This week, Larry King was hospitalized with COVID-19. Back in May, he argued with Dave Rubin about the necessity of lockdowns.
Update 1/23/2021: It was announced on Saturday that the 87-year-old broadcasting legend died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given, but the timeline strongly suggests that COVID-19 was a contributing factor.
So sad to hear about the passing of my friend, my mentor and my bonus grandfather. There’s only one true King of in… https://t.co/uiCKljy8Pz— Dave Rubin (@Dave Rubin)1611417207.0
In response, Dave Rubin tweeted what would seem to be a heartfelt memorial to his "mentor" and "bonus grandfather," if not for the fact that Dave Rubin pushed for the lax policies that likely led to Larry King being exposed to COVID-19 in the first place. As such, we can only recall Larry's words: "David, that sounds ridiculous."
Update 1/5/2021: Larry King has been moved out of the ICU, and is reportedly breathing on his own in an LA hospital.
Larry King is a legend of broadcasting.
For more than six decades he has worked in radio and television, developing his signature interview style. His nightly CNN show Larry King Live ran for 25 years — into his late 70s. But even after it ended in 2010, King was far from ready to retire.
At 87 years old, the Emmy and Peabody winner has continued making great TV, and his straightforward, conversational tone has not diminished. Rather, age has refined his skills.
His aversion to researching the subjects of his interviews — which he has touted as making for a more casual and natural flow — is emblematic of the attitude that makes him so compelling. While many people may claim that they "don't give a ****," Larry King lives that ethos as only an old man can.
He will interrupt his guests, contradict them, talk over them, and just generally say what's on his mind. These tendencies come across as rude, and sometimes his musings make it clear how out of touch he is — after decades of wealth and fame.
Larry, I'm on DuckTales. www.youtube.com
But more often than not, King's approach seems to cut through pretense and formality and produce genuinely interesting conversations. This week, as it was reported that Larry King contracted COVID-19, and was subsequently hospitalized, two conversations in particular have remained on my mind.
Both were conversations between King and BlazeTV's resident "former liberal" Dave Rubin. And in both conversations it becomes clear both that Rubin has a sincere admiration for Larry King, and that the feeling is not mutual.
Rubin has made a name for himself out of his one-time tenure at Cenk Uygur's progressive news outlet The Young turks — before he made the move to Glenn Beck's Blaze Media. Branding himself variously as either a "classical liberal," or a "former lefty," Rubin is noted for his rejection of contemporary "regressive Left" politics, and for his willingness to have open discussions with people whom others might find "unsavory" or "Nazis."
The fact that Rubin is married to a man also gives him cover to platform people who believe that same-sex marriage should be outlawed and that "conversion therapy" should be encouraged. But it's all okay, because they're just "talking about ideas" — hateful, ignorant ideas — and because Dave Rubin is making a lot of money as a result.
Still, despite valid criticisms of Rubin as the passive, presentable entrée into the depths of far-Right ideology, he seems to see himself as part of a venerable tradition of impartial interviewers — with Larry King as one of its progenitors. He has referred to King as a mentor, and whenever they get together, the only thing more obvious than Dave Rubin's fawning reverence is King's lack of respect for Rubin.
The two have conversed on a number of occasions, and there are always hints at this dynamic — as when King seems to think that "Rubin" is Dave's first name — but the moment that truly crystallized their sad relationship dynamic came in Larry King's appearance on The Rubin Report back in February of 2020.
Larry King Ruins A Live Interview By Taking A Call www.youtube.com
While in the middle of a live-streamed discussion about moderate politics, an assistant delivered Larry King's cell phone, ostensibly for King to explain something about Samsung and this flip phone in particular. But almost as soon as the phone is in King's hand, it starts ringing, and he briefly makes a face as though he's embarrassed and uncertain of what to do, before flipping it open and answering the call.
Maybe Larry is so used to taking phone calls during live broadcasts that it just felt natural. But the more likely explanation is that he just doesn't think much of Dave Rubin.
On the other end of the call, the voice of King's college athlete son, Cannon, can be made out enthusing over some recent baseball games. Meanwhile, Rubin silently gawps and gestures, whispers to Larry to remind him of the live audience of thousands who were watching it play out, and looks in disbelief at both Larry and the camera.
At some point King explains to his son that he is "doing a podcast," and says, "while talking to you, the audience is watching me talk to you," and somehow that isn't the end of the phone call. For more than three minutes the show is at a standstill while Larry King and his son discuss batting averages, their plans for the week, and the LA Dodgers latest trades.
When the call finally ends, Larry King doesn't even hint at apologizing. Why would he? What has Dave Rubin done to deserve his respect?
To make that point more clear, we need to skip forward to May, when the first wave of the COVID pandemic in the US was just beginning to subside in New York City and a few other hot spots. Dave Rubin was among the conservative commentators who were already arguing that the spotty, insufficient lockdown had gone on long enough, and that it was time to give governors the leeway to reopen their state economies.
Dave Rubin takes on the progressive movement www.youtube.com
During an appearance on Larry King's show PoliticKING to promote his self-victimizing tome Don't Burn This Book, Rubin acknowledged that King "might be right," that people returning to their lives and congregating in public spaces was bound to cause a lot of new cases of COVID. But then he argued that we had to "decide what level of sickness are we willing to live with."
And how else could Larry King respond to an incredulous Rubin but to say, "David, that sounds ridiculous. 'What level of sickness can we live with,' come on! You've got a worldwide pandemic."
What King might have added if Rubin hadn't then interrupted is that at the time — and to this day — the long term consequences of COVID-19 are little understood. Cognitive impairment and lasting damage to heart and lung tissue have been reported long after more obvious symptoms have subsided. And a small but worrying number of children have developed severe and frightening inflammatory symptoms that are not yet understood.
We may not know for years how the novel coronavirus has affected the tens of millions of Americans who have contracted it so far — with hundreds of thousands of new cases reported every day, and hospitals and morgues overflowing. But even the little bit we knew about the highly contagious virus at the time made it obvious what a bad idea it was to rush reopening before even a basic standard for a lockdown had been met.
Dave Rubin believes that trusting scientists is a silly notion: "Have you ever seen a science fiction movie? There… https://t.co/pMxmG52yZK— Dave Rubin Clips (@Dave Rubin Clips)1609214122.0
And while the threat for people like Dave Rubin, 44, may not have looked so serious, for someone of Larry King's age, the situation couldn't be handled lightly. As King sarcastically put it to Rubin at the time, "At whose risk? … It's okay if you die, right?"
But measures like paying people and businesses for a more serious, enforced interruption — which worked beautifully in a number of countries where economies are recovering rapidly — were not even deemed worth discussing by people like Dave Rubin. Which meant that the only question was how long people could be expected to get by with nothing. And with that narrow consideration, it's hardly surprising that most of the country reopened to one extent or another.
Looking back at the conversation now, you can either view Larry King as a prophetic scion who foresaw the chaos and the death that neoliberal intransigence was about to unleash upon the country — the 350,000 dead Americans and counting. Or you can view Dave Rubin as a callous and willfully ignorant tool of wealthy interests, denying reality for his paycheck.
What if people like Dave Rubin had considered the possibility of helping average Americans through a time of unavoidable crisis — without first helping massive corporations and investors a great deal more. How many hundreds of thousands might have been saved?
If Donald Trump hadn't downplayed the virus, refused a mask mandate, pushed to reopen, and used his unparalleled access to advanced and experimental treatments to say "if I can get better, anyone can get better," back in October, would Larry King be in the hospital today?
Perhaps — unlike more than 100,000 Americans who have died miserable, horrific COVID deaths since our soon-to-be-former president made that absurd statement — Larry King will receive some of the same special treatment, and will quickly pull through. He is, after all, a wealthy celebrity, and he has previously survived a heart attack. Maybe it will be enough to save his life...
In either case, the blame for the current horrific state of affairs lies unequivocally with people like Dave Rubin. So if you ever get the chance to talk to him, please remember to show him all the respect he deserves — or at least take a phone call.
It may not be a shadowy communist conspiracy to "destroy American capitalism," but it should still scare you.
Those familiar with The Blaze founder Glenn Beck may have understood what it meant, on Monday, when "The Great Reset" started trending on Twitter.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said in a speech to the UN that the coronavirus pandemic "provided an opportunity for a reset." And for those in the know — or those looking for evidence of a totalitarian scheme in every instance of global cooperation — that was reason enough to start panicking.
But even if you're not an aficionado of right-wing conspiracy theories, you may have seen TIME Magazine's October issue on the topic of "The Great Reset". In which case you're likely confused as to why anyone would find it frightening.
Coronavirus: Trudeau tells UN conference that pandemic provided "opportunity for a reset" www.youtube.com
The vision for the future proposed by the World Economic Forum — and laid out in TIME — doesn't sound particularly scary. The coronavirus pandemic has stalled many aspects of the economy, and the WEF calls for reforms to be implemented as the economy gets back into gear.
Among their suggestions are a voluntary adoption of more corporate responsibility, acknowledging the social and ecological costs of doing business. They call for businesses to take proactive steps in auditing their operations and shifting toward long-term, sustainable models that value "stakeholders" rather than just investors.
But the vague gesturing toward a more virtuous form of capitalism is presented as a grand vision for revolutionizing every aspect of society and the global economy. And in that exaggerated language, it's easy for people like Glenn Beck to perceive a hostile takeover of their beloved America.
The Conspiracy Theory
According to Beck's YouTube channel, the plan is to "DESTROY American capitalism." With Joe Biden's help, the "elites" want to replace American enterprise with a planned economy, akin to the China's state capitalism.
Beck, along with guest Justin Haskins — of pro-tobacco, anti-climate science think tank The Heartland Institute — argue that the term "Stakeholder Capitalism" is coded language. According to them it's a euphemism for the total subversion of individual sovereignty to the imposed will of the sinister "collective."
Pictured: Glenn Beck about to explain his conspiracy theory.
This is the same tune Beck has been playing for years now. Calls for regulation and anything less than unfettered capitalism are really just covers for allowing totalitarian rule to take over.
In Beck's vision of the world, "elites" use excuses like a global health crisis and impending ecological collapse in order to seize power from the little guy. And there is an element of truth in that.
As Naomi Klein laid out in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, natural disasters and economic crises often provide openings for radical reforms that serve ulterior motives. Disguised as recovery and aid, these reforms often end up benefiting the powerful while doing little to serve the interests of those most affected by the crises.
But Klein's observations on this phenomenon differ in one important way from the conspiracy theories Glenn Beck peddles. The radical reforms that Klein points to in post-Katrina New Orleans and elsewhere tend more toward neoliberal privatization than toward increasing government control.
Rather than a shadowy, big government agenda, the disaster capitalism Klein writes about serves the simple purpose of making rich people richer. After all, since the 1970s, American politics have been solidly on the side of wealthy private interests against the expansion of government services or the protection of workers.
Shrinking the role of government has long been treated as a dogmatic good that will put more power in the hands of individuals. And that kind of thinking has resulted in situations like the end of public schools in New Orleans.
Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine www.youtube.com
But there is something that people like Glenn Beck consistently overlook. While entertaining nightmares about the government forcing "Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics" on small businesses, they forget that Governments aren't the only force capable of eroding our freedoms.
How Corporations Steal Your Freedom
If a corporation knowingly dumps poisons into your water supply — because those chemicals aren't regulated — doesn't that affect your freedom? And if wages are so low that you're forced to sink all of your waking hours into multiple dead-end jobs, what freedom do you have?
Beck always frames things from the perspective of the business owner losing freedom to government regulation. But what about exploited employees, defrauded customers, or neighbors made to deal with the health effects of industrial pollution?
Ask the residents of Louisiana's "cancer alley" if they are more concerned about "government overreach" than they are about the freedom to breathe air without being poisoned by private industry.
Those are the "stakeholders" who Klaus Schwab and the WEF are referring to. They're people who don't necessarily receive the benefits of short-term profits, but have to deal with the consequences of corporate malfeasance. And for decades their interests have been systematically stripped out of the equation of corporate success and neoliberal governance, leaving only the eternal pursuit of quarterly returns.
So when an organization like the World Economic Forum — with membership representing the wealthiest people and the largest corporations on Earth — starts promoting major reforms to the global economy, we should all be nervous.
Generally, when the wealthy and powerful align on an agenda, it's an agenda that serves the wealthy and powerful. And when they manage to get leaders from the US to the UK to Canada all promoting the same motto — "Build it Back Better" — we should wonder who stands to benefit.
This 'Build Back Better' nonsense must stop. The World Economic Forum is a corrupt racket and their 'Great Reset' a… https://t.co/TUqXMUXKP9— Mahyar Tousi (@Mahyar Tousi)1605608116.0
And yet, the rhetoric of "The Great Reset" and the "Build it Back Better" campaign seems to be a repudiation of exactly the kind of neoliberal reform it resembles. Instability and a disruption of normal order has made our system ripe for reform, so wealthy interests are stepping in to…decry tax evasion? What has changed?
A Societal Shift
The simple answer is laid out in WEF founder Klaus Schwab's introductory piece in TIME's "Great Reset" issue. The neoliberal policies that have dominated in recent decades "have proved wrong." Amid the insistence that our economy will function better without government intervention, workers, citizens, and the planet have suffered.
From declining wages, to the rising cost of basic necessities like housing, healthcare, and education, and the rapid approach of climate collapse, things have not been going well. So the WEF is pushing a new approach.
The more complicated answer is that we have changed. The attitude of the citizenry has adapted. No longer devoted to a Cold War battle between capitalism and communism, we have adjusted to a reality in which 42% of the workers earn less than $15 an hour.
We've adapted to the fact that the wealthiest family in the world makes its fortune on the backs of workers who rely on government assistance to make ends meet. We've adapted to the fact that most of us won't live as well as our parents. We've adapted to the fact that a basic standard of education requires taking on massive debt, and that a single medical event can be financially crippling.
We've adapted to the fact that the global temperature has been trending steadily upward — along with wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and other effects of climate change. And we've adapted to the fact that the fossil fuel companies that knowingly caused this horrifying reality continue to operate with impunity.
It's only natural — in the context of rising inequality, environmental catastrophe, and the immiseration of generations of workers — that many of us would abandon allegiances to the system that brought us here.
For people like Glenn Beck, the thought of paying higher taxes may still conjure the specter of communism. But for those of us who don't make $20 million a year — with $250 million in the bank — the thought of things continuing on our current trajectory is quite a bit more frightening.
Protesters at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos
That's why Democratic Socialism has seen a sudden surge in popularity. It's why free, government-run healthcare is now a widely popular proposal, and why the slogan "eat the rich" has become a rallying cry in recent years.
People are hungry for real change. And if they don't get it soon, there will be consequences. Those consequences could look like economic collapse due to the erosion of the American middle-class. Or they could look like an armed revolution.
In either case, investors and executives who are paying attention know that it won't be good for the bottom line. That's where "The Big Reset" comes in.
If corporations and governments can make some bare-minimum changes to counteract the ravages of laissez-faire economic policy, maybe they can avoid the worst. And if they can make themselves look good in the process, all the better.
And that's why we should all be scared of "The Great Reset." It is not a high-level plot to install a global hegemony. It's a PR campaign to restore the reputation of the current global hegemony.
Whatever the plan's merits — the full details will be revealed in Davos in January of 2021 — the companies and the executives who are promoting it have their own self-interests at heart. They can express ideas about stakeholders and a collective good all they want, but if they can find a way to make themselves look benevolent without sacrificing profits, they will.
Ultimately, the idea underlying "The Great Reset" is that government and industry should work in tandem to determine the best policies. They want to prove that they can police themselves by implementing things like Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's "Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics."
The Great Reset www.youtube.com
Whether they acknowledge it or not, they are asserting that we don't need stronger government protections to step in and force them to stop exploiting workers or ravaging the Earth. They are responsible. They can be trusted.
They can dress that idea up as something new, and tell us they're looking out for us this time, but it's the same old story. It's neoliberalism by another name.
In the best case scenario, "The Great Reset," does result in some incremental improvements in policy. As we move on from the coronavirus pandemic, the plan could borrow concepts from The Green New Deal to offer a slightly more tolerable system — until those gains begin to erode again.
In the worst case scenario, the execution of the "The Great Reset" will be co-opted by the familiar forces of neoliberalism, changing things for the worse while the PR campaign convinces the public that everything is okay. If they succeed in persuading us that we don't need to keep fighting for a more equitable distribution of power and wealth, we will continue to creep toward oligarchy, with wealth controlling every aspect of our society.
So, no, there is not a communist conspiracy to use COVID-19 and global warming as an excuse to establish the dreaded "New World Order." The capitalists behind "The Great Reset" are not interested in destroying capitalism, and most of them are probably well meaning.
But we should all be scared that this band-aid will be used to cover up the festering wound of our diseased system.