 21 Club, right? Which has been around since the 1930s, and it was really – started, actually, as a speakeasy during Prohibition and has just been a legend in Manhattan. The 21 Club says, quote, “It will not be feasible to reopen in the foreseeable future.”

It’s laying off all of its 148 employees. So that’s pretty sad. I’ve been there many a time, and it’s a pretty unique and special place for New York. And then also, in San Francisco out there in California the 157-year-old Cliff House is going to be closing permanently, laying off 180 employees after a mandate from the National Park Service made it impossible for them to stay open. You know, look. These are symbols of the times. Are they not?


Andrew Gruel:            They really are. And you have to ask – and you would probably be able to answer this better than I. I’m just a glorified line cook. But where are the leaders who will step up and say, “This is a travesty, and we pledge to bring these iconic restaurants as well as all the small independent ones that are lost in the mix… we pledge to bring them back online”? Instead, it seems as if there’s this kind of callous disregard for what’s happening and a ho-hum attitude towards these shutdowns. And you have to ask yourself – and I do not want to pepper in any conspiracy theories here. But you have to ask yourself, “Who’s ultimately going to benefit?” Right? And by virtue of this silence, does that tell you anything that’s happening behind the curtain? And what’s what I worry about.


Trish Regan:               I’ve brought that [laughs] up a few times. It’s not always that well received. But my point, again, is the politization of this. And there’s unfortunately, I think, a desire in some – there was such a desire, right, to get rid of Donald Trump and such a desire to really see Joe Biden in there that there are many that were really effectively willing to use this crisis in ways that I don’t consider appropriate. I mean, there’s good responses and bad responses to this. I think we should’ve been smarter. I look at – for goodness’ sakes.

I mean, I look at Andrew Cuomo. And that is a fantastic example of how we should not have responded to this crisis. The answer is not to tell every 22-year-old that they can’t go to work or go out and about. But the answer is to make sure that you don’t send the 22-year-old who may have COVID into the nursing home, thereby exposing everybody in those nursing homes to the virus. So it was a failure, frankly, on behalf of a lot of leadership to protect the people that needed protection the most while simultaneously shutting down entire economies – including to some of the people that would’ve been effectively fine through this.

So it was not smart. It was highly political. And we’re all paying the price, every single one of us, as you well know. I want to point out that everyone can Follow you on Twitter @chefgruel. I think the name is terrific. I was teasing you about it before we started the interview – how perfect it… nobody can forget it, right? @chefgruel. Andrew Gruel, who is the owner. and chef at Slapfish Seafood. Many locations throughout the United States and a well-known face on the Food Network. It’s so good to have you here. So good to have your perspective. And I think I’m going to expect you to run for governor now.


Andrew Gruel:            [Laughs] Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Certainly an honor to chat with you, and I’ll continue being a loyalist here. Thank you. [Music plays and stops]


Trish Regan:               Well, one thing is clear… Our freedoms increasingly are under attack, whether it’s our ability to go out and enjoy a meal at a restaurant, whether it’s our ability as a business owner – as you heard from Andrew Gruel – to serve those patrons. Meanwhile, it’s not just our ability to be out and about. It’s our ability to voice our opinion. And I guess that’s what fundamentally I’m so troubled by. I’ve never seen anything like this. And it really worries me about our future. Again. I believe in spirited discussions, intellectual debate. And I think as a society, it makes us better, and it makes us stronger. So let’s keep voicing the other side. Let’s not be afraid to question. Let’s continue this quest for what is truth. You know? Truth is not always easy to find.

And sometimes, you need to talk about it a lot to really get to the answers. But it’s important that we do so. Thank you so much for tuning in every single week to this podcast, American Consequences. Thank you for tuning into my daily podcast, Trish Intel I’m going to see you back online, where I write every single week. I’m going to see you back online on where I write every day. Plus, don’t forget to follow me on YouTube and Rumble [laughs]. And Rumble. We’re going to continue the conversation there. Thanks for listening.


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