Friday, October 07, 2011

Chris Hedges smacks down Kevin O'Leary

Yesterday CBC continued its ongoing snide, dismissive, and condescending coverage of the third week of Occupy Wall Street with an interview with author/activist/Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges on its "inside the business world" show, the Lang and O'Leary Exchange.  After the by now obligatory opening protestations of puzzlement as to what OWS is all about - "low budget" and "pretty nothing burgers" as blowhard host Kevin O'Leary described it - he then responded to Hedges' patient explanation by calling him "a left wing nutbar".

Since Holly Stick kindly left me the link this morning, Let Freedom Rain has posted a link and commentary on O'Leary's FoxNews behavior but I'm putting the vid and a transcript up here because Hedges' argument bears repeating and also because, as appalling as O'Leary's behavior certainly was, even more appalling is that O'Leary affects to be completely unable to follow Hedges' logic as to what exactly went wrong that caused OWS to happen.
He and other CBC talking heads either don't get it or pretend not to get it but you got it right away, didn't you? A more damning example of how completely dissociated our state broadcaster is with the plight of the 99% I cannot imagine.

CBC link here. Transcript follows ...

The show opens with a clip of Obama talking about Occupy Wall Street :
"I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we have the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street. And yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practises that got us into this problem in the first place."
Introduction to Hedges and Occupy Wall Street movement ...

O'Leary : So what exactly is everyone complaining about? And also give me a sense of how much momentum this movement has because it's pretty nothing burgers so far - just a few guys, guitars. Nobody knows what they want - they can't even name the names of the firms that they're protesting against - very weak, low budget.

Hedges : I wouldn't agree with that assessment at all. They pulled thousands of people into the street last night and here in Washington when everyone marched past the Bank of America, they were shouting Shame! Shame! Shame! They know the names of these firms and they know what these firms have done not only to the American economy but to the global economy, and the criminal class who runs them.

Fill-in for Lang : Well Kevin made this point that nobody knows what they want. What do you say to that? We know that this is a very diverse group, there are many different agendas at play ... what is the sense you have of what this movement would like to see happen?

Hedges : They know precisely what they want ; they want to reverse the corporate coup that's taken place in the US and rendered the citizenry impotent and they won't stop until that happens and frankly if we don't break the back of corporations, we're all finished anyway since we're rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for survival. This is literally a fight for life - it's that grave, it's that serious. Corporations, unfettered capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, is a revolutionary force  - it commodifies everything - human beings, the natural world which it exploits for profit until exhaustion and collapse. The bottom line is we don't have much time left - we are on the cusp of perhaps another major banking crisis in Europe, defaults in Greece, followed by Spain, Portugal. There's been no restrictions, no regulations on Wall Street - they've looted the US Treasury, they've played all the games that they were playing before and we're about to pay for it all over again.

O'Leary : Listen don't take this the wrong way but you sound like a left wing nutbar. If you want to shut down every corporation, every bank, where are you going to get a job? Where are you gonna work? Where's the economy gonna go?

Hedges : Corporations don't produce anything and

O'Leary : Oh really!?

Hedges : No. Financial corporations on Wall Street

O'Leary : Are you driving a car to the protest?

Hedges : They are speculators. I'm talking about the financial institutions like Goldman Sachs. They don't manufacture, they don't make anything - they gamble, they use money, and they believe falsely that money is real as we dismantle our manufacturing base and send jobs over the border to Mexico and finally into the embrace of China.

Fill-in for Lang : Well I see that you and Kevin could get into an actually huge argument here.

Hedges : Well you know I don't usually go on shows where people descend to character assassination. if you want to discuss issues, that's fine but this sounds like Fox News and I don't go on Fox News. Either you discuss the issues and ... look, you have had very eloquent writers - people like John Ralston Saul in Canada who have laid this out with incredible lucidity - and to somehow attack this critique by calling someone a nutcase engages in the kind of trash talk that's polluted the corporate airwaves.

O'Leary : Excuse me, let's debate the issues then. ...

Hedges : You were the one who started it - you were not debating the issues.

[crosstalk] ...I did not call you a nutcase, I called you a nutbar.

Hedges : You said [I] sounded like a leftwing nutcase .. bar

O'Leary : Yes, bar, nutbar.

Hedges : That's an insult.

O'Leary : Are you left wing in leaning at least would you say?

Hedges : No, I would say ..

O'Leary : You're a centrist?

Hedges : Can I finish?

O'Leary : Please.

Hedges : I would say that those who are protesting the rise of the corporate state are in fact on the political spectrum the true conservatives because they're calling for the restoration of the rule of law. The radicals have seized power and they have trashed all regulations and legal impediments to a corporate reconfiguration of American society into a form of neo-feudalism. And that's what we're really asking for - is the restoration of the rule of law.

O'Leary : Ok, but you don't see any value in the banking system providing a financial infrastructure ...

Hedges : That's not what I said.

O'Leary : I'm asking you.

Hedges : A banking system that functions as a banking system should. And in Canada you do not have a banking crisis because you did not tear down the walls between commercial and investment banks and turn all of your banks into hedge funds. If, instead of handing massive sums of money to CitiBank, Wells Fargo - which are basically zombie banks that still hold tremendous toxic assets - we had created ten regional banks with $10 billion each and leveraged them 10 to 1, people could have been saved. Six million people have been pushed out of their homes because of foreclosures and mortgages. We could have reinvested in communities, small businesses which cannot get credit would have gotten credit. Instead they're just sitting on the capital and not lending it.

O'Leary : So we're certainly giving you an opportunity to speak your mind. Just so we can come full circle, what do you suggest should be done with Goldman Sachs specifically?

Hedges : They should be prosecuted. When you shove sub-prime mortgages on families that you know can't repay it and then you dice up those mortgages as assets and sell them and bet against them through AIG, that's fraudulent activity.

Fill-in for Lang : Alright, well thank you so much for joining us - we like to hear your thoughts.

Hedges : Well it'll be the last time.
Update : Dianne Buckner was the other co-host. h/t to Christine in comments

Alternate source of pulled video:



kootcoot said...

I missed this Alison, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I can imagine someone seeking investment on
the Dragon's Den someday actually attacking that asshole O'Leary, perhaps just breaking his nose if Kevie is fortunate......

It is disgusting what has been happening to OUR CBC of late and by the time Spiteful Steve has had his years of (20%) majority to run rampant the CBC might well be owned by Connie the felonious Crossdresser or one of the Asspersons........

Anonymous said...

Tim Geithner is both a bank lobbyist and the head of the US Treasury -there's the problem right there.

Up here in Canada Tony Clement was rewarded for his G-8 $50M slushfund activities by being made the head of our Treasury Board.

Jim Parrett said...

Thank you for posting the video and the full transcript. Tying it together with the 99% protesters is especially useful since it is not just Wall Street that is pissing off the youth and the concerned but all the arrogant pricks like O'Leary who control the message. I hope the protests keep growing and growing and pissing off those who take advantage of us all.

Boris said...

Stellar audition, Mr. O'Leary's, for "first against the wall."

West End Bob said...

Thanks, (Almost a) Lady Alison - STELLAR, as usual . . . .

Christine said...

Thanks for posting, O'Leary is an embarrassment to Canadians.

(BTW it's Dianne Buckner who is the co-host, a long-time CBC journalist with an excellent reputation for her work on Venture)

Oemissions said...

so delighted to finally have someone swat this fly

Holly Friesen said...

Was quite surprised to hear this was a CBC interview! The refusal to even listen or engage in intelligent debate or discussion left me feeling a bit queasy, Chris Hedges is right, feels like fox news more than cbc.

Emily van Lidth de Jeude said...

Thank you Alison. I'm linking to this from my blog.

Diane Stresing said...

I consider this a VERY refreshing exchange and thank you for posting the transcript w/video so it can be considered as clearly as possible.

I think it's refreshing because when O'Leary stepped (WAY) out of line as a journalist, Hedges called him out and they did return to a much more civil discourse. These are emotional issues and we're going to have to remember how to talk about such things if we're going to make any positive changes.

Anonymous said...

I have only read the transcripts but from what I see the gentleman was able to clearly articulate his point and it was given more gravity by Mr. O'Leary's devils advocate positioning. A show like this is meant for debate and although Kevin was rude, he didn't control the interview by any means. I don't really see a problem with this (and I am a left-wing nutbar).

patrick said...

Thanks for posting this I otherwise would have missed it. People should be encouraged to file a complaint wit the CBC if they deem fit. I have put a 'how to' for this issue specifically on my blog (

Bree said...


Anonymous said...

Hedges is indeed a left-wing lunatic.

Anonymous said...

I went to look for this on the CBC 'news' site but it has been pulled. This sort of thing puts them in the same category as Fox and Sun stations where news does not exist.Thanks for posting it.

Bree said...

This needs to have a lot more circulation. I was so impressed with how Chris handled this scumbagger! I wish everyone could keep the cool when these bullies poke this way. It is so frustrating to stay with the message rather than bop these guys in the head! Great job! I feel Chris represented OWS in a very honest and appropriate way! Great Job!!!!!!!

Alison said...

This actually did get pretty good circulation.
Rabble TV posted it, as did DKos, sol chrom, reddit, many forums, and two different versions on YouTube. Let Freedom Rain, linked in the post, also has it up now.

From Patrick : How to Complain to CBC about O’Leary’s exchange with Chris Hedges about Occupy Wall Street (Part 1)

Thanks for the correct name of the other co-host, Christine.

Alison said...

Anon4 : The link to CBC in the post is still working for me.

I got the version I used from Yahoo News but the youtubes posted later - see comment above - skip the embedded ads.

Hi Emily. Thanks! I very much liked your take on it.

This is not a right vs left issue!

Anonymous said...

By way of an update. The CBC Ombudsman is to review the conduct of Kevin O’Leary in Chris Hedges interview.

Oemissions said...

I wrote to the CBC Ombudsman and used your first paragraph as a quote and intro to my complaint about this Mr Kevin O'Leary telling that we have endured enough abusiveness from him and it would be best to dismiss him
that he is not representing the majority of Canadians with his attitudes and,hav that long time loyal listeners/supporters of our CBC such as myself cannot tolerate this behaviour
The Ombudsman replied: they will be
reviewing this and that there has been a previous complaint regarding Kevin O'Leary

Holly Stick said...

Canadian Cynic tweeted this link to the Ombudsman's report:

Elizabeth Block said...

Two things.

(1) It was Paul Martin who refused to allow the banks to combine commercial and investment functions (i.e. to become hedge funds). Does anyone think that if the Conservatives had been in power, they would have refused?

(2) A friend who lives in Cairo and writes for the English edition of Al-Ahram emailed me and asked who is Kevin O'Leary. Who, indeed.

David Wilson said...

thanks for this

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