This week, I had the pleasure of being joined by two great freedom fighters, Senator Ted Cruz and Michael Knowles. We talked about the Chinese Communist Party’s recent sanctions of Senator Cruz, Bari Weiss’ scorching resignation letter, what can be done to put an end to lawless mobs, and why their podcast—Verdict—is a must-listen. Enjoy the full interview here via YAFtv, and a transcript of our discussion is available below.

Spencer Brown: “This is YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown and I’m honored and excited to be joined by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and the legendary Michael Knowles of blank book and Daily Wire fame. They, of course, have teamed up for Verdict, a must listen and can’t miss podcast that is sure to keep you both informed on the myriad issues that we face right now and entertained with their happy conservative warrior outlook that is all too often missing from these important conversations. I thank you both for taking time to chat today.”

Michael Knowles: “It’s good to see you, Spencer.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “It’s great to be with you.”

Spencer Brown: “Let’s start with the red and communist elephant in the room. Senator Cruz, you were the target of new sanctions from the dastardly Chinese Communist party, as far as we know. It strikes me a teensy bit hypocritical for the government responsible for throwing a million religious minorities in the reeducation camps where they’re forcibly sterilized to take issue with your love of freedom, no?”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “Look, that’s exactly right. So day before yesterday, I went to bed and then woke up in the morning and looked at my phone, which is my alarm clock, and I had multiple texts saying you’ve just been sanctioned by the Communist Government of China. I have to admit, I woke up saying ‘hot diggity damn.’ Look, I hate communists, and the Chinese communists, as you rightly pointed out, they are murdering, torturing, lying, evil bastards. They have a million Uighurs in concentration camps, they have engaged in forcible abortions, forcible sterilizations, that they engage in rampant censorship and theft. But not only that, their suppression is directly responsible for this coronavirus pandemic. Their coverup of the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China has led to over a half million deaths worldwide. It’s interesting. In the wake of the pandemic, there are a lot of people in Washington who are suddenly discovering that the Chinese communist are bad, and a lot of them had been defending everything about China until right now. Now, I welcome them. Look, I had been leading the fight against the Chinese Communist for the last eight years I’ve been in the US Senate because I think China poses the single greatest geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century. Their objective is world domination and defeating the United States and we need to be smart and savvy and understand what they’re working for, and we need to work to stand up to them, to decouple our economy, to pull our supply chain out of China and to be able to stand strong and independent from the Chinese influence.”

Spencer Brown: “Well, if you need a place to vacation other than China, now that you can’t do that, I know my YAF colleagues out at Reagan Ranch will be always happy to host you anytime you want to. But Michael-“

Sen. Ted Cruz: “And Spencer, let me tell you a quick thing. Do you know where I got married and where we took our wedding party?”

Spencer Brown: “I do indeed. That is the stuff of YAF legend, I must say.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “To the Reagan Ranch.”

Michael Knowles: “Was it at the ranch?”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “We got married in Santa Barbara. Heidi is a native Californian. And the day before the wedding, I took all of the groomsmen, all the bridesmaids and we went to the Reagan Ranch, and I got to admit for most of the wedding party, that was by far the coolest part of the wedding. I might’ve said that, but I would have been sleeping on the couch. If I told Heidi that I’d have been in trouble, but it was-“

Michael Knowles: “Not great for the honeymoon”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “It is a spectacular, magical place.”

Spencer Brown: “Well, you are both welcome back anytime. I know Michael, I got to take him around up there and didn’t get lost and get bit by rattlesnakes so that was a success. Michael, are you at all jealous that you haven’t yet been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party? Are you taking any action to try to get that badge of honor?”

Michael Knowles: “I’m doing my best, you know. I’m saying all sorts of mean things on TikTok. I know that Xi Jinping is basically watching TikTok directly in his office. I am furious. You know, it’s a badge of honor. You’re known by the enemies that you make. And there are a lot of politicians in the United States, a lot of Democrats, but even many Republicans who have cheered on the rise of China or turned a blind eye to it. But many have said, it’s wonderful. Let China grow and grow and grow with no care whatsoever to what it means for American national security, for global security as we move through this pandemic, no care for American workers who were being cheated, for the World Trade Organization treaties that China was cheating on. I think now the bill has come due. We’ve learned as all fiscal conservatives should know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The bill is going to come due. And I think that politicians who have stood firm on China for a very long time and who have been issuing this warning bell should get a lot of credit, and the politicians who have been cheering the rise of China should very likely shut their mouths and allow the people who have been leading on it to take care of the issue.”

Spencer Brown: “Yeah. I think if we can shift a little bit to things at home, something that was obviously breaking news today and something that caught my attention was the resignation letter that Bari Weiss sent talking about leaving the New York Times. When I read the whole letter, two things sort of stuck out to me. I’m going to read you one of the lines that stuck out. It said, “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist. Some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly inclusive one.” And that to me sounds very familiar to, I think, something familiar to both of you, whether it be on college campuses and government and media and culture, if you, for some reason, dare to buck the orthodoxy of whatever the left has decided it is for the day, you are called a Nazi or racist. You’re told that you can’t be there if anyone’s going to be inclusive. Michael, when you think about college campuses, how has this spilled over so much so that the New York Times now is completely fallen?”

Michael Knowles: “Well, the New York Times has always had some worrisome reporters, famously Walter Duranty wins a Pulitzer Prize for a defending Stalin and lying on his behalf during the Holodomor.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “But what’s a Gulag between friends?”

Michael Knowles: “This is a thing. One or two, you get a pass, but this actually is the issue because The Times used to have sort of a little bit, occasionally credible reporting, and that is gone. I mean, you’ll even have senior Times staffers who are now leaving, they’re being pushed out because the woke youngins are too radical, even for them. And one thing that Bari put in her letter, which is a tremendous letter, the Senator and I were reading this together right when it came out, she pointed out rather than searching for truth, rather than following the facts where they lead, what a lot of people on the left have done, having learned all the wrong lessons of the 2016 campaign, is they consider themselves the enlightened custodians of the revealed truth, that it is their job to foist that propaganda on the masses. That is the opposite of what journalists ought to do. And even Bari Weiss, who is a liberal and who remains an avowed liberal, was fed up. It was too much for her, and I think it’s too much for a lot of people in the country where the woke left has simply gone too far.”

Spencer Brown: “Well, and I think that is sort of the end result of this mob mentality that we see a lot of. It seems like each day leads to another historical American figure being canceled or deemed problematic by this mob. Of course, here in DC, my colleagues and I went out and covered some of the attempts to take down the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Emancipation Memorial here in Lincoln Park. We’ve seen even the statue of an abolitionist in Madison, Wisconsin knocked down, beheaded, and thrown in the lake. So part of the problem that we keep seeing with this is it seems to be escalating, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight as far as the lawlessness and the crime and the violence. Senator Cruz, in the Senate there have been a number of attempts from conservatives, including most notably your colleague from South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott, to reform areas where we can improve things. But it seems those on the left would rather do nothing than do something. And so what can be done to put an end to these mobs, to return to the rule of law, even if the majority of Americans claim that they love it, how can we make sure that it’s enforced?”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “Look, we’ve got to enforce the law. We’ve got to prosecute violent criminals, and we’ve got to defend America. This is an angry divided times. You look at what happened to George Floyd. It was horrific, it was wrong, it was a violation of civil rights. It was a criminal offense. The police officers there are rightly being prosecuted. What started out, for many, as peaceful protests for racial justice quickly got taken over, got infiltrated and subverted by violent and anarchists, by Marxists by mobs that were engaged in physical assaults, that were firebombing police cars, that were looting and burning small businesses, many of which were owned by African Americans, that were murdering police officers. You look at statues, you made reference to that, it started out ostensibly as something about Confederate statues, but very quickly it transmogrified into targeting George Washington, targeting Thomas Jefferson, targeting James Madison, targeting Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, because we all know they were such big Confederates.”

Michael Knowles: “Yep, well known for that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “And the most ludicrous, is you just recently had a statue of the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, defaced. These angry, intolerant, leftist mobs. This isn’t about slavery, this isn’t about racial injustice. They hate America. They hate the principles we were founded on. They are ignorant. And it’s one of the big reasons that the two of us started The Verdict podcast because the media is such a train wreck, you look at the New York Times, and Bari Weiss’s letter is wonderful. It is as stunning an indictment, where mainstream journalism, they’re not even trying anymore. They’re propagandists. So, in The Verdict podcast, we spend about a half-hour, typically once a week, diving into The Constitution, to The Bill of Rights, to free speech, to religious liberty. Diving into China, we spent multiple episodes walking through the overwhelming evidence of China’s complicity about how the Wuhan laboratories were studying coronaviruses from bats, laying that out and doing it in a way that is fun and engaging. It’s an amazing thing. We started at just this year. We started it in January on the first day of the impeachment trial. And within a few weeks, it became the number one ranked podcast in the world.”

Michael Knowles: “I like to say, I have always had great expectations for Senator Cruz, great admiration, did not think he would beat Joe Rogan. That was not on the list of expectations, but you did it.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “What people were interested in is they want to learn the truth. The most frequent comment we get, whether it is on Apple podcast, whether it is on Spotify, whether it’s on YouTube, is people say, “You know what? I learned something.” And it’s so hard, if someone wants to be an engaged, involved, American, if you want to be a consumer of news, so much of the media is polarized and one-sided and their propagandists like the New York Times. They’re just shoveling manure. What we try to do is, okay, let’s actually talk about what’s going on and arm you. If you believe in America, want to defend America, you need to have the tools to do so. That’s what the podcast is trying to do.”

Michael Knowles: “This is the issue. There’s a similar premise here to the premise of YAF, which is, we are told all the time, oh the American people, they’re stupid. They don’t know anything, they’re shallow, especially college kids, man. Those are the dumbest people of all. I don’t think that’s true. YAF doesn’t think that’s true. When we make Verdict, we don’t think that’s true either. We think that people are hungry for information, they are interested in their government and their politics and their history. Actually, they don’t want it dumbed down. They don’t want it in five minute sound bites. They want substance, and whether there are gatekeepers in the mainstream media or there are gatekeepers on college campuses, keeping that away. What we want to do is break down those barriers, as YAF does wonderfully, bring lecturers for long conversations to campus, and we try to do it at least once a week to bring those conversations and a sneak peek behind the curtains of our government to a much broader audience.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “Well, and the inside view, that’s an important piece of it that we try to do it in the podcast also. This isn’t just an academic lecture. I mean, look, those are fine. Those are valuable. But, we try to bring people behind the scenes. We try to bring them into the Senate cloakroom, we try to bring people into the negotiations, what’s going on, who’s doing what behind the scenes in the Supreme Court, into the justices’ chambers, what’s really happening so that people can understand, okay, wow, I get it, and that’s… So you made reference, for example, to my colleague, Tim Scott, who African American Republican from South Carolina, a great guy with the heart of a preacher, the heart of a pastor. And he’s really taken a leadership role, in particular, dealing with police issues and defending civil rights. So, we had Tim as a guest a couple of weeks ago on the podcast. One of the things that was interesting that he did is he pulled out of his pocket his cell phone, and he just played a couple of voicemail message he had gotten from vicious, racist, leftist, bigots, and look, they were nasty stuff, but there’s something very real about Tim, just, all right, here’s my cell phone. And on the podcast, we’re like, all right, you can hear exactly what he’s getting. I think that helps equip people for battle.”

Spencer Brown: “I couldn’t agree more. I think no better time than when everybody’s generally stuck inside than to actually learn something and better yourself through this. I think you guys have something like 12 million downloads now, 35 episodes available for anybody to tune in and catch up with where we are now. That’s definitely what students need, especially as they prepare in whatever form, to return to their campuses at the end of the summer. So Senator Ted Cruz, Michael Knowles, it was great to talk with you about these important issues. As a reminder, you can catch much more of this patriotic duo by subscribing and downloading Verdict wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you both for taking time to talk with me. Stay well, stay safe. And most importantly, keep up the good fight.”

Michael Knowles: “Thank you, Spencer, you too.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “You too.”


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