Max Keiser: ‘Channeling the rage of the people’

By Lewis G. Parker on March 28th, 2014

According to Google, people who search for Max Keiser are also interested in InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and extraterrestrial lizard speculator David Icke. But in part two of our interview, Keiser, the self-appointed “shock-jock of the left,” talks about why Jones is an underrated journalist.

Keiser also claimed he would demolish his right-wing equivalents Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly in a debate. That is, if U.S. networks weren’t scared of having him on the airwaves.

Do you have editorial independence at RT?
It’s the only network where I’ve had absolute editorial independence, including the BBC. I had somewhat independence on Al-Jazeera. But so far I’ve had the absolute least editorial independence at the BBC. RT has been the best.

Are you free to speak out on Russian issues, to criticise Putin?
Well my objective on the show is to push my own propaganda. That’s my objective! And I think I’ve done a good a good job of pushing my propaganda into the Kremlin, because since doing my show, they’ve increased their gold purchases by 500 tonnes.

Aren’t you concerned RT may be using you as a pawn to criticise the Western banking system?
As long as they keep buying gold, I don’t care what they think. They can think whatever they want. Just keep buying gold!

What do you think of all this business with journalists we both admire, Glenn Greenwald and now Matt Taibbi, going over to billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s new venture, First Look Media? It’s been suggested that they won’t have editorial independence.
I don’t know if this is the right way to describe a journalist as such, but Matt Taibbi is my favourite journalist. First of all, his use of language is absolutely genius. He’s a brilliant writer. And number two, he’s also an excellent journalist. His pieces on the financial scandal raised the bar for financial reporting. He’s done a far better job of writing about these things, Goldman Sachs and so forth, than anyone else, including myself.

As far as this new media venture goes, it’s hard to say. But I can tell you one interesting anecdote, and you can draw inferences from it as you will. We invited [investigative journalist] Jeremy Scahill [of First Look Media] to come on our show and talk about his film, Dirty Wars. They sent us preview tickets and the DVD; they were really anxious to get him on our show. He arrives in London, and pretty much at the last-minute cancels. To me, that was an indication of a loss of some independence. I can’t say there’s a direct connection, but if you dig a little bit, you see that Pierre Oh-My-God, as I call him, who’s running this new billion-dollar media platform, he’s been supporting the coup in Ukraine, backed by forces in the U.S. and the U.K. Within the context of him not coming on the show—and we are on RT—you could conclude that there was a conversation coming down from the top, from Pierre Oh-My-God. You can make that inference. They support the neo-Nazis that are now in charge. They’re openly neo-Nazis.

Have you been approached by Pierre Oh-My-God?
No.

Would you be tempted?
No.

Why not?
They can’t offer me anything that I don’t already have.

Isn’t it strange how Greenwald has essentially allowed the Snowden leaks to be privatized and owned by this private venture?
Greenwald, along with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, has really transformed the political landscape in a huge way. He made the calculation that it made sense for him to join this new group. I’m sure he’s done so with the provisos that he’s comfortable with, in terms of independence and everything else.

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It also seems strange that Matt Taibbi has put his lot in with somebody he might ordinarily investigate as part of his reporting.
I agree there’s risk here, but it’s too important to draw a conclusion and say this was clearly a mistake. You can see where this could lead to, probably. But at the moment, we have no hard proof to suggest there is a problem.

The only truly independent journalist, who relies completely on independent factors, who has got the journalistic standards that would be up there with Murrow, is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! She is completely independent, she relies entirely on her thousand affiliates, and she has carved out this space that is, I think, unique in the world today.

That’s the benchmark I would use for everyone. Oddly, I would say that Alex Jones in the U.S. is also an underrated journalist.

He’s clearly not having his strings pulled by any human.
Yeah! If you’ve been to Texas, you know that Alex Jones is very much of Texas. He is a Texas character who I think is underrated as a journalist, who breaks stories and does good stories. A lot of his stories—for example, the GCHQ story about them hacking into Yahoo’s video streams and illegally viewing American videos—Alex Jones has been talking about this for several years.

You’re very polemical, and there’s a sense of hystericism in what you do. So do you ever get put in the box with David Icke and Alex Jones?
If you look at Wikipedia, they say “People who search for you also search for these people.” So they give you the five people that are the most affiliated with you. Those five people, as I recall, are Alex Jones, Peter Schiff, Paul Craig Roberts [former assistant secretary of the Treasury], David Icke because he links to me a lot, I believe, and one other. So clearly I’m associated with Alex Jones, but this is because, I believe, his is the only media outlet in the U.S. that I’ve been on, that I’m asked to be on with any frequency. I just don’t appear much in U.S. media because they don’t ask me.

Even the liberal stations such as MSNBC?
Typically the liberal media is more screwed up when it comes to finances, markets, and economics than right-wing media. At least the right-wing media understands finance and economics. They’ll say things which are dangerous. But the liberal media—whether it’s MSNBC or the Guardian—they don’t really understand finance well enough to be speaking about it. So they should probably shut the fuck up and talk about something else, because they just don’t get it. So in the U.S., I wouldn’t expect MSNBC to reach out to me for that reason. WBAI, which is a liberal radio station, they refused to have me on a few years ago because they said I was too radical—by predicting everything that’s happened so far in the banking system. Fox News, I would imagine, would be scared shitless that I would steal their audience, so they don’t want me on. If they put me up against Rush Limbaugh on a radio show, I would crush him. He would be gone in two months. Nobody would listen to him any more.

I could see a place for you on Fox News, because I think you have plenty of rage.
No, because Fox News and therefore Rupert Murdoch is totally tied to the extremely corrupt banking system. So they’re not going to have me on.

But I think the tone is similar.
The tone is there; that’s right. I consider what I’m doing is more of a shock jock of the left. So it’s kind of shock-left. I’m the antithesis of a Rush Limbaugh or a Bill O’Reilly. These are shock-tabloid-type voices in the U.S. But the U.S. is very right-wing. There is no left. Amy Goodman’s in the centre. Then there’s centre-right and far-right. But there’s no left.

Amy Goodman is in the centre? Are you talking about extreme capitalist libertarianism as the left?!
There’s no shock… People get fired all the time for coming out against the war. For example, Phil Donahue had a show, he came out against the Iraq war, he was fired. Bill Maher made an anti-war statement and he was fired from NBC. He’s become very right-wing on his new show, Get Real. He’s very racist. Jon Stewart is very right-wing. He has military guys on all the time promoting war. He’s not the darling of the left that people think he is. Howard Stern could be a fantastic voice of the left, of the anti-banking shenanigans, but he’s totally “why bother?” He’s on subscription radio where he talks about porn stars. He’s a brilliant guy, but he doesn’t really get involved in things. So there is no left. Bill Hicks was like a left-wing voice. When I do my live shows, Standup Rage, it’s definitely challenging Bill Hicks. To me he’s the consummate shock-left guy.

When do you do those?
I’ve done a few over a couple of years. I’ve done London, L.A., Dublin a few times. I say on social media that I’ll be at this location. Usually two or three hundred people will show up, and it will be an hour of rage. It’s rage for an hour. I kind of go into a fugue state. Just go into this white anger space of complete and utter rage, and people are mesmerised by it. People think I go into rages on the TV show, but this is nothing compared to the live show.

Is it genuine rage or put on?
It’s real to the extent that I usually can’t remember anything afterwards. Stacy [Max’s spouse and co-presenter] will say, “Remember you said this yesterday?” and I will have no recollection of it. I definitely go into a bit of a trance. I drop into a trance state of rage. So Stacy’s job is to keep it flowing, if that makes sense, but a lot of the time I’m in a trance-like fugue state.

Like Howard Dean, but less optimistic.
Yeah! Channeling the rage of the people. There’s so much rage out there, I can feel it.

You can read the first half of our interview with Max Keiser here.