Jan. 25, 2023

667: The Truth Behind the Headlines - A Reality Check (w/ Ben Swann)

Uncovering the Truth Behind the Headlines: Ben Swann's Journey as a Journalist

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Are you tired of feeling like the mainstream media is hiding the truth from you? Look no further, because in this episode, host Brian Nichols sits down with investigative journalist and head of Sovren, Ben Swann. With over 20 years of experience in broadcast journalism, including stints at CBS, NBC, andFox News affiliates, Ben is a true expert in uncovering the truth behind the headlines.

But it's not just Ben's experience that makes this episode a must-watch. It's his shocking andeye-opening stories of the deception and liespresent in the media, particularly during theCOVID-19 pandemic. He exposes how big tech companies have worked together with the corporate media to eliminate independent voices and competition through the Trusted News Initiative (TNI)

Don't miss this opportunity to hear from a true expert in the field and to learn how to navigate the world of news and information with a critical eye!

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Brian Nichols  0:20  
Is there truth behind the headlines? Are we in need for a reality check? Yeah, let's talk about that. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics, teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Wow, Happy Wednesday there, folks, Brian Nichols here on The Brian Nichols Show. Thank you for joining us on a force of fun filled episode. I am as always your humble host. Going to you live from our Stratus ip Studios here in lovely Eastern Indiana. Don't let cyber attacks or outdated Business Technology put your company at risk. All right. So we got to talk about this right? Are there in fact Truth Behind the Headlines? Or are we in fact in need for a reality check? Joining us to discuss that today investigative journalist and head of sovereign Ben swan. Thanks for joining the program.

Ben Swann  1:13  
Thanks for having me on, Brian. Absolutely. Ben,

Brian Nichols  1:15  
thank you for joining us, man. I go back to many years ago, I remember seeing you have a one on one with then President Barack Obama. And I think that was when you launched into my world when I started paying attention to all the great work you were doing behind the scenes, but also helping bring that stuff behind the scenes to the forefront, right, which I think is super important. But I'm putting the cart before the horse. Lots of our folks here the audience, they may not are not familiar with your work in the past, and you know, talking about where it's led up to today with your work over at Sovereign. So do us a favor, introduce yourself to the audience a little bit about your history in investigative journalism.

Ben Swann  1:50  
Yeah, absolutely. So again, glad to be here. So I've been in broadcast journalism for over 20 years, you know, working as an anchor reporter, videographer at times, working for CBS working for NBC working for Fox News affiliates around the country. And I'm also the host of or was the host of a segment we created called reality check, which really blew up. That's where a lot of people know me from. So I appreciate the little play on words he did at the beginning here. And that segment really was a very interesting segment, because it was a local news segment that kind of blew up across the globe, people and 140 countries back when I was working in Cincinnati, we're reviewing the segment. And out of that, we birthed something called the truth and media project. And the idea behind that was to do independent journalism while I was still working, by the way, for affiliate news, and ended up in Atlanta, where I am now working for CBS here in Atlanta, and then ultimately, in 2018, just went completely independent to that point, and got out of the corporate news game. And it's been a really interesting kind of experience. Over those years, I covered drug cartels in Mexico. I've covered politics, I covered presidential politics, I've covered you know, the war in Syria. I've covered international foreign policy for decades. So you know, I've been there I've done that I have the t shirt. And in some cases, I returned it because it didn't fit anymore.

Brian Nichols  3:10  
So talk to us a little bit about behind your you're going through and I talked about this in the teaser there the headlines, right? We see this in the mainstream corporate media, the headlines that are supposed to tell us what's going on. But more often than not, and I think more and more people are waking up to this is that the headlines are not telling us what's going on but telling us what we're supposed to think. So what's the truth behind the headlines? Right, you saw how the sausage is made, you saw behind the scenes? What's actually taking place in these corporate media entities? Is it as bad as we think?

Ben Swann  3:41  
I think it's worse. I mean, it's worse than what we actually think it is. Like I think most of your viewers have reached the point. And I think most of the American public has reached the point where we accept now that what we see in the media, what we see on television, what we see, you know, headlines on the internet are just not true. Right? I think for a lot of people, there was a major awakening that took place during COVID Starting in 2020. And, you know, what I had spent at that point a decade of my life trying to do as a journalist to wake people up to what was happening with corporate media. I couldn't have done in a lifetime. What happened during COVID Right it uh, woke so many people to the reality of the deception that has been created in media, the lies that are out there, the not and not just the lies in media, right. But this other complex known as big tech, that became the new media, right? That's where new media was, was thriving from really 2008 2010 Until about 2016. The Internet social media sites, YouTube, Facebook, were becoming kind of this this new fertile ground for independent media, and the powers that be saw that and they hijacked it after 2016 after really Trump was elected, no matter how you feel about Trump, he completely changed the media landscape. When he was elected it you know, the gloves came on. off all hands on deck and the corporate media and big tech then became fully aligned, they had not been aligned before that they became fully aligned at that point. And I think what's so important is not only do they become aligned, but they they begin to incorporate into what they were doing. These entities that we're legacy entities Washington Post New York Times, BBC, through something called the trusted news initiative, TMI, this trusted news initiative began the work of saying, Well, we're going to make sure that we eliminate all the independent media, we're going to eliminate competition. There's a BBC memo. That's part of a lawsuit that I'm actually a part of, along with some other folks, including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. This lawsuit that we filed basically against the DNI saying, they were actually working together violating antitrust in order to squash competition, and pretending they were doing it under the guise of protecting the public from misinformation, when in fact, they were the purveyors of misinformation and lies during COVID and shutting down all dissenting voices. And it's not just a COVID issue. It relates to foreign policy, it relates right now to the war in Ukraine, there is so much bad misinformation out there about that war, about Zelinsky about the money that he's taking, and really extracting from the American people, so much bad information about the border, so much bad information about what's going on, in terms of politics right now. But that that information has been out there for a long time. The problem is while people know how bad it is, Brian, and I think they know, they don't know what to do about it, where can I get good information. And so it's so scattered. And what we've seen happen with the fact checkers is you have these organizations that have come along, and their job is to is to lie, and to obfuscate the truth and to confuse the public and to create these systems where they say we don't worry, you can trust that we can tell you what's not true. They don't bother to tell you what is true. They just want to go around telling you what's not true. And I'll give you a great example of that. You and I hope I don't get you in trouble for this with wherever your show is. But look, there is an absolute without question. Correlation between athletes collapsing on the field of play around the world in multiple sports. And the COVID vaccine. There is absolutely no question. Anyone who can open their eyes long enough to pay attention will see that there is no doubt you're talking about almost a 40 500% increase in the number of athletes globally who are collapsing on the fields. Since 2021. To now versus beforehand, there is no doubt there's a correlation. But what fact checkers will tell you if you point this out is Oh, you're lying. That's not true. We know it's not true. And then you see these crazy things popping up like climate change is the reason that people that are collapsing to heart problems. Are you are you kidding? Is anyone really believe this? No, people know what's not true, but but it doesn't really matter if you know what's not true when there is such a monopoly right now on access to good information?

Brian Nichols  7:56  
And I guess that then goes to the question, where do we get the good information, which I want to touch on? But first, I want to go back to something that kind of just struck me it's I guess when When did he just kind of hit you that something's wrong here, right? You're you're in the beast you're working for, you know, at this point in time, some smaller media entities, but still part of this larger corporate machine. And then there must been a moment us looked around, you're like, realize what's going on here. Something's wrong. And I'm a part of this, unfortunately.

Ben Swann  8:23  
Well, the first time it happened for me, I actually had a series of awakenings. The first awakening I happened was when I was working in El Paso, my hometown, on the border, I was actually going into Mexico covering the drug war, this is 2008 2009 2010. And at the time, the drug war had come to waters, which was the, you know, what is it? No, pasa were the biggest Metro borderplex in the world, about 4 million people in that in that region at the time. And it was the most violent city Waters was the most violent city in the world. At the time, more journalists were being killed there. More civilians were being killed more than they were in Iraq at the time. And so it was an incredible place to go. I was covering what was happening there. And then all of a sudden, the, you know, network started paying attention to what was happening with the drug war there, which by the way, you know, is now reoccurring, we're now seeing a revival of it. I wouldn't say that it's even worse. Now. I'd say it was just as bad. Then the only there was no one talks about the border at all. At that point. I was covering it. We had some guys who were coming down from network and they were starting to cover it and I saw they were misrepresenting the story. And so I started reaching out to them. Listen, they're not from here. I was born and raised here. I've been covering this stuff for a long time. I was there every day and I'm not covering it from El Paso. I'm going into waters every day and covering the story. And I started letting them know hey, listen, reaching out to producers and anchors and saying, if you guys need, you know, background information, if you need good contacts to talk to and sources, you know, we have all those, but you're misrepresenting the story because the story they were telling was that there were no civilians dying. There was no there was no you know, harm to the public. It was just Narcos killing Narcos, that was the essentially the the claim that they were making and It wasn't true. It was an absolute lie. It was not Narcos killing Narcos. It was there were three levels of death happening. Yes. You had Narcos killing Narcos, you had police killing military because they were working for two different cartels. Then you had about 30,000 police officers who were fired from their jobs in one fell swoop, who then turned around and became kidnapping, organized kidnapping organizations and was where they would go over, they pull you out of your car, if you had like a Texas license plate, and they hold you for ransom, they take your phone, they go through it and find your contacts and say if I don't get $30,000, in two days, this guy's dead. And they weren't kidding. If you didn't get $30,000 in two days, they just kill you and leave you on the street. And then there was an beyond that another level of murder and mayhem taking place in the city, where, you know, it was it was a sociopaths paradise, you could say where you had people disappearing, women disappearing, murder victims, rape victims, women that we were seeing who were being dismembered and just left on the sides of the streets. But there was so much depth there, there was so much violence there, you couldn't even sort it all out. So there weren't even time for people to go into a morgue and identify a body. Right? The morgues were overflowing. So they just throw the bodies into mass graves and cover them with dirt. There was no accountability whatsoever. And that was not the story that was being told. But the reason I tell you all that is that I was trying to inform these, these reporters and producers about this. They didn't care. They had already had a narrative in mind when they showed up, which was already the story they were going to tell they didn't matter. It didn't matter to them what the story was. So that was kind of my first step that I moved from from El Paso to Cincinnati started working for Fox there. I went from the most exciting place in the world as a journalist most boring in Cincinnati, no offense to people in Cincinnati. But it was not a very exciting place to be. And then started covering politics and having to move there, right in the beginning of 2011. And 2011 2012, Ohio at the time, more than it is now was the swing state of swing states. And so I got into politics, I had never covered politics before I started covering that and realized the corruption there and how dishonest the media was in that respect. And so over the years, I think I've had kind of a series of awakenings in these different pockets, different regions to see this and there's not one force, there's not one entity that's controlling media. It's it's a whole series of groups and individuals and organizations that are all looking out for their best interest and their own personal interest. And what they do is they all play the same game as you're an agreed upon game that's played as long as you don't step on my toes, I won't step on your toes, and they all get along.

Brian Nichols  12:32  
Brian Stelter pretends to be a reliable source, though, and be the watch scarred for the rest of the news media. But maybe there's a reason that he's not part of CNN anymore. But I wanted to ask you maybe a follow up question to maybe as you're going through, and you're starting to uncover more and more stuff. Is there any stories that stand out to you in particular that you're like, you know what, that's a damn good story. I'm really proud of the fact that I was able to cover that.

Ben Swann  12:58  
Oh, there's a ton of them. I don't even think we have time in this podcast for all of them. But yeah, I mean, there's there's a whole series um, I'll tell you, I'll tell you a story real quick. Yeah, I did that stands out in my mind. Because, you know, it was the last it was the last time that I really attempted to get an award as a journalist. And that's why it stands out in my mind. So one of the things I covered on the border was the rise of the narco state in Mexico, and the religious aspect attached to that, and this is something that doesn't get covered hardly at all. There's a very strong religious aspect to what the narco groups do in Mexico. And one of the things we found was the rise of a particular new saint in Mexico, not sanctioned by the Catholic Church, but a saint who has kind of become the patron saint of the narco trafficker. Oh, yeah. And the name was la Santa Muerte, which means the Saint of death. It's a woman who looks like the Virgin Mary, but she's a skeleton and she's holding the globe in her hand, and which represents the world and she has an outlet her feet. And so what we found was that this this saint, which is not a real saint, right suddenly started popping up all over northern Mexico as as the drug trade and the narco state really took over that as a drug war grew. And it was growing to such a point that it was beginning to show up the same would show up in Catholic churches where people would bring it then the narco traffickers would bring it into the Catholic Church, they would remove in some cases, the Virgin of Guadalupe statue, they remove in some cases, the Virgin Mary statue, and they would replace it with this patron saint of death, right and was supposed to give them protection. There were there was a case in Tijuana where three guys were actually killed and their bodies lifted an altar on a street dedicated as a human sacrifice to that sent them with it. But we also found in a prison in Texas where the warden was allowing the inmates who are you know, was full of narco traffickers to set up an altar there they would buy candy bars and they would take them and lay them out at the feet because they have erected the shrine to the Santa Muerte we've done this this amazing story right That's virtually no one knew was happening. And I remember covering the story and finding all this, this video, we went into a prison and we got video that no one had ever seen before, of prisoners worshipping the Saint of death, offering sacrifices to where we found, you know, instances again where people were being murdered as human sacrifices, because they were from a rival Narco group and left to her. And we found that this thing was growing like crazy. We interviewed priests in the US who were saying what a threat this thing was, when we put this amazing story together. And I remember submitting it for for an Emmy Award, specifically in the category of religion, right. This is an important story, geopolitical story is an important story in terms of our region, and religion, and couldn't even get nominated. But what stood out in my mind to that was the story that one that same year, same year, that one was a story by a reporter about an amazing new way for local merchants to make money by selling this cute little saint that was a new saint that no one had ever heard of called the Santa Muerte. And it was all about how all these little street vendors were making a bunch of money, because they were selling this thing and people will love this, it was super popular and new. And the same, the exact same Emmy Awards race that we were in my story was an excellent essay on the violence associated with and the the danger associated with this religious entity that was being worshipped. And the other reporters story was about how cute it was and how nice it was. And they won first place and won the Emmy Award. And I couldn't even get nominated. And that was actually the reason it stands out in my mind is because it was the last time that I ever submitted for an award. I have a whole bunch of Emmys. I have Edward R Murrow awards of a whole bunch of stuff. Right, AP Texas, New Mexico, AP, Georgia. But that was the end for me never submitted for an award. Again, I actually won awards after that, that I hadn't even, you know, submitted for it, other people have submitted, but I never wanted to do it again, because it stood out in my mind so much of how rigged the system is, and how it doesn't matter if you're a good journalist doesn't matter what they're looking for, in the system that's been built, you are not rewarded for doing a good job. As a journalist, you're only rewarded for pushing a narrative that they can all agree upon. That is an acceptable narrative. And I think you know, that was years ago, I think it's gotten much worse today.

Brian Nichols  17:19  
Well, how about that for a segue to the last question I had queued up. And that's something that you teased earlier. And that is, well, I guess, Ben, then the question is, where do we go ahead? And in fact, find good, good journalism. So what is the answer there?

Ben Swann  17:33  
Yeah, I think there's, there's a number of things that are the biggest thing, obviously, that I want to promote is our platform, right? So by 2018, I really started working hard to launch a platform with the team that I was working with, specifically to combat what I saw coming in, which was going to be a purge in social media, of conservative and independent and Dissident Voices. And so we began working on this process, but we knew even at the time in 2018, that not only was a purge coming, but you had to build something outside of big tech. And so it took us a while to get there. But we have gotten there. And we have built something pretty amazing. It's called Sovereign SOV r e n dot media. And it's a platform that right now was a web two platform, but will soon be a web three platform, which means it's completely built completely separate from AWS completely separate from from Apple and Google, where big tech has absolutely no control over the platform. And now we're working on kind of streamlining it and bringing on features so that content creators can be there be rewarded and own their content and take it with them. You know, there's a whole fight going on right now between the daily wire and Steven Crowder over who owns what right. And one thing about our platform is any content creator who comes there you own whatever you bring in, you take it with you when you go, and you can also take your audience with you when you go as they subscribe to you. That's the power of web three. That's the promise of web three. So you know, I encourage people to check it out sovereign dot media, but as content creators, any content creators who are watching this, I encourage you to come and bring your stuff there. There's no There's no push for exclusivity. But what we do want to see is your content in a place where it's protected on the blockchain, where it's never taken down. It's never threatened, it's never removed. And we're we're never afraid to be able to say you have the right to speak whether we agree with you or disagree with you. You have that right, no matter what it is your God given right.

Brian Nichols  19:19  
Ben, we could keep going. But unfortunately, we are already hard pressed for time, which means we are at the point of that we won't go ahead and do some final thoughts for the show. So I'll kick things off. And I think to your point, right, and this is actually a reoccurring theme here. We've had we had 20 prisoners on the show back last week, actually, Oh, no. Is this week my goodness, time is flying. And we were talking about the the importance of not only talking about, you know, getting away from these old systems, but now to your point building something new. And this is something that we've been talking about here in The Brian Nichols Show as we go out and we're collaborating with other artists and in other networks is we have to build something bigger. And I think to your point, what you're Get sovereign is to be able to help these content creators stand up against the forces that are definitely against us. Right. And I think we have to stop being so naive to think that these these parties, they they're just new, they're neutral parties, they have no opinion one way or another of which way they want things to go. No, they absolutely do care. So we're that's on us to not only go out and play defense, but in this case, play offense. So that's my final thought, then what do you have for us? And also, where can folks go ahead and find you if they want continue the conversation?

Ben Swann  20:27  
Yeah, why I encourage you to go to sovereign SOV AR en dot media, you can follow me there. Obviously, we're on other social platforms, but you're not going to see me on those other social platforms, because we're horribly shadow banned. You know, the final thought I would share echoes what you just said, Brian, which is that ultimately, big tech isn't even big tech, right? We keep looking at it as if it's a bunch of capitalists, which it's not working together to say, well, we just care about money. And so we want to bring in as many people as possible and make as much money as possible. They actually don't, all of these big tech, social media groups are completely co opted by government forces, by law enforcement, and by politics and politicians who are saying we want to push a narrative, we want to control the way you think and the way you behave. And and we will reward those companies with big lucrative contracts and and monopolizing the market. That's how they get rewarded. So they still get paid. And so this idea that it's all free market stuff, there's no free market, in big tech at all. And so what I encourage people to do is, is when you have a content creator, that you're a fan of, and you say I really like what this person is doing, and I see him on YouTube, I see him on Facebook, I see it on Instagram, but I would encourage you to reach out to them and encourage them to get off those platforms and to move at least simultaneously and build a parallel set of libraries, if you will have content in places where it won't be removed, because eventually, we're all going to disappear from those platforms. That's the end goal.

Brian Nichols  21:55  
Yep. our good buddy, Chris Goyzueta, the Professor of Marketing he was on the show, and he always says, own your audience. That's why I always make it a point, folks, for you to be able to reach out to me I give you some free stuff. Like we have our brand new free eBook How to Win your local election, all I asked for is your email address. And for that reason, so I can stay in touch with you, but also so you get an awesome eBook there that will help you crush your local election. And again, it's a free ebook. So you can find that over the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash win local and just to be safe. Yes to Ben's point, go ahead and sign up for our email lists you can get either one of our ebooks both of the win local, but also our How to Sell liberty to your friends and family ebook. Plus, if you want to go ahead and sign up to our morning sales huddle, we send over every week, some sales and marketing tips that worked both in the world of business but also in the world of politics. So with that being said, Folks, if you want go ahead and support the show, please go ahead and give us $1.99 donation per month you can become an audience insider, support this show and yes, help us continue to grow the show and create parallel economies and parallel networks. And also you can go ahead support the show over at our shop the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash shop. Get awesome goodies like our Michael Scott 2024 shirt. Our good ideas don't require for snapback we have backpacks, garden signs, all that and more just use code TV and as and get 10% off at checkout. Ben, this has been a pleasure. Thank you for joining us. And folks, if you got some value, please do me a favor. Give today's episode a share when you do tag yours truly at being Nichols liberty, Ben, we're gonna go ahead and tag you.

Ben Swann  23:25  
Awesome. They can tag me on Twitter at Ben Swan underscore swans two Ns

Brian Nichols  23:30  
underscore awesome. We'll include that link in the show notes. And by the way, folks, if you're joining us here on the video version of the show Well hi, thank you for joining us, make sure you've hit that subscribe button that little notification bell and by the way, we do have other versions of the show for video over on Odyssey and over on rumble so make sure you go head over there, hit subscribe there. And if you're joining us here on YouTube over here it's going to show you that one of our more recent episodes, and over here the algorithm gods are going to recommend a video for you. Go ahead and check that out. But that being said Brian Nichols signing off. You're on The Brian Nichols Show for Ben Swann. We'll see you tomorrow.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai