Episode

5/19 America: A Country That Loves To Wiretap & The Buffalo Shooter’s Republican Bona Fides w/ Brian Hochman & Talia Lavin

May 19, 2022

Emma hosts Brian Hochman, associate professor at Georgetown University, to discuss his recent book The Listeners: A History of Wiretapping in the United States. Then, Emma is joined by journalist Talia Lavin to discuss her recent piece in Rolling Stone “The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican”. Professor Hochman first runs through a quick history of the concept of electronic privacy (and the lack of practical application of this privacy in the US), and the general animosity to wiretapping, up until the late ‘60s where a backlash to racial uprising saw Americans embrace the surveillance as a necessity for national security. Next, he and Emma jump back to the inception of wiretapping during the Civil War, the first US conflict where the use of electronic communications was central to organizing, as a tool of both intercepting communications and putting out disinformation that was quickly adopted by much of the rest of the west, and was seen as an innovation up until the mass proliferation of the telegraph throughout the mainstream saw it become a risk to the privacy of everyday Americans. With the turn into the 20th Century, Prof. Hochman dives into the early adoption of wiretapping by criminal syndicates and how it was met, unsurprisingly, with an assimilation to criminal tactics by law enforcement in the early 1900s, where organizations such as the FBI and NYPD had to shake off the association of electronic surveillance with criminality, particularly in the wake of prohibition, where both bootlegging and law enforcement organizations saw electronic communication as central to their operations. After briefly touching on the birth of the FBI, Professor Hochman and Emma dive into the gradual accommodations to political priorities and law enforcement imperatives that built the modern carceral state, coming to a climax after the summer of ’67’s myriad instances of racial uprisings, which saw a quick pivot of LBJ’s administration from Edward V. Long’s Right to Privacy act to John McClellan’s support of wiretapping in the crackdown on radical Black groups, birthing an era of law enforcement’s legal abuses of electronic surveillance that would be slowly perfected in the leadup to the War on Drugs, where it finally became a near-ubiquitous tool of federal and local law enforcement agencies. In concluding their interview, Brian and Emma look to the expansion of wiretapping authority as consistently coming under dem leadership, from LBJ to the ’94 crime bill under Clinton, the very long history of communications companies working closely with intelligence to keep government on their side, how the War on Terror coinciding with the digital revolution permanently altered the stage of electronic surveillance, and where the carceral state’s use of this technology will go from here. Then, Emma is joined by Talia Lavin as they walk through her studies of right-wing extremism, and the malicious and intentional emergence of great replacement theory on the right, attempting to normalize changing demographics as natural anxiety for people to have, and assimilating them to the racist assumptions that drive this white supremacist theory, from the lack of agency in POC to the Jewish roots of the globalist conspiracy.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Matt Binder as they dive deep into his debate with Tim Pool from earlier this week, walking through Tim’s commitment to all of the hallmarks of conservative aggrievement, from the right to harass trans people being oppressed, to the hypotheticals he offers on white students studying their own history. They also discuss Tim’s dancing around any discussion of the Buffalo shooting, his objections to the Green New Deal helping the communities most affected by climate change, and his insistence on a moral view of abortion that, for some reason, cannot be that it’s the woman’s choice. Elon discusses the horrifying rise of union monopoly and its big small bad good important insignificance, and Dave Rubin calls out Glenn Greenwald’s copycat conservatism and replicatory reactionary ideology, plus, your IMs!

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