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What A Big Tech Break Up Could Mean for Investors

Episode #44  |  July 15th, 2021
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In This Episode:

It’s no surprise that Big Tech has reached too big to fail status that some say calls for new regulations to prevent monopolization. While the politicians in D.C. figure out how to rein in the country’s biggest technology companies, Trish Regan gives the listener insights on why the break up of these behemoths aren’t all about power and control and could be a money-making event for investors.

Trish welcomes back Lord Conrad Black, who previously controlled the third largest English-speaking newspaper empire, including the Chicago Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Lord Black gives insight on shadow banning, political freedom of speech, monopolies, and how to publish and invest in this ever-evolving and complicated digital age.

Have a question or topic you want to hear in a future podcast episode? Send me an email [email protected].


Lord Conrad Black

Conrad Black is a Canadian-born British peer, and former publisher of The London Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post, and founder of Canada's National Post.


[Intro music playing]


Trish Regan:               A lot of questions about when and how and if Big Tech is ever going to get broken up. I think it’s coming. I think it’s got to happen. I mean, it may take a while. And what’s that going to mean for you as an investor? I have some thoughts. Fear not!


                                    Hello, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of American Consequences With Trish Regan. I am Trish, and we are talking about how big, how massive these tech companies are. Recently we saw that the administration, previous administration, along with 40-plus states, lawsuit against Facebook was thrown out of court. They said, “You know, you guys didn’t do anything to really try and prove this monopoly thing. All you did was tell us the company’s big. Yeah, we know Facebook is really, really big.”


                                    But sometimes you have to take it a little further than that, and well, I’m not surprised. I mean, our crackerjack lawyers, they’re – at the FTC not quite able to come with the proper legal framework to really show – show the judge why this is a problem. But I’ll tell you, it is a problem, and it’s a problem on several fronts. I mean, typically when it comes to monopolies, you look at something like how big the company is and therefore how is it affecting consumer prices, right? Whatever we pay for a product. Well, in the case of Facebook, it’s free. You’re not paying for a product, so the consumer isn’t really affected.


                                    And that’s sort of the classic definition. You know, last week we talked with John Coffee, the professor at Columbia University who spoke about how maybe that definition will start to shift now that Lina Khan, who wrote an entire paper, her Yale Law Review article on how we need to rethink monopolies in the era of Big Tech. Specifically, Amazon was the company she was talking about, how it may not just be about pricing power. It may be about something different.


                                    Now when I think about something different – I’m a journalist, so I think about our freedom of speech. And when I look at some of these Big Tech companies, I question whether our freedom of speech really and truly is under attack. It seems that way to me. It seems that way to me when Facebook is shadow-banning content that they don’t want out there. And the algorithms which have certain biases obviously in and of themselves and are written by people with their own biases, they basically penalize content that is not of their viewpoint. And so these algorithms over time are really kind of problematic, right?


                                    I’ll give you a great example. Conrad Black, who’s going to be on this show, Lord Conrad Black – and actually he has a very storied history in the media business. He published the Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times, really legendary and a talented writer. He wrote a wonderful piece talking about basically this whole Wuhan thing, and how now it is that you can talk about the virus maybe having been created in Wuhan when before you couldn’t. And he talked about what I went through, specifically me, when I was just so demonized by the Left-wing and corporate media for that matter for having raised the issue of how politicized coronavirus had become. And he said, “Look, she was the first journalist” – U.S. journalist – “to mention this.”


                                    So I posted this article that was on the front page of the New York Sun and it was in American Greatness and various other places. I posted it on my LinkedIn feed and I got a note back from LinkedIn saying they were taking it down and it wasn’t appropriate. I’m like, “What?” I mean, aren’t we over the Wuhan thing? Haven’t we decided? Didn’t Facebook tell us it’s OK now, you can talk about Wuhan and you question whether or not the virus actually came from Wuhan?


                                    Look, I think what’s going to happen here eventually is the people are going to get fed up, whether it is consumer prices that may or may not be under threat – certainly, producer prices would be under threat and those costs get passed along to consumers in many cases with these Big Tech monopolies. The Epic Games situation is a great example of that where Epic Games doesn’t really have the ability to take Fortnite anywhere else but the Apple platform or the Google platform, right? The app platforms that are charging a 30% whopping fee. So you’ve got that element, but then you’ve also got this First Amendment element, which is of particular interest to me.


                                    So, at some point – and I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow, but you do have some people there interested in addressing the issue, because look, I’m sorry. I get that the Left is in charge now, and maybe Facebook’s sort of working for them right now in that they’re promoting their ideals. But nonetheless, let’s be very, very clear, if they can do it to them, they can do it to someone else, right? So, at some point, this starts to turn on you, and before you know it the president of the United States is going to be picked by Facebook? I don’t think that that works. I mean, I don’t think politicians are going to go along with the idea that these social media companies actually have more power than the government itself.


                                    So, you can expect, you can expect that at some point they will be broken up, not necessarily this year or next year, but I would be looking out over the next decade. And as a shareholder, what do you do in that environment? I’d hang on. I’d hang on to my investment because I’d want that investment – well, maybe not Facebook… we’ll get to that in a second. But in a lot of cases with these tech companies, they have tremendous businesses aside from their really big businesses, right?


                                    Look at Amazon. Amazon Web Services is a phenomenal, super profitable entity. The retail business, not so profitable. He’s made that decision, Jeff Bezos made that decision to have very slim margins because he wanted to grow and grow and grow in size, again getting back to Lina Khan’s redefinition of monopoly, how you have to rethink all this. Even if it’s not specifically hurting the consumer now, could it hurt the consumer in the future? It certainly could hurt the producers that are selling their products on Amazon. But Amazon has AWS with very high operating margins, and that business in itself – it will really, I think, have a tremendous future going forward and could do very well if it was sectioned off, where the sum of the parts is worth more than the whole. And I say that even knowing that Amazon is trading at astronomical levels.


                                    But yet, if you’ve got a long time horizon, then you can wait this out and you have faith that the government will eventually come in there and break up some monopolies. I think Amazon is still a good stock to be buying right now, again knowing that you have that long-term time horizon. I mean, you think about Ma Bell. You think about how AT&T got spun out of that, and wow. I mean, look at the massive returns, upwards of 400%. If you account for dividends, you’re looking at upwards of 3,000%, right? And so it shows you that, you know, if you get AWS in an Amazon breakup, that could be the AT&T, if you would, of the next generation.


                                    So I like the idea of breaking these up, from both a consumer standpoint, from a monopoly standpoint, from a freedom standpoint, and also from an investor standpoint. Same thing with Apple because the App Store – hugely profitable. Some of that profitability will be diminished if various folks are successful in getting those fees reduced. Nonetheless, look, the Apple Store, the App Store, it’s still kind of a hostage audience. If you have an Apple product, an Apple phone, are you really going to migrate to another store? I mean, it’s good to have the ability to do that and that’s part of what the antitrust issue would address, but simultaneously, you know what? You’re probably still going to want to be there on your Apple device looking through the Apple store.


                                    So I still like this. I still like Apple. I still like Amazon. I still like Google, but Google’s another one – woo! I mean, it’s in the cloud business as well, so that’s something that could really bode well for the company. But they do have a huge, huge impact on advertising right now, and that I suspect will have to – that’ll have to be mitigated in some way, shape, or form. So Google’s another one.


                                    Facebook – here’s the one thing I’m going to tell you about Facebook. I think Facebook faces a whole set of other challenges if it does not diversify its earnings stream and its business going forward because it relies on scale, right? That’s why it got Instagram, because the more users it has, the more popular it is. If everybody’s on there, then you want to be on there. And so, it’s harder for some of the social media companies to really have an impact if there are more players in this space. Nonetheless, I’d like to see more players in this space because if you can’t get your message out on Facebook, maybe you can get it out somewhere else. And so that’s important, I think, from a societal standpoint, although I’d also say from a societal standpoint, I’d like to get rid of all these guys altogether. I wish we could turn back the clock and have no social media, but we can’t. We can’t. It is the world in which we live, and so we have to think through how to navigate this in the best possible way.


                                    I’m so excited to have on the show today my good friend, Lord Conrad Black, who as I said is just a legend in the media industry, in journalism, having run some of the most successful papers in the world, including the London Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times. Conrad Black, Lord Black, so good to have you here today.


Lord Conrad Black:    And thank you for having me, Trish. Always a pleasure.


Trish Regan:               You are now the host of Scholars & Sense, one of the hosts with Victor Davis Hanson as well as Bill Bennett, a good crowd there on that podcast. So we appreciate you taking the time today. You know, I’m really troubled by what’s going on. And I’ll tell you, I posted an article the other day written by you, sir, written by you that was on the front page of the New York Sun. And I posted this because you talked about me in it and you actually said, “Look, you know, Trish was one of the very first” – I think you said the very first to really recognize how politicized the Left had made coronavirus. And I posted this and I got a note back from LinkedIn saying that it wasn’t OK and that this did not, you know, jive with their standards. And I thought, “Wow, you know, this is pretty amazing. This is a piece written by you that appeared in American Greatness, appeared all over because plenty of other people picked it up. You, sir, are a wonderful, brilliant writer, and yet it’s not OK by them.


                                    So I’m confused. I mean, it used to be back in the day, you know, you as a publisher could publish what you saw fit to publish, and you would take on certain risks in doing so. You still take on certain risks. But that was, you know, up to you. Nowadays, it’s as though you’re publishing for some of these Big Tech companies instead. Am I right?


Lord Conrad Black:    That’s right, and – well, no, not for the Big Tech _____ themselves, but their platform there. And that particular piece was in American Greatness, and it was run on RealClearPolitics, so it met that test. That’s an aggregated that normally applies – you know, it always runs a broad latitude of different viewpoints, but it has never, so far as I know, been accused of being an irresponsible Internet publisher. And that’s just completely scandalous. That’s just outright partisan censorship, and it is a very – in fact, if you don’t object, I’m going to write a column about that because that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me.


                                    And, you know, as you know, I’m not some foaming-at-the-mouth nutcase. My opinions, to take a phrase from George Will, are between the 30-yard lines. And if I’m or anyone who would see fit to reproduce what I write are to be subject to this kind of arbitrary censorship, then that is a bad sign… a small sign but a bad sign for the cause of freedom and freedom of expression and the status of the First Amendment in the USA.


Trish Regan:               So where does this go? I mean, we saw recently that the judge tossed out the case for Facebook. The FTC had brought an antitrust case and the judge, you know – leave it to our government to completely fail to actually prove in any way, shape, or form that Facebook was a monopoly, other than to say it controlled most of the market. Yeah, we know it controls most of the market, but then you’ve got to back it up with this, that, and the other. So now they’ve got 30 days to refile the case. There’s a new head of the FTC. She does look at monopolies in a different way than perhaps we have in the past, which is important because she’s saying, “Look, the scale, the size of them – you have to rethink what that means, even if it doesn’t affect consumer prices.”


                                    So, I think that’s a step in the right direction, but she’s – I’m sorry. She’s just one person, and you’ve got lots and lots of lawyers on behalf of the Facebooks of the world, or the Twitters or the LinkedIns or the Googles or the Apples, which charges plenty – [break in audio] big fight with Epic Games right now because of concerns about monopoly there with how much they charge just to be on their platform. I mean, all of this is kind of coming to a head. So I’m curious from a First Amendment standpoint, Lord Black, how do you think about it? And what is the future really of media and digital media and some of these companies in light of these monopoly concerns?


Lord Conrad Black:    I – look, it’s a complicated subject, and naturally, like yourself, I have lots of thoughts about it. But I wouldn’t count on the FTC for anything at this stage. I mean, the Democratic Party has done an elephantine backflip. Warren and Sanders were shrieking at the top of their lungs about the evils of these platforms until they locked arms and sandbagged the former president, whereupon they went as silent as Zechariah in the temple. It’s as if their tongues have been stilled, if not removed. And that’s the great core and backbone of principle of the Democratic Party on that issue. They oppose censorship and infringements of the First Amendment, unless they happen to be politically convenient for them.


                                    However, I do have some faith in the higher courts. And I don’t know anything about how that particular case was formulated and how good an argument was made, but I wouldn’t expect the Justice Department seriously to prosecute it while Biden is the beneficiary of the antics of the cartel, the big media cartel. But eventually, there will be a well-formulated case that this is unconstitutional, that the conduct is unconstitutional, and that it constitutes a threat to freedom of expression under the First Amendment. And I do think that that court as it is now constituted, if its composition doesn’t change radically, would uphold a serious argument on that subject.


                                    Now it would be up to the – you know, it wouldn’t be necessarily up to the court to decide whether these companies should be broken up or how much competition there should be. But I think the way it’s headed now, it is a dangerous situation and it’s a threat to democracy, and in their sober moments, even the Democrats agree to that. And the problem was the hysteria of the Trump issue. It was just the presence of Donald Trump at the center of American politics caused a state of affairs in which completely irresponsible elements could get away with murder, as long as they were arrayed with the anti-Trump forces that completely dominate the national political media. And by the narrowest of margins, and from the look of things, by a selective intervention in the vote-counting process, they managed to evict him from office, but he’s still there and that state of controversy may obtain for the next four or five years, or if he’s reelected, for another term. But ultimately what they are doing is unconstitutional and will be found to be so, I think,


Trish Regan:               When you were publishing the Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, all of these papers, did you ever feel like there was some bigger order out there that was demanding you do this, that, or the other? I mean, think about the poor New York Post, right? When they had found Hunter’s laptop and they had all this information, and yet they saw their own Twitter account shut down by Twitter, who said that this was not appropriate to print. And I’m thinking, “Well, who works for who?”


Lord Conrad Black:    And a large group of former CIA officials signed a public letter saying that it was almost certainly Russian disinformation, that if there was any investigation of Hunter Biden going on, it would be known. It then came to light, conveniently after Election Day, that there had been a grand jury investigation in progress for a year and a half. Well, no – you’re right. I mean – and of course, because the media is so almost airtight and totalitarian in its hostility to the Republicans and the Bidens get the – they’re not wildly enthused about the Bidens, I don’t think, but they’re the people who are there and they’re the leader of the faction that they oppose, they give them a free ride.


                                    But ultimately the United States is a country that feels quite strongly that the democratic values, small-D “democratic values,” on which the whole system and history of the country is based must be preserved. And I mean, I’m a good deal older than you are and I can remember the tail end of the McCarthy era, and there was a great deal of fear at that time of how far that would go. And ultimately this is a ship that floats and it rights itself, and it’ll get there.


                                    But in this sense, this period when Trump is out of office and they’ve blackballed him in social media terms, is one where the pressures that in the paranoid minds of those who have become irrationally hostile to him are necessary to preserve the country abate somewhat, and I think we see signs of it. You know, I think Jon Stewart’s comments about the origins of covid and even – I mean, I can’t stand these people, but Bill Maher commenting on the dangers of progressophobia, and even Andrew Sullivan. I wouldn’t put him in that category. He’s a much more substantial person. But his attack on CRT and so forth, I mean, it’s coming. And as long as they can’t rally an adequate number of people with this hokey little toxin of Trump is bad and you’re a racist, then the country returns to its logical compass point being in favor of freedom of expression.


                                    So I think we’ll get there. It’s just such a confused time, and the confusion isn’t over.


Trish Regan:               Well, and it’s hard. It’s hard for people to find other forms of expression, right? In other words, if the social media companies decide that they don’t like that particular viewpoint, I mean, look, I see it often. [Laughter] I mean, I could be just talking about plain old Fed policy sometimes or taxes, and you know, I’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, and then you can click to see how many people actually saw the post and it will say, you know, 15. And I’m like, “Well, how could that even be possible?” [Laughter] And this is the shadow banning effect that conservatives have talked about.


                                    So I just question – let’s assume. Let’s assume at some point in the next decade, somebody gets their act together there in Washington, D.C. and you find a situation in which some of these Big Tech companies do get broken up. Google gets broken up. Apple maybe gets broken up, Amazon perhaps. I’ve always argued at least from an investing point that a lot of those companies would be well-served to be broken up, only because then they can really specialize in various given areas. And typically you see, often is the case that the sum of the parts may be worth more than the whole.


                                    When it comes to Facebook, however, it’s a little different because you need that scale. You need that size in order to really make an impression. But I guess I just get back to how do people figure out, well, where am I going to go for my news? If Breitbart’s going to get shadow banned and I happen to like some of the viewpoints on Breitbart, I guess I just have to go to Breitbart itself. It’s requiring I think consumers to be a little bit more committed to going out and finding things because Google or Facebook or Apple can make a choice to sort of cut that off.


Lord Conrad Black:    Yeah, I think you’ve put your finger on it. I think what happens when people feel oppressed – now we mustn’t overdramatize this. This isn’t oppression such as people experienced in totalitarian regimes, you know, like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany or something, or even in China today. But when they do feel oppressed, when they feel that their ability to express themselves is being unjustly curtailed, historically people do get very ingenious and determined to overcome that. So they start new sites and they go – they make it harder and harder to police and restrict them. And ultimately in the case of the United States, these are people – and we’re not talking about lunatics proclaiming hatred of particular ethnic groups or anything. We’re talking about people like you and me. We’re just, you know, well within the borders of reasonable comment, within the system, just trying to get policy changes, not do anything illegal or disrespectful of the constitution. And such people have a right to that, and the American spirit is not such that it will accept to be suppressed like that. And it has never been a country that accepted that kind of repression. And the avoidance of that kind of repression is above all other things the raison d’etre of the country. And it’s there, and it’s in the spirit of the country.


                                    So we will win. I don’t mean we will win in partisan terms, but in terms of getting our views out and enabling the entire marketplace to have a full hearing of a range of all rational views, that party will win. I don’t mean a particular political party. I mean all of those who favor, who genuinely favor in practice freedom of expression along the lines of the old Voltaire axiom, “I don’t agree with you but I’ll defend your right to say what you want.”


Trish Regan:               Because otherwise, you know, the alternative is really just not America.


Lord Conrad Black:    Well, otherwise it’s folded as a democracy. I mean, there’s no point. It’s just a big – it’s just another big, undemocratic country.


Trish Regan:               You mentioned the Jon Stewart thing. So he was recently on Colbert and people were kind of like, “Oh, my gosh, what did he just say?” He made a funny joke about the virus coming from Wuhan, saying sort of like, “Obviously it came from Wuhan. There’s the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” And he compared it to the Hershey factory, saying, “Yeah, you know what? If there’s suddenly a chocolate outbreak and it’s coming from Hershey, Pennsylvania, you might think, ‘Hey, there’s a chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania!'”


                                    It was really, really funny, but what was sort of disturbing about it to me was that you couldn’t say this, you couldn’t say this just a few weeks ago. Lord Black, they actually would totally suspend your account. Google would label you fake news if you so much as question. And I’m not saying that it necessarily, you know, absolutely – but I think you ought to be able to question some of these things. As journalists we ought to be able to say, “Hey, can we connect the dots here and at least ask the question?” But the idea that somehow, you know, between Anthony Fauci and the rest of them coming out with this big, splashy piece in National Geographic just days after the president said he had seen intelligence that suggested it had come from Wuhan – I mean, this was once again I think a repeat of sort of an effort to impeach him however they could, and this whole virus got caught up in it.



Lord Conrad Black:    Yeah, that’s what’s happened. But you see, I think the – our opponents in this case, those who would – we’re not talking partisan politics… we’re talking about those who would prevent us saying what we want to say, given that what we’re saying is reasonable and arguable and not rabidly hostile to anybody. It’s just an interpretation of events in a logical way, as much as we can as members of the public. I think that our opponents are backing themselves into positions they can’t defend.


                                    I mean, the fact is the real nut of this is the election. They cannot bear the thought that there is a taint on the election, and there is. Now I’m not saying that the election was stolen. I don’t know that. But you know, it went off without any contested issues at all in 44 states, but in six states very strange things happened. There were terribly lopsided drops of harvested ballots after the polls had closed in a way that was completely unverifiable and taking advantage of laws or executive decisions that were put in place or decreed in constitutionally questionable fashion. There were a total of 18 cases taken by those associated with the Trump campaign, plus the one by the attorney general of Texas, total of 19, challenging the integrity of the elections as a whole in one or more of those six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. And none of them was heard. Not one of them was judged on its merits. The judicial system declined to hear them or ruled them on process calls – you know, sued the wrong defendant, came in late, started in the wrong court, nonsense like that. None of this stuff was adjudicated, and you know, fewer than 50,000 votes flip and Trump wins, and these people are trying to stamp out – and this is what they would’ve objected to in the piece of mine that you put in. They’re trying to stamp out the thought that there was a question of whether it was a fair election. Well, they can’t stamp it out. The fact is 75 million people think it wasn’t fair and it’s not clear that it was. I’m not saying that it was stolen, but I’m saying the country has a right to know and they’re not going to stamp that out.


Trish Regan:               And I look at what the Republicans need to do and I’m a little frustrated with them because I feel like if they don’t get their act together, all of our taxes are going to be going up. Our economy’s going to be in the tank. None of this is going to be pretty, and so there’s a lot on the line right now. And I just think that you know what? Conservatives can play that game, too. Conservatives can be just as smart as, OK, if you’re going to have the absentee ballot thing – by the way, I don’t like it. I don’t understand why you can’t or you shouldn’t just have to show your ID when you go to vote. Come on! But –


Lord Conrad Black:    Like every other country.


Trish Regan:               Right? Yeah, I know. [Laughter] I mean, just to do anything, right? To go into a building in New York City or anywhere, anywhere, even out in the country, they want proof of identification. So – but can’t conserve – [break in audio] you know, sort of outthink them? I do think the Trump campaign from a social media standpoint, which is one of the reasons why you see this backlash now against conservatives, because they’re trying to sort of prevent this from ever happening again. But they got way out in front on social media in a way that the Hillary Clinton campaign just couldn’t do, right? And they were still out in front on social media, although they had a lot of censorship and now they’re continuing to have a lot of censorship. But this was something that conservatives did well, did very smartly. So aren’t there answers going forward for how conservatives can also outthink the other side in terms of getting out the vote and making sure that legally – everything happens within a legal framework, but that they win?


Lord Conrad Black:    Yeah – no, they can, and they have at times in their history. I mean, Reagan ran – now he was a very strong candidate, but he ran a much more sophisticated and innovative campaign than Carter or Mondale did against him. Now as I said, he was a wonderful public speaker and he had plenty to run against, but he did run an absolutely smooth, professional campaign under Jim Baker, and they can do it when they get organized to do it.


                                    Now this is a problem with Trump. You know, he had no political background at all. He brought in a bunch of absolute wild-eyed amateurs who made it easy for his opponents to portray the whole thing as a madhouse. Remember Scaramucci’s three days as communications director and some of –


Trish Regan:               Was it only three? I thought he was proudly touting 11, but yeah – no, I got you. [Laughter]


Lord Conrad Black:    Yeah, and what was the – Steve Bannon? I mean, you know, he’s a clever man, but we’re bringing him into the Security Council? I mean, Trump deliberately made the whole thing look like a circus and, you know, you have to – we’re dealing with the presidency of the United States, so it has to appear to be a serious operation and Trump made it easy for his critics to represent him as not being serious. But I think he’s learned a lot. You know, he’s a smart man, and I think he – you know, confession of error is not his strong suit, but he is – you know, I talk to him occasionally. I think he’s figured out that it could’ve been done better.


                                    Where I actually blame him is he warned about ballot harvesting. He warned what could go on in the election, and yet he wasn’t ready to combat it on the ground. He didn’t have the legal team – here’s one area I agree with what William Barr said in that interview he gave the other day. He wasn’t ready for it. He predicted what would happen but he wasn’t ready for it, so up to a point he has himself to blame.


Trish Regan:               Yeah – no, I would agree with you on that. I think that he – you know, maybe it was that lack of discipline. Look, he shot from the hip, and he had a lot of good instincts and –


Lord Conrad Black:    And he was a good president, Trish! I mean, the fact is in policy terms, he accomplished a lot.


Trish Regan:               But then the question in terms of the election itself, it’s like how do you follow through? And some things they did really well. I remember those rallies – they were getting tons of people registered to vote that had never voted before, and that was really smart.


Lord Conrad Black:    But you see, it’s still there. Did you see this one in Ohio on the weekend? I mean, when he started speaking, the place had been full for three hours and the lineup or cars to get in was two miles long. I mean, there’s no one else in the country and no one in the history of the country since Roosevelt who could – Franklin Roosevelt – who could pull crowds like that, and that was before television when it was really a rarity to see the president. I mean, Eisenhower and Reagan could pull pretty good crowds at times, but not like this.


Trish Regan:               And you think he can still do that? I mean, as you look forward to what’s happening next and whether or not he decides to run – I mean, I think he helps the party. You know, he will help the party regardless of what happens. But yeah, there’s some people – Conrad, there’s some people out there, and I’ve run into them, that love him, and other conservatives that feel just exhausted, right? And so they don’t want to go there again. And so, my question is how does – you know, you talk about discipline and how he’s got to come across a little bit differently, yet simultaneously one of the reasons people liked him so much was, you know, he really – he just kind of told it like it is and didn’t have that discipline. So, he’s kind of in a tricky spot.


Lord Conrad Black:    He can take it up to a point but he’s got to stop at a certain point. I mean, there are some things that he said that the president shouldn’t say. But on the other hand, you’re quite right. A great many people like him overturning that logrolling, back-scratching, aren’t we wonderful, the sacred duty of government, and all this – it’s just a lot of hypocrisy. I mean, most people think these politicians are a bunch of crooks and jerks anyway, and so let’s not get too sanctimonious about it. And he really hit the jackpot with those people, but on the other hand, there was a larger group that felt there are some things a president just doesn’t do, and he did some of them, and that was his mistake.


Trish Regan:               I think the policy was brilliant and I think he did a lot for the economy. I think it scared the living daylights out of the other side. And the fact that he made the inroads he did – you look even at the Hispanic voters that switched over to him, the minorities, African Americans, women. I mean, all of these groups did so well. I look at median incomes, for example, median incomes fell pretty badly under Barack Obama while the wealthy got wealthier, right? And that changed in the Trump administration. You actually saw median incomes rise up until the – you know, we shut ourselves down completely and just turned off the economy. But when you look at those first three years, enormous success economically, and I wonder. You know, some people may start feeling nostalgic for that. We shall see. We’ve got ’22 to worry about first.


Lord Conrad Black:    In this sense, it’s an advantage for Trump that they have shut him down, because if you don’t have him in your face all the time like the country did for four years, you tend – it’s like anything else. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You know, a former relationship – you forget what an annoying person it was and think of the good times, you know? Well, it’s – you know, especially the more they see Biden and two million people – or the rate of two million people pouring across the southern border illegally each year and inflation out of control and crime rate up 100%, violent crime, a quiet Trump becomes an extraordinarily potent candidate.


Trish Regan:               I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was actually laughing. The whole – the Facebook, the Twitter, I thought, “You know what? In a weird way, it’s the best possible thing they could do for him. It actually helps him.”


Lord Conrad Black:    But the first time around he exploited the media controlled by people who hated him, and he used Facebook and so on, even though the leaders of that company dislike him. And now that they’ve banned him and got their revenge, they’re reviving his popularity. I mean, there is a funny logic in it all.


Trish Regan:               Well, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens for sure. I love talking to you. Thank you again for your very nice article, regardless of what LinkedIn had to say [laughter] about me putting it up.


Lord Conrad Black:    No, not a bit, Trish. Always a pleasure speaking with you.


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Trish Regan:               What a fascinating, what an interesting conversation. I want to encourage every single one of you to go to so you can read more of what I’m saying regarding Big Tech, regarding our freedoms of speech so that you can get more from all of our talented writers about how you can think about investing right now in this increasingly treacherous environment. I encourage you to read my piece that you can get at on the coming breakup of Big Tech and why that’s actually good for America and it’s good for shareholders. I’ll see you, of course, as I always do on my daily podcast, and right back here next week for you on American Consequences. Until then, have a wonderful week.


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