Popular Transcripts FULL TRANSCRIPT: Joe Rogan Experience #1236 – Jack Dorsey

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FULL TRANSCRIPT: Joe Rogan Experience #1236 – Jack Dorsey (transcribed by Sonix)

Joe Rogan: Three, two, one, boom. Hello, Jack.

Jack Dorsey: What's up?

Joe Rogan: Nice to meet you, man.

Jack Dorsey: Nice to meet you, finally.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. Keep this sucker like a fist from your face.

Jack Dorsey: Got it.

Joe Rogan: Good. First of all. dude, you started a company. When you started Twitter, when you guys first started, did you have any idea — Well, there's no way you could have had any idea what it would be now.

Jack Dorsey: No.

Joe Rogan: But one of the things I always try to emphasize with people when people are like, "Twitter's crazy," I'm like, "How could it not be crazy? There's never been anything like it before." Like imagine trying to predict the kind of impact — The President of the United States uses Twitter to threaten other countries.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: I mean, who the fuck saw that coming?

Jack Dorsey: Not us.

Joe Rogan: Nobody saw that coming.

Jack Dorsey: Not us.

Joe Rogan: What did you think it was going to be when you first did it?

Jack Dorsey: Well, you know, we were building this thing for ourselves. And that's how everything starts. We wanted to use it. We wanted to stay connected with each other. We-

Joe Rogan: Like a group text almost?

Jack Dorsey: Like a group text. We loved our phones. We loved technology. We actually started this as a hack week project out of a failed company called Odeo. It's podcasting.

Joe Rogan: I remember that. I remember Odeo.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. Super early on. We were really creative folks, but we weren't that passionate about where podcasting was going in our particular domain. And we just got a lot of competition early on. iTunes just released a podcast directory, but we knew we wanted to work together. We knew we love this idea of one-button publishing, we love this idea of collaboration, we love this idea of being anywhere, and being able to share what was happening. That was the idea. I mean, that was it, and that's what we wanted it to be.

Jack Dorsey: And I think the most beautiful and, also, sometimes, uncomfortable aspect of Twitter is we really learned what it wanted to be, and the people helped create it. Like everything that we hold sacred now, the @ symbol, the hashtag, the retweet, those were not invented by me or the company. Those were things that we discovered, things that we discovered people using. And we just observed it, and we noticed what they were trying to do. They're trying to talk with one another. They were trying to collect tweets around topics with a hashtag.

Joe Rogan: Has anybody figured out when the first use of hashtag something was created?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, it was actually our Lead Designer, Robert Anderson, who leads our design of the Cash App. Hired him for a Square later on, but he was the first one. He was actually communicating with his brother, and he put @Buzz. His brother's name is Buzz. And it just spread. It wasn't en masse, but people were doing it.

Jack Dorsey: But what was most interesting is not what they're doing, but what they wanted to do with it. They wanted to address each other. And that changed the company completely. That changed the service because it went from just broadcasting what's happening to conversation and to being able to address anyone publicly out in the open, which, came with it, a lot of power and, also, a lot of issues as well.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. The use of hashtags, like looking up #Fryfest or hashtag — Anytime that something weird that's in the news, that's such a unique way to find things. But to go on Twitter and to utilize that, it's — I mean, it's interesting that this guy just did it just to contact his brother.

Jack Dorsey: Well, that was the @ symbol. The hashtag was this guy, Chris Messina.

Joe Rogan: Oh, different guy.

Jack Dorsey: And he was trying to tag around topics that he was tweeting about. And, again, that spread. All we did was made it easier. We made it more accessible. We enabled everyone to do it. With the @ symbol, we made a page that collected all mentions of your name. With the hashtag, we allowed people to search immediately, so you could tap on the keyword, and you would see everyone talking about that or tweeting about that specific hashtag. So, these things were just emergent behaviors that we didn't predict, and they became the lifeblood of the service.

Joe Rogan: What's fascinating to me about something like Twitter or even something like YouTube is that there's not a lot of other ones like it. There's just this one thing.

Jack Dorsey: Absolutely.

Joe Rogan: Like how does that happen-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … where this one thing sort of gets adopted by everybody and takes over, and then just becomes these overwhelmingly massive platform? I mean, there's really — Here's Vimeo and there's a few other videos services, but nothing on the scale of YouTube. And that's the same thing with Twitter. There's nothing on the scale of distributing information in a quick, short, 280-character form like that.

Jack Dorsey: I don't think we could plan for it. I don't think we could necessarily build for that. Someone said recently too, we just gathered a bunch of our leadership last week in Palm Springs for an offsite, and someone said recently that Twitter was discovered. And I think what's behind all that is that it hit something foundational. It hit something essential. And my co-founder, Biz, likes to say that Twitter can never be uninvented. It's here. It changed everything, but the use of it has been revolutionary.

Jack Dorsey: And it's just a simple idea of if you could text with the entire world, if you could actually reach anyone in the world, or anyone could see what you're thinking, which I think is also the beautiful thing about text and the medium, you can actually get someone's raw thoughts, and anyone in the world can see that instantaneously. It becomes a subconscious. It becomes this like global consciousness. And it gets to some really deep places in society. And some of those places are pretty uncomfortable.

Joe Rogan: Well, it also gets to some really deep places psychologically. There's a weirdness to it, right? There's a weirdness to-

Jack Dorsey: Definitely.

Joe Rogan: … sending text particularly @anonymously, and there's so many accounts that are just an egg.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: There's so many accounts where they're clearly designed. Like sometimes, someone will twit something mean to me, and I'm like, "Hmm, I wonder what this person's up to?" So, I go to their site, and it's just them tweeting mean shit at people all day long. Like it's probably some angry person at work, and they're like, "I'm just going to find people and fuck with them all day."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Did you realize or when did you realize — I'm sure you're aware of it. When did you realize that this was almost out of your control in terms of the scale of it?

Jack Dorsey: There wasn't one moment. There wasn't one moment that it just felt completely resonant. It's unfolded into the next thing, and the next used case, and it just keeps surprising us with how people are using it. You know, it definitely — Recently, I think, we've identified some of the areas of the service that we need to pay a lot more attention to.

Jack Dorsey: Twitter is unique, and that it has two main spaces. One, which is your timeline. And those are the people that you follow. And when you follow someone, they've earned that audience. And then, it has this other world where anyone can insert themselves into the conversation. They can actually mention you, and you'll see that without asking for it. You can insert yourself into hashtags, into search, and these are areas that people have taken advantage of, and these are the areas that people have gamed our systems to, in some cases, artificially amplify it but, also, just to spread a lot of things that weren't possible with a velocity that they're not possible before.

Joe Rogan: Now, when this is all happening, what's the conversation like at Twitter? When you're recognizing that this is happening, that people are gaming the system, like, what do — How do you guys — How do you mitigate it? What's the discussion?

Jack Dorsey: Well, early on, it was pretty surface level like, how do we change some of the app dynamics? But more recently, we're trying to go a lot deeper and asking ourselves a question. When people open Twitter, what are we incentivizing? What are we telling them to do when they open up this app? We may not explicitly be doing that, but there's something that we're saying without being as clear about it. So, what does the like button incentivize? What does the retweet incentivize? What does the number of followers and making that number big and bold incentivize?

Jack Dorsey: So, I'm not sure what we should not — I'm not sure if we should incentivize anything, but we need to understand what that is. And I think, right now, we do incentivize a lot of echo chambers because we don't make it easy for people to follow interests and topics. It's only accounts. We incentivize a lot of outrage and hot takes because of some of the dynamics in the service not allowing a lot of nuance and conversation earlier on.

Jack Dorsey: Pseudonyms, this ability to not use your real name, incentivizes some positive things like it allows for whistleblowers and journalists who might fear for their career or, even worse, their life and under certain regimes but, also, allows for people, like the example you mentioned, of just random fire and spread of abuse and harassment throughout.

Jack Dorsey: So, those are the things that we're looking at. And how do we enable more of the conversation to evolve? How do we increase the credibility or reputation of accounts? How do we identify credible voices within a particular domain? Not just through this very coarse, grain, blue, verified badge, but if you're an expert in a particular topic how do we recognize that in real time and show that, so that we can provide more context to who you're talking to, and if you want to engage in a deeper conversation or just ignore, mute, or block them?

Joe Rogan: But what is the conversation like while you're at work? Like when you're realizing that all this stuff is happening, and you're realizing that, now — I mean, particularly, because the president uses it so often. It's such a — I mean, it's his preferred platform for communicating with the people, I mean, even more so than addresses. It's very strange.

Joe Rogan: What's the conversation like in the office when you're trying to figure out, "Hey, what's our responsibility here? Like, how are we supposed to handle this? How do we-" I mean, in some ways, what Twitter is doing is it's really kind of — it's flavoring the public narrative. It's flavoring the way we communicate with each other in our culture worldwide.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I mean, the conversation has definitely evolved. I think, in the past, we just got super reactive. We were reacting to all the negative things that we're seeing, and that led to a lot of short-term thinking. More recently, we've just looked much deeper. We don't react to the present day. We look for some of the patterns.

Jack Dorsey: And, you know, we have a company that is not just serving the people of this particular country, the United States. This is global. We have global leaders all around the world using us in different ways. Some, with a higher velocity. Some recognize more the power. Some put out statements. Some lead conversations. But it's looking at all those dynamics and not trying to hyper focus on any one, a particular one, because if we do, we're only building it for one portion of the population or only one perceived present-day crisis.

Joe Rogan: But what I'm trying to get at was like, okay, when things come up, like, say, if you find out that there's people from ISIS that are using Twitter, and they're using Twitter and posting things, like, what is the conversation like? How do — What do we do about this? Do we leave this up? Do we recognize this is free speech? Do we only take it down if they're calling for murder or hate speech? Like, what — How do you handle that?

Jack Dorsey: Well, it evolves, I mean, because we first saw ISIS when the world saw ISIS. And we needed to change our policy to deal with it.

Joe Rogan: What was the initial reaction to it? So, once you realized that people from ISIS were making Twitter accounts, and they were trying to recruit people, and doing all these things, what was the thought process?

Jack Dorsey: It's the question, like, what are we going to do about this?

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: We haven't experienced this before. We need to-

Joe Rogan: Nobody has. I mean, you're essentially pioneers.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, but there are people who have experienced it in different forms and different mediums. So, we reach out to our government partners and friends and to our law enforcement partners. We reached out to our peer companies to ask if they're seeing the same things that we're seeing. We have a bunch of civil societies that we talk to to get their take on it as well. And we try to balance that across, you know, varied spectrums, whether it'd be, you know, more organizations that are more focused on preventing online harassment, all the way to the ACLU and EFF who are protecting the First Amendment online.

Jack Dorsey: So, we try to get as many perspectives as possible, take that, and then make some informed decisions, but also realize that we're probably going to make some mistakes along the way, and all we can do to correct some of that is just be open about where we are. And that's probably where we failed the most in the past is we just haven't been open about our thinking process, what led to particular decisions, how our Terms of Service evolve. In Terms of Service as an area in our industry, it's just a — it's a mess. No one reads them.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: You know, you sign up for these services, and you quickly hit accept.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And we expect people to read these rules of the road, but they haven't read them, and-

Joe Rogan: Have you ever read them?

Jack Dorsey: I have read them read.

Joe Rogan: You've read your own.

Jack Dorsey: I've read-

Joe Rogan: Have you read Facebook's?

Jack Dorsey: I haven't read Facebook's.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. You-

Jack Dorsey: I'm not on Facebook.

Joe Rogan: You're not on it?

Jack Dorsey: I'm not on Facebook.

Joe Rogan: Wow. Fuck Facebook, right? No, I'm just kidding. What about Instagram, you've read theirs?

Jack Dorsey: I was in the first 10 users of Instagram.

Joe Rogan: Really?

Jack Dorsey: Kevin was an intern. Kevin Systrom was an intern at Odeo. And I was one of the first investors of Instagram and love the service. I don't think I've ever read their Terms of Service.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, that's what I'm saying, even you.

Jack Dorsey: Even me. But I read ours, and one of the things I noticed right away as, you know, you read our Terms of Service, and one of the first things that we put at the top of the page was copyright and intellectual property protections. You go down, and you scroll down, and you see everything about violent threats, and abuse, and harassment, and safety. And it's not that the company intended for that to be the order. It's just we just added things going on.

Jack Dorsey: But even a read of that puts forth our point of view. Like we're actually putting copyright infringement above the safety-

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: … the physical safety of someone. So, we need to relook at some of these things, and how they've evolved, and how they reacted, and-

Joe Rogan: But is it above just because it's listed second? I mean, they're essentially all in the same one sheet.

Jack Dorsey: They're on the one sheet.

Joe Rogan: When you bring it up, when you discuss it first, is that really critical? They're all part of the Terms of Service.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, but I think that ordering matters. Like, what do we consider to be most important?

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And we have to consider physical safety to be that one thing that we protect the most.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And I-

Joe Rogan: So, physical threats.

Jack Dorsey: Physical threats.

Joe Rogan: Doxxing.

Jack Dorsey: Doxxing, anything that impinges on someone's physical safety. This is an area where I don't think technology and services like ours have focused on enough. We haven't focused on the off-platform ramifications of what happens online.

Joe Rogan: So, what do you do, like, here's a good for instance. This situation with this young kid who had the MAGA hat on, and the Native American gentleman who was in front of him banging the drum. And then, people are calling for this kid's name. They want his name, they want his address, including Kathy Griffin. Like, how do you handle something like that?

Jack Dorsey: Well-

Joe Rogan: Because that's essentially request for doxxing.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. And that is a new vector that we haven't seen en masse. I mean, these are the cases that bring up entirely new things. So, we have to study it. We have to see how we reacted, what happened with the network. But this goes back to the incentives. Like we are incentivizing this very quick reaction, and it's taking away from some more of the, like, considered work that we need to do to really diagnose what's happening in the moment. And it was — It's such an interesting case study to see how that evolved over just 48 hours. And-

Joe Rogan: Yes. That's one of the most fascinating news cycles or stories in the news cycle in quite a while because it's nuanced. There's many different levels to it.

Jack Dorsey: It's extremely nuanced, yeah.

Joe Rogan: And a lot of like really knee-jerk reactions.

Jack Dorsey: Totally, but we helped that.

Joe Rogan: How did you help it?

Jack Dorsey: Well, it's just that's how some of the dynamics of the service work. And those are the things we control.

Joe Rogan: But is that how some of the dynamics of the service or is it the way people choose to use the service? Like, if you are a thoughtful person, you wouldn't just — Like, for instance, the original image that was distributed came from an account that's now banned, right? And so, it was discovered that that account was a troll account. How does that happen? And what was the thought process behind that? Because the image that they posted was a legitimate image. It really did happen. It was a part of an actual occurring event. So, why did you ban the person or the troll account that put it up?

Jack Dorsey: I don't know about this particular case, but it's likely that it was found — There's a lot of what you see on the surface of Twitter, and some of the actions that we take on the surface, but where we spend a lot of our enforcement is actually what's happening underneath. So, in many cases, we have trolls or people, like the case that you mentioned, whose sole purpose is just to harass, or abuse, or spread particular information. And, oftentimes, these accounts might be connected, or they start one account that gets banned, they start another account. But we can actually see this through a network lens, and we can actually see some of those behaviors. So, that might have been one of the reasons. I'm not sure in that particular case but, you know, the-

Joe Rogan: How do you know? Do you know because of IP addresses? Do you know because of the-

Jack Dorsey: A variety of things. So, it could be trying to use the same phone number or same e-mail address, IP addresses, device IDs, all these things that we can use to judge what's happening within the context. So, we do have a lot of occurrences of suspending or temporarily suspending accounts because of activities across accounts. And that happens a ton. But what I mean in that we're helping this right now is like some of the incentives, like just imagine seeing that unfold, and when you see someone with one take, it kind of embolden something to follow along, and then this mob kind of rolls.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: So, there has to be a way for us to incentivize a lot more considered and more nuanced introspection of what's going on.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, give everybody mushrooms. It's probably the only way. I don't know. How are you going to get people to be more considerate? I mean, what-

Jack Dorsey: Providing more context.

Joe Rogan: I mean, this is essentially your engineering social behavior, right?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, providing more context.

Joe Rogan: Providing more context. How so?

Jack Dorsey: Providing more context. Like, an example, let's say Brexit for example.

Joe Rogan: Okay.

Jack Dorsey: So, if I followed a bunch of accounts, I like Boris Johnson who is constantly giving me information about reasons to leave, I would probably only see that perspective.

Joe Rogan: Nigel Farage.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. And those — A lot of folks just will not follow accounts that have a completely different perspective or a different influence. A number of people do. Hopefully, journalists do. But most people won't do that work. So, this is the only tool we give people: follow an account. If, however, during that time you followed the hashtag, you followed the hashtag #voteleave, 95% of the conversation in the tweets you see are all reasons to leave, but there is a small percentage that shows a different perspective and that shows a different reasoning. We don't make it easy for anyone to do that. And that is a loss-

Joe Rogan: Easy for anyone to follow-

Jack Dorsey: Follow the hashtag.

Joe Rogan: … outside of perspective.

Jack Dorsey: Follow the hashtag, follow a topic, follow an interest. And because of that, we help build an echo chamber and something that doesn't really challenge any perspective. And not to say that we should force it upon people, but we don't even make it easy for people to do in the first place. So, the way you do that today is you go the explorer tab, you look, you search for a hashtag, or you tap into a hashtag, and you can see all the conversation.

Jack Dorsey: But that's work. And most people just won't do the work. They'll stay in their timeline, and they'll see what they need to see, and I can certainly imagine why if I'm just following a bunch of people who have the exact same take on this, it just continues to embolden, and embolden, and embolden, and they see nothing of a different perspective on the exact same situation.

Joe Rogan: What's interesting to me is the difference between Twitter and Instagram. Essentially, it's not just the photographs. What's weird that has happened was there's shitty people on Instagram as well. I mean, there's a lot of arguments and things along those lines, but they don't overwhelm the initial post; whereas, with Twitter-

Jack Dorsey: Totally different surface.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Instagram is a post. I mean, it's a post that's not really eliciting conversation. It's eliciting comments.

Joe Rogan: But not just that. It's difficult to follow the conversations.

Jack Dorsey: I don't think there is a conversation. It's-.

Joe Rogan: Well, sometimes, there is. Sometimes, people are going back and forth about a particular subject that's discussed in the initial post, but it's not very clear.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Whereas with Twitter, it's only conversational.

Jack Dorsey: It's only conversation.

Joe Rogan: But even if there's a photograph, even if somebody posts a photograph on Twitter and has conversation under it, the photograph seems to be lack of secondary importance.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, it's super fluid and super messy too.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: But the thing is every — On Instagram or any blog, you have this post, the statement, and you have comments underneath; whereas, with Twitter, everything is on the same surface.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: It's all one surface.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. My friend, Kurt Metzger, likes that about Facebook. He says because in Twitter, he goes, "I post something, and then all these fucking morons post something." And he goes — You know Kurt, he's very animated. He's like, "And their shit looks just like my shit. It's all together, all piled up." He goes, "But if I post something on Facebook," he goes, "I have this whole thing. Like this is the original statement."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, my control.

Joe Rogan: And then, underneath it, yeah, you fucking say whatever you want, but no one's no one's reading.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like they're reading the original initial post, and it's clear that there's a differentiation between the initial post and the secondary post.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. You know, there's room for both models, but this conversation, most conversations, it's not you making a statement, and me just reacting to that.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: Like our conversation of all of us based on what we say. We can interrupt one another. We can-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: You know, we can completely change the subject. I can take control of the conversation. And the people who might find that interesting follow it. And the folks that don't just stop listening; whereas, you can't do that in a post-comment model.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. Also, text is so limited. I mean, it's great for just getting on actual facts, but it's-

Jack Dorsey: Also thinking. It's just so close to thinking, right. There's no composition.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: You know. And that, to me, is the most beautiful thing about Twitter, but also something that, you know, can be uncomfortable. Like I can compose my life on Instagram, I can compose my thoughts within a Facebook post, and they can look so perfect, but the best to Twitter is just super raw, and it's right to the thinking process. And I just think that's so beautiful because it gets to consciousness. It gets us something deeper. And I think that deeper-

Joe Rogan: Well, how so? How is it different than a post on Instagram or a post on Facebook?

Jack Dorsey: The speed demands. You know, the character constraint, the speed kind of just demands a more conscious, present, focused thinking versus like stepping back and-

Joe Rogan: Composing a letter.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, and composing a letter, and thinking about all the outcomes.

Joe Rogan: But, oftentimes, people do compose it as a letter, and they break it up into separate 280-character posts.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, the thread.

Joe Rogan: What was the thought process in going from 140 to 280? Because the one thing that I liked about 140 is you can't be verbose.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: You can't just ramble and, you know, like, it's great for comics because it forces us to write jokes like with the economy of words.

Jack Dorsey: Exactly. We found a lot of resonance with journalist because of the headlines. We found a lot of resonance with comics because of the rhythm. And we found a lot of resonance with hip hop as well because of the bars, and just the structure, and the constraint allowed that flow. The thinking was we looked at, you know, languages around the world, and there's some languages like German, 140 characters, you can't really say much. You can't really say much at all.

Joe Rogan: Right, because the words are so long.

Jack Dorsey: There are some languages like Japanese, 140 characters is 140 words. And what was interesting about Japan was Japan is one of our largest countries where we're bigger than Facebook there. We're-

Joe Rogan: Are you not bigger than Facebook in America?

Jack Dorsey: No.

Joe Rogan: What the fuck? I don't even use Facebook. Sorry, Facebook.

Jack Dorsey: I don't either.

Joe Rogan: I mean, I use it in terms of if I post something on Instagram, it goes to Facebook.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: But when I go to Facebook, it just seems like a lot of — Well, this does seem like Twitter too, a lot of arguing. But Twitter seems to be more fun, if that makes any sense. Even though there's a lot of chaos, when something — One of my favorite things is when someone posts something stupid, and then underneath it is a bunch of GIFs. Do we says GIFs or GIFs? How do you say GIF? Does anybody know?

Male: Ask him.

Jack Dorsey: GIFs. GIFs.

Joe Rogan: How do you say?

Jack Dorsey: I say GIFs. I know it's juries out.

Joe Rogan: A bunch of GIFs that are hilarious.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like I was just mocking someone relentlessly. Like that is one of my favorite things about Twitter. When someone, like Donald Trump posts something ridiculous, and then I'll go, and I'll look at the responses, like, "Baaaa." How do you care?

Jack Dorsey: It's a public conversation. You can-.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: You can see how everyone react, but like it's all — The interesting thing about Twitter is there's not one Twitter. It's like you have politics Twitter, which can be super toxic. You have sports Twitter, you have NBA Twitter, you have MMA Twitter, you have a UFC Twitter, you have KPop Twitter, you have e-sports, whatever.

Joe Rogan: Black sports.

Jack Dorsey: You have black Twitter.

Joe Rogan: That's Jaime's. Jaime loves black Twitter.

Jack Dorsey: You have all these different twitters, and you have a completely different experience-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: … based on what Twitter you follow-

Joe Rogan: Sure.

Jack Dorsey: … and what Twitter you participate in.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Some of them are like super engaging, super funny. Some of them are you want to walk away from it.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. I got to a certain point where I couldn't read replies anymore. I just, "Hmm." It's just — Not that it's that toxic. The vast majority of interactions I have with people are super positive.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: I mean, absolutely like more than 99%. But it's — I didn't — I don't have time, and I don't have time to be constantly responding to people. And it just didn't — The sheer numbers. I think when I got around 3 million-ish followers I'm like, "I can't do this anymore." It's just it's overwhelming. Like I don't have the resources.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I am a huge believer in serendipity. So, you look at your replies once, and you might see something that just like strikes you, and that's enough. You don't need to read through all of them.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, sometimes.

Jack Dorsey: And it's just-

Joe Rogan: But then, you might miss something groovy.

Jack Dorsey: You might, but I also believe the most important things come back up.

Joe Rogan: What I used to do a lot, I would go through my mentions. And when people would essentially use that as almost a news aggregator. I'll go through my mentions that people would post cool stories, and I would retweet those. And so, because people knew that I would retweet them, they would send me a lot of cool stuff. So, because of that, because it's reciprocating, I got a lot of really cool stuff sent my way.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're pushing. You're pushing more out to expand the network.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. And I reinforced it. I just I wanted to thank people for posting cool stuff, and they love the fact they would get a retweet. And so, they would send me like interesting science stories or, you know, very bizarre nature stories. And I'd just be retweeting them all the time. Go to — But then, after a while, I'm like, "This is a lot of time." It's a lot of time. So, now, essentially, what I do is I just post something and I'm just kind of like, "Ugh." I just walk away.

Jack Dorsey: But that, I mean, that speaks to what we want to incentivize more. We want more people contributing things back to the network, back to the-

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Back to the public conversation. And I know it doesn't feel like this today for most people, but my ideal is someone walks away from Twitter learning something, and they're actually learning something entirely new.

Joe Rogan: I think that happens a lot.

Jack Dorsey: And it might be a new perspective.

Joe Rogan: That happens a lot.

Jack Dorsey: It probably happens more often than we think.

Joe Rogan: Depending on who you follow.

Jack Dorsey: Exactly.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: It's all dependent on the Twitter you follow. And like, you know, the health Twitter is amazing. You know, I learned some. Like I followed Rhonda Patrick and a bunch of folks who are into sauna.

Joe Rogan: She's amazing. Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And Wim Hof and [Ice Bess] and Ben Greenfield. And you just follow them, and you just get all this new information about alternative views of how to stay healthy, how to live longer. And I can't find that anywhere else-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: … in one place like that.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And then, it's not just them broadcasting. When they retweet something or when they tweet something, there's a whole conversation about it. So, you know, some people say this is — you know, "This has not been my experience," or "This is not true for me," or "Actually, have you seen this connected thing?" And I just go down this rabbit hole, and I learn so much. But that's not the experience for everyone. ***

Joe Rogan: No. Well, yeah, it's not the experience for everyone, and it's not really — I don't think it's what everyone wants either. Sometimes, people just like to go on there and talk shit.

Jack Dorsey: That's true.

Joe Rogan: I mean, someone that's trapped in a cubicle right now, and they just want to go in there, and get in arguments about gun control or, you know, whether or not Nancy Pelosi is the devil. And this is-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: This is what — You know, it serves a purpose for them.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: The thing that gets strange though is who's to decide. You know, there's this concept — There's a discussion, I should say, where some people believe that things like Twitter, or Facebook, or any forum where you're having a public discussion should be considered almost like a public utility. Like anyone has access to the electric power. Even if you are — You know, even if you're a racist, you still can get electricity. And some people think that you should have that same ability with something like Twitter or the same ability with something like Instagram. Obviously, this is — We're in uncharted territory. And you-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: You are in uncharted territory.

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: Just no one has been there before. So, who makes the distinctions? When you see someone that it's saying something that you might think is offensive to some folks but not offensive to the person who's saying it, maybe the person who's saying it feels like they need to express themselves, and this is important to say, and how do you decide whether or not this is a valid discussion, or if this is "hate speech," which is — You know there's some things that are hate speech, and there's sometimes people who use the term hate speech, and it's just a cheap way to shut down a conversation.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. So, the simple answer is we look at conduct. We don't look at the speech itself, we look at conduct. We look at how the tool is being used. And you're right in that, like, I think when people see Twitter, they see and they expect it to be a public square. They can go into that public square, they can say whatever they want, they can get on a pedestal, and people might gather around them, and listen to what they have to say. Some of them might find it offensive and they leave. The difference is there's, also, this concept of this megaphone. And the megaphone can be highly targeted now with Twitter as well.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: So, it's not the speech. It's how it's amplified.

Joe Rogan: So, what do you do if, like, say — Let's say there's someone in the media. Let's say it's a prominent feminist. And then, you have a bunch of people or let's say just one person, and their Twitter feed is overwhelmingly attacking this prominent feminist. Just constantly a tagger, calling her a liar, calling her this, calling her that. When do you decide this is harassment? When do you decide this is hate speech? Like, how do you — I mean, this is-

Jack Dorsey: We look at the context.

Joe Rogan: This is a fictional account, right?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: Fictional person we're talking about. But in this for instance, what would dictate something that was egregious enough for you to eliminate them from your platform?

Jack Dorsey: Well, that's a heavy action. So, that's the last resort. But we look at the conduct. We look at — Oftentimes, as you said, the probability of someone who is harassing one person, it's highly probable that they're also harassing 10 more people.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: So, we can look at that behavior. We can look at how many times this person is being blocked, or muted, or reported. And based on all those, all that data, we can actually take some action. But we also have to — We have to correlate it with the other side of that because people go on, and they coordinate blocks as well, and they coordinate harassment, and they coordinate — I'm sorry not harassment but reporting. Reporting a particular account to get it shut down and to take the voice off the service.

Jack Dorsey: So, these are the considerations we have to make, but it all starts with conduct. And, oftentimes, we'll see coordinated conduct, whether it'd be that one person opening multiple accounts or coordinating with multiple accounts that they don't own to go after someone. And there's a bunch of vectors that people use retweet for that, the "tweet" for that a lot as well. Like they'll quote tweet a tweet that someone finds, and they'll say, "Look at this idiot. Twitter, do your thing." And then just this mob starts, and goes, and tries to effectively shut that person down.

Jack Dorsey: So, there's a bunch of tools we can use. The permanent suspension is the last resort. One of the things that we can do is we can down-rank the replies. So, any of these behaviors and conduct that looked linked, we can actually push farther down in the reply chain. So, it's all still there, but you might have to push a button to actually see it. You might have to show more replies to actually see this harassing account or what might look like harassing language.

Joe Rogan: And this is manually done or this-

Jack Dorsey: No, no, no. This is all automated.

Joe Rogan: It's automated?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: But how would you know?

Jack Dorsey: A lot of the ranking, and looking at amplification, and looking at the network is automated.

Joe Rogan: Right. Like in terms of down-ranking, is there a discussion as to whether or not this person's reply should be down-ranked? How do you figure that out?

Jack Dorsey: It's a machine learning and deep learning model and they just-

Joe Rogan: Whoa. So, it's AI?

Jack Dorsey: It's AI, and they learn.

Joe Rogan: Oh, Christ.

Jack Dorsey: And we look at how these things are doing, and where they make mistakes, and then we improve it. It's just constantly improving, constantly learning.

Joe Rogan: Does that feel like censorship to you, like automated censorship? Because, I mean, who is to decide other than people whether or not something is valid?

Jack Dorsey: Well, we're not looking at the speech in this particular case. We're looking at the conduct.

Joe Rogan: The conduct.

Jack Dorsey: The conduct of someone in fast velocity attacking someone else.

Joe Rogan: Okay.

Jack Dorsey: Right. So, those are the things that our technology allows. It changes the velocity. It changes how to broadcast a message that someone didn't really ask for and didn't want to hear. We don't touch — If I follow Joe Rogan, you'll see every single tweet. We don't touch it. Right?

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: But that's an audience that you earn. But in your replies page, we have a little bit more room because this is a conversation that starts up, and some people just want to disrupt it. And all we're saying is we're going to look and move in the disruption down. Not that it's hidden, but it's still there, but you just see it a little bit further down.

Joe Rogan: Like, there was — What was the instance with Ari? I should text him right now, get him to answer me in real time. But Ari Shaffir got kicked off Twitter because he said something to Bert like, "Bert, I'm going to fucking kill you." Bert Kreischer, being our good friend, all of us are good friends, and he's like, "You fucking dummy, I want to kill you," or something like that.

Male: He took his record albums. He said like, "I'm going to steal and break them all." He jokingly got mad.

Joe Rogan: Right, right, right.

Male: That's Ari though.

Joe Rogan: Bert was — I think it was all bullshit, right?

Male: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: I don't mean Bert really stole his records.

Male: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He kept them. Yeah, he gave them back to him eventually.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Male: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: He's like< "I'm going to fucking kill you."

Jack Dorsey: So, what happened or probably happened, and I'm not sure of that particular case, but what probably what happened there is someone might have reported that tweet. One of our agents, human agent, without context of their friendship or that relationship, saw it as a violent threat and took action on that.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And those are the mistakes that we're going to make. That's why we need an appeals process.

Joe Rogan: Or Bert needs to keep his fucking greasy hands off Aris' records, right?

Jack Dorsey: That's probably not going to happen. We need to make sure that we're reacting the right way.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Like, look, we're going to make mistakes. We're trying to — The problem with the system right now is most of the work and the burden is actually on the victims of abuse while they're getting harassed. So, a lot of our system doesn't enforce or act unless these tweets are reported, right? So, we don't take suspension actions or removal of content actions unless it's reported.

Jack Dorsey: The algorithms rank and order the conversation, but they don't take suspension actions. They don't remove content. They might suggest to a human to look at this, who might look at our rules, and look at the content, and try to look at the context of the conversation, and then take action. But we would like to move towards a lot more automated enforcement.

Jack Dorsey: But more importantly, how do we highlight? How do we amplify more of the healthier discussion and conversation? Again, not removing it. We're going to a world, especially with technology like blockchain that all content that exist, that is ever created will exist forever. You won't be able to take it down. You won't be able to censor it. It won't be centralized at all.

Jack Dorsey: Our role is around what we recommend based on your interest, and based on who you follow, and helping you to get into that on ramp. But if you look at the arc of technology, it's a given that anytime something is created, it's going to exist forever. This is what blockchain helps enable down the line. And we need to make sure that we're paying attention to that, and also realizing that our role is like, how do we get people the stuff that they really want to see, and they find valuable, that they'll learn from, that will make them think, that will help them evolve the conversation as well.

Joe Rogan: Now, when you say amplify the messages that you deemed to be more positive, right, like how do you decide that?

Jack Dorsey: People decide it.

Joe Rogan: People decide.

Jack Dorsey: People decide it based on like, "Are they engaging in replies? Are they retweeting it? Are they liking it?" Are they-

Joe Rogan: But, sometimes, it's really negative. Like, sometimes, the people that are engaging in it, engaging, they're attacking someone. So, is that valuable, or is it just unfortunate?

Jack Dorsey: It's valuable. I mean, every signal is something that we can learn from, and we can act on. But it's going to constantly evolve.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: I mean, these models that we have to build will constantly have to learn what the network is doing and how people are using it. And our goal is healthy contribution back to the public conversation. That is what we want. We want to encourage people into more bigger, informative, global conversations that they will learn from.

Joe Rogan: Are you constantly aware of how much this is changing society, and that you are one of the four or five different modalities that are radically changing society? Whether it's Facebook, or Instagram, or any of these social media companies, it's radically changing the way people communicate with each other. There's a giant impact on the way human beings talk and see each other. And the way we process ideas and the way we distribute information is unprecedented. There's never been anything like that before. And you setting up something that you think it's going to be a group chat.

Joe Rogan: Do you member the early days when you would say like "@Jack is going to the movies." You would say it. Like, that's how we would say it. I would say "@JoeRogan is on his way to dinner."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: That's how people would do it.

Jack Dorsey: The status.

Joe Rogan: It's fucking — it was weird-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … that somewhere along the line, that morphed, and it's-

Jack Dorsey: It morphed because that's what the world wanted to do with it.

Joe Rogan: That's what they wanted to do with it.

Jack Dorsey: That's where they wanted to take it.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And I just think it's so reflective of what the world is and, in some cases, what the world wants to be.

Joe Rogan: So, it's a pathway for thinking. Just a pathway for people to get their thoughts out, but a really — a powerful one, an unprecedented method of distributing information. It's really nothing ever been like this before.

Jack Dorsey: No, no. And it won't. This mode of communicating will not go away. It will just get faster. It will become a lot more connected. And that's why our work is so critical to figure out some of the dynamics at play, that make it — that cause more negative outcomes and positive outcomes.

Joe Rogan: I think about it because — Well, I think about it because it's just a hugely, significant thing. But I also think about it because of podcasts because podcasts are in a similar way. Just no one saw it coming, and the people that are involved in it are like, "What the fuck are we doing?"

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like me, I'm like, "What am I doing? What is this?".

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like, for me, it's like, "Oh boy, I get to talk to guys like Ben Greenfield, and Jonathan Haidt, and all these different people to learn some stuff." And I've clearly learned way more from doing this podcast than I ever would have learned without it. No doubt about it, unquestionably. But I didn't fucking plan this.

Joe Rogan: So, now, all the sudden, there's this signal that I'm sending out to millions and millions of people. And then, people are like, "Well, you have a responsibility." I'm like, "Oh great." Well, I didn't want that. I didn't want a responsibility to what I distribute. I just want to be able to have a freak show, just talk to people, like whatever. There's certain people that I have on whether it's Alex Jones or anyone that's controversial where people will get fucking mad. "Why are you giving this person a platform?" I go, "Okay. Hmm, I didn't think about it that way and, and I don't think that's what I'm doing. I think I'm talking to people and you can listen."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: But it's giving that person a platform because they're saying, "Well, no, they'll tone down." Like Milo Yiannopoulos, that was one of the arguments people gave me. Like he toned down his platform when he was on your show, so you could get more people to pay attention to him. I'm like, "Okay, but he also talked about-" That was one of the reasons why he was exposed was my show because he talked about that it's okay to have sex with underaged boys if they're gay because there was like a mentor relationship between the older gay man and the younger, and people were like, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Joe Rogan: And that was a big part of why he's been removed from the public conversation. That was one of the things. And then, there's the discussion like, "Well, what is that? What is removing someone from the public conversation? If someone is very popular, and they have all these people that like to listen to them, what is the responsibility of these platforms, whether it's YouTube, or Twitter, or anyone. What is their responsibility to decide whether or not someone should or shouldn't be able to speak?"

Joe Rogan: And this is a thing that I've been struggling with, and it bounced around inside my own head, and I see that you guys struggle with it, and pretty much everyone does. Youtube does. And it is a hugely significant discussion that is left to a very relatively small amount of people. And this is why this discussion of what is social media? Is it something and everybody has a right to, or is it something that should be restricted to only people that are willing to behave and carry themselves in a certain way?

Jack Dorsey: I believe it's something that everyone has a right to.

Joe Rogan: Everyone has a right to, but you still ban people. Let's say like, Alex Jones. you guys were the last guys to keep Alex Jones on the platform. You were the last ones.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And I believe you hung in there until he started harassing you personally, right?

Jack Dorsey: No, no, no, no. He did not-

Joe Rogan: He came to your house, he begged.

Jack Dorsey: No, no. You know, he did a very different things on our platform versus the others.

Joe Rogan: Oh, okay.

Jack Dorsey: So, we saw this domino effect over a weekend of one platform banning him, and then another, another, another in very, very quick succession.

Joe Rogan: Right. And people, I think, would have assumed that we would just have followed suit, but he didn't violate our Terms of Service.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And afterwards, he did. And we have — You know, we a policy. And if there's a violation, we take enforcement actions. One might be asking the account holder to delete the tweet. Another might be a temporary suspension. Another might be a permanent suspension.

Joe Rogan: So, what you're saying — So, like, let's use it in terms of like him saying that Sandy Hook was fake. He did not say that on the platform. He did not say that on Twitter. He only said that on his show.

Jack Dorsey: I don't know all the mediums he said it in.

Joe Rogan: What did he do?

Jack Dorsey: What we're looking at is the conduct and what he did on our platform.

Joe Rogan: So, what did he do on your platform that was like — that you all were in agreement that this is enough?

Jack Dorsey: I'm not sure what the actual, like, violations were. But we have a set number of actions. And if they keep getting — If an account keeps violating Terms of Service, ultimately, it leads to permanent suspension. And when all the other platforms are taking him off, we didn't find those. We didn't find those violations, and they weren't reported. But again, it goes back to a lot of our model. People weren't reporting a lot of the tweets that may have been in violation on our service, and we didn't act on them.

Joe Rogan: Right. Like a good instance is what's going on with Patreon. I'm sure you're aware of the Sargon of Akkad thing. He did a podcast a long time ago, I believe six months or so ago, where he used the N-word, and the way he used it is actually against white nationalists. And he also said a bunch of other stuff, and they decided, Patreon decided that what he said on a podcast was enough for them to remove him from the platform, even though he didn't do anything on their platform that was egregious. And, also, they had previously stated that they were only judging things that occurred on their platform.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: There's been a giant blow back because of that because people are saying, "Well, now you're essentially policing, and not based on his actions, just on concepts and the communication that he was using, the way he was talking. You're eliminating him from being able to make a living, and that you're doing this because he does not fit into your political paradigm. The way you want to view the world, he views the world differently. This is an opportunity for you to eliminate someone who you disagree with."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I mean, I don't know the nuances of their policy, but we have to pay attention to folks who are using Twitter to shut down the voices of others.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: That's where it gets weaponized. And we also have to pay attention to where people are using it that put other folks in physical danger. And that is where we need to be most severe. But, otherwise, everyone has a right to these technologies. And, I think, they also have a right to make sure that they have a very simple and open read of the rules. And we're not in a great state there. Our rules and our enforcement can be extremely confusing to people.

Joe Rogan: What has been the one thing that came up that was perhaps the most controversial? Like I know my friend, Sam Harris, was trying to get you guys to ban Donald Trump and saying if you follow your Terms of Service-

Jack Dorsey: I just did a podcast with him actually as well. It should come out today or tomorrow.

Joe Rogan: He's a fascinating guy, Sam Harris. I love him to death. But what he was trying to do was like saying, "Hey, he's threatening nuclear war." Like, he's saying, "Hey, Korea, my bombs are bigger than your bombs. Like what else does the guy have to do to get you to remove him from the platform?" When you guys saw that, what was your reaction to that? Was there an internal discussion about actually banning the President United States?

Jack Dorsey: Well, so, two things there. One, it was the context that presidents of this country have used similar language in different mediums. They used it on radio, they used it on television. It's not just through Twitter. And even if you were to look at the presidency of Obama, it wasn't exactly the same tone in this exact same language, but there were threats around the same country. And we have to take that context into consideration.

Jack Dorsey: So, the second thing is that we need — The most controversial aspect of our rules and our Terms of Service is probably this clause around public interest and newsworthiness, where powerful figures or public figures might be in violation of our Terms of Service, but the tweet itself is of public interest.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: There should be a conversation around it. And that is probably the thing that people disagree with the most and where we have a lot of internal debate. But we also have some pretty hard lines. If we had a global leader, including the President of United States, make a violent threat against a private individual, we would take action. We always have to balance that with like, "Is this something that the public has interest in?" And I believe, generally, the answer is yes. It's not going to be in every case but, generally, the answer is yes because we should see how our leaders think and how they act.

Joe Rogan: And essentially, it all-

Jack Dorsey: That informs voting. That informs the-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: … conversation. That informs whether we think they're doing the right job, or we think that they should be voted out.

Joe Rogan: Well, it's very important to see how someone uses that platform. And when someone uses it the way he uses it, and then becomes president, and continues to use it that way that's when people are like, "What?"

Jack Dorsey: He's been consistent. I think he joined in 2009, 2012.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: You look at all of his tweets all the way back then, and it's pretty consistent till today.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. I mean, he likes to insult people on Twitter. It's fun for him.

Jack Dorsey: Yes, he does.

Joe Rogan: It's just I never thought he would keep doing it. I thought once he became president, maybe just lock it down, try to do a good job for the country. And then, after four years or eight years, just go back to his old self, "Fuck you, fuck the world, fuck this," but no. He's just — It's just, in one way, it's hilarious. See, as a comedian, I think it's awesome because it's so hilariously stupid. It's so preposterous that he even has the time to talk about Jeff Bezos' affair, and the fact that he got caught with the National Inquirer getting text messages and calls him Jeff Bozo like, "Don't you have shit to do man?"

Joe Rogan: But as a comedian, I am a gigantic fan of folly, almost against my better judgment. I like watching. I like watching disasters. I like watching chaos. When I see nonsense like that, I'm like, "Oh Jesus". I'm drawn like a moth to a flame. But on the other part of me is like. "Man, this sets a very bizarre tone for the entire country," because — one of things about Obama, like Obama or hate Obama because he was very measured, very articulate, obviously, very well-educated. And I think that that aspect of his presidency was very good for all of us because he represented something that was of a very high standard in terms of his ability to communicate, his access to words, the way he measured his words, and held himself. I think that's good for us. Like yeah-

Jack Dorsey: It's aspirational.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. It's like, "Look at that guy. He's talking better than me, That's why he's the president." But when you see Trump, you're like, "He doesn't talk better than me. He doesn't use Twitter better. He's not — He's just this fucking mad man."

Jack Dorsey: But isn't it important to understand that-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: … and to see it-

Joe Rogan: Exactly.

Jack Dorsey: …and like to — Hopefully, that informs opinions and actions.

Joe Rogan: 100%. That's my point. That's my point is like that this is this weird gray area where I think, overall, I definitely support your decision to not ban him for violating your Terms of Service. Like we need to know.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: You know, and it's — How do you know how many accounts are bots? How do you know how many accounts are from a Russian troll farm?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like how do you know that?

Jack Dorsey: So, this is really challenge and something that we're trying to wrap our heads around, but like one of the things we're trying to do is like let's scope that problem down a bit. Let's use the technology we have available to us, like face ID, like touch ID, like the biometric stuff to identify the humans. Let's identify the humans first.

Joe Rogan: So, how do you use that because face ID not really available? Is it available to you guys? You just leaked something you shouldn't have told me?

Jack Dorsey: No, no, no, no. We haven't used it yet, but you can use it for things like, is this a human operating this?

Joe Rogan: It's like Apple Pay, you can use it for that, so.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, it's completely locked into the local device. We don't have access to your images, to your face, or whatnot, but the operating system can tell us that this is the legit owner of this phone; and therefore, it is human. And technology always has to change. People find ways around that and whatnot. But if we go the opposite direction, and we look for the bots, the problem with looking for the bots is people assume that they just come through our API, but the scripting has become extremely sophisticated. People can script the app, can script the website, and make it look very, very human.

Jack Dorsey: So, we're going after this problem, first, trying to identify the humans as much as we can, utilizing these technologies. None of this is live right now. These are considerations that we're making and trying to understand, like what the impact would be and how we might evolve it. But we need to because that information would provide context for someone like this is an actual human that I'm talking to. And I can invest more time in it, or I can just ignore the thing because it's meaningless.

Joe Rogan: Now, is Apple willing to share that with you. I mean, when you're talking about biometrics, fingerprints, or face ID

Jack Dorsey: No, no, no. Not the data. It's just the operating system verifies that, you know, this-

Joe Rogan: That there's individual user.

Jack Dorsey: It's an individual, and it's unlocking.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: Like, you know, when you use the — Our Cash App uses this, right. So, Square's Cash App, when you want to make a transfer to someone, when you want to send someone money, or when you want to buy bitcoin, we turn on face ID, and you verify that you are you, and you are the owner of the phone, and then it goes. We don't get images of your face. We don't see who you are.

Joe Rogan: That's what you want me to think. I know, yeah.

Jack Dorsey: That's all locked down by the operating system, and that's the way it should be.

Joe Rogan: Right. Right, sure. Has there ever been any consideration to not allowing people to post anonymously?

Jack Dorsey: Well-

Joe Rogan: Like what you said earlier about journalists and whistleblowers, that is political.

Jack Dorsey: So, look at platforms that have a real names policy. Look at Facebook.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: Are the problems any different?

Joe Rogan: I don't know because I don't go there, but for what I understand, there's a lot of — still, a lot of arguing there.

Jack Dorsey: It's the same-

Joe Rogan: A lot of political arguing. A lot of old people.

Jack Dorsey: They're the same vectors, the same patterns.

Joe Rogan: I think, older. It's like older, in general.

Jack Dorsey: It seems. I, also, am not really hanging out there, but it seems a little bit older.

Joe Rogan: It's a lot of grannies looking at pictures of their kids, grandkids, and stuff.

Jack Dorsey: That's what it's made for. It's connecting-

Joe Rogan: Arguing about ignorance.

Jack Dorsey: It's connecting with the people that you know. And that, to me, is the biggest difference with Twitter. It's connecting with the people you don't know-

Joe Rogan: Well-

Jack Dorsey: … that you find interesting, and like it's around topics and stuff that you find that you want to learn more about.

Joe Rogan: When you saw Zuckerberg testifying, and realizing like how this platform is being used, and what are the dangers of this, and then you see these senators that really don't know what the fuck the technology is or-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: It really highlights how we're entering this-

Jack Dorsey: There's a gap.

Joe Rogan: Really, yeah. Well, not just a gap. A gap and the critical understanding of how these things work, and what they are in terms of like how these really important politicians who are the ones who are making these decisions as to whether or not someone has violated laws, or whether or not something should be curbed or regulated.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And they don't really even understand what they're talking about.

Jack Dorsey: No. I mean, there's-

Joe Rogan: So few people do.

Jack Dorsey: Because they're not using it directly. They're not using in the way that people are using it every single day and-

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: … they don't have the same experience that people have every single day. And, you know, in terms of regulatory, and our regulators, and our governments, you know, I think the conversation is often about how regulators will come in, and start writing rules, and setting expectations for how companies or services might behave. But there's a role for the company to educate, and there's a role for the company to educate on like what technology makes possible, whether it'd be positive and also some of the negatives that become possible as well.

Jack Dorsey: So, I think, we have a role to help educate and to help make sure that we're — you know, really, we're pushing towards what I think the job of a regulator is, which is, number one, protect the individual; number two, level the playing field, and make sure that those two things are not compromised by special interests trying to protect their own domain, or profits, or dominance within a particular market.

Joe Rogan: What do you mean by level the playing field?

Jack Dorsey: Level the playing field, so that an individual has the same opportunity that someone else might have our company might have.

Joe Rogan: So, okay. So, like anybody-

Jack Dorsey: So, anyone-

Joe Rogan: … can have a Twitter account.

Jack Dorsey: Anyone can have a Twitter account. And, you know, they have, at least, you know, an equal opportunity to contribute to it. And whatever they do with it will change the outcome. Some people might become very popular because they're saying stuff people want to hear. Some people won't see any following whatsoever because they're not adding anything original, or interesting, or different in terms of perspective.

Joe Rogan: Where do you see this going? When you look at these, kind of, emerging technologies, not necessarily emerging anymore, established now, but still, you know, a new thing in relative terms of human history, where do you see this going? And does it get more intrusive? Does it get deeper into our lives? Like what — And when you look at new technologies like augmented reality and things along those lines. do you see new possibilities and new things that make things even more complicated?

Jack Dorsey: I mean, yeah. I mean, we just have to assume that we naturally use more and more technologies, more and more things become open, more and more things increase the velocity. There's more communication, not less. Like this is not going away. And it's just-

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: It's just a question of what we do with it. So, where I want it to go, and where I want Twitter specifically to go is, you know, I think, it's existential right now that we have global conversations about some things that will become crisis. Climate change being one of them. There's no one nation state that's going to solve that problem alone. Economic disparity being another, the rise of AI, and job displacement, and just like us offloading decisions to these algorithms.

Jack Dorsey: Those are things that that no one nation, no one community is going to solve alone. It takes the entire world to do so. So, I want to make sure that we're doing our best to get people seeing these global conversations and, ideally, participating in them because it helps. It helps us solve the problems faster. I just believe that more open society allows us to solve problems much faster.

Joe Rogan: So, you, in many ways, see Twitter as having some sort of a social responsibility in this discussion.

Jack Dorsey: Totally, totally, totally. Yeah. And I think a big part of is like, right now, like how are we ensuring that there is more healthy contribution to that global conversation. And, you know, I just think it's so critical that we start talking about the things that are facing all of us, not just one nation. I do think that that's where our current model really puts the world at a disadvantage because it incentivizes more of the echo chambers, which lead to things like nationalism, instead of taking the broader picture, and looking at what's happening around the world to all people, to all of humanity.

Joe Rogan: What do you do though to balance the conversation, or what responsibility do you think you have to balance a conversation in terms of the way conservatives view it versus the way liberals and progressives view it.

Jack Dorsey: Balance it. I mean, show-

Joe Rogan: I mean, is there a responsibility? Do you have a responsibility, or is it just leave it up to the people and let them figure it out, the same way they figured out hashtags and everything else?

Jack Dorsey: I think we have a responsibility to make it easier to do that.

Joe Rogan: Easier. How so?

Jack Dorsey: Right now, it's just too hard. Most people will not — You know, have a sticker mindset.

Joe Rogan: Venture outside of their bubble.

Jack Dorsey: They will not venture out. They will not break their bubble.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: But if you — because it's — Right now, on the surface, it's just so hard to do that. I can only follow accounts, and I have to look into and just imagine like, you know, trying to get an understanding of your own politics. People can't just look at your bio. They have to look through all your tweets, they have to listen to a bunch of your podcasts and whatnot. And that's a bunch of work. If we shift it more towards topics and interest, at least, we have the potential to see a bunch more perspectives. We see-

Joe Rogan: How do you do that though?

Jack Dorsey: The simplest thing is like follow a hashtag, follow a topic. Like why can't you just follow Warriors Twitter or, you know, NBA Twitter? Why do you have to go and find all the coaches, and the players, and the team.

Joe Rogan: So-

Jack Dorsey: We can do that. We can help make that a whole lot easier for folks.

Joe Rogan: So, there's something like Brexit or something. So, if you go to #Brexit, you're going to get the whole conversation. You're going to get the pros, the cons, the left, the right, the whole deal, the centrists. You're going to get everybody versus following the people that you already follow that agree with what you think.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. The probability is higher that you'll get more. You'll get more variety of perspective. And not even — Don't even follow Brexit. Follow Vote Leave if you want to leave. But within that topic, there might be some dissenting opinions. And you get to choose whether those inform you, whether that emboldens your position or not. And, again, I'm not saying that we should force that upon it, but it's not easy to even do that today, right. The only tool we give you is finding and following the accounts. And that-

Joe Rogan: But people search hashtags. They do search hashtags, right?

Jack Dorsey: They don't based on the timeline.

Joe Rogan: They don't?

Jack Dorsey: I mean, it is a small percentage of people. The people that really know Twitter know how to do that. But most people, they follow an account, and they stay in their timeline. And their world is their timeline.

Joe Rogan: Hashtags can be corrupted too. I mean, people-

Jack Dorsey: Totally, they can be gamed.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: They can be gamed.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, I-

Jack Dorsey: And taken over.

Joe Rogan: I took over #vegancat. Go to #vegancat.

Jack Dorsey: What is that?

Joe Rogan: It's a rap. That's mine now. In my last Netflix special about a woman who said a bunch of horrible things to me because I've put a picture up on Instagram of some deer meat. I wrote, "This is a meat from a deer that like to kick babies. It was about to join ISIS." And I wrote #vegan, which was the mistake, right, to write #vegan. But the #vegan people went fucking crazy and came after me because I entered into their timeline with meat.

Jack Dorsey: There it is.

Joe Rogan: Have you got a #vegancat? It's all either pictures of — See. Like it says, "Joe Rogan," right, "Thank you. I haven't laughed that hard in a while #vegancat." It's people that are feeding their fucking cat vegan food, and they're all dying. And in the special, I say, "Every cat looks like it's living in a house with a gas leak." Like they're all-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … like laying like, "Where the fuck is the real food?" But this is real. Like this-

Jack Dorsey: It generates conversation, different perspective.

Joe Rogan: But the thing is if someone does something like that, like you can — like pick a person, you know, whatever that person is, whatever they're doing, if they have a hashtag that they utilize all the time for their movement or whatever, someone could mock them, and then use that. And if it's a public figure or someone who's got a prominent voice, then, all of a sudden, that hashtag becomes — People just take it over and start mocking them-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … with that hashtag.

Jack Dorsey: But it has to be done en masse.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: I mean, it has to be coordinated. And, sometimes, people like figure out how to game the system, and coordinate it, and amplify that message in an unfair way. And that's what our systems are trying to recognize.

Joe Rogan: How sick did that cat look?

Male: Amazing.

Joe Rogan: That poor fucking cat. That was a real one. That was a real #vegancat.

Jack Dorsey: Wow.

Joe Rogan: These poor bastards. So, when you look back at emerging social media, like we go all the way back to MySpace, right. MySpace, you got Tom. Tom was sitting there, and you're in your top eight, and, you know, people would like post music that they liked, and it was never political. It was very — often, very surfaced. And for comics, it was a great way to promote shows, and it was an interesting way to see things. But it was like the seed that became Twitter or Facebook or any of these.

Jack Dorsey: That's one of them. I think, we — At least, for us, like, we got more of our roots from AOL instant messenger and ICQ.

Joe Rogan: Hmm, ICQ.

Jack Dorsey: Because, it was — You know, you remember the status message where you said like, "I'm in a meeting," or "I'm listening to this music," or "I'm watching a movie right now."

Joe Rogan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jack Dorsey: That was the inspiration.

Joe Rogan: Oh.

Jack Dorsey: And what we took from that was being able to — Like, if you could do that from anywhere, not bound to a desk, but you could do that from anywhere, and you could do it from your phone, and you could just be roaming around and say, you know, "I'm at Joe Rogan's studio right now," that is cool. I don't need my computer. I'm not bound to this, chained to this desk. I can do it from anywhere.

Jack Dorsey: And then, the other aspect of instant messenger was, of course, chat. So, one of the things that the status would do is you might say like, you know, "I'm listening Kendrick Lamar right now," and I might hit you up on chat and say, like, "What do you think of the new album?" But, now, it's all public.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: So, it's just everyone can see it. That's the biggest difference. And that, to me, is what Twitter is, Myspace, it was profiles. And, you know, people organized around these profiles and this network that developed between people. And that is Facebook. Facebook optimized the hell out of that, and they scaled the world. We were something very different. You know, we started with a simple status. And then, people wanted to talk about it. And we decided that it should be on the same surface. It shouldn't be subservient to the status. It should be part of that flow. And that's what makes Twitter, you know, so fluid.

Joe Rogan: Now, when you look at this sort of metamorphosis or this evolution between those initial social media, whether it's AOL, Instant Messenger, that eventually became like ICQ, what was that one that we would use, that gamers would use, that it was like a livestream-

Jack Dorsey: Search?

Joe Rogan: … message board. No. It was like-

Male: For a while, people were using TeamSpeak, but I don't know-

Joe Rogan: No, no, it wasn't. It wasn't that.

Male: … if that's on your plan that's more recent.

Joe Rogan: It wasn't that. It wasn't TeamSpeak. It was — Like you would go there, and share files and stuff, and people would go — Like if Ice play a lot of online video games-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And we play on teams, and we have teams go play other teams, and he would use this sort of — It was like a — It wasn't a message board because it was all in real time. What the fuck was it called?

Male: OnLive?

Joe Rogan: No.

Male: No? Okay.

Joe Rogan: All right, forget it.

Male: Yeah, sorry.

Joe Rogan: Anyway, guys would go there, and you could send people files through it.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And, you know, teams would go and meet, and it would be a chat, like an online chat-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: … that would be in real time.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, it's — I mean, we have a lot of our roots in AOL, Instant Messenger, but also like IRC, Internet Relay Chat and Usenet, which were, you know, these old internet '70s technology.

Joe Rogan: IRC is what I was talking about.

Jack Dorsey: IRC?

Joe Rogan: Yeah. That's the one.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, okay, okay.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: So, Internet Relay Chat is-

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: … like this giant chatroom that anyone can join. It's a range around topics. And-

Joe Rogan: That's — What's interesting about that is you could see people typing. You see it occurring in real time. You see it popping up in real time.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: You know. Just I wonder like, what is the next evolution of this? Because no one saw anything going from ICQ to Twitter. No one saw anything going from that to Instagram, and to where we're at right now where it really does flavor the conversation of our entire culture. I mean, before, it was just a thing that was happening, that was happening on people's computers.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Now, it's a thing that's happening on people's computers. And, now, phones. And, now, your whole life. It's a very different influence.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And I wonder because everything does accelerate.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Things constantly move forward and become more and more integrated into our life experience. And I wonder, what is the next stage of this?

Jack Dorsey: I mean, like the secular trends, and, you know, you look at technology, and you look at technologies like blockchain, for instance, and I think, you know, we're moving to a world where anything created exists forever; that there's no centralized control over who sees what; that, you know, these models become completely decentralized, and all these barriers that exist today aren't as important anymore.

Joe Rogan: When you think of something like gab, like gab seems to be a response to the fact that some people are getting banned from other platforms, and they're just allowing anybody to come on say and anything they want.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: The downside of that is, of course, the most horrible people are gonna be able to say anything they want with no repercussions. The good side is anybody can say whatever they want.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I haven't studied them too much, but I do know that they have taken action on accounts as well. They have suspended accounts. And they have-

Joe Rogan: At what basis?

Jack Dorsey: … a Terms of Service as well.

Joe Rogan: What do they suspend accounts for? Do you know?

Jack Dorsey: I don't know. It's probably conduct-related. It's probably — It might be doxxing, you know.

Joe Rogan: Probably, right?

Jack Dorsey: But it's just a question of, like, you know, the rules. And if you agree to the rules, then, you know, you sign up for the service. And if not, there will be other services. But like you look at the trends, and I think, you know, certainly things become a lot more public, and certainly things become a lot more open. Certainly, the barriers and the boundaries that we have in place today become less meaningful. And I think there's a lot of positives in that. And I also think there's a lot of danger that we need to be mindful of.

Joe Rogan: Now, you, as a CEO, as a guy who's running this thing, what has this been, this experience been like for you? Because I've got to imagine that it wasn't anything that you predicted. No one predicted Twitter, right?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: So, to, all the sudden, have this responsibility-

Jack Dorsey: Twitter changed everything. I mean, it-

Joe Rogan: And you're a young guy. How old are you?

Jack Dorsey: 42.

Joe Rogan: That's young to be in control of that much, and to have it over the time of — What has it been? 11 years?

Jack Dorsey: 13 years.

Joe Rogan: 13 years.

Jack Dorsey: We'll be 13 in March, yeah.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. So, you were really fucking young.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like what has that been like for you?

Jack Dorsey: It's been both beautiful, and scary, and uncomfortable, and learning. It's just been a ton of learning and evolving. And like it it shows me every single day where I need to push myself what I don't know. And I think a big part is like just the realization that we're not gonna be able to do this alone. And I don't think we have to either. These are what the technologies that continue to allow us.

Jack Dorsey: We can — If we have to have all the answers around enforcement or policy, we're not going to serve the world. We have aspirations to serve every single person on the planet, and we have aspirations to be the first consideration for the global public conversation. And, you know, if we're the bottleneck for all of this, we're not going to reach those aspirations. So, it's just thinking deeply about how we might distribute more of this work, and decentralize more of it, and look at, you know, the platform itself, and like what we need to change to reach that reality.

Jack Dorsey: And I think we've got to look really deep and foundational. It goes back to, you know, your question on 140. One of the things that we saw was, you know, we shifted to 280 characters, and that — You know, this 140-characters is so sacred, you know.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: It became this cultural thing. And I was in love with it, and so many people are in love with it. But one of the things we noticed as we moved to 280 is that the vast majority of tweets that are broadcast don't go above 140, even with that limitation raised. But where they do go above 140 is in replies. When people reply, they tend to go over 140-character limit, and even bump up into the 280 limit.

Jack Dorsey: And what it allowed — What we've seen it allow is just more nuance in the conversation. It allows people to give more context and kind of just get their experience on the table a bit more; whereas, 140 did not allow that. So, we have seen that increase, the health of those conversations and the discussion. So, it's stuff like that that we need to question and not hold so sacred.

Joe Rogan: Is there any consideration to expanding it further?

Jack Dorsey: Not right now. We were-.

Joe Rogan: How about a million characters? No?

Jack Dorsey: Well, we don't have edit tweets right now. So, we-

Joe Rogan: Do you think that that's good or bad?

Jack Dorsey: Well, if you can't edit 140 characters, you're going to be really pissed off if you write a million characters in kind of those things.

Joe Rogan: You know what I would like? I would like edit, the ability to edit like if you make a typo or something like that, but also the ability for people to see the original.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like edit but see the original.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Like say if it is-

Jack Dorsey: We're looking at exactly that.

Joe Rogan: Oh really?

Jack Dorsey: We're looking at exactly that. The reason we don't have it in the first place is we were born on SMS. We're born on text messaging. When you send a text, you can't take it back.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: So, when you send a tweet, it goes to the world instantaneously.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: You can't take it back. So, when we-

Joe Rogan: But does not exist anyway. I mean, no matter what, if you send someone something even, if you — on Instagram, people are gonna know the original.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, they screenshot it, and they-

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: You know, they do their thing. But like you could build it such that, you know, maybe we introduce a five-second to 30-second delay in the sending. And within that window, you can edit.

Joe Rogan: I'm gonna need more time than I do. If I fuck something up, like someone has to tell me.

Jack Dorsey: But the-

Joe Rogan: "Hey, man, you misspelled that word." Shit, did I? God damn it.

Jack Dorsey: The issue-

Joe Rogan: But sometimes, autocorrect gets you.

Jack Dorsey: Totally. But the issue with going longer than that, it takes that real time nature and the conversational flow out of it.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: So, then, we're delaying these tweets. And like when you're watching UFC or you're watching like Warriors basketball, a lot of the great Twitter is like just like in the moment. Just like, you know, it's the roar of the crowd. It's like, you know, looking across at someone you're in this virtual stadium with, and just saying like, "Oh my god, that shot. Can you believe it?" And-

Joe Rogan: But isn't clarity more important because you're not going to-

Jack Dorsey: It depends on the context.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: It depends on the context.

Joe Rogan: But you're still gonna have the ability to communicate quickly.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: But you also have the ability to clarify.

Jack Dorsey: That's where we need to really pay attention because if you're in the context of an NBA game, you want to be fast, and you just want to be at the moment, and you just — You know, you want to be raw. But if you're in the context of considering what the president just did or making a particular statement, then you probably need some more time. And we can be dynamic there.

Joe Rogan: What's interesting to me is how few people use video. Like I thought when you guys have video on Twitter, I'm like, "Well, a bunch people are gonna be making videos and putting those up on Twitter." And it's not. It's not that often.

Jack Dorsey: It depends on who you follow. It's huge for some aspects of Twitter. It's-

Joe Rogan: Is it?

Jack Dorsey: It's less so in others but-

Joe Rogan: What aspects is huge for?

Jack Dorsey: A lot of sports. I mean, we see a lot of like just the replays and the recaps and like-

Joe Rogan: Right, for sure, yeah.

Jack Dorsey: You know, aspects of a particular shot that people want to comment on. I don't like — I think it's dangerous for us to focus too much on the medium, whether it'd be images, or GIFs, or video. It's more about the conversation around it. Like that's what we want optimized for.

Joe Rogan: It's definitely very popular for sports, and in a folly, and, you know, there's a — What is a — There's a bunch of animal attack videos that you can-

Male: Nature is Metal.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, Nature is Metal is a good one and Hold my Beer. That's another good one. I mean, it's all videos. But what I meant was people making a video, talking about something.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: This is what I was trying to say. What I think is this and that, blah, blah, blah. You don't see a lot of that. And I thought maybe that would be something that people would adopt more.

Jack Dorsey: To a different speed, you know. And I think, like the consumption of video, I mean, you see this in the technology right now. Like people are subtitling every single video because people might be in an environment where they can't turn the audio on, or, like, a video, like I have to scrub through to see what's interesting.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: With text, I can just see it. And it allows for a lot of serendipity to find something that I probably wouldn't have seen unless I watched the whole damn video. So, like the ability to clip something, the ability to like index in, I think, is really critical. So, it's not — To me, it's not about the format. It's about the use case and the context that you're in.

Joe Rogan: Now, going back to the responsibility that you guys have, and you in particular, like when this became what it is now, and when it became evident that it became this gigantic way of changing the way human beings communicate with each other, was there ever any regret, or was there ever a moment where you're like, "What the fuck have I gotten myself into?"

Jack Dorsey: I mean, there's — I'm always reflective of where I am and what I'm doing. I think that the biggest has been around — Twofold. One, how the dynamics of the service allow it to be weaponized in order to silence someone else or to drive them off the surface entirely, which goes against the entire concept of free speech and free participation. Like we just can't stand for that. We need to make sure that everyone feels that they have an opportunity at a voice. And when you have these coordinated attacks, it's just it's not fair.

Jack Dorsey: Second is around, you know, this concept of an echo chamber and the filter bubble. I just — I don't feel personally good about that. I don't feel that we thought that through enough in the early days. I think we should have moved towards biasing the service towards topics and interests much, much sooner than we're now considering doing.

Joe Rogan: Now, when you have these considerations, when you take these actions, do you consult with psychologists, or sociologists, or historians, or people to try to put in perspective for you what the ramifications of each individual move would be?

Jack Dorsey: I try to read as much as possible. I try to talk to as many people as possible. Just get a completely different perspective and-

Joe Rogan: Is there any internal disagreement about actions that you take?

Jack Dorsey: Oh yeah. There's always debate. There's always debate. But, I think, my role is to ask ask questions and make sure, like, what is our goal here? What are we trying to do? You know-

Joe Rogan: And that evolves?

Jack Dorsey: That evolves, that evolves. Like, is this, over the long term, going to be a net positive for all humans, all humanity? Like, how do we balance the considerations of, you know, how we serve everyone? And, like, how do we get down to something? How do we get down to a fundamental answer and a central answer? And that, to me, is where the real truth is, is when you can get to something foundational. But, you know, I like having conversations with as many people from as many different fields as possible and getting the perspective on it. So, I ask questions all the time.

Joe Rogan: It's interesting the way you're phrasing this too that you are looking at this as a method to save, or to help people, to serve people. You're looking at this as a way that you can benefit society, that society can benefit from your platform, can benefit from this ability to communicate. You're not just looking at it as a tech company that has to remain profitable. And that is-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: One of the more interesting things about tech companies, to me — I mean, there's been a lot of criticism, maybe justified in some ways, that tech companies all lean left. But what is interesting to me is that name another corporation that willingly, of its own choice, takes that into consideration that they want to serve the world and serve culture in a beneficial way regardless of profit.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: I mean, because you're not really selling anything, right. You guys have a platform. Obviously, it's financially viable, but you're not selling things, right?

Jack Dorsey: Well, I mean, we do our models based off people's attention.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And they're paying us with their attention. And that's extremely valuable, and something that we need to really, really honor. But I agree with you. I mean, look at Tesla. You know, I just listened to the recent earnings call. And one of the things that Elon said was, "Look, there are two reasons for Tesla. Number one is to advance, you know, different sources of energy and more renewable sources of energy because it's a fundamental and existential crisis that's facing all humanity. And number two is to advance autonomy because it'll save lives and give people time back."

Jack Dorsey: And then, you start talking about how to make that possible. And that's where, you know, our business comes in. How do we make that possible? And we have a great business. We need to improve a bunch of it, but it serves what we think our larger purpose is, which is serving the public conversation. We want to see more global public conversations. We want our technology to be used to make the world feel a lot smaller, to help see what common problems we have before us, and, ideally, you know, how we can get people together to solve them faster and solve them better.

Joe Rogan: You also seem to be embracing this responsibility that you're helping to evolve culture. And this is part of providing this method to communication — of communication rather. It's helping to evolve culture. And this is something that is really only applicable to tech companies in some strange way. And it's weird that so many of them share this.

Joe Rogan: Like I was personally a little weirded out when Google took out Don't Be Evil. Like that was a big part of their operating model.

Jack Dorsey: Did they take that out?

Joe Rogan: Yes. Yes. Right?

Male: Mmhmm.

Joe Rogan: Make sure. I don't want to get sued. Pretty sure they removed that from what would — What do you call that? Their operational directive? What is-

Male: It's in the code of conduct.

Jack Dorsey: Code of conduct. And it's not there anymore, right? They removed it.

Male: So, yeah. The other article says they removed the clause.

Joe Rogan: And this-

Jack Dorsey: It's kind of a weird thing to tell people not to be evil.

Joe Rogan: It's weird that they take it out. Once you already said it, it's way weirder to say, "Yeah, fuck it. We were wrong. Just go ahead."

Jack Dorsey: There's another way of saying that though.

Male: They changed it to, "Do the right thing."

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Oh. Well, what does that mean? What the fuck does do the right thing mean? Do the right thing, so you can make more money? You know, like, "Hey, we want to make money. We'll do the right thing. It's makes more money.".

Jack Dorsey: I mean, that's why — Like, that's why this openness is so critical. I mean, that's why-

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: Like the public — To me, the public conversation is so important. We can talk about stuff like that.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: And there will be companies forming today that look at objectives and mandates like that and base their whole culture around it. And is that the right idea?

Joe Rogan: Well, it's-

Jack Dorsey: I don't know. But if we're not talking about it, we won't be able to answer that question.

Joe Rogan: What's also interesting because Google is so all encompassing, right. You have Gmail, you have Android. I mean, that — They are the number one operating system for mobile phones in the world on top of being a search engine. There's so much involved in that company. And, again, like almost all tech companies, they heavily lean left, and they — Because they had that Don't Be Evil as a part of their code of conduct, it seemed like something that was a good idea to have.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And it, sort of, defined what I was talking about that tech companies are uniquely progressive.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I mean, I don't know. I don't know what makes that. I think, no matter what, like, we — The internet allows for a very healthy skepticism of nearly everything.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: I'm from Missouri. It's a Show-Me State.

Joe Rogan: Are you really from Missouri?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, I'm from St. Louis, Missouri. We're all skeptics. My mom was a Democrat. My dad was a Republican. My dad listened to Rush Limbaugh and Hannity all the time. I found myself somewhere in the middle. But one of the things I appreciated, we had a ton of fights, and arguments, and yelling matches around the kitchen table. But, like, I appreciate the fact that we could have them. And I felt safe to do so. And I didn't feel like — I mean, obviously, they're my parents, but they weren't judging me because of what I said, and-

Joe Rogan: They didn't force you to be a Republican or a Democrat.

Jack Dorsey: Didn't force me to think a particular way. Like, I think they were good, at least, showing different perspectives even in this union that they have. And I don't know. It developed a skepticism in me that I think is healthy, and I have a lot of skepticism of companies like ours and leaders like me. I think that's right. I think that's right, and people should. And we — I mean, I was formed through a lot of the ideals. I think I just fell in love with what it made possible.

Jack Dorsey: And I never ever want to run afoul of those ideals. And, you know, the removal of barriers, and boundaries, and the connection that we have because of it. And, you know, I think often and reflect often about my role and the centralization of my role in our company, and I want to figure out and help figure out, like, how we can continue to add massive value and be an amazing business, which is us and will always be us.

Jack Dorsey: But at the same time, be a participatory force in this greater good that the internet has really started. And it's not led by any one individual or any one company. And that's the beauty of it. And I want to make sure that we find our place in that, and we can also contribute massively to it. And I think we can. It's just going to take a lot of work, a lot of introspection, and a lot of experimentation. A lot of making mistakes and failures too.

Joe Rogan: Well, and it's very encouraging that you have that attitude because, you know, a lot of people, I think, in a similar situation would try to control the narrative. They would try to reinforce their own particular perspective on things and try to get other people to adopt it or try to push it. And I think it's very important-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … to just have this open discussion. And I think it's very important to review your own thoughts and ideas.

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: And one of the best ways to do so is through the-

Jack Dorsey: Put it out there.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, put it out there.

Jack Dorsey: Put it out there and have other people review it.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Peer review is a great process. And the-

Joe Rogan: That was the way this podcast has evolved more than probably anything.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. That's the thing. I mean, you did this because you want to learn from people. And the platform that you've created, millions get to learn from it as well.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: And that's just so amazing. Like I learn from your podcast all the time. And that's what technology makes possible. But with that power also comes ramifications. And if we're not talking about the ramifications and, like, at least, being open about what we know and what we don't know. And, I think, we're — I think we state and post a lot more of what we know rather than what we don't know.

Joe Rogan: Why don't you guys-

Jack Dorsey: And that's just so interesting.

Joe Rogan: Why don't you guys steal Don't Be Evil? Put that in your own shit. Fuck you, Google.

Jack Dorsey: I don't know if that's going to help anything. Then, what is that telling our employees to do?

Joe Rogan: Don't be evil. It's real simple. Don't be a dick.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. I mean, how do we get deeper in just, like, seeing more conversation around what is "evil."

Joe Rogan: Have you guys considered expanding your influence in other venues? Like, you know, Google started off as a search engine. Now, it's fucking everything. Have you guys considered doing something similar?

Jack Dorsey: I think, we probably did too much of that early on. And that's what led to a bunch of issues from a corporate standpoint. We're just trying to do too much too many times.

Joe Rogan: Like what?

Jack Dorsey: I don't know. We're trying to be everything to everyone. And like, you know, we had, you know, a video thing, and we had — We're looking at gaming stuff and messaging. And it lost focus of what we are good at. What we're good at is conversation, and what we're good at is public conversation. So, we now have — As a company where, we have just such an amazing focus on what that means and how that evolves.

Jack Dorsey: And there's just — There's some really cool things that we can do there. Like we have this app called Periscope. And one of the things that we're discovering is, like, a lot of people are using it to podcast. A lot of people are using it to share their thoughts, and these people come in, and, you know, they chat, and have a conversation. And one of the things we did recently is we allowed the audio to play in the background. It's super simple, but what we found was that people didn't necessarily want to watch the video of people talking. They just want to hear what they're saying. And that just opened the door for more types of use cases.

Jack Dorsey: And there's some really exciting things coming out with Periscope that, I think, add a new dimension to what conversation looks like, and how it is experienced, and how it evolves. And those are the things I get really excited about. It's like, how can we make conversation better? And, you know, how do we make it feel more live? How do we make it feel more electric? And how do we bring new technology into it that just opens a door for an entirely new way of talking?

Jack Dorsey: And that's the thing that I think has been most educational to me about Twitter is, you know, as we talked about, we started with this idea of sharing what was happening around you. And then, people told us what they wanted to wanted it to be, and it became this conversational medium. It became this interest network. And it became a thing that was entirely new. And, you know, we observed it, and we learned more and more of what it wanted to be in. And as we get deeper and deeper that we're going to be surprised by some of the technologies that we thought would be used in this way, but it turns out that the massive use case, and the resonant use case, and the fundamental use case is going to be created right before our eyes by the people using it.

Joe Rogan: Now, did you guys acquire Periscope or was-

Jack Dorsey: We acquired Periscope, yeah.

Joe Rogan: And what was the thought process when you were acquiring it?

Jack Dorsey: We like the live nature of it. We like the broadcast aspect.

Joe Rogan: Why keep it as Periscope? Why not have it be like Twitter Live?

Jack Dorsey: There's a specific community on Periscope. And I think it's interesting from an experimentation standpoint. We can play with ideas there. It's a smart playground.

Joe Rogan: Scott Evans, I think, uses it better than anybody. He gets on it-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, he's really good at it.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And he's one that I think has figured out just the knack behind it. You know, he starts every one of them with this simultaneous sip of coffee.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: So, he gets his listeners and his viewers engaged right away. And then, he just goes on. And then, every now and then, he'll, you know, look at the comments, and riff off them. So-

Joe Rogan: He lets people build up too. Like, he'll announce that he's going on, and then wait a little while, say hello to some people.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Then, once a bunch of people are in the room, then he starts talking.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah. And I just — I find that so interesting because that is the future of conversation. It's looking at the patterns. It's looking at what people are trying to do with the thing. And then, you build technology around it. And that becomes the next big thing. And we just have to — We have to hone our power of observation, hone our power of, like, connecting the dots, and looking at all the patterns, and what people are — It's what's the question behind the question? What's the statement behind the statement that they're making? And if we can get good at understanding some of those fundamental central things, then we've reached — We've, at least, created the probability that most people in the world will find it useful and find it valuable.

Joe Rogan: Joey Diaz as the other person that uses Periscope better than anybody live, but he just gets on.

Jack Dorsey: I haven't seen his.

Joe Rogan: He just gets baked. It gives you a morning — What does he call it? Morning Band Head?

Male: The Morning Joint.

Joe Rogan: The Morning Joint, yeah. He'll smoke a joint or smoke a bowl in the morning, and then just sort of let everybody know-

Jack Dorsey: Doing something-.

Joe Rogan: … what's mine is mine.

Jack Dorsey: Doing something in sync with one — with more people is interesting. Like we've had some folks who are interested in doing meditations through Periscope.

Joe Rogan: Oh, that's a great idea.

Jack Dorsey: You can — I mean, if you look at the surface level, you can't imagine anything more boring than like watching someone meditate. But if you're actually meditating with them, there's something powerful about it. And, like, what can we do to improve that experience?

Joe Rogan: What about people using it for group workouts? Is anyone doing that?

Jack Dorsey: I'm sure it's happened, and I haven't seen it personally, but I'm sure it's happening.

Joe Rogan: How much more people do you have on Twitter than Periscope?

Jack Dorsey: A lot.

Joe Rogan: A lot more, huh?

Jack Dorsey: A lot. It's one of those things that I, personally, just have a lot of conviction around, and I have a lot of belief in the format, and I — You know, every now and then, we don't have instant hits. It just requires a lot of patience. And we need to really learn what it wants to be. And, sometimes, that takes time. And, you know, I think, oftentimes, I've certainly done this, you know, we shut down things a little bit too early.

Jack Dorsey: We did this at Square. Like we had this amazing technology, an app I love called Square Wallet. And it allowed you to — You know, you link your credit card, and you have all these merchants around you here in LA, and you could walk up to a coffee merchant. And as you walked up, your name would pop up on the register, so you could say like, "I want a cappuccino. Put it on Jack." And it just automatically charge your card. And it would only happen if you were within, like, two feet. We're using Bluetooth, and geolocation, and whatnot.

Jack Dorsey: But, you know, we had it for about three years, and it just didn't take off, and we shut it down. And I kind of regret doing that, but it also paved the way for another thing that I didn't want to give up on, and that was the Cash App. Like for four years, it was just a slug. Like a lot of people in the company wanted to shut down the thing. They saw it as something that wasn't successful. And, you know, recently the team reached number one in the App Store in the United States.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Like, we are all — We are against all these incumbents like Venmo, and PayPal, and it finally clicked. And it's just because we have the patience and the conviction around our belief.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, it's a great app too. And the ethics behind it are really fantastic too. We're really thankful for the Cash App, especially my friend, Justin Rand, and his fight for the forgotten charity that every time you use the code word, joerogan, all one word, it all goes-

Jack Dorsey: We match it.

Joe Rogan: $5 goes to that. And they've built two wells for the pygmies in the Congo.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And they've raised thousands of dollars in building more wells right now. It's really, really cool.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: We're really, really happy about that.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah. I love it. I think it's-

Joe Rogan: It's a great way to save money too. I mean, when you can save 10% at Whole Foods-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: I mean, that's real.

Jack Dorsey: Well, the other thing is like the population that we serve, typically, are underserved by banks or unbanked entirely.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Today, we are their bank account.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: But more importantly, they don't have access to things like rewards. You don't get rewards on a typical debit card or credit card.

Joe Rogan: Right.

Jack Dorsey: So, like, just, you know, going to your favorite place and getting an instant 10% off, or whatever it is, is out of reach for most people because the financial institutions don't enable that, and they won't even enable them to get in the door in the first place.

Joe Rogan: Well, if people were listening to this on YouTube, you don't know what the fuck we're talking about, the Cash App has a thing called the Cash Card, which is a debit card that you get with it, and there's a thing called Boost. And with Boosts, all you do is pick a boost in the app, and then use your cash card as a debit card, and you get these automatic discounts. And they're real discounts.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And in this-.

Jack Dorsey: Instant, instant.

Joe Rogan: For folks with bad credit, there's no credit check. You can direct deposit your paycheck right into the app. And the fact that you guys do things like support Fight for the Forgotten, and you're supporting UFC Fighter Ray Bourque's son who's got some serious medical bills-

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: … it's really, really cool.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah. I'm really proud of that. I'm really proud of the team. It's a very small team, but they're doing some big things.

Joe Rogan: I hear a lot of good things about it too. I've run into people on the street that tell me they use it, and they're very happy about it.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: So, it's nice to see, again, an emerging technology that's profitable, but, yet, also, has a really good set of ethics.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joe Rogan: Do you have Don't be Evil in Cash App's code of honor?

Jack Dorsey: No, no, no.

Joe Rogan: Maybe you should not take it. It's free now.

Jack Dorsey: One of our equivalent operating principles within Cash and Square is like under — like, how do we understand someone's struggle? Like, how do we understand? Like, how do we have empathy for like what they're struggling with? And, like, when it comes to finance, they're struggling with a lot.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Typically, they're struggling with the ton.

Joe Rogan: What was the thought process with — I mean, one of the things that's kind of cool about the Cash App is that you can buy and sell bitcoin with it.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: Are you guys going to consider other forms or cryptocurrency as well?

Jack Dorsey: Not right now. So, back to the internet, I believe the internet will have a native currency.

Joe Rogan: Really?

Jack Dorsey: It will have a native currency. And I don't know if it's Bitcoin. And I think it will because just given all the tests it's been through, and the principles behind it, how it is created. And, you know, it was something that was born on the internet, that was developed on the internet, that it was tested on the internet. It is of the internet.

Jack Dorsey: And the reason, you know, we enabled the purchasing of bitcoin within the Cash App is, one, we want to learn about the technology, and we want to put ourselves out there, and take some risk. We're the first publicly-traded company to actually offer it as a service. We're the first publicly-traded company to talk to the FCC about bitcoin, and what that means. And it made us uncomfortable. We had to, you know, like really understand what was going on. And that was critical and important.

Jack Dorsey: And then, the second thing is that, you know, we would love to see something become a global currency. It enables more access. It allows us to serve more people. It allows us to move much faster around the world. And we thought we were going to start with how you can use it transactionally, but we noticed that people were treating it more like an asset, like a virtual gold. And we wanted to just to make that easy. Like, just the simplest way to buy and sell bitcoin. But we also knew that it had to come with a lot of education. It had to come with constraint because, you know, two years ago, people did some really unhealthy things about, you know, purchasing bitcoin. They maxed out their credit cards and put all their life savings into the bitcoin.

Jack Dorsey: So, we developed some very simple restrictions and constraints, like you can't buy Bitcoin on the Cash App with a credit card. You have to — It has to be the money you actually have in it. And we look for day trading, which we discouraged and shut down. Like that's not what we are trying to build. That's not what we are trying to optimize for. We made a children's book explaining what bitcoin is, and where it came from, and how people use it, and where it might be going. So, we really tried to take on the role of education and have some like very simple healthy constraints that allowed people to consider what their actions are in the space.

Joe Rogan: Now, when you have something like the Cash App, which it's very much a disruptive technology in terms of, like, decentralization of banks and currency. And, you know, to have it where everything is going right — You're direct depositing a paycheck right in the app if you so choose. Then, you could also buy Bitcoin, which is another disruptive technology. I mean, that — This is another step towards this sort of new way of doing things now.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And is there pushback from any companies or is there-

Jack Dorsey: Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, like, you just look at, like, some of the major banks and their consideration around Bitcoin. They all love blockchain because of the efficiencies it can create for their business and potentially new business lines. But, you know, I think, there is a-.

Joe Rogan: Explain blockchain for people who don't know what we're talking about.

Jack Dorsey: Blockchain is a distributed ledger. And what that means is that it's, basically, a distributed database where, you know, the source of truth can be verified at any point around the network. And you can see, you know, this annotation around how content or how around money, like, traveled.

Joe Rogan: So, you don't have to go to an institution to get them?

Jack Dorsey: So, the records, yeah, there's no centralized check. There's no a centralized control over it. And I think that is threatening. It's certainly threatening to certain services behind banks and financial institutions. It's threatening to some governments as well. So, I just look at this and, like, how do we embrace this technology, not react to it, you know, more from a threat standpoint, but, like, what does it enable us to do, and where does our value shift?

Jack Dorsey: And that's what we should be talking about right now is like how our value shifts. And there's always really strong answers to that question. But if you're not willing to ask the question in the first place, you will become irrelevant because technology will just continue to march on and make you irrelevant. And it's the people that like are, you know, growing up with this technology, or born with the technology, only knowing that technology, or are asking the tough questions of themselves that are going to be super disruptive to their business, and they're thinking about right now, and they're taking actions.

Jack Dorsey: And, you know, we're doing that at Square, and we're doing that at Twitter. And like that, to me, represents longevity. That represents our ability to thrive. And we got to push ourselves, we got to make ourselves uncomfortable, and we've got to disrupt what we held sacred, and what we think is success because, otherwise, it's not going to be bigger than what we have today.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I think that cryptocurrency, to me, represents one of the more interesting discussions on the internet lately.

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: What is money?

Jack Dorsey: Yeah.

Joe Rogan: And why are we agreeing that it's these pieces of paper that the Federal Reserve prints out?

Jack Dorsey: Totally. It's a fascinating time in technology because, like, that, to me, was one of the last, big, centralized nationalized instruments is currency, is money. And when you think about the internet as a country, as a market, as a nation, it's going to have its own currency. But what's interesting about the internet as a nation, it's the whole world. It is the whole world. So, the world gets one currency. It gets one thing they communicate in. And that, to me, is just so freeing and so exciting.

Joe Rogan: Yeah, I'm very excited by it. And I'm also very excited at the fact that it's only been around for such a short period of time but-

Jack Dorsey: 10 years.

Joe Rogan: And it's become a part of the global conversation.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, it's like a good brand.

Joe Rogan: I also think that it's going to open up the door to potential universal languages. And I think this is-

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: This is-

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: Yeah, that excites me a lot about Twitter is like, how do we — Like it — If we want to get the world into a conversation, not a single conversation but, at least, being able to see that global conversation, like we've got to work on technologies that would like instantly translate.

Joe Rogan: Yes.

Jack Dorsey: We got to work on technologies that I can speak as I'm speaking right now. And in real time, people are hearing it in their context, in their language, in their dialect. That is amazing. That is so exciting.

Joe Rogan: Yeah.

Jack Dorsey: And like just how that evolves, and how it impacts, not just communication like this but music. And just like, you know, how hip hop, and rap, and, you know, just — It just — It's amazing to think about where that can go and where that can take us.

Joe Rogan: Yeah. And I think you and I are extremely fortunate to be alive right now during this time because, I think, it's one of the strangest and most unique times-

Jack Dorsey: Totally

Joe Rogan: … in human history.

Jack Dorsey: Totally.

Joe Rogan: I don't think there's ever been a time where things have changed so radically, so quickly.

Jack Dorsey: Totally. Yeah. And I feel, you know, we're just — We're able through technologies like Twitter to, at least, see and acknowledge some of the issues that we're still facing that we're probably in the dark before. And I think that's so critical to making any sort of improvements for making any sort of evolution and for making it better for everyone on the planet.

Jack Dorsey: And, you know, as uncomfortable as, you know, sometimes Twitter makes people feel, I think it is necessary to see those things and have conversations about them, so that we can understand how we might move forward and how we might really get at the biggest problems facing us all. And, you know, there's some huge ones, some huge ones right now that if we don't have — if we don't talk about it, like, it will drive us to extinction, and like it will threaten our ability to be in a planet, to live on this planet.

Joe Rogan: I agree. Thank you.

Jack Dorsey: Thanks again.

Joe Rogan: Thanks for everything, man. Thanks for being here.

Jack Dorsey: Thank you.

Joe Rogan: Thanks for doing what you're doing. Thanks for having the attitude that you have. I really, really appreciate.

Jack Dorsey: Thank you. Joe.

Joe Rogan: My pleasure. Bye everybody.

Sonix is the best online video transcription software in 2019.

The above video transcript for “FULL TRANSCRIPT: Joe Rogan Experience #1236 – Jack Dorsey” was transcribed by the best video transcription service called Sonix. Transcribing and editing video files is painful. Need to quickly convert your video files to text? Try Sonix today. Signing up for a free trial account is easy.

Education How to record better audio on your phone

Transcribe high quality audio from events with Sonix - how to better record audio from your phone

There’s a smartphone in your pocket everywhere you go. You can make phone calls with it using the built-in microphone. And with easy to use recording apps, you the ability to easily record in-person interviews, lectures, and meetings.

But when you re-listen to these recordings, the audio just doesn’t sound quite right. Sometimes the audio sounds muffled, or there’s a lot of intrusive background noise, or you can’t easily discern certain words and phrases. Don’t worry, this is completely normal.

Bad audio quality is something that you and your listeners can quickly detect and be frustrated about. Not only is it hard to listen to, but it’s hard to understand what is being said. Automated transcription services such as Sonix have a hard time with low quality audio recordings.

What should you do? Well, you don’t have to buy thousands of dollars of gear or book a recording studio to have great sound. It’s easy to capture great audio from your phone by simply tweaking a few key settings, changing how you record, and for the best results: invest in a portable microphone.

Tweak your recording settings:

Put your phone on airplane mode and mute your notifications.

By putting your phone in airplane mode, you prevent phone calls and text messages from interrupting your recordings. Also, most phones have a “Do not disturb” feature, this will prevent notifications and vibrations from interrupting your audio recording.

iPhone (iOS): Voice Memo app (included with your iPhone)

Improve the audio quality by recording in lossless format (which is a non-compressed audio file). You can easily do this by going to Settings > Voice Memos > Audio Quality and choosing “Lossless.”

iPhone (iOS): Voice Record Pro app (free with ads or ad-free for $7 USD)

Voice Record Pro is a more powerful version of the built in Voice Memos app. You can control the gain, sample rate, bit rate, and encode quality. You’ll need to use trial and error to see what settings will suit the environment that you are recording in. Try a short test recording and re-listen to it with headphones to see what settings decrease the environmental distortion and sounds clearest.

Android: Titanium Recorder (free with ads)

Titanium Recorder is a powerful voice recorder. Tap the menu button (it has three dots in the top right of the screen) and choose Settings. Here, like in Voice Record Pro, you can adjust the sample rate, bit rate, and gain to make sure that your audio recording is clear in the environment that you are recording in. Just like above, try a short test recording and re-listen to your recording with headphones and change the settings as necessary.

Change how you record:

Ensure that your microphones are not covered or obstructed.

First, find where your phone’s microphones are located. They are usually at the bottom of the smartphone because that’s where you’d speak into if you were making a phone call. They could also be by the camera(s). Just make sure that when you are recording, you don’t have a case or your finger covering these microphones. By uncovering your microphones, you will prevent your recording from sounding muffled or garbled.

Point your microphones towards your main speaker.

Most phone microphones are directional and if your microphones are pointed away from the main speaker, it relies on the echos or reverberations of the speaker’s voice off of the wall or table. These echos are really hard to decipher and cause the audio quality to be very poor.

For big rooms, bring the microphone closer to the speaker.

If you are recording in a conference room and want to better transcribe your meeting minutes, pass the phone around from speaker to speaker. Having the microphone closer to the speaker will make the audio sound much better. Also, if you are recording a lecture or a speech, sit in the front row if possible; do not try to record from ten rows back.

Portable microphones you should consider:

An external microphone will give you the best audio quality.

By supercharging your phone with an external microphone, you will ensure that you have the best recordings. However, it’s a challenge to choose which microphones will work best with your phone. iPhones require the microphones to have a Lightning connector, while Android phones require the microphones to have a USB-C connector.

Based on our interviews with a few of our most active customers here at Sonix, we have narrowed down the list to a few affordable options:

iPhone: Sennheiser HandMic Digital

The hand-held Sennheiser HandMic Digital is ideal for recording speeches and is great for mobile journalists, podcasters, and musicians. It is a top quality microphone with a high-quality cardioid microphone with a shockmount – which allows it to significantly reduce handling noise while recording only the speaker and eliminating any side noise. It has a lightning adapter so you just plug it into your iPhone and you’ll have instant broadcast quality recordings as long as you hold the microphone close to the speaker. The Sennheiser HandMic Digital Microphone is available on Amazon for $259.

iPhone: Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone

The Shure MV88 iOS condenser microphone conveniently connects to the bottom of your iPhone and provides a stereo microphone to capture more of the surrounding environment instead of just one speaker. It automatically can adjust the EQ, compression, and limiting features to guarantee that you always get the optimal results. This microphone is built for the on-the-go journalist for when you need a quick and easy microphone to record that on-the-record interview. The Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone is available on Amazon for $149.

Android: Beyerdynamic FOX USB Condenser Microphone

The desktop Beyerdynamic Fox Microphone is a studio grade quality microphone that you can put on a desk or a table when recording and it will give you great audio quality over USB-C. It has a large diaphragm condenser capsule that will accurately reproduce your voice and eliminate a lot of environmental noise. The Beyerdynamic FOX USB Condenser Microphone is available on Amazon for $149.

Both iPhone and Android: Apogee MiC +

The Apogee MiC Plus is a professional studio quality microphone that you can plug into both your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), Andoid, or Mac/PC. This microphone is incredibly flexible and can record any sound from interviews to podcasts to vocals to music. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket so it is perfect for recording on the go and has flexible connectivity over both lighting and USB-C. Just plug it into your phone and you are ready to get a high quality recording with increased dynamic range. The Apogee MiC Plus is available on Amazon for $259.

Lavalier Microphone: BOYA Omnidirectional Clip-on Lapel Mic

For a more subtle approach, you might want to consider clipping a lavalier microphone to a tie, shirt, collar and then run the cable to your phone under your clothing. This is great for capturing great sound during a video without having to hand hold a microphone. A lavalier microphone helps capture high-quality, clear sounds because by clipping it to your clothing you guarantee that it is only capturing your voice.  The BOYA Lavalier Microphone model BY-DM1 is the iPhone/Lightning version that’s available on Amazon for $69.95, and the BOYA Lavalier Microphone model BY-DM2 is the Android/USB-C version that’s available on Amazon for $69.95.

One final thought:

Not only will having high quality audio recordings improve the quality of your automated transcriptions with Sonix, they will also benefit your listeners who have a higher likelihood to stay better engaged with your content. If you only were to do one thing as a result of reading this article, we would highly suggest that you add a portable microphone.

Or if you are truly rebellious, you can add a standalone portable digital recorder such as the Zoom H1n Portable Digital Recorder (available on Amazon for $139.95) and have a fully dedicated, pocket-sized device for your recording needs.

Popular Transcripts FULL TRANSCRIPT: Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 6: A Disappearing Act

Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with the BagMan podcast. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.

To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time , just click the player below.

Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 6: A Disappearing Act (transcribed by Sonix)

Rachel Maddow: What you're about to hear, I think, is one of the most surreal clips I've maybe ever heard when it comes to American politics. This is a TV interview with a Vice President. And what he's about to allege here is that the President of the United States, who he served with, was threatening to have him murdered. This is not an outtake from some over-acted political thriller. This is a real interview that really happened. And the Vice President here, of course, is Spiro Agnew.

Male Voice: Agnew says he left because of a death threat from the White House. He quotes Nixon Chief of Staff Alexander Haig urging him to resign with the words, "The President has a lot of power. Don't forget that." Agnew writes that the remark sent a chill through his body. He took it as an innuendo that anything could happen. He might have, in Agnew's words, "a convenient accident," an interpretation that, even today, he refuses to disown.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I didn't know what General Haig meant when he said, "Anything may be in the offing, things may get nasty and dirty." There's no doubt in my mind that these things are possible. I don't say it was a probability, but I do say it was a possibility.

Male Voice: You think that there were men around Richard Nixon, either in the White House staff or in the official mechanism of the CIA, who were capable of killing a Vice President of the United States if they felt he was an embarrassment?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I don't doubt that at all.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew didn't just make that allegation that one time. He made it repeatedly. He wrote about it in a book. He went on the record in a series of interviews stating that he believed President Richard Nixon might have him killed.

Male Voice: You say that you were actually fearful that if you did not go along, President Nixon or General Haig, it's not quite clear, might have ordered you assassinated. Could you explain that?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I was concerned. And I think my concern at that time, based on my frame of mind after being seven months in a pressure cooker of attempts to get me to resign office, gave me reason to be concerned. I brought along with me this testimony from the Select Committee on the Government Operations Committee involving intelligence activities. This is the United States Senate-

Rachel Maddow: What Spiro Agnew pulls out at this point is a copy of a US government report about the CIA's efforts to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. He says what that report shows is that even though the CIA was never given a direct order from the President to kill Castro, they knew they were authorized to do it. He's making the point that even if Nixon never gave a direct order to kill him, to kill his Vice President, it's conceivable the CIA would take its cues from Nixon and act anyway.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: It is possible for these things to happen. I've never said it was a probability that my life was in danger. I said it was one of the factors that crossed my mind, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back after all the pressures that had been put on me.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew was alleging on national television that as a sitting Vice President, he was possibly the target of a contract killing by the President. He said he even bought a gun at the time for his own protection.

Nick Thimmesch: You acknowledge that you had fear at this time, but after you left office, did you ever go to the federal government to get a permit for a handgun?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Yes.

Nick Thimmesch: Why did you get that handgun, and what period was this?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I think was immediately after I left office. I got it because I still had some fears.

Nick Thimmesch: Do you have a handgun?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: No, I've never carried a handgun. I thought it was sufficient that people would know I had the permit to carry one.

Rachel Maddow: This is the story that Spiro Agnew wanted people to believe about the circumstances in which he left office, that he was another one of Richard Nixon's victims. Agnew's tale of woe was that Nixon's inner circle, specifically Nixon's Chief of Staff Al Haig, pressured him for weeks to resign. And when he refused to do it, they threatened his life. And thereby, forced him out when he otherwise wouldn't have left. Okay, maybe. Seems nuts, but maybe.

Rachel Maddow: That said, there is another explanation for why Spiro Agnew stepped down when he did. And it does involve a three-letter federal agency but not the CIA. It involves special agents from the IRS who had been quietly and very diligently going through Vice President Agnew's past.

Rachel Maddow: Those agents and the Baltimore federal prosecutors working with them had already turned up the smoking-gun evidence of the bribery and extortion scheme that Agnew had been running in Maryland and in the White House. But they also started turning up something else, details about what exactly Spiro Agnew seemed to be doing with all that money he was making as a criminal. And that part of the investigation got into areas of Agnew's personal life that were maybe becoming a little uncomfortable for him.

Ron Liebman: There were some personal expenses in there that pre-Monica Lewinsky and pre all that we've come across, and some stories that we came across, which, unlike Ken Starr, I guess, we just said, "This is not a part of the case."

Rachel Maddow: Ron Liebman and his fellow Baltimore prosecutors had stumbled upon an aspect of Agnew's life and crimes that may have hit a nerve for the Vice President.

Ron Liebman: You know, these guys, they have all personal peccadilloes. You know, they have money and power, and they do stupid things. And we came across financial evidence of that, and we heard some stories about that. One of them quite bizarre, but that wasn't part of the case.

Rachel Maddow: The Baltimore prosecutors never actually used the information they would start to uncover about Agnew's personal life, but Spiro Agnew was aware that the IRS was digging into it. And what it involved was evidence of what seemed like a secret life. mistresses, sports cars, expensive gifts that never seemed to make it to Agnew's wife, Judy. Here's Prosecutor Tim Baker.

Tim Baker: There was jewelry, too.

Mike Yarvitz: Jewelry to Agnew?

Tim Baker: A woman's watch, which Judy never got.

Mike Yarvitz: What does that suggest?

Tim Baker: Uhh.

Rachel Maddow: Death threat, and handguns, and CIA assassination plots sounded like a really cool reason to have to step down. But that probably wasn't the reason he had to step down. Spiro Agnew had carefully crafted this straight arrow, moralistic, hard line public image as a man of honesty, and virtue, and conservative integrity. He knew that if he continued to fight, all of that would come crashing down around him. It was finally time to cut his losses and go away.

Rachel Maddow: You're listening to Bag Man. I'm your host, Rachel Maddow.

John Chancellor: Good evening. Washington was stunned today by the disclosure that Vice President Agnew was under criminal investigation by federal authorities in his home state of Maryland.

Ron Liebman: Well what we were concerned was, you know, he gets into court, and he says, "Well, wait a minute, I changed my mind."

Marty London: And the people in the room, they gasped. It then became clear what this was about.

John Chancellor: Spiro Agnew is in disgrace, fallen from power, a convicted criminal.

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Rachel Maddow: Episode 6: A Disappearing Act.

Male Voice: The Tonight Show will not be seen tonight, so that we may bring you the following NBC News Special Report.

John Chancellor: Good evening. The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history.

Rachel Maddow: The Saturday Night Massacre took place on October 20, 1973. It was Richard Nixon in a fit of rage, trying to end the investigation into Watergate that his own Justice Department was conducting. Nixon ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson to fire the Special Prosecutor who was leading that investigation. And when Richardson refused to do that and resigned himself instead, that sparked a true-blue constitutional crisis.

John Chancellor: Agents of the FBI, acting at the direction of the White House, sealed off the offices of the Special Prosecutor, the offices of the Attorney General, and the offices of the Deputy Attorney General. That's a stunning development. And nothing even remotely like it has happened in all of our history.

Rachel Maddow: The Saturday Night Massacre is the signal moment in US history. But many of the people who've lived that history are still around to tell it. JT Smith was Elliot Richardson's top assistant at the Justice Department that day.

JT Smith: I don't want to sound like a pretentious 29-year-old, but I was sorely vexed by events. And I had a lot of yellow, legal pad notes that bore upon the stuff we've been talking about. I took my notes, put them in my briefcase, and walked out without being searched by the FBI. And I took them home, and I was sufficiently paranoid about the direction of the country, I hid them in the attic of my house.

Rachel Maddow: What sort of incredible to realize with hindsight and what's never mentioned in the history books about that moment is that Elliot Richardson and his team, when the Saturday Night Massacre happened, they were just coming off what may have been one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the US Justice Department.

Rachel Maddow: The Saturday Night Massacre happened on October 20, 1973. Just 10 days before that, on October 10th, Attorney General Elliot Richardson had single-handedly forced the resignation of the Vice President of the United States. It was October 9th when Elliot Richardson cut a high-stakes plea deal with Vice President Agnew's lawyers that would keep Agnew out of jail, but in exchange, he would offer his immediate resignation from office. Agnew's attorney, Marty London, helped reach that deal.

Marty London: I thought Elliot Richardson, in the end, made a deal because he saw this as a potential Constitutional crisis and a national disaster.

Rachel Maddow: The deal was made. As controversial as it was, it was made. But what happened to Spiro Agnew in the last 24 hours of his Vice Presidency? It was this all-night, sirens wailing, down to the last minute, surprise sweat fest like you can't believe.

Rachel Maddow: In all of US history, a Vice President had never before been forced to resign. And at that moment, it wasn't really clear how to do it, logistically even. They had to dig through the archives to figure out the logistics, to figure out that the way a Vice President technically resigns, the instrument of resignation, turns out it's through a letter submitted to the Secretary of State. Okay, so, he'll resign to the Secretary of State.

Rachel Maddow: After figuring that out, and finalizing the deal, and setting a court date for the very next day, October 10th, Marty London and the rest of Agnew's defense team rushed back to the Vice President's office to draft that resignation letter. Again, there was no precedent for what that should look like. What should the letter say?

Marty London: Nobody had written, thought about preparing for this. So, we've got two hours to get out a resignation letter. I don't know how so many people got in that room. He had — The Vice President had some guy who was like counselor to the Vice President, another guy was there, another guy was there, Frank Sinatra had sent a lawyer. And, now, people are writing fantastic, long explanations.

Marty London: One guy said, "I'm resigning because the President is pushing me out, and outrageous." Another guy writes a letter, "I'm resigning because of the press wanted me gone." And the other guy said, "The Department of Justice want to be gone." And another guy said, "It's the fucking Democrats, they want me gone." It's everything. And we're going nowhere. It's an hour and a half later, the clock is ticking, the temperature room is 85 degrees, I said, "I got it guys. I got it." Thus, I pat myself on the back here. I got it. "Oh yeah? What's your letter?" It says, "I hereby resign as Vice President of United States. Respectfully." Everybody says, "Well geez, that will do it."

Rachel Maddow: That chaotic scene in the Vice President's office though, that was nothing compared to what was happening back in Baltimore that night at the US Attorney's Office. The plea deal that had been reached with Agnew allowed the prosecutors to submit a detailed statement of evidence into the record laying out what crimes exactly Spiro Agnew had committed. The payoffs as Governor, the payoffs as Vice President, everything the prosecutors had.

Rachel Maddow: What the prosecutors would, ultimately, draft was a 40-page long statement of evidence laying out Agnew's alleged crimes. But the night before the court date, it wasn't done yet. And these three Baltimore prosecutors, they stayed up all night that night trying to get it finished in time.

Barney Skolnik: It was all written the night before we went to court. I mean, it was like this all-nighter thing, like it was being back in college. We were exchanging drafts. I think maybe Timmy wrote, you know, these parts. And I wrote some parts. And Ron wrote some parts.

Tim Baker: We just started dictating and drafts would go, pages would. It wasn't like complete drafts. Sections would go back and forth, back and forth, marked up, retyped, marked up, retyped, and we were on a deadline.

Ron Liebman: At like 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, the Attorney General of the United States and Henry Petersen, I think, drive to Baltimore in the middle of the night, early in the morning, and sit in George Beall's office as we start feeding him these papers, which was extraordinary. This is the Attorney General the United States at 2:00 in the morning in Baltimore? You know, on my best days, I wouldn't want to be in Baltimore at 2:00 in the morning.

Tim Baker: And I think it's like 6:00 a.m., it's given to the US Marshals, who then, we were later told, at points on the Baltimore-Washington Expressway, we're doing in excess of 85 miles an hour. And then, it had to be to Agnew's lawyers by something like 8:00 a.m. in Washington. It was some terrible hour, and they got it there just in time.

Rachel Maddow: They got it there, in fact, five minutes late. This 40-page statement of evidence that was thrown together all night, overnight, it was rushed to DC with a sirens wailing police escort, like it was the holy grail. For these prosecutors, it kind of was. Spiro Agnew was about to walk into court and plead to a felony count of tax evasion, and these prosecutors wanted the American people to know that he had not only been caught for tax evasion.

Tim Baker: We knew what it had to do. It had to bury him, so that the country could see this wasn't a witch-hunt, to use a current expression, that there was a very substantial, solid case against him.

Ron Liebman: It was a big issue for all of us, all of us, because what we certainly couldn't allow to happen would be for Vice President to plead Nolo to a tax count, and then the walk out and say, "This is nothing. This is some little mistake I made. This is absolutely — These guys are liars. I made a little mistake on my tax returns. I've made amends. I'm going to pay back the money that I should have paid. And I'm going back to work."

Rachel Maddow: So, the statement of evidence was finally ready. The Vice President's resignation letter was finally ready. A 2:00 p.m. court date was set. But not a single soul in the country, except for the people directly involved, knew what was about to happen in that courtroom.

Rachel Maddow: Now, the press knew that there was going to be a hearing in court that afternoon, something to do with the wrangling over the Agnew case, but what the press thought the hearing was going to be about was them, about newspapers' efforts to quash these subpoenas that Spiro Agnew's lawyers had sent to various reporters to try to get them to reveal their sources. The press showed up that day ready to cover a hearing about that. All of the lawyers for the news organization showed up at the counsel's table ready to fight about those subpoenas to the reporters. And then, into the courtroom, walked the attorneys for the Vice President.

Marty London: And they see us walking in, and we sit at the near table, and they look at us with hostility. I mean, sneering. Just Angry. And then, two federal marshals come over to them, and they say, "Pick up all your papers and move to the gallery." And they're resistant, but, I mean, these are federal marshals, and the marshals do not explain why. They just said, "Clear this table and clear it now. You can go stand in the back." And they stand in the back. And in walks, to occupy that table, Elliot Richardson, George Beall, and some more of Beall's assistants.

Ron Liebman: The bailiff makes an announcement, you know, "Ladies and gentlemen, proceeding is about ready to begin. This courtroom is going to be locked. So, if you can't stay, you have to get out. You have to leave now."

Rachel Maddow: The Baltimore prosecutors are there, sitting next to the Attorney General himself. They know, and the Vice President's lawyers know, that what was about to happen in that courtroom was something really big and surprising. The resignation was ready. The 40-page statement of his crimes was ready. The deal was ready, and the country was about to have the whole thing sprung on them for the first time. The hearing was set to begin at 2:00 sharp. There was just one problem.

Marty London: It's now 2:00, and I am sweating because at our table is me and Jay Topkis, and Jud Best is back in the clerk's office on the telephone. And it's 2:00, and somebody from this play is missing.

Rachel Maddow: Everything was set. One of Agnew's lawyers was in the clerk's office at the court waiting to give the order over the phone to deliver Agnew's resignation letter, to transmit that letter to the Secretary of State as soon as the Vice President himself walked into the courtroom. It was all choreographed. Each moment scripted and ordered for a very specific reason. And the time was now, but the Vice President of the United States was nowhere to be found. On the prosecution side, they had long feared that something just like this might happen.

Ron Liebman: What we were concerned was, you know, he gets into court, and he says, "Well, wait a minute, I changed my mind. These are bogus charges. I don't know why I'm here. I'm the Vice President the United States. I'm immune from prosecution. Marshal, could you unlock that door please. I got to go." You know, we're dealing with the Vice President of the United States. We are being as careful as we can be. We're on tenterhooks, right? We want this done just so. It had to be done just so, or it wouldn't happen.

Rachel Maddow: At 2:00, when the Vice President was the only one missing, it looked for a brief moment like it might not happen, even to Agnew's lawyers.

Marty London: Listen, you want to know if I got a little nervous between 2:00 and 2:01 because the man was a minute late? The answer is I was anxious. I wouldn't say nervous, but I was anxious. I said, look, if I have a 2:00 court date, I'm there at 1:45. I mean, I've been doing this for a long time. I can understand him not wanting to come into that courtroom, and I do get it, him not wanting to come into that courtroom, and sit there at that table for 15 minutes with all those people staring at the back of his neck. So, I don't know. I assume that he may have been there at 1:45, sitting in his car out at the curb, looking at the watch and saying, "Okay, I better go in." And maybe my watch was a minute fast. Maybe he was there at 2:00. I was anxious, but I'd never occurred to me that he was not going to do it.

Rachel Maddow: That wait for the Vice President to show up, the question of whether or not he would show up, that hung in the air for a very tense moment, until the courtroom doors swung open again.

Marty London: 2:01, exactly, in walks our client. And the people in the room, they gasped. It then became clear what this was about.

Ron Liebman: It was a noticeable hush. Gasp. You know, it was a surprise to so many people in there. The courtrooms is locked, Agnew walks in, the judge gets on the bench, the bailiff or the law clerk calls, "Oyez, oyez. All rise." Everybody rises, everybody sits down, and there's, you know, Spiro Agnew in his well-tailored suit and his nice haircut about to plead Nolo Contendere to a felony.

Marty London: Jud Best comes out of the clerk's office and says, "I've just been on the telephone with the offices of the Secretary of State. They have received the Vice President's resignation letter." And, ultimately, the judge accepts the plea, and he sentenced him to a fine and a sentence of probation. And we walk out of the courtroom with the ex-Vice President of the United States. It was a stunning, stunning, stunning development.

Rachel Maddow: For the first time in American history, a sitting Vice President appeared in court to answer criminal charges. For the first time in American history, a Vice President plead to a felony. And for the first time in American history, a Vice President resigned his office in disgrace.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew arrived at the courthouse as the Vice President. As he crossed the threshold into the courtroom, his resignation was simultaneously submitted. He left that courtroom minutes later as a convicted felon. He, then, spoke to the stunned reporters outside who had had no idea that any of this was coming.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I categorically and flatly deny the assertion that have been made by the prosecutors with regard to their contention of bribery and extortion on my part. I will have nothing more to say at this point. I will make an address to the nation within a few days.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew decision to agree to a plea deal and resign, it happened so fast that Agnew's own staff at the White House didn't even know that day that it was going to happen. Here's David Keene, Agnew's top political aide.

David Keene: He went to Baltimore to plead nolo. And Mike Dunn, who is the Chief of Staff, and he called the senior staff together to tell us. And I pounded my fist on the desk and said, "Can't the son of a bitch have the balls to come and tell us himself?"

Rachel Maddow: There was a lot of crazy stuff that happened in the United States of America in 1973. But the Vice President of the United States suddenly resigning in disgrace, surprise. That stunned the country.

Male Voice: Good evening. If you have just joined us, we are obliged to tell you the story we've been running since shortly after 2:00 this afternoon, namely, that Vice President Spiro T. Agnew is now the former Vice President. He resigned today. It's been quite a day for news, JC.

Female Voice: It really has. I think the public is still in shock. Many people just disbelieve it. It's hard to accept that it has come to this.

Male Voice: There was disbelief on Capitol Hill where most House and Senate members had come to believe the Vice President's assertions that he fully intended to fight the charges all the way.

Mark Hatfield: We have a period of time when there is political erosion. Confidence and faith in the whole system has been challenged by many people. And, now, to have this confirmation of the worst suspicions that some people held is really a very profound impact on the whole country.

Male Voice: Can you tell us what your reaction is to the resignation?

Mike Mansfield: Well, it was totally unexpected. And I don't know what to say.

Rachel Maddow: That was the Majority Leader in the Senate at the time, Democratic Senator Mike Mansfield. The reaction in the country to Spiro Agnew's sudden resignation was kind of a muddled mess. It was a lot of things all at once. It was stunned confusion from a lot of people. There was elation from those who felt that justice had been served. There was also absolute outrage from Agnew's supporters, who really had stayed with him right til the very end.

Female Voice: I'm just sick about it. I think he's a man of his word, and I think they've all been doing the same thing ever since I started voting. And I think it's just too bad. I think he's a great man.

Female Voice: I think it was very unnecessary. I'm just, oh, I'm just sick. I'm very unhappy. I don't think it was necessary. I think it's a lot of political hogwash. And I'm, oh.

Male Voice: Did you vote for Agnew?

Male Voice: I certainly did.

Male Voice: What do you think of him now?

Male Voice: I think it's very unfortunate. The man seems to be railroaded or something. I don't know if this is all fact, a lot of insinuation has been brought out.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew built this base of support in the Republican Party. He convinced his supporters that he was innocent. He was the victim of a witch hunt. And even though he had just plead no contest to a felony in open court, his supporters just still couldn't accept it. They couldn't absorb it. They have been primed to believe in his innocence, and to hate, and resent, and suspect everything about this prosecution.

Rachel Maddow: But, you know, a weird thing happened in the courtroom that last weird day. It was just an odd moment in the courtroom itself that didn't seem like much at the time, but it would ultimately shake even Agnew's most committed supporters. And it would ultimately cost Agnew much more than just having to resign from office and walk away. That's next.

Chris Hayes: Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris Hayes. If you enjoyed Bag Man, be sure to check out my friend, Rachel Maddow, on my podcast, Why is This Happening?, where I get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the stories playing out in the news in order to understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be. Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment. We also talk all about Bag Man and how this incredible podcast came to be. So, click on over and check out Why is This Happening? And you can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

John Chancellor: Spiro Agnew is in disgrace, fallen from power, a convicted criminal. It's something that none of his critics would even have predicted not long ago. And it is one of the biggest news stories of our time.

Rachel Maddow: The day that Spiro Agnew walked into a federal courthouse in Baltimore to plead to a felony and resign the Vice Presidency, one of the people inside the courtroom that day was a Law Professor from George Washington University, a professor named John Banzhaf.

John Banzhaf: I showed up and, initially, they would not let me in. I was reluctantly led into the courtroom, but with a very solemn warning that if I attempted to say anything, if I stood up, if I did anything at all, there were two big marshals behind me, and they would immediately take me out of the courtroom. And I was told in very strong language, "Don't stand. Don't say anything. Don't try to have any role."

Rachel Maddow: It was a little bit of a strange thing for this law professor to be in court that day. To him, it was stranger still the way that he felt threatened by those federal marshals. But in his view, the strangest thing about the whole proceeding in that courtroom that day was the resolution of it. Spiro Agnew was being allowed to plead to a felony, but he wasn't being sent to jail, and he wasn't even being forced to pay back any of the bribe money that he allegedly took.

Rachel Maddow: What was the punishment here exactly? I mean, resigning from office, yes. But is that it? After that remarkable day in court where, surprise, the Vice President is pleading to a felony and, oh by the way, he's also resigned, after that day, Banzhaf went back to his law classes at GW. And there, he found that his law students were as perplexed as he was about how the whole thing had shook out.

John Banzhaf: I mean, they said to me, "Professor Banzhaf, if somebody robs a bank, and he's given a plea deal, he's, at least, required to give back the money." Agnew, as a Governor and Vice President, should be held to an even higher standard. They were outraged that he was allowed to get off on a minor plea, no time, and keep all the ill-gotten gains.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew had resigned his office. He was basically starting to disappear into obscurity, but this class of law students decided they were going to make a project out of him. They weren't going to let him go away quietly.

Rachel Maddow: The law students and Professor John Banzhaf's class came up with a plan. Their first effort was to lobby Maryland's governor to bring a civil lawsuit against Agnew, since after all when he was taking those bribes and shaking down those contractors, it was the State of Maryland that was being defrauded. The State of Maryland should get that money back.

Rachel Maddow: The Governor of Maryland met with these students to hear them out, to hear their plan. But even though he took the meeting, and he heard what they had to say, at the end, he told them no, he wouldn't do it.

John Banzhaf: When we left, we were literally bewildered. I recall riding back in the car and the students are saying, "Well, why didn't they bring it? We don't understand. What's going on?" And I'm their professor who's supposed to know these things. And, of course, I had no answer for them. I could not figure out why they wouldn't want to bring the action. It was only quite a bit later when we learned that Governor Marvin Mandel was, likewise, on the take and was probably on the take, literally, while he was deciding not to bring this action.

Rachel Maddow: The State of Maryland had been harmed, but the Governor of the State said he wasn't willing to bring this case. So, the students went to Plan B. They found an old British common law legal principle that they believed would let them sue on Maryland's behalf, even if they didn't have the State's support to do it. They found some Maryland taxpayers to be their plaintiffs.

Rachel Maddow: And those law students did sue Spiro Agnew on behalf of Maryland taxpayers to recoup the bribe money that he had taken. It ended up taking years, but, eventually, they won. A court ruled that Agnew had, in fact, taken bribes, that he had defrauded the State, and he was ordered to write a check to the State of Maryland for more than a quarter million dollars.

Rachel Maddow: And those students, they not only exacted some of the punishment, they felt like Agnew had escaped back in 1973. They also got one more crucial thing when it comes to the scales of justice here. They got a confession. Well, a confession by proxy.

Rachel Maddow: Back in 1973, when this little investigation in Baltimore first started, Agnew himself, it turns out, admitted the whole scheme to his lawyer, his personal lawyer, a man named George White. Then, later, in his own book about the scandal, Agnew, oops, broke the confidentiality of his own attorney-client relationship with George White when he chose to write about the conversations he'd had with White while the case was unfolding.

Rachel Maddow: That was a mistake because when that lawsuit was eventually brought against Agnew by the law students at GW, not only was the court able to force Agnew to pay back some of the money he had ripped off from the taxpayers, the court was also able to get sworn testimony under oath from Agnew's own lawyer about Agnew confessing that he was guilty.

Female Voice: Today, only because ordered to by the judge, George White broke his silence. He described learning about the kickback scheme from three Agnew associates who were threatening to implicate the Vice President. Confronting Agnew, he said, "Ted, this is terribly serious. You've got to level with me. I've got to know the truth." According to White, Agnew replied, "It's been going on for a thousand years. What they told you is true."

Rachel Maddow: Quietly, in the courts, when Spiro Agnew was already a trivia question and a hard one, quietly, while basically nobody was watching, Agnew's entire story fell apart. All the denials, all the claims that this was a witch hunt, or that he was the real victim here, iI all fell apart. And his guilt was laid bare in court and for the record because his longtime personal lawyer flipped on him.

Rachel Maddow: When Agnew showed up to court that day in October 1973 to plead to a felony and resign the Vice Presidency, that 40-page statement of evidence that was assembled by the prosecutors, it was released to the public. It was this damning recitation of what Agnew had done as an elected official. All of the payoffs, all of the extortion, all of the crimes committed even as Vice President.

Rachel Maddow: And that document, all these detailed allegations from the prosecutors, it is a matter of public record. But even so, it's one that sort of feels secret even now. All these years later, it is hard today to find that document, even if you're really looking for it.

Rachel Maddow: The information contained in it is not what people immediately think when they hear the name Spiro Agnew. "Oh yeah. Agnew, Nixon's Vice President. Didn't he have like a tax evasion problem? Something from back before the time he became Vice President?" That's how Agnew's remembered, but Agnew really was way worse than history remembers him for, if he's remembered at all.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew, basically, disappeared into history after he resigned. He got a job working for Eva Gabor's fifth husband, seriously. Frank Sinatra helped him pay the relatively minor fines that were imposed by the court back in 1973. Agnew wrote a bad novel, a thriller with sort of unsettling sex scenes in it, frankly. He also published that memoir in which he claimed that Richard Nixon was going to have him killed. But basically, big picture, Agnew just went away. And the few times that he did reappear, he was always asking for sympathy. This was from an interview with him in 1980.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: The penalty I've paid is very heavy. People say, "Agnew didn't pay any penalty. He bought his way out of jail with the Vice Presidency," but they don't know what a penalty I paid. They don't understand I lost my right to practice law, I lost my pension. And the worst penalty of all is during those years immediately following my resignation when I was not at all answering the charges to walk down the street and see people say. "There he goes." To be recognizable, not just in the United States, but any place I went in the world. That's a pretty severe penalty.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew probably does deserve to be more infamous than he is. But the team of federal prosecutors who discovered his crimes and took him down, they deserve to be more famous than they are. George Beall, the US Attorney who refused to let pressure from the White House interfere with his investigation. He went on to prosecute that subsequent sitting Governor of Maryland for corruption. Marvin Mandel, a Democrat. He got him too.

Rachel Maddow: Run Liebman and Barney Skolnik, They both took part in that prosecution of Maryland's next Governor. And then, like George Beall, they both moved into quiet careers in private practice. Tim Baker he ended up getting George Beall's old job as Maryland US Attorney before he, too, went into private practice. They all ended up doing fine.

Rachel Maddow: But none of them ended up etched into our history books and our national memory for the role that they played in, well, saving the republic from a national catastrophe, saving the country from a criminal Vice President ascending to the Presidency amid the ashes of Watergate, which would have plunged the country from Watergate right into another catastrophic scandal in the White House, and likely the forced removal of the next President right after Nixon.

Rachel Maddow: What further damage would have been inflicted on the country if we had had to remove not one but two corrupt criminals sitting Presidents back-to-back within months of each other? These young kids from Baltimore, these determined federal prosecutors, they saved us from that disaster. Their case was obstructed from the White House on down. They were attacked and maligned by the most powerful politicians in the country. They endured that at the ripe old average age of about 32, they kept their heads down and they kept going.

Rachel Maddow: Their bosses, US Attorney George Beall and Attorney General Eliot Richardson, they led them without fear or favor. They shielded them. And then, Elliot Richardson single-handedly got Agnew out, restoring and protecting the line of succession for the American Presidency.

Rachel Maddow: Elliot Richardson held a press conference the day after Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President. And remember, Elliot Richardson would, himself, be forced out of office just days later, less than two weeks later in the Saturday Night Massacre. But during that press conference upon the resignation of Agnew, Richardson was asked directly what lessons the country should take from what we'd just been through.

Male Voice: We've been through a period of unprecedented in American history. What do you believe a nation can learn from the Agnew case?

Elliot Richardson: I would hope, first, that the nation would feel that the process of criminal justice is one that it can trust and have confidence in. I would hope they would feel that the interests of the nation have been placed first by all those concerned, including the Vice President himself. I would hope that, most fundamentally, all of us would have confidence that our system works.

Elliot Richardson: Indeed, I think this is the most affirmative aspect of all that has taken place over recent months, all the disclosures, the investigations, the indictments. They have exposed the shoddy side of the governmental and political process, but they have also demonstrated that the governmental and political process is capable of uncovering these things and having uncovered them taking proper action.

Rachel Maddow: The system works. The system is not destroyed by bad people behaving badly. It can deal with bad behavior and with corruption from those in power. Our system doesn't break when that happens. It's designed to confront that problem and to fix it. And in this case, it did. A criminal occupant of the White House who tried to obstruct justice at every turn, to destroy the credibility of his own Justice Department, to smear the free press reporting on it, he was not allowed to get away with it.

Rachel Maddow: Thanks to Elliot Richardson, and George Beall, and that team of young, scrappy Baltimore prosecutors, the line of succession to the US Presidency was restored and protected, and justice was done.

Rachel Maddow: George Beall passed away not long ago. He died in January of 2017, just days before the inauguration of our current President. Upon his passing, one of his successors as US Attorney in Maryland put out a public statement honoring the work that George Beall did throughout his career, but particularly focusing on this case.

Rachel Maddow: The statement said this. "George Beall was a legendary federal prosecutor, an exemplary public servant, and a lawyer of unsurpassed integrity. Although George Beall's family was politically active, and Vice President Agnew was a member of Beall's own political party, Beall did not hesitate to pursue this case. His commitment to justice serves as an example to us all."

Rachel Maddow: That statement about one Republican having the courage to pursue another without hesitation, that was written by one of George Beall's successors as Maryland's US Attorney. It was written by Rod Rosenstein, who's now Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

Rachel Maddow: Be sure to join us next week for the final episode of Bag Man. You will want to hear how this all turns out. That's next week. We'll see you then.

Rachel Maddow: Bag Man is a production of MSNBC and NBC Universal. This series is executive produced by Mike Yarvitz. It was written by myself and Mike Yarvitz. Editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa Schneiderman from Neon Hum Media. And you can find much more about the story on our website, which is msnbc.com/bagman.

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Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 4: Turn It Off (transcribed by Sonix)

W. Clement Stone: This is W. Clement Stone saying I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific.

Rachel Maddow: W. Clement Stone was an eccentric, self-made millionaire. A business tycoon who transformed himself from insurance salesman into a power-of-positive thinking, self-help guru.

W. Clement Stone: I love all my fellow men. I love every one of you. And it's my sincere prayer that you respond and learn how to help yourself by learning the art of motivation.

Rachel Maddow: W. Clement Stone looked sort of the way that he sounds. He had a pencil-thin mustache. He was always immaculately dressed in a bow tie and a vest, sometimes a big cigar. He was an ostentatiously wealthy millionaire who wanted you to be a millionaire too. And the way you could do it was by purchasing his motivational records. The Sounds of Success.

Announcer: The Combined Group of Companies presents The Sounds of Success.

Rachel Maddow: W. Clement Stone's patented self-help you can be rich to mantra was PMA, positive mental attitude.

Rachel Maddow: And in the Fall of 1973, he came to the rescue of a man whose mental attitude and whose life, in general, had suddenly become something quite less than positive.

John Chancellor: Good evening. For the first time in American history, a grand jury today began hearing evidence, which could link a Vice President to criminal charges. The federal prosecutor's office in Baltimore began, in strict secrecy, the presentation of evidence concerning Spiro Agnew.

Rachel Maddow: Vice President Spiro Agnew was facing the prospect of a federal indictment on bribery and extortion charges. And what John Chancellor said there was right, nothing like that had ever happened before in US history. And in that darkest hour, the man who rode to the rescue of the Vice President was W. Clement Stone.

Rachel Maddow: That fall of 1973 with the possible indictment of the Vice President looming, Stone's setup the official Spiro T. Agnew Legal Defense Fund. In a slightly over-the-top press release, he described how honored he was to start accepting donations from average Americans on behalf of the Vice President. He estimated that Agnew's defense bills could reach a half-million dollars. And after setting up a nationwide phone bank to start taking in those donations from across the country, W. Clement Stone, by the end of that first week, had raked in all of about 300 bucks. It didn't work.

Rachel Maddow: But Spiro Agnew did like having celebrity friends like W. Clement Stone. Frank Sinatra also came to his aid. Sinatra hit up his friends to give money to Agnew. One friend of Sinatra's reportedly told him in response, "Look, we don't give a damn about Agnew, but if you want some money, Frank, we'll give it to you.".

Rachel Maddow: The truth was Spiro Agnew really did need the money. He had hired this team of big-name lawyers who were waging an aggressive battle in the courts to try to keep him out of jail. He also had his PR strategy, at that point, which was to throw the kitchen sink at his own Justice Department to attack the prosecutors as biased. That was the strategy that was happening out loud in public, so you could see it.

Rachel Maddow: But there was also his strategy that was hidden from public view. Hidden then and hidden for years after. That was the one Spiro Agnew had been waging secretly from the very beginning. It was a coordinated effort to obstruct justice, to use the power of his position in the White House to block that investigation, to shut it down before it closed in on him. And that story, the story of that secret obstruction effort, it hasn't even been known to the prosecutors who were investigating Agnew at the time. They are about to hear it here for the first time.

Rachel Maddow: You're listening to Bag Man. I'm your host, Rachel Maddow.

John Chancellor: For the first time in American history, a grand jury today began hearing evidence which could link a Vice President to criminal charges.

HR "Bob" Haldeman: He feels the publication of this stuff would finish the VP.

Barney Sklonik: That's the kind of classic crap that we feared might happen.

Ron Liebman: Forty-five years later, and my blood still boils when I read stuff like that.

Chris Hayes: Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris Hayes. If you enjoyed Bag Man, be sure to check out my friend, Rachel Maddow, on my podcast, Why is This Happening?, where I get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the stories playing out in the news in order to understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be. Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment. We also talk all about Bag Man and how this incredible podcast came to be. So, click on over and check out Why is This Happening? And you can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Rachel Maddow: Episode 4: Turn it Off.

Barney Sklonik: This is an actual conversation?

Mike Yarvitz: Yeah, transcript of an audio recorded conversation.

Barney Sklonik: Whoa. Oh my God. This is beautiful.

Rachel Maddow: You've heard from Barney Skolnik before. He was the senior prosecutor at the US Attorney's Office in Baltimore in the spring of 1973. What he's reacting to here is a transcript of a conversation that he has never seen before. My producer, Mike Jarvis, gave him a copy.

Barney Sklonik: "There's an investigation going on in Maryland. He asked Bob for help in turning it off." Okay. Well, these are fun.

Mike Yarvitz: Well, let me give you a couple more.

Barney Sklonik: Don't get my juices flowing. I mean, I'm too old for this shit.

Rachel Maddow: In the spring of 1973, this team of young federal prosecutors in Baltimore, led by Barney Skolnick, they were hot on Spiro Agnew's trail.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew had been the Governor of Maryland before becoming Vice President. He'd been Baltimore County Executive before that. And what this team of prosecutors had just discovered is that throughout his time in government, Spiro Agnew had been a crook. He was a shakedown artist. He had been extorting money from government contractors for years, demanding payoffs, excepting envelopes stuffed with cash. It all started back when he was first elected in Maryland politics, but it continued right through his time as Vice President. It was cash delivered to him, usually through a Bag Man, in exchange for government contracts that he controlled.

Rachel Maddow: And in early 1973 when Spiro Agnew first learned that there was some investigation going on back in Maryland, he started taking actions almost immediately to try to make that investigation go away. What we know about this secret effort from within the White House to interfere with that ongoing investigation, we know about because there are tapes.

Richard Nixon: You've got it across very strong to him that this is terribly important.

Rachel Maddow: Richard Nixon's secret White House recording system famously led to his own demise as President. But the tapes from that recording system also picked up hours of conversations about this investigation in Maryland that was closing in on the Vice President.

Rachel Maddow: In April 1973, Vice President Agnew first heard that one of his co-conspirators, a man named Jerry Wolff, was on the radar of prosecutors.

Ron Liebman: Jerry Wolff, who is another one of these guys, became hysterical in his lawyer's office, we were later told, and was screaming in the hall about, you know, "He's going to take everybody down." You know, he was — It was terrible pressure.

Rachel Maddow: Jerry Wolff had been a really big part of Agnew's bribery scheme. He got a cut of the payoffs himself, he knew all about what Agnew was doing. And when Agnew learned that Jerry Wolff was about to be questioned by prosecutors, he went to one of President Nixon's closest aides, White House chief of staff HR Haldeman, for help.

HR "Bob" Haldeman: Wednesday, April 10th, the President got me in first thing this morning.

Rachel Maddow: What you're hearing right now is an audio diary that Bob Haldeman kept during his time as Nixon's White House Chief of Staff. Here's what he recorded that night about a conversation he'd had with Agnew that day.

HR "Bob" Haldeman: Vice President called me over today and said he had a real problem, because Jerry Wolff, who used to work for him back in Maryland, and then brought him to Washington with him, is about to be called by the US Attorney up there who's busting open campaign contribution cases and kickbacks to contractors. It seems that Wolff kept verbatim records of meetings with the Vice President and others back over the years.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew tells the White House Chief of Staff that this guy, who's now under scrutiny by prosecutors, he kept verbatim notes of all his meetings. Agnew clearly knew that Jerry Wolff was a really dangerous witness. If he squealed, he could potentially unravel the whole thing. What Agnew wanted HR Haldeman to do about this threat was help him stop the prosecutors.

Rachel Maddow: Now, in order to understand what you're about to hear on these tapes, there's one other character that you need to know about. The US attorney in Maryland who is leading that investigation was someone we've talked about a lot, a Republican US Attorney named George Beall. He oversaw that team of federal prosecutors. He also came from a family that was, basically, Republican royalty in Maryland.

Rachel Maddow: Part of the reason that he was Republican royalty was at the time that George Beall was leading this investigation out of the US Attorney's Office, his older brother was a sitting US senator from Maryland, Republican Senator Glenn Beall.

Glenn Beall: The United States is the strongest free country on the face of the Earth. And since we are that, we are interested in promoting freedom around the world.

Rachel Maddow: And Spiro Agnew and the Nixon White House, they thought that Glenn Beall, the Senator, would be their key to making this entire investigation go away.

HR "Bob" Haldeman: He made the point that George Beall, who's Glenn Beall's brother, is the US Attorney there. And that if Glenn Beall would talk to him, he could straighten it out. The Vice President's tried to get him to, but apparently not successfully. So, he wanted me to talk to Glenn Beall, which, of course, I won't do, in order to verify a White House awareness and concern. He feels the publication of this stuff would finish the VP because Wolff was with him for so long.

Rachel Maddow: If you're ever trying to explain the concept of "obstruction of justice" to a second grader, this would be a good case study.

Rachel Maddow: The Vice President believes that what this witness will say could finish him. He tries to get the White House to stop the prosecutor from questioning that witness by pressuring the prosecutor through his family. It is an overt, spelled-out effort to use political power and political leverage to shut down this potent criminal case.

Rachel Maddow: That said, if it was just a failed effort, if this had ended there at that conversation with HR Haldeman, and Haldeman saying he wouldn't do it, then you could maybe just chalk it up to the Vice President blowing off steam and having obstructionist inclinations.

Rachel Maddow: But it didn't stop at that conversation. Bob Haldeman didn't agree to pressure Senator Glenn Beall himself, but he did relay that request from Agnew to another top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman. And then, three days later, Ehrlichman was discussing it with President Nixon in the Oval Office.

Rachel Maddow: Now, don't worry about picking up every word here. I will sum up the gist of what you're about to hear. The first voice you're going to hear is John Ehrlichman, and the voice you're going to hear in the background is President Richard Nixon.

John Ehrlichman: Did Bob tell you about his meeting with Agnew?

Richard Nixon: No. I didn't see Bob and Agnew. What is it? He saw him?

John Ehrlichman: Well, he saw him two or three days ago. And your Vice President has problems of his own.

Rachel Maddow: "Your vice president has problems of his own," Ehrlichman tells Nixon. What you're going to hear next is Nixon asking if this has something to do with Watergate. Ehrlichman, then, has to correct him, get him up to speed to let him know that this is Agnew's own totally separate scandal.

Richard Nixon: With this?

John Ehrlichman: No, something else, back when he was governor. Apparently, there's an investigation going on in Maryland, and he asked Bob for help in turning it off.

Rachel Maddow: "There's an investigation going on in Maryland, and he asked Bob for help in turning it off."

Rachel Maddow: And, again, if it just stopped right there, if Nixon, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman all said, "Agnew was trying to get us to interfere with this investigation, but we obviously can't do that," if it had stopped right there, then maybe, but it didn't stop there. Days later, Agnew himself was in the Oval Office putting a plan in place with the President himself to obstruct this investigation, to shut it down.

Rachel Maddow: The tape you're about to hear now is a little bit rough. Don't worry about picking up every word. What you'll hear first is Agnew venting to President Nixon in the Oval Office about that US Attorney in Maryland, George Beall, who's been digging into the county where Agnew got his start.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Can you imagine a guy going into an in-depth investigation and going into the county that I was in at the beginning of this ..

Rachel Maddow: Agnew's complaining here about this US Attorney, George Beall. And what Nixon immediately moves to is, " Who is this US Attorney and what can we do about it?" Listen.

Richard Nixon: Who is this US Attorney that's handling it? Is it Beall?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Beall.

Richard Nixon: Well, is he a good boy? Why the hell did we appoint him?

Rachel Maddow: "Is he a good boy?," that's what Nixon asked Agnew. "Why the hell did we appoint him?" What the two men, then, start putting together is a plan to start pressuring George Beall to stop this investigation. What you'll hear in this next clip is Agnew, first, talking about all the IRS agents who have been assigned to the case. And then, Nixon and Agnew talk about getting to George Beall, getting to the prosecutor through, his brother, Republican Senator Glenn Beall.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: He's got 30 IRS people in there snooping around. They're lookig at everybody, every angle.

Richard Nixon: Well, how can we get that word to him though?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Glean Beall's the only way to influence this.

Richard Nixon: The senator?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Yes.

Richard Nixon: Well, look, has Glenn Beall been talked to? Well, Glenn Beall better take a real deep. We helped him bury that one in '70.

Rachel Maddow: What you heard Nixon say at the end there is, "We helped Glenn Beall bury that in 1970."

Rachel Maddow: That was actually the key here. Senator Glenn Beall owed the Nixon White House because Nixon and Agnew helped him get elected. The father of George Beall and Glenn Beall had previously held that US Senate seat in Maryland, but a Democrat had beaten him and taken the seat in 1964. When that seat came up again in 1970, Nixon and Agnew helped the Beall family avenge that loss and take back that seat in the US Senate.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I think we have a candidate in Glen Beall that we can be extremely proud of. I think he's a candidate who will carry the …

Rachel Maddow: And it worked. The Republican Party got that Senate seat in Maryland back, but so did the Beall family. And, now, one of the Beall's sons was going to try to destroy Spiro Agnew with this investigation? No. Nixon and Agnew decided no. Now, it was time for Senator Glenn Beall to return the favor and to shut down his little brother.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew goes on in that conversation to bring up a potential witness who might tell prosecutors that he came to the White House to hand Agnew an envelope full of cash.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: He may say he gave me a kickback of some kind, came over here, and handed me $50,000. That is totally ridiculous.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew says that claim would be totally ridiculous, but listen to how Nixon responds to that, to this idea of a witness who could incriminate Agnew inside the White House. Listen to the very end of this.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: There are all kinds of rumors.

Richard Nixon: Good God, isn't it awful?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: But this man is-

Richard Nixon: Well, can we destroy him?

Rachel Maddow: Did you hear Nixon at the end there? He says about this witness, "Can we destroy him?" So, what the President and the Vice President are discussing in the Oval Office at this point is, number one, how they can get a US Attorney to shut down an ongoing investigation of the Vice President? And number two, how they might destroy any witnesses who might try to come forward with information on the Vice President?

Rachel Maddow: But there is one more piece of this conversation I want to play. What they're talking about here is instructing the US Attorney George Beall, specifically, to fire the main prosecutor working on the case., Barney Skolnik.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Somehow, get Glenn Beall or Georgie Beall, the brother, to realize that he's — to get — go in there, finish up what he's doing. Get this thing over with, and get this guy, Skolnik, who's a Muskie volunteer, the hell out of his office.

Rachel Maddow: "Get this thing over with, and get this guy, Skolnik, who's a Muskie volunteer, the hell out of his office." So, end the investigation now and fire the lead investigator from the case, Barney Skolnik. He's a Democrat.

Rachel Maddow: That was June 1973. Fast forward a little more than a year, Nixon resigns after the revelation of his role in obstructing the investigation into Watergate. The first article of impeachment drawn up against Nixon was obstruction of justice for his role in trying to cover up that scandal.

Rachel Maddow: But what we can, now, hear on these tapes is a robust obstruction effort by Nixon and Agnew totally separate from Watergate. It's Richard Nixon hearing about an investigation into his Vice President and saying, "How do we go about shutting this down? How do we use the power of the White House to force the prosecutors to drop the case? How do we destroy witnesses that might come forward?" And they weren't just musing about doing this. They did it. That's next.

HR "Bob" Haldeman: Monday, April 30th, Resignation Day.

Rachel Maddow: In April 1973, Richard Nixon's White House Chief of Staff HR Haldeman suddenly resigned over his role in Watergate. When he did, the man Nixon named as his replacement, his new Chief of Staff was General Al Haig.

Male Voice: Press secretary Ron Ziegler said General Haig's appointment is an interim one, but he said Haig already is on the job carrying out most of the duties HR Haldeman used to perform.

Rachel Maddow: When Al Haig took over that job, one of those duties that he inherited was a White House plan that was already in action to obstruct and try to shut down a criminal investigation of the Vice President. Al Haig took the job, and he didn't miss a beat. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew had come up with a plan to get to George Beall, the US Attorney leading that investigation, and they would get to him through his brother, a Republican US Senator named Glenn Bell. It was Haig's job to make that happen.

Rachel Maddow: And, again, we know that because there are tapes, like this one where you can hear Nixon and Haig in the Oval Office putting together a plan to have a White House adviser, named Mel Laird, be the middleman. Now, the tape here's a little rough, but you'll hear Nixon trying to figure out with Haig how to do this secretly, how to do this in a way where Nixon's fingerprints weren't on it. Nixon starts here by saying, "I think you better talk to Mel."

Richard Nixon: Well, I'll tell you, you better talk to Mel.

Al Haig: I'll talk to Mel.

Richard Nixon: I don't think I better-

Al Haig: No, no, no.

Richard Nixon: I can't have it put out that I was trying to fix the case.

Al Haig: No, no, you cannot do this.

Rachel Maddow: Nixon says there, "I can't have it put out that I was trying to fix the case." And Haig says, "No, no, you cannot do." Al Haig, then, lays out what exactly they want this Senator Glenn Beall to do for them.

Al Haig: So, if Glenn Beall can get his brother, who's the US Attorney, who we appointed, who's a Republican, but who's turned this thing over to two fanatical prosecutors, if he just sits in on them and supervises this.

Rachel Maddow: "If Glean Beall can get his brother, who's the US Attorney, who we appointed, who's a Republican, but who's turned this thing over to two fanatical prosecutors, if he just sits in on them and supervises this." In other words, what US Attorney George Beall needs to do is sit in on these fanatical prosecutors in his office who are taking this investigation to places we don't want it to go.

Rachel Maddow: Nixon and Haig are devising this plan in secret to interfere with this ongoing investigation. They, then, start putting this plan into action. But the middleman they end up using, the guy who they dragged into this obstruction scheme, ultimately, isn't Mel Laird. Who they end up using for this obstruction effort is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time, a man by the name of George Herbert Walker Bush.

Rachel Maddow: The future President of the United States, George Bush, gets enlisted in this effort to reach out to Senator Glenn Beall to have him pressure his brother to shut down this investigation. Listen to this phone call between Richard Nixon and Al Haig. The audio here is a little bit distorted, but the first voice here is Nixon, and he's talking to Haig about enemies of the White House who are now going after everybody.

Richard Nixon: It's amazing, isn't it? By golly, the way they start, they go after everybody, don't they?

Al Haig: Yeah, they're after everybody. And the Vice President has been very nervous. He called me three times.

Rachel Maddow: I know. I know, and you decided to have Harlow try to — Well, he isn't here.

Al Haig: He isn't here, so I did it through George Bush on the first run.

Richard Nixon: That's good. That's good.

Rachel Maddow: "I did it through George Bush on the first run." This didn't ever stick to George HW Bush, maybe because these audiotapes have just been collecting dust for the last four decades. But George Bush was brought in to a potentially criminal effort organized and directed by the then-President of the United States, Richard Nixon, to obstruct an ongoing investigation into his Vice President.

Rachel Maddow: And George Bush did it. US Attorney George Beall ended up donating his papers to Frostburg State University in Maryland. And if you go to those archives, you can now see an official memo-to-file that US Attorney George Beall wrote that summer of 1973. In that memo to file, it is made quite clear that after the White House came up with this plan, George HW Bush did, in fact, contact US Senator Glenn Beall, and he tried to have Senator Glenn Beall get word to his little brother, the US Attorney about this investigation.

Rachel Maddow: This is what he wrote in the file. "With respect to conversations with my brother, Glenn, the discussions were most superficial and very guarded. He occasionally mentioned to me the names of persons who had been to see him or who had called him with respect to this investigation. Names of persons that I remember him telling me about included Vice President Agnew and George Bush."

Rachel Maddow: Now, there are a few amazing things here. First, of course, is that a future US President participated in what was likely a criminal scheme to obstruct justice. But there's also the fact that Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew would even attempt this sort of thing in the climate of Watergate that they were in.

Rachel Maddow: This was the summer of 1973. The Senate Watergate hearings were on TV every day. The Watergate cover-up was starting to unravel around Richard Nixon. Nixon had just fired his Chief of Staff, HR Haldeman, his White House Counsel John Dean, his Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, his top Domestic Aide John Ehrlichman. It was all supposedly to clean house from the Watergate mess.

Rachel Maddow: But right then, at the same time, Nixon and Agnew decided to undertake a whole separate effort to interfere with a totally unrelated investigation into Agnew. And the final amazing thing here is that the Baltimore federal prosecutors who were building this case against Agnew, at the time, which Agnew and Nixon were actively trying to shut down, they have never known about any of this. 45 years later, this is all brand new to them.

Barney Sklonik: This is an actual conversation?

Mike Yarvitz: Yeah, transcript of an audio recorded conversation.

Barney Sklonik: Whoa.

Mike Yarvitz: That's Barney Skolnik, the lead prosecutor on the team. Remember that audio diary from HR Haldeman?

HR "Bob" Haldeman: The Vice President called me over today and said he had a real problem.

Rachel Maddow: Here's Barney Skolnick learning about that recording for the first time.

Barney Sklonik: Oh, he had an audio diary? Jesus.

Mike Yarvitz: He made the point that George Beall, who's Glenn Beall's brother, is the US Attorney there, and that if Glenn Beall would talk to him, he could straighten it out.

Barney Sklonik: "If Glenn Beall would talk to George, he could straighten it out." Yeah. Well, you want my reaction to this. I mean, you know, it's exactly what you would think. That's the kind of classic crap that we feared might happen is, you know, somebody like Agnew going to somebody like Haldeman, to go to somebody like Glen Beall. I mean, that's — You know, that's the — What our president calls the swamp. I mean, that's — You know, that's the swamp, you know, in operation.

Mike Yarvitz: But you didn't know at the time that it was an operation.

Barney Sklonik: No. Well, I mean, we knew — We had some sense as the whole country did of what kind of administration Nixon, with Haldeman, and Enrlichman, and so on, were running. But we had no knowledge that this was happening.

Rachel Maddow: Here's Ron Liebman, another one of the Baltimore prosecutors, seeing Nixon on tape here talking about destroying a potential witness in their case.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: There are all kind of rumors.

Richard Nixon: Good God, isn't it awful?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: But this man is-

Richard Nixon: Well, can we destroy him?

Ron Liebman: "Well, can we destroy him?" Forty-five years later, and my blood still boils when I read stuff like that.

Rachel Maddow: That conversation between Nixon and Agnew in the Oval Office, also, included them strategizing about how to pressure Senator Glenn Beall.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Glenn Beall's the only way to influence this.

Richard Nixon: The senator?

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Yes.

Ron Liebman: This is the Nixon White House. This is what they did across the board.

Mike Yarvitz: I mean, what does — You're a lawyer. What does that look like?

Ron Liebman: Clearly obstruction of justice or attempt to obstruct justice clearly. Clearly.

Mike Yarvitz: If you had known about that at the time, would obstruction have been something in your mind in terms of-

Ron Liebman: You bet. Yeah, you bet. Sure. I think — I don't think it would have been very difficult at all to start investigating obstruction of justice if we had known about this.

Rachel Maddow: Here's Tim Baker. He was the third prosecutor on the team. Tim Baker, himself, is referenced in one of those conversations as one of the fanatical prosecutors that's taking this investigation in a direction they didn't want it to go.

Al Haig: So, if Beall can get his brother, who's the US Attorney, who we appointed, who's a Republican, but who's turned this thing over to two fanatical prosecutors.

Tim Baker: Two fanatical prosecutors. Funny. Well, we were — I'm a fanatical. Boy, once we thought he was guilty, then we were really focused on it. We were going to do this. We were going to get this guy out of there and more.

Rachel Maddow: Tim Baker wasn't the only one of the prosecutors referenced directly in these tapes. Remember that conversation between Nixon and Agnew about getting the lead prosecutor, Barney Skolnik, thrown off the case? Barney Skolnik himself never had any idea about that.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Get this thing over with and get this guy, Skolnik, who's a Muskie volunteer, to hell out of his office.

Barney Sklonik: Oh, there's my name. Wow. Agnew said my name. Oh joy. "Get this thing over with, and get this guy Skolnik, who's a Muskie volunteer, the hell out of his office." Oh, man, you got to give me a copy of this.

Mike Yarvitz: You can have it.

Barney Sklonik: Oh, wow. Makes my whole life worthwhile. Oh, that's beautiful. "Get him the hell out of his office." Oh, thank you, my man. This is so beautiful. Michael, you really have — You really have this. This doesn't just make my day. This makes my decade, "Get this guy, Skolnik, who's a Muskie volunteer, the hell out of his office."

Rachel Maddow: These prosecutors who are now reading through these conversations for the very first time, their emotions about this case, and what they're seeing, 45 years later, it's all still very much on the surface for them.

Ron Liebman: It makes your skin crawl, doesn't it? It really makes your skin crawl. Even 45 years later, with all the stuff that we have come across in terms of public corruption, it still makes your skin crawl.

Barney Sklonik: This is essentially somebody under investigation going to an authority — In this case, it happens to be the President — to say not just stop the investigation but get a prosecutor fired for no apparent reason other than he's running the investigation. That's obviously illegal and obstruction of justice.

Barney Sklonik: And to have political pressure put on the lead prosecutor, George, to stop the investigation, again, for no discernable reason, I mean, you know, stop the investigation because statute of limitations has run or, you know, fill in the blank, some legitimate reason but this is, "Stop it because I want it stopped because I am exposed to possible criminal prosecution." Obviously, that's obstruction of justice. I mean, all of these conversations are, if not literally illegal, they are certainly suggesting that illegal things be done.

Rachel Maddow: So, it's remarkable for us to realize that the prosecutors have never known about any of this until now. It's amazing to hear them reacting to it for the first time. But the reason they never knew about it until now is not just amazing. In a sense, it's sort of heroic. Think about what this says, what this means about their boss, George Beall, the Republican US Attorney who was overseeing their investigation.

Rachel Maddow: That coordinated obstruction effort launched by Spiro Agnew and carried out by Richard Nixon and the whole machinery of the White House and the Republican Party, that plan was actually carried out as intended. People close to Richard Nixon, including George HW Bush did, in fact, push this senator who may have owed his seat to the White House, they pushed Senator Glenn Beall to try to influence this investigation.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew himself, personally, lobbied Senator Glenn Beall over and over again. Agnew's records and papers are now held at the University of Maryland. What you find when you go through those papers, as we did, are multiple face-to-face meetings that Agnew himself held in his office with Senator Glenn Beall. It's all right there in his notes in his daily calendars

Rachel Maddow: This effort to get to that senator, to get him to help them shut down this investigation that his little brother was running, that plan was put into place. And the first part of it worked. Senator Glenn Beall himself took all of that pressure that he was getting, and he did, in fact, reach out to his little brother, George, about it.

Rachel Maddow: In that same memo to file in his papers in the Frostburg State Archive, George says his older brother related to him expressions of concern from George Bush, and Agnew, and others. His senator brother was contacting him, telling him about all the powerful and important people in Washington who'd been in touch with him, concerned about Georgia's investigation. The obstruction effort got to George Beall. And George Beall memorialized that pressure that he was getting for the record, for history, but he stopped it there. We, now, know he never once passed a word of any of it along to his team of young federal prosecutors who were just quietly working that case.

Tim Baker: There wasn't any moment in which the George hesitated at all about this.

Ron Liebman: George never, to me, as far as I know to my colleagues, never once said anything like, "Hey, you know, my brother called, and he says this is really causing a problem. Are we really sure about this? Do we really want to do this?" Nothing like that ever, ever happened.

Barney Sklonik: There was never any. Not only was there never any specific information along those lines, but there was never any indirect indication from the way George spoke to us that anything his brother had said to him had any effect. Whatever they wanted George to do, he didn't do.

Rachel Maddow: If that had happened, there would have been the mutiny of mutinies on the part of Tim, Barney, and me. There would have been a world-class mutiny, but it wouldn't have happened because there's no way that our boss, George Beall, would come near that, 100%.

Rachel Maddow: US Attorney George BeAll was all of 35 years old at the time. He was a Republican on the rise in Maryland. He had his whole career in Republican politics ahead of him, but he refused to bow to that pressure that was coming right at him from this Republican White House through his direct family.

Rachel Maddow: This coordinated obstruction effort that involved Vice President Agnew, President Nixon, HR Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Al Haig, George Bush, this coordinated effort to shut down an investigation into the sitting Vice President, it failed. And it failed because this Republican US Attorney was in a position of responsibility. He had this investigation to pursue, and he never once blinked.

Rachel Maddow: And so, what happened next when that obstruction effort failed because of him? Richard Nixon had been actively trying to interfere with this investigation on behalf of his Vice President. But when that effort failed, Nixon was more than willing to turn on Agnew in order to save himself. And that is when things went totally off the rails, to the point where Spiro Agnew actually believed that Richard Nixon might be plotting to have him killed.

Male Voice: You say that you were actually fearful that if you did not go along, President Nixon might have ordered you assassinated. Could you explain that?

Rachel Maddow: That is a real live part of this story, and that is still to come. I'm Rachel Maddow. And this is Bag Man.

Rachel Maddow: Bag Man is a production of MSNBC and NBC Universal. This series is executive produced by Mike Yarvitz. It was written by myself and Mike Yarvitz. Editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa Schneiderman from Neon Hum Media. And, by the way, if you want to see that memo to file that George Beall put in his archives at Frostburg State University, we have posted it at MSNBC.com/bagman, along with a whole bunch of other materials you might want to see from this episode.

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Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 3: Hang In There, Baby (transcribed by Sonix)

Martin London: My name is Martin London. And in 1973, I was part of the defense team for our client, Spiro T. Agnew, who was Vice President of the United States.

Rachel Maddow: Martin London was an attorney at a prestigious, white-shoe, New York City law firm called Paul Weiss. London had recently wrapped up a high-profile case representing Jackie Kennedy, the former First Lady of the United States. But in the summer of 1973, along with the rest of the country, Martin London was busy following every development of the rapidly unfolding Watergate saga.

John Chancellor: Good evening, it was John Mitchell's turn at the Senate Watergate Committee today. he spent the whole day in the witness chair.

Rachel Maddow: One afternoon, that frantic summer of Watergate, Marty London's law partner got a phone call from an unknown number in Washington DC.

Martin London: He says to me, "Marty, I just got the strangest call. A fellow me," and he says, "He introduces himself. He's from Chuck Colson's firm in Washington, DC. and he asked me if I can come to Washington DC tomorrow morning to meet a new client."

Rachel Maddow: That caller presented Marty London and his law partner Jay Topkis with that cryptic offer about a mystery client who needed representation fast.

Martin London: "Well, that's very interesting. Who is the client?" And he says, "Well, I can't mention his name on the phone. It's so secure. It's so confidential. I'm not allowed to mention his name." So, Jay says, "Well, what is he?" He says, "He's a very high government official." And Topkis says, "Oh, is he a congressman?" The caller says, "Higher." He says, "Is he a senator?" He says, "Higher." He says, "Oh my goodness, is he a Cabinet Official?" He says, "Higher." He says, "Oh my God, you're talking about the President of the United States?" He says, "Not quite so high."

Rachel Maddow: It was early August. Marty London and his law partner hopped on a flight from New York City down to Washington DC to sit down with their new client, the Vice President.

Martin London: I found the Vice President to be everything I did not expect him to be. He was charming, he was soft spoken, he was gracious, he was a nice guy. You would meet him and you would like him.

Rachel Maddow: The reason Vice President Spiro Agnew needed to beef up his legal team, and on very short notice, is because that night, the federal criminal investigation targeting him was about to go public.

Male Voice: This is NBC Nightly News. Tuesday, August 7th. Reported tonight from Washington by John Chancellor.

John Chancellor: Good evening. Washington was stunned today by the disclosure that Vice President Agnew was under criminal investigation by federal authorities in his home state of Maryland. Involved are possible charges of bribery, extortion, and tax evasion. Agnew says he is innocent. A member of his staff said today "You are probably going to hear more that is terribly serious."

Rachel Maddow: The President of the United States was already under investigation in Watergate. And, now, the Vice President was the subject of a criminal bribery-and-extortion investigation of his own. He'd been secretly accepting envelopes of cash inside the White House and inside his own Vice Presidential residence. That investigation had been such a well-kept secret that the day it broke publicly, Agnew's own staff, including top aides like David Keene, they had no idea it had been going on.

David Keene: I was in Hilton Head taking a few days off. And Johnny Damgard called me and said, "Dave, you have to get back here because the Vice President is thinking about canceling his schedule. And there's nothing I can do." He was the scheduler. I said, "What?" You know, he said, "Yeah, there's an investigation going on." And it broke with an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Rachel Maddow: The press, which had been working the Watergate story all summer long, they now had this giant new scandal, and they were instantly all over it.

Ron Liebman: And it took about three seconds for the American press to attack the federal courthouse.

Rachel Maddow: That's Ron Liebman, one of the prosecutors who had been quietly pursuing the case.

Ron Liebman: I remember the FBI came in and talked to us about how we had to secure our files, and we had to put them in the lead file cabinets, and had to take my name out of the out of the directory assistance — phone books in those days — none of which we did. We told them, "Yeah, okay." We're really don't have the time for that right now. "Okay, fine. We'll take care of it." "Are you sure?" "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We will." I mean, the press was — There was a frenzy.

Rachel Maddow: All of this press attention that was now being paid to this team of Baltimore investigators, it was partly because this was a giant case they had broken open, a bribery scandal involving the sitting Vice President.

Rachel Maddow: But the other reason they were the focus of so much attention at that time is because the target of that investigation, the Vice President, had decided that his defense would be about them. His defense would be that there was this biased and partisan group of investigators who were unfairly persecuting him from inside his own Justice Department for their own treacherous reasons.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Some Justice Department officials have decided to indict me in the press, whether or not the evidence supports their position. This is a clear and outrageous effort to influence the outcome of possible grand jury deliberations. I will fight. I will fight to prove my innocence, and that I intend to remain in the high office to which I have been twice elected.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew, with his back against the wall, with the investigation of him now public, he started attacking that investigation as a witch-hunt, as a witch hunt led by politically-motivated, biased, bad actors inside the Justice Department.

Rachel Maddow: This was something new in American politics. A sitting occupant of the White House, under criminal investigation, trying to save himself by declaring war on his own Justice Department.

Rachel Maddow: You're listening to Bag Man. I'm your host Rachel Maddow.

Male Voice: For the first time in American history, a grand jury today began hearing evidence, which could link a vice president to criminal charges.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: They are trying to recoup their reputation at my expense. I'm a big trophy.

Male Voice: Republicans are hearing from their constituents that this is our guy.

Male Voice: Will you inform me what he's done? No one has. That's not American justice

Chris Hayes: Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris Hayes. If you enjoyed Bag Man, be sure to check out my friend, Rachel Maddow, on my podcast, Why is This Happening?, where I get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the stories playing out in the news in order to understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be. Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment. We also talk all about Bag Man, and how this incredible podcast came to be. So, click on over and check out Why is This Happening? And you can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Rachel Maddow: Episode 3: Hang in There, Baby.

Rachel Maddow: The 1970s Republican Party was a big tent political party. It was the Barry Goldwater Libertarian Republicans of the '60s. It was right-wing conservatives, who would later make up the Reagan Revolution. There were moderate and liberal Republicans, but none of those ideological slivers of the party had a monopoly on the energy and the legwork that it takes to really get stuff done in politics. Inside the Republican Party, everybody knew who the real activists were, the real soldiers who really got stuff done, Republican women.

David Keene: I mean, the two arms of the Republican Party that were important were the young Republican Federation and the Women's Federation because that's where the ground troops came from. The Democrats had the unions. We had the women.

Rachel Maddow: That's David Keene again. He was the top political aide for Vice President Agnew in 1973. And that fall, when Agnew was looking for a place to mount his big public defense against the investigation into him, when he was looking for friendly territory, David Keene knew there was no better place than an event that was about to pop up on the political calendar, the Annual Convention of the National Federation of Republican Women.

David Keene: That's the place to do it. That's your army.

Rachel Maddow: The National Federation of Republican Women held their convention in Los Angeles that fall of 1973. In the fall of '73, Spiro Agnew was fighting for his political life.

Garrick Utley: Time Magazine today quotes officials in the Department of Justice as saying that the case against Vice President Agnew is growing steadily stronger and that an indictment appears inevitable.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew now had lawyers like Marty London who are fighting his battles in court, but Agnew himself had devised a very specific PR strategy for his own survival, a full-frontal assault on the Justice Department that was investigating him, attack the investigators in order to discredit the investigation. And that gathering of Republican women in Los Angeles, that would be his venue for launching that public attack.

Male Voice: We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this NBC News Special Report. Vice President Spiro Agnew is about to speak in Los Angeles.

Rachel Maddow: If you want to get a sense for how the hardcore Republican base felt about Spiro Agnew, even when he was in the worst legal trouble of his life, just listen to the reception he got from that crowd of Republican women in Los Angeles that day.

Female Voices: Fight Agnew, fight. Fight Agnew, Fight. Fight Agnew, fight. Fight Agnew, fight. Fight Agnew, fight.

Rachel Maddow: Even before he showed up, the hall was electric. These Republican women activists were holding homemade signs that said, "Spiro is My Hero." One newspaper reporter in the hall said the enthusiasm these Republican women had for Agnew was maybe surpassed only by the hostility they had for the press that was there to cover him.

Rachel Maddow: That reporter wrote, "Some women approached newsmen ready for a fight. Several women took notes or tape-recorded Agnew's speech themselves, so they could report on it when they returned home. A precaution they said in case the papers did not tell the entire story."

Rachel Maddow: This was a crowd that was angry at the press and they had full-faith in the man they were there to see. And what Spiro Agnew unleashed in that packed convention hall was an all-out attack on the Justice Department, the likes of which nobody had really seen before in US politics.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Irrespective of the claims of certain individuals in the Department of Justice, it was not through my fault that this became a non-secret procedure, but through deliberately contrived actions of individuals in the prosecutorial system of the United States, and I regard those as outrageous and malicious. And if we find, in fact, that in Baltimore or in Washington, individuals employed by the Department of Justice have abused their sacred trust and forsaken their professional standards, then I will ask the President of the United States to summarily discharge those individuals.

Rachel Maddow: The Vice President there was calling his own Justice Department malicious and out of control. And with that crowd of Republican women hanging on his every word, he then started targeting specific officials inside the Justice Department, including the head of the Criminal Division who was directly involved in his case.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I say this to you, the conduct of high individuals in the Department of Justice, particularly the conduct of the chief of the Criminal Investigation Division of that department, is unprofessional, and malicious, and outrageous if I am to believe what has been printed in the news magazines and said on the television networks of this country, and I have had no denial that that is the case.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: People will say to me "Why? You don't make sense. Why should a Republican Department of Justice and a Republican prosecutor attempt to get you?" Well, I don't know all the answers, but I would say this, that individuals in the upper professional echelons of the Department of Justice have been severely stung by their ineptness in the prosecution of the Watergate case, and they are trying to recoup their reputation at my expense. I'm a big trophy.

Rachel Maddow: Now, keep in mind Richard Nixon, who at this point was neck deep in Watergate trouble, he had not even taken the pretty extraordinary step of attacking his Justice Department, at least, not in public, not like this. But here was the Vice President at a Republican rally accusing officials in the Justice Department of professional misconduct, accusing the investigators of leaking information about him to the press, pledging to seek out bad actors participating in the investigation to have them purged from the department.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I want to make another thing so clear that it cannot be mistaken in the future, because of these tactics, which have been employed against me, because small and fearful men have been frightened into furnishing evidence against me, they have perjured themselves in many cases it's my understanding, I will not resign if indicted, I will not resign if indicted.

Rachel Maddow: The strategy here wasn't to challenge the specific and credible allegations of wrongdoing that were now public. This was a strategy to smear the investigators who were looking into him, to smear them as biased and corrupt, to accuse them of leading a witch-hunt against him. This was a strategy, specifically, to convince the Republican base, the party activists in that crowd and Republicans watching at home, that the corrupt Justice Department and the biased press were out to get him, and his supporters shouldn't believe either of them. This is a deliberate strategy and it worked. At least, in the short run, it worked.

Rachel Maddow: After that speech, Agnew started receiving hundreds of letters from supporters all across the country. There are boxes and boxes of these letters that you can see in Agnew's files at the University of Maryland to this day, the letters he received and even the replies that he sent.

Rachel Maddow: One couple from Kansas City wrote, "Dear Mr. Vice President we believe in your innocence. Give them hell. The press and the liberals are out to get you and all conservatives." One school-teacher from Colorado wrote to him, "I'm sick of what the media and the Democrats are doing. They lost, and they can't take it.".

Rachel Maddow: A man named Joe Taylor from Missouri wrote, "Dear Veep. Give the god damned sons-of-bitches hell. It's a good thing somebody in Washington has guts enough to say something and fight back." Agnew, actually, responded to that one. He wrote back, "Dear Mr. Taylor. Thank you for your very kind letter and for your excellent advice. Warm regards."

Rachel Maddow: Again, the allegations that were public at that point were that Agnew had been illegally extorting people throughout his time in public office, up to and including accepting cash payoffs throughout his time in the White House. But Republicans across the country really didn't seem to mind.

Rachel Maddow: And they didn't just write letters to Spiro Agnew about it. The Attorney General Elliot Richardson also started getting these letters. But his were just bins, and bins, and bins full of hate mail. "I hope you and all your smart Justice Department lawyers are pleased," one woman wrote to him, "I feel you have done a great wrong to this nation. And one day, you are going to have to pay."

Rachel Maddow: One woman from Lubbock, Texas wrote, "Are you a Democrat or has this been done by the Democrat Party? If so, that explains it, for it looks like they can't bear for the Republicans to get any glory or praise for anything." One man wrote, "I believe there is deliberate malice from the liberal news media and also from politicians who fear Mr. Agnew's appeal to the average American."

Rachel Maddow: Agnew was defending himself, not by attacking the actual case against him, but by attacking the institution of the Department of Justice and the specific people bringing the case against him. These three young prosecutors who had led the case against Agnew: Tim Baker, Ron Liebman, Barney Skolnick, they were all now fair game. Here's Tim Baker.

Tim Baker: I remember Agnew saying that Skolnick was a Muskie volunteer and I, horror, had been to show what a complete Pinko I was. I had been a Peace Corps volunteer.

Rachel Maddow: Discredit the investigation by going after the investigators, that was the first part of Agnew strategy. Agnew's legal team had something else up their sleeves. That's next.

John Chancellor: Good evening. In the matter of possible criminal charges against Vice President Agnew, it was a dizzying, bewildering, and historic day.

Rachel Maddow: Once the investigation of Spiro Agnew went public in the summer of 1973, something started happening in the coverage of the scandal that the Vice President's lawyers quickly tried to turn to their advantage. They noticed that some articles about the investigation seemed to contain lots and lots of very specific details about the case, details that were supplied to reporters by anonymous sources. Here's Agnew's defense lawyer Marty London.

Martin London: We were made aware of great varieties of newspapers who had always begun their articles with, "High sources in the Justice Department have told us that," or "High government officials report to us that," but there was no question, this was a very leaky investigation.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew's public defense at that point was to portray the Justice Department as corrupt, portray the media as out to get him. All of these leaks to the press. This was a golden opportunity for Agnew's lawyers to nail both of those targets at once, the Justice Department for leaking and the horrible press for publishing those leaks without unnamed sources.

Rachel Maddow: With that two-birds-one=stone idea as their basic strategy, Agnew's legal team decided they would pursue the leaks about the case in court. They came up with a fairly radical plan to try to prove that the Justice Department was the source of those leaks to the press. Their plan was to put individual news reporters under oath and try to force them to testify about their sources.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew already had a well-earned reputation for being hostile to the press. Well, now, his lawyers would try to turn that into legal strategy too. The question was, would the court go along with it? Marty London's request to the judge, his demand to the judge, was pretty extraordinary.

Martin London: I reached into my briefcase and pulled out of an order that I had written the day before. I said, "Here's an order. All you got to do is sign it." What the order does is gives us the opportunity to put these reporters under oath. If you want to know if they're telling the truth, let's put them under oath. And while we're at it, taking their depositions, let's take the depositions of the government's officials too.

Martin London: The judge said, "Well, that seems like a pretty sensible idea to me." George Bill, I think he almost had a coronary. He was a young fellow. I was if I was afraid for his health. They got red in the face. They said, "This is outrageous." They said, "This has never been done before. There's no rule permitting this. There's no precedent for this. It's just not right." And the judge said, "Where do I sign?" And that's really, to use a legal expression, that's when the shit hit the fan.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew's legal team was trying to change the story, so it was no longer about the alleged criminal activity of the Vice President, it was instead about criminal misconduct on the part of these investigators.

Martin London: I was a lawyer here. I'm not a judge, and I'm not a philosopher king. In this case, it was in my interest to get as much information from that journalist as I could.

Rachel Maddow: Marty London got that judge to sign off on this order, to haul in news reporters, and put them under oath. And then, he sent out a raft of subpoenas to reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The NBC News, Time Magazine, Newsweek magazine, nine reporters in all from the biggest news outlets in the country, demanding their testimony.

Martin London: The press was up in arms, and they had fashioned lapel buttons, you know, it said, "Free the Agnew nine," because they all swore they'd go to jail before they would testify. And I got a call from a reporter from a local New York newspaper who says, "Marty, I'm in deep shit here. You killed me." I said, "What did I d?" He said, "I didn't get a subpoena.".

Martin London: We had, at that time, what was known as subpoena envy. Everybody wanted a subpoena. I said, "Well, look, I really — I apologize. No hard feelings. I only served subpoenas on people who wrote stories that said they had sources." And he said, "I did that. I did that." I said, "Send me your article, and I'll send you a subpoena." So, he sent me the article, and I sent him with a subpoena. And the Free the Agnew Nine became Free the Agnew Ten.

Rachel Maddow: This strategy from the Agnew legal team turned into a bit of a circus, but that was by design. It put all sorts of pressure on the Justice Department about these supposed leaks. And the American press corps, which had been covering the actual allegations against the Vice President up until that point, they got completely sideways defending themselves over these subpoenas.

David Brinkley: So, they are showering subpoenas all over town, and ordering reporters to come to Baltimore, and tell where they got their news. Those responding so far say they will tell nothing. Whether or not these lawyers learn much about that, they will have succeeded, to some extent, in turning the public's attention away from their client, and turning the attention and some abuse on the press.

Rachel Maddow: So, the American press corps was now under attack by the Vice President and his lawyers, rather gleefully, and the Justice Department too. The Baltimore prosecutors who were still assembling their case, they were not only being attacked publicly by the Vice President, they were now also being threatened by Agnew's lawyers as potential criminals themselves. Here's Barney Skolnik.

Barney Skolnik: I mean, it was — it really was ludicrous. I mean, we're investigating the case, and suddenly, people are coming from Washington to present us with — You know, strangers are coming from the Department of Justice in Public Integrity Section or something and saying, "Here, this is an affidavit about, you know, whether or not you have leaked, and you must fill it out, and you must sign it." Everybody. I mean, it wasn't just — It was the secretaries. I mean, it was-

Rachel Maddow: This was a maximum pressure campaign that Agnew's lawyers launched against the Justice Department and these individual prosecutors all to try to put them on the defensive. And to this day, Agnew's lawyers believe, Marty London believes that this pressure worked. Prosecutors themselves, like Tim Baker, they still bristle at that idea. The first voice you'll hear is producer Mike Jarvis.

Mike Yarvitz: He thinks that the pressure that they were able to put on the Justice Department about this issue of leaks-

Tim Baker: Phooey.

Mike Yarvitz: … was-

Tim Baker: Bullshit.

Mike Yarvitz: … what ultimately-

Tim Baker: Phooey. There wasn't any pressure about leaks. We weren't leaking anything. We knew it. They weren't going to be able to prove that we leaked anything because we hadn't. The pressure was get the guy out of the Vice Presidency. That was always the pressure.

Rachel Maddow: Whether they had leaked anything or not, this was a strategy. The Vice President was trying to save himself by targeting the press, and by targeting these prosecutors, and dragging them through the mud. And the prosecutors couldn't publicly defend themselves. Instead, they reacted to that strategy from Agnew by doubling down on what they could do, by doubling down on their case.

Ron Liebman: That was noise, noise to be pushed aside. We knew that. That's all designed to distract you. Don't let it distract you. We were too good for that. Kids that we were, we were too good for that.

Rachel Maddow: For all of that noise and distraction that Agnew brought to bear on this investigation and against the prosecutors, it didn't just come from him and his lawyers. He had political backup. A whole army of Republicans in Congress who are about to rush to his defense.

Male Voice: At the Capitol, the Vice President got some welcome support from fellow Republicans, GOP senators of all shades rose to his defense, suggesting he may be the victim of politically-inspired rumors.

Rachel Maddow: Republicans in Congress knew in 1973, when their own Vice President got in serious trouble, that it was in their own best interest to try to save him. And that may, in part, just have been raw partisan instinct. But they also knew that Spiro Agnew still had the Republican base wrapped around his finger, regardless of the allegations against him.

David Keene: It was easy to rally support for Ted Agnew. I mean, people loved him.

Rachel Maddow: It was David Keene's job to rally Republican support for Agnew in Congress.

David Keene: The Republicans were hearing from their constituents that, "This is our guy," but they liked him as well.

Rachel Maddow: When the criminal allegations against Agnew came to light, rather than turning against him or waiting for the investigation to play out, Republicans in Congress rushed to give him as much cover as they could. They adopted his line that he was the victim of a witch hunt.

James Buckley: I believe that the man has been put under incredible pressure because of the habit we've gone into a trial by print, based on third-hand leaks of information that may or may not be sound.

Carl Curtis: To condemn someone, to have innuendo, to raise questions, "When is he going to retire? Will he be impeached?" when no one has made a specific charge against him, damages him all across the country. And furthermore, it's damaging our country.

Rachel Maddow: Even the discussion that Agnew might need to go, even talking about that possibility, in the words of that Republican senator, that was damaging to the country. Republicans in Congress went after alleged leaks in the case. They went after the news media for reporting the leaks. This was not, "Let's allow the investigation to run its course." Republicans instantly circled the wagons around their man in the White House who was in legal trouble, but still as popular as ever in their party.

Barry Goldwater: He's innocent until somebody has proven guilty. And if we've reached a point in this country where we're guilty just because some newspaper or some lesser member of the Attorney- General's office hints that we are, then we've come to the end of justice in this country.

Rachel Maddow: That was Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona talking about a lesser member of the Attorney General's office. He'd later say, "I don't give a damn if Agnew is as guilty as John Dillinger. In his view, Agnew was getting railroaded, railroaded by the press and by the Justice Department. That was the way Republicans talked about this case. This was Republican Senator Carl Curtis from Nebraska.

Carl Curtis: Will you inform me what he's done? No one has. Now, that's not American justice. That may be a certain brand of American newscasting, but it's not what prevails in the courtroom. We lawyers have a better record than that.

Male Voice: Do you feel there's some kind of plot against the Vice President?

Carl Curtis: I think there's a scheme on to destroy the President, and if they can drag down his Vice President, that helps. Somebody got John F. Kennedy. I believe that same sadistic element is very tiny. But you add to that the professional Nixon haters, you've got a bad combination. Here, Mr. Agnew hasn't been accused of a specific single transaction. And for me, to say iffy things about what would happen if he resigned, I don't think he should resign, or he will resign.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew, in his public campaign to beat back the allegations against him, he had backup, elected Republicans coming to his defense, publicly casting doubt on the investigation, attacking and disparaging the investigators. Two House Republicans even traveled over to the White House one afternoon that fall to personally deliver to Agnew a giant physical display of support from his fellow Republicans. It was a larger-than-life card signed by a hundred Republicans in Congress. The image on the front of the card was a cat barely clinging to a tree branch by its claws. The caption underneath said, "Hang in there, Baby.".

Rachel Maddow: Republicans in Congress had taken sides. They were firmly behind their Vice President, even though he was under criminal investigation. What those Republicans didn't know at the time though, what only a handful of people inside the White House knew, was that Spiro Agnew wasn't just counting on vocal support from the Republican base and vocal support from Republicans in Congress. He also had a private plan. He was undertaking an elaborate, behind-the-scenes effort to obstruct the investigation, to try to shut the investigation down. It was an effort to use his political power from his position inside the White House to make the investigation go away. It involved enlisting the help of Richard Nixon's inner circle, people like White House Chief of Staff HR Haldeman.

HR Haldeman: The Vice President called me over today and said he had a real problem.

Rachel Maddow: It also included the assistance of President Richard Nixon himself.

Richard Nixon: It's amazing, isn't it? By golly, the way they start to go after everybody, don't they?

Alexander Haig: You know, they're after everybody. And the Vice President has been very nervous.

Rachel Maddow: This part of the story has never really been told in depth before. The investigators themselves had no idea that any of this was going on at the time. They're about to hear it here for the first time.

Tim Baker: I never knew this.

Barney Skolnik: Ways they can pressure George. Wow.

Mike Yarvitz: I mean what does — you're a lawyer — what does that look like?

Ron Liebman: Clearly obstruction of justice or attempt to obstruct justice, clearly.

Rachel Maddow: That part of the story is next time. I'm Rachel Maddow. And this is Bag Man.

Rachel Maddow: Bag man is a production of MSNBC and NBC Universal. This series is executive produced by Mike Yarvitz. It was written by myself and Mike Yarvitz. Editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa Schneiderman from Neon Hum Media. And you can find much more about this story on our Web site which is MSNBC.com/BagMan.

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Popular Transcripts FULL TRANSCRIPT: Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s full response to President Donald Trump’s border and shutdown speech

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FULL TRANSCRIPT: Schumer and Pelosi's full response to Trump's border address (transcribed by Sonix)

Nancy Pelosi: Good evening. I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly to the American people tonight about how we can end this shutdown and meet the needs of the American people. Sadly, much of what we heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The President has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts.

Nancy Pelosi: The fact is on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions. But the President is rejecting these bipartisan bills, which would reopen government, over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.

Nancy Pelosi: The fact is President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety, and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation, many of them veterans. He promised to keep government shut down for months or years, no matter whom it hurts. That's just plain wrong.

Nancy Pelosi: The fact is we all agree we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values. We can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry. We can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation. We can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border. We can find more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.

Nancy Pelosi: The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat. They are humanitarian challenge, a challenge that President Trump's own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.

Nancy Pelosi: And the fact is President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government. Thank you. Leader Schumer.

Chuck Schumer: Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. My fellow Americans, we address you tonight for one reason only, the President of the United States, having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill, has shut down the government.

Chuck Schumer: American democracy doesn't work that way. We don't govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way, or else, the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage. Tonight, and throughout this debate, and throughout his presidency, President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.

Chuck Schumer: Make no mistake. Democrats and the President both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the President about the most effective way to do it. So, how do we untangle this mess? Well, there is an obvious solution. Separate the shutdown from arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.

Chuck Schumer: There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference. Federal workers are about to miss a paycheck. Some families can't get a mortgage to buy a new home. Farmers and small businesses won't get loans they desperately need.

Chuck Schumer: Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This President just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his Administration.

Chuck Schumer: My fellow Americans, there is no challenge so great that our nation cannot rise to meet it. We can reopen the government and continue to work through disagreements over policy. We can secure our border without an ineffective, expensive wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security. The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.

Chuck Schumer: So, our suggestion is a simple one. Mr. President, reopen the government, and we can work to resolve our differences over border security, but end this shutdown now. Thank you.

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Popular Transcripts FULL TRANSCRIPT: President Donald Trump’s full speech from Oval Office on shutdown and border wall (Full national address)

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FULL TRANSCRIPT: Trump’s full speech from Oval Office on shutdown and border wall (Full national address) (transcribed by Sonix)

President Donald Trump: My fellow Americans, tonight, I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.

President Donald Trump: Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.

President Donald Trump: It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

President Donald Trump: In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.

President Donald Trump: This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul. Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.

President Donald Trump: This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end. My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem.

President Donald Trump: Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before.

President Donald Trump: The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband, and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy.

President Donald Trump: Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support. Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes, so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.

President Donald Trump: Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion dollars for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just commonsense.

President Donald Trump: The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion dollars a year. Vastly more than the $5.7 billion dollars we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.

President Donald Trump: Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president. Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis, and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.

President Donald Trump: The Federal Government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by this situation, but the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.

President Donald Trump: This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited Congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

President Donald Trump: Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then, why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

President Donald Trump: America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country. Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.

President Donald Trump: In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States, as unaccompanied minors, were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

President Donald Trump: Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?

President Donald Trump: For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken? For every member of Congress, pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen, call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.

President Donald Trump: This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve. When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country, and that is what I will always do. So, help me God. Thank you and good night.

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Popular Transcripts, Uncategorized FULL TRANSCRIPT: Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 2: Crawling In

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Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 2: Crawling In (transcribed by Sonix)

Rachel Maddow: Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were officially sworn into office for a second term on January 20th, 1973.

John Chancellor: And welcome to the 47th Inaugural of an American President. David Brinkley and I here to cover that, something the United States has been doing since 1789 …

Rachel Maddow: The festivities that day were a celebration of what had just been a political annihilation. Nixon got 520 electoral votes that year. George McGovern got 17. The Nixon-Agnew ticket won every state in the country except Massachusetts. Newly re-elected Vice President Agnew celebrated that night with his wife, Judy, at a party that was thrown in their honor at the Smithsonian.

Judy Agnew: This time, I know more or less what to expect.

Male Voice: What do you expect, Mrs. Agnew?

Judy Agnew: Oh, what do I expect? Well-

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: She expects to have fun.

Judy Agnew: Fun, right. I expect to be much more relaxed this time.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew was in triumphant good spirits that night, blissfully unaware of the danger that was unfurling for him just a short drive up the Baltimore Washington Parkway.

Rachel Maddow: In Baltimore, Maryland, just days before that inauguration, a team of three young federal prosecutors were preparing to unleash a blizzard of federal subpoenas with no warning.

Tim Baker: And we put together a team of IRS agents, and we had all 50 subpoenas served on a Monday morning.

Rachel Maddow: That's Tim Baker, one of the federal prosecutors who worked up these subpoenas out of the US Attorney's office in Maryland. These prosecutors were hoping to bust open a political bribery scheme in local Maryland politics. In terms of who exactly they thought they would nab though, the expectations, at least, early on, were relatively low.

Ron Liebman: And I think the general thinking was maybe we'd be able to find a corrupt Congressman, maybe a State Legislator. I think that's what the level of expectation.

Rachel Maddow: That's Ron Liebman. He was the second prosecutor on the team. And you can hear from him there that this was a little bit of a fishing expedition. But these prosecutors did have one particular fish in mind. They were after the head of the county government, the Baltimore County executive at the time who was a Democrat named Dale Anderson.

Barney Skolnik: The word is, you know, the word on the street, the rumor, the scuttlebutt is that Dale Anderson is corrupt and is taking bribes.

Rachel Maddow: That's Barney Skolnick, the lead prosecutor on the team. What he, and Tim Baker, and Ron Liebman started to uncover evidence of was that corruption scheme that they'd been hearing all these rumors about, that County Executive Dale Anderson was taking cash payoffs as bribes and kickbacks for handing out county contracts.

Male Voice: Anderson was cited on 39 counts involving more than $46,000 in contracting kickbacks.

Rachel Maddow: This local official, Dale Anderson, was their big fish. And these prosecutors were now getting the goods on him and on this big bribery scheme in that specific county government. But here's the thing, the man who had Dale Anderson's job right before he did was just then being sworn in for his second term as Vice President of the United States.

Male Voice: Off behind and out of power range, Vice President Agnew has just gotten into his limousine with Mrs. Agnew. Presidential motorcade is lining up here on the south lawn of the White House.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew, before he ever got to the White House, began his political career in that county. He had been Baltimore County Executive for four years. And, now, the guy who had that job right after him was being busted for taking bribes in what was starting to look like a pretty slick, well-established, smooth-running bribery kickback and corruption criminal enterprise.

Rachel Maddow: Had Vice President Agnew taken part in running that same criminal scheme while he was in that job? What prosecutors didn't know at that moment, but what Spiro Agnew very much knew that night while he was celebrating his re-election at the Smithsonian is that not only had he taken part in that same criminal scheme back then; in fact, he had just accepted an envelope stuffed with cash.

Rachel Maddow: I'm your host Rachel Maddow. And this is Bag Man: The Wild and Untold Story of the Presidential Line of Succession, Impeachment, Indictment, and Panic in the White House.

Male Voice: Good evening. Washington was stunned today by the disclosure that Vice President Agnew is under criminal investigation by federal authorities in his home state of Maryland.

Male Voice: I read his expression as saying, "I need this right now like I need another hole in the head."

Male Voice: This was this was like opera, you know, on the grand scale. It really was.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I will not resign if indicted. I will not resign if indicted.

Male Voice: The constitutional problems raised by the Agnew investigation aren't bewildering. We've never had a problem like this one before.

Female Voice: The news breaks, details start pouring in.

Male Voice: All the breaking news items. You've got some news on the FBI investigation.

Female Voice: How will you keep up? TuneIn Premium exclusively brings you live commercial free news, so you can hear 24/7 breaking news without the breaks.

Male Voice: A trillion dollar market, and it's 250 billion, and it has to get to a trillion.

Female Voice: Try TuneIn Premium for seven days free and never miss the action as it happens. Hear it now, hear it live on TuneIn.

Rachel Maddow: Episode 2: Crawling In.

Richard Nixon: As the new Attorney General, I up today named Elliot Richardson, a man of unimpeachable integrity and rigorously high principle.

Rachel Maddow: Elliot Richardson had just become the new Attorney General of the United States in the Spring of 1973. He'd been Nixon's Secretary of Defense. He was Health Secretary before that. But from the moment that he became the Attorney General, Elliot Richardson's life was consumed by the Watergate Scandal.

Elliot Richardson: I have decided that I will, if confirmed, appoint a special prosecutor and give him all the independence, authority, and staff support needed to carry out the task entrusted to him.

Rachel Maddow: One of Richardson's closest aides at the time was a young lawyer named JT Smith.

JT Smith: He knew that Nixon was under a cloud. He didn't know what was in the tapes, but the White House didn't seem eager for the tapes to see the light of day. He knew that the mood in the White House on the part of the President and his staff was quite bleak.

Rachel Maddow: That summer though, Attorney General Elliot Richardson also knew something else. He held a secret that only a handful of people in the entire government knew. In the middle of that summer, right in the middle of Watergate. Elliot Richardson got a visit from his US Attorney in Maryland, George Beall and Beall's team of three assistant US attorneys. What those prosecutors brought to him that day was hard evidence that the sitting vice president Spiro Agnew was actively engaged in criminal activity. These prosecutors had not set out to discover that. But they had launched an investigation into local corruption in Maryland and where that investigation ultimately led them was inside the office of the Vice President.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Ladies and gentlemen I'm Ted Agnew, I'm a candidate for governor. And I ask for your vote …

Rachel Maddow: To the extent that Spiro Agnew is remembered in history, it's for this sort of vague sense that he went down over tax evasion or something sort of benign. What he actually did though was way worse than that, to the point of being sort of bonkers.

Rachel Maddow: When he was Baltimore County Executive, Agnew would had the power to award local contracts. What prosecutors discovered is that he was awarding those contracts almost exclusively to local businessmen who were paying him off, who were delivering him cash bribes, literally stacks of bills stuffed into envelopes.

Rachel Maddow: Here's Barney Skolnik one of these federal prosecutors in Baltimore who helped crack the case.

Barney Skolnik: The scheme, it doesn't even deserve the appellation scheme. It wasn't a scheme. It was just a payoff.

Rachel Maddow: When Agnew left that County Executive job and became governor of Maryland, prosecutors learned that he took the payoff system with him. But then, of course, it wasn't just small-time local contracts he was controlling anymore. As governor, of course, he moved up to big state contracts. And that required him to scale up his criminal efforts. Here's Ron Liebman, another one of the prosecutors on the team.

Ron Liebman: When Agnew became Governor, it was explained to him, "If you want a bag man, you don't want to take directly, you want to insulate yourself because, then, it's just you against another person." And Agnew had at least one bag man, I think two, But he also took directly. He was greedy, absolutely greedy.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew, as Governor, enlisted his State Roads Commissioner to start awarding state contracts to the firms that would pay Agnew off. And as advised, he also got himself a bag man, a longtime friend named Bud Hammerman. Bud's job was to personally go collect the money from the companies that just got the contracts.

Ron Liebman: The deal was that the contractor would pay Hammerman. He's holding the money and paying the money directly to Agnew because he's one of the bag man.

Rachel Maddow: What Agnew put in place as Governor was a slick, well-run extortion ring. Agnew himself would keep 50% of the cash. His Roads Commissioner, who picked the contractors, and his bag man who leaned on them for the cash, they would each get to keep 25%. So half for the two of them, half for the governor. Here's Barney Skolnick.

Barney Skolnik: I mean, taking large sums of cash in a succession of white envelopes over, and over, and over again is about as crass as it can be if you're a public official.

Rachel Maddow: What prosecutors discovered that spring was that this wasn't just some old scheme that Agnew had been running back in Maryland, which he then stopped when he became Vice President. What they discovered was that this was a scheme Agnew was still actively carrying out as Vice President of the United States, on the grounds of the White House itself.

Rachel Maddow: The prosecutors discovered a local Baltimore businessman named Lester Matz. Matz told them that he'd been making regular trips to the White House to secretly deliver cash to Agnew since Agnew had been in office as Vice President, in fact, starting pretty much immediately after Agnew was elected Vice President. Here's Ron Liebman explaining how it worked,

Ron Liebman: After the election the Vice President's office, temporary office was in the basement, I think, of the Old Executive Office Building. And Lester Matz went to see the Vice President-elect with an envelope stuffed with cash in his suit jacket pocket. And he walked in to see Agnew, as he told us the story and as I recall it. And one of them I think maybe Agnew pointed to the ceiling like don't say anything because we could be overheard, or taped, or something.

Ron Liebman: And Lester Matz took out this envelope with $10,000 in cash as I recall, stuffed envelope, and handed it to Agnew. Agnew took it, put it in the center drawer of his desk, and closed his desk. And when we heard that, we were just — couldn't believe it. I believe it, but I was just shocked, just shocked, and we all were, that kind of crass bribery.

Rachel Maddow: These young prosecutors had discovered at the height of the Watergate scandal that the Vice President of the United States was committing his own crimes on an ongoing basis inside the White House.

Barney Skolnik: I mean, cash in white envelopes, I mean, that's crazy to a Vice President.

Ron Liebman: I think we realized at that moment that we had a tiger by the tail.

Rachel Maddow: It turned out that Agnew was also getting paid off by a Maryland engineering executive named Allen Green. Green would make regular trips to the Executive Office Building right next to the White House. He would go into Agnew's office and hand Agnew plain envelopes stuffed with $2000 in cash.

Rachel Maddow: Allen Green told prosecutors he went to the White House three or four times a year during the whole first term of the Nixon Administration. On each trip, he delivered Agnew thousands of dollars, always in envelopes, always in cash. And prosecutors soon discovered that Agnew was secretly accepting illegal deliveries of cash inside his Vice Presidential residence, as well as in the White House.

Rachel Maddow: And if you're wondering what all these businessmen were paying for when they were paying off Agnew, these prosecutors soon figured out that where he could, Agnew was actually steering federal contracts to the businessmen who were now streaming into his office and his apartment with big wads of cash for him. So, it wasn't just a one-sided shakedown operation, it was a true quid-pro-quo, it was government, federal government for sale.

Rachel Maddow: These young guys from Baltimore had not set out to find this, but what they soon realized they had rock-solid evidence of was that the Vice President was running an ongoing bribery-and-extortion scheme from inside the White House.

Ron Liebman: It was shocking. I mean, all of a sudden, this case involving, perhaps, payoffs in Baltimore County, Maryland, or maybe in Annapolis was going to become not only more significant. Keep in mind, Watergate is going on. So, the President of the United States, to put it mildly, is under a cloud. And here, we, three Baltimore federal prosecutors, are being told that the next guy in line, the guy a heartbeat away, he's also under a cloud. So, it was shocking.

Rachel Maddow: It was shocking. And it was now time for them to do something about it. They realized they needed to tell the Attorney General about what they'd uncovered. Here's Barney Skolnik, again, with producer Mike Yarvitz.

Barney Skolnik: I had, in fact, no doubt at all that we had a prosecutable case. The issue was who the defendant was. If the defendant was John Smith, I had no doubt. I mean, I was a good enough prosecutor and an experienced enough prosecutor to know that when you have what we had, that's a case.

Mike Yarvitz: If it's John Smith, you've got it locked up.

Barney Skolnik: You just indict.

Mike Yarvitz: In this case, it was not John Smith.

Barney Skolnik: In this case, you say to the Attorney General, "What do you want us to do?"

Rachel Maddow: This wasn't just posing that question to any Attorney General. This was going to see Richard Nixon's Attorney General, which meant giving a presidential administration that was famous for covering up political scandals the chance to cover up one more. That's next.

Chris Hayes: Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris Hayes. If you enjoyed Bag Man, be sure to check out my friend Rachel Maddow on my podcast, Why is This Happening?, where I get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the stories playing out in the news in order to understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be.

Chris Hayes: Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment. We also talk all about Bag Man and how this incredible podcast came to be. So, click on over and check out Why is This Happening?, and you can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Rachel Maddow: Richard Nixon didn't exactly have a stellar track record when it came to the job of Attorney General. By the summer of 1973, Nixon had already lost two different Attorneys General in connection with Watergate.

John Chancellor: A witness at the Senate Watergate hearings today directly implicated former Attorney General John Mitchell in the Watergate bugging and cover up and implicated the cover up …

Rachel Maddow: That summer of '73, as Watergate was full-on boiling, a little team of federal prosecutors in Baltimore was facing the prospect of going to Washington to tell Richard Nixon's newest Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, some news that they knew would be an absolute disaster for the Nixon White House.

Rachel Maddow: They were coming to Washington to tell him that at the height of Watergate, that Vice President Spiro Agnew was conducting an active criminal scheme of his own from inside the White House. These prosecutors were going to take that news to Nixon's Attorney General, knowing full well that he could do whatever he wanted with it. Here's prosecutor Barney Skolnik.

Barney Skolnik: I had a very conscious, not just realization that it was possible, but that under all the circumstances, it was highly likely that he was going to say, perhaps, for the most honorable of reasons. I mean, he probably wouldn't say, "Shut it down," but he could say words that would amount to "shut it down."

Rachel Maddow: These three young Baltimore prosecutors and their boss, the US Attorney George Beall, they all drove to DC and they went to go see the new Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, not sure what to expect, fearing the worst. But they knew they could no longer keep to themselves this criminal secret about the Vice President.

Ron Liebman: We all drove in one car up the Baltimore Washington Parkway, July 3, 1973, game-planning how we're going to do this. George is going to introduce us. Then, we're going to do this. And when we do this, we're going to do that. And when we do that, we're going to do this. So, we get there. We're ushered up to the Attorney General's office, which to say impressive is understated. And we wait, and we wait.

Tim Baker: And then Richardson comes in, and he's annoyed, "What's so important that I have to — You're interrupting my day, and you won't even tell my secretary what it's about. What's so important?" He's sitting there starting to take notes, but then more doodling, and more, and more impatient, and just at the point where the secretary comes in, and gives him a note. He just get up and leave, no explanation. Just gets up and leave. And he's gone for seems like hours, probably 20 minutes.

Ron Liebman: And the minute he leaves, of course, we're saying, "George, say this, say that." Then, Richardson would come back in, and George would begin, "Well, we started in Baltimore County. We're thinking about corruption." None of this, the Attorney General needs or wants to hear. And when George gets a little closer to the Vice President, another note comes in, Elliot Richardson gets up and he leaves, doesn't say excuse me, comes back. Richardson is clearly under pressure. And George says, "Okay, now, we're going to tell you why we're here."

Tim Baker: "We have evidence that Vice President Agnew took bribes as County Executive, Governor, and even as Vice President." Now, we have Richardson's attention. And my job, at that point, it was my job now to lay out the evidence that we had. And he's very interested in the evidence. What he, of course, wants to know is how, good a case is this? And it's a good case. I mean, we've got good stuff, and we know it. I just started banging away on, "So and so will testify, and he's got documents, and he's backed up by his vice president, nail, after nail, after nail, after nail.

Ron Liebman: I read his expression is saying, "I need this right now." Like, "I need another hole in the head." That was his expression like, "Jesus", you know, "Jesus, sweet Jesus."

Rachel Maddow: Put yourself in Elliot Richardson's shoes for a minute. He had just become Attorney General weeks earlier. He was overseeing the most sensitive investigation maybe in the history of the Justice Department, an ongoing, serious criminal probe of the President.

Rachel Maddow: And here were these barely-out-of-law-school Baltimore prosecutors who he's never met telling him, "We know you're investigating the President of the United States, but we need you to investigate the Vice President as well." If you were the attorney general, would you take on that burden? Here's JT Smith, Elliot Richardson's top aide.

JT Smith: I remember Richardson after that meeting saying to me, "Oh my god."

Barney Skolnik: You really were talking about a ship that's in bad shape, and the captain's having a heart attack. And, now, the first mate, you're going to throw the first mate overboard. I mean, what's going to happen to the ship? It made the whole thing very heavy. What's the right thing to do?

Rachel Maddow: The Baltimore prosecutors raced to DC. They dropped that bombshell on Elliot Richardson during that meeting. And then, they waited and watched to see how he would respond.

Ron Liebman: I remember watching Mr. Richardson, Elliot, very, very closely thinking, "All right. Is this where he's going to say, "Good work guys. Really, really good work. Thanks for coming in. Leave the files here. We'll see you later"? And what he did was, he started crawling into the case. He just crawled into the case, "So, what about this? What are you going to do about that?" Like he was a collaborating with us, which he was. He immediately crawled into the case with us. It was extraordinary.

Rachel Maddow: In that meeting, without flinching, Elliot Richardson took on the unimaginable burden, think of this, of overseeing an active criminal investigation of the President and the Vice President at the same time with two different cases.

Rachel Maddow: There's no telling what any other Attorney General might have done in that situation. You could almost understand an Attorney General saying, "I've got this investigation that might bring down the President, I can't wipe out the Vice President too. The country can't survive that."

Rachel Maddow: But Elliot Richardson's response to these young prosecutors who cracked this case was, "Keep going, keep digging." He told them that he would now directly oversee their investigation. It would be conducted in secret, with the knowledge of only the people in that room.

Rachel Maddow: The stakes were potentially taking out the President and the Vice President, which would effectively overturn an entire national election, which had been a landslide win for Nixon and Agnew. But Elliot Richardson, who had just gotten on the job, decided that he had to take on that burden. He had to.

Rachel Maddow: Here's how Barney Skolnik, one of the prosecutors, remembers that meeting with Elliot Richardson even today, 45 years later. The first voice, you'll hear is producer Mike Yarvitz.

Mike Yarvitz: What are your memories from that meeting, that first meeting with Richardson? What are you feeling going into that meeting?

Barney Skolnik: This is something about which I can get very emotional. I went to that meeting as, I think, most people in my position would have. We don't know him. I mean, I've heard good things about him, but we don't know him. And it's like very much with a great sense of anxiety that we are going to say to him, "Here, what do you want us to do?" And then, figuratively speaking, hold our breath until he tells us what he's going to tell us.

Barney Skolnik: Within the first few minutes of being with him, I knew, I think we all knew that we were in the presence of a very special human being. To me, it is the single most, it's the key to this whole saga. If Elliot Richardson had not been the Attorney General at that particular time, Spiro Agnew would have become President in August of '74. I mean, I'm certain of that.

Rachel Maddow: These Baltimore prosecutors happened to draw as an Attorney General a figure in American political life who was equal to the moment when, how could you expect that of anyone? Elliot Richardson was a Republican, a decorated military veteran. He went ashore on D-Day. He was an ex-federal prosecutor himself, unimpeachable integrity.

Rachel Maddow: What began at that moment, in that meeting with Elliot Richardson's decision was an unprecedented emergency mission inside the Justice Department to oust the Vice President of the United States before it was too late, before he ascended to the presidency himself.

Barney Skolnik: We're talking about the summer of '73, I mean, Watergate hearings are going on. Everybody was conscious that Nixon, aside from being a crook in his memorable word, might not last.

Rachel Maddow: Watergate was beginning to reach a boil. The President might go down at any moment, either by resignation or removal from office. And on top of that, teetering drama. It was now on the Attorney General and this small team of federal prosecutors to somehow make sure that an active criminal wasn't next in line to replace him.

Rachel Maddow: They had the criminal scheme in their sites. They had the evidence by then pouring in. They had leadership that almost, unbelievably, proved to be unafraid of the stakes and willing to see this through. The only problem was the man they were about to take on was not going to take any of it lying down.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I want to say at this point, clearly and unequivocally, I am innocent of the charges against me.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew was gearing up to wage war on this band of prosecutors. And he knew that his real power base was the legion of supporters he had, both in the public and in Congress, who loved what a hard liner he was, who love what a bomb-thrower he was, and who were willing to angrily support him basically through anything, no matter what Agnew got charged with. They were ready to go to war with him.

Carl Curtis: Will you inform me what he's done? No one has. Now, that's not American justice. I don't think he should resign or he will resign.

Rachel Maddow: That part of the story is next time.

Rachel Maddow: Bag Man is a production at MSNBC and NBC Universal. This series is executive produced by Mike Yarvitz. It was written by myself and Mike Yarvitz. Editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa Schneiderman from Neon Hum Media. And you can find much more about the story on our website, which is msnbc.com/bagman.

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Rachel Maddow Presents – BagMan – Episode 1: An Unsettling Secret (transcribed by Sonix)

Rachel Maddow: When Richard Nixon tapped Spiro Agnew — Ted, to his friends — to be his running mate in 1968, this was the Ted Agnew the country was introduced to. Agnew was a fresh face in national politics. He wasn't much known at all outside of Maryland where he had just been elected governor. Heck, he wasn't even all that well-known in Maryland. But he was an effective politician. His quick rise out of nowhere was thanks in large part to his my-kind-of-man personal image. He was the son of Greek immigrants. He was an outsider. He forged a reputation as a straight shooter, hard work, honesty, integrity.

Female Voice: Well, I like him because he's honest. He's really honest.

Male Voice: The one thing that I can definitely say is Ted Agnew would make a perfect administrator for the State of Maryland.

Female Voice: Well, I think he's going to be our next governor.

Male Voice: He's my kind of man.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew got elected Baltimore County Executive in 1962. Four years after that, he became the Governor of Maryland. And two years after that, he found himself being tapped by Richard Nixon to be Vice President. A virtual unknown in national politics, a man who Nixon himself barely even knew. Here's a reporter asking Nixon how Agnew reacted when Nixon called him to offer him the gig.

Reporter: Mr. Nixon, was Mr. Agnew surprised when you called him? What does a Vice Presidential nominee say?

Richard Nixon: I think the best indication of surprise is when a lawyer has no words. Governor Agnew, as you know, is a lawyer and is a very articulate man, as you saw in his press conference. I'd say there's about 20 seconds before he said a word.

Rachel Maddow: Nixon had had a really hard time figuring out who to pick as his running mate that year. He had considered a close friend or two. He had considered one guy who ran against him in the primaries, a guy by the name of Ronald Reagan. But, ultimately, Nixon had decided on Agnew. And the process had been stressful. And, actually, the initial reaction to the pick was not great.

Rachel Maddow: This was a TV ad that was run by the Hubert Humphrey campaign during the 1968 election. This was it. No words. Just a man laughing hysterically as the camera slowly pulled out to reveal words on the TV screen that read "Agnew for Vice President?"

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew was a literal laughingstock when the 1968 presidential campaign got underway. But as much as the Democrats might have wanted to keep laughing at him, Agnew soon became sort of a rock star on the right. He was blunt. He was politically incorrect. He loved trashing liberals, and the press, and minorities. He shot down hecklers at his events with glee. He described them as spoiled brats who never had a good spanking.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Somewhere somebody failed you. Your churches must not have gotten through to you because you don't even know anything about the golden rule. I'm frankly ashamed of you. And I think you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Rachel Maddow: During that campaign, Agnew stepped in it a number of times, often on the issue of race and on ethnic stereotypes.

Male Voice: Spiro Agnew took a day off from campaigning following weekend speeches in Hawaii. And one of his Monday appearances before a racially mixed audience on the island of Maui, he replied to criticism of his having used slang labels "Polack" and "Jap," and referring to Americans of Polish and Japanese ancestry.

Rachel Maddow: Agnew's lack of filter when it came to racially-insensitive remarks, it sometimes got him in trouble with the press. But big picture, the campaign actually saw it as a plus. Rather than hurting him, that stuff actually seemed to solidify his support on the right. Agnew the political outsider who didn't care who he offended, that was a feature, not a bug.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: And if you tell me that the hippies and the yuppies are going to be able to do the job, I'll tell you this: they can't run a bus, they can't serve in a governmental office, they can't run a lathe in a factory. All they can do is and sleep or kick policemen with razor blades.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew pushed the limits. He was deliberately outrageous. He defended his over-the-top rhetoric during that campaign by saying that he never hit first, he just hit back. He told reporters, "I guess, by nature, I'm a counter-puncher. You can't hit my team in the groin, and expect me to stand here, and smile about it."

Rachel Maddow: A counter in the White House. How exactly does a politician who is a self-styled counter react when his own political survival is directly threatened? When the full weight of his own Justice Department comes crashing down on him?

Rachel Maddow: This is a story that is not well-known, but it really should be, especially maybe now. It's the story of a criminal occupant of the White House, whose crimes are discovered by his own Justice Department, who then tries to hold onto power by obstructing the investigation into his crimes, by smearing and threatening the prosecutors who are investigating him, and by trying to convince his legion of supporters across the country that none of the allegations are true, that it's all just a big witch hunt. And if that sounds familiar, it's because history is here to help. I firmly believe it.

Rachel Maddow: I'm your host Rachel Maddow. And this is Bag Man: The Wild and Untold Story of the Presidential Line of Succession, Impeachment, Indictment, and Panic in the White House.

Male Voice: Good evening. Washington was stunned today by the disclosure that Vice President Agnew is under criminal investigation by federal authorities in his home State of Maryland.

Male Voice: Not only is it Watergate, but he's the Vice President, and we have quite evidence of corruption.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I will not resign if indicted. I will not resign if indicted.

Male Voice: The constitutional problems raised by the Agnew investigation are bewildering. We've never had a problem like this one before.

Chris Hayes: Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris Hayes. If you enjoyed Bag Man, be sure to check out my friend, Rachel Maddow, on my podcast, Why is This Happening?, where I get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the stories playing out in the news in order to understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be. Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment. We also talk all about Bag Man and how this incredible podcast came to be. So, click on over and check out Why is This Happening? and you can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Rachel Maddow: Episode 1: An Unsettling Secret.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Ultra-liberalism today translates into a whimpering isolationism in foreign policy, a mulish obstructionism and domestic policy, and a pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of law and order.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew doesn't exactly loom large as a political figure in US history. His name barely registers as a political trivia question these days. But when Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew won the White House in 1968, Spiro Agnew — even though he doesn't get the credit for it — he basically created the mold for the modern iteration of confrontational conservatism in America.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: But you know how it is with radical liberals, you zing one of them, and call his hand, cite his voting, quote his speeches, tell America the harm he's done, and he howls like a coyote with his tail caught in a snake hole.

Rachel Maddow: Even though he was now Vice President of the United States, there had been no transformation from candidate Agnew into a less divisive public official Agnew. If anything, he got even more aggressive.

David Brinkley: He was asked why he — more than other politicians — was accused of dividing the country. Agnew said it was because he was the foremost destroyer of liberal dogma, that when liberals are attacked, they salivate like Pavlovian dogs.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew was a flamethrower. He loved defending the press. His whole political brand was about offending liberals, and Democrats, and minorities. The more political norms he blew through, the stronger he got with the Republican Party's hardline base. And that was the only base and the only audience he ever tried to cultivate. Democrats were mystified. Republicans loved it.

Rachel Maddow: After one comment in which Agnew publicly denigrated black leaders across the country, one of the most prominent African-American members of Congress, William Clay of Missouri, took to the floor of the House to deliver a condemnation of Agnew that was almost not safe for work.

Rachel Maddow: He said about the Vice President, "He is seriously ill. He has all the symptoms of an intellectual misfit. His recent tirade against black leadership is just part of a game played by him called mental masturbation. Apparently, Mr Agnew is an intellectual sadist who experiences intellectual orgasms by attacking, humiliating, and kicking the oppressed." Imagine if there had been C-SPAN back then for that. But the group that Agnew seemed to reserve the most venom for, his favorite target of all, was the press.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: The purpose of my remarks tonight is to focus your attention on this little group of men who not only enjoy a right of instant rebuttal to every Presidential address, but more importantly, wield a free hand in selecting, presenting, and interpreting the great issues in our nation.

Rachel Maddow: During the first term of the Nixon Administration, Vice President Agnew took it upon himself to try to discredit the American news media. And all presidents — presumably most vice presidents too — they all undoubtedly hate the press. They all think they're covered in a way that isn't fair. But Agnew set out on an overt campaign to try to turn the country against the press in a way that nobody had really done before from the White House.

Rachel Maddow: In a series of speeches in 1969, with the seal of the Vice Presidency underneath him, Agnew delivered prepared attacks on the news networks, which he portrayed as a danger to the nation, as biased and untrustworthy.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: A raised eyebrow, an inflection of the voice, a caustic remark dropped in the middle of a broadcast can raise doubts in a million minds about the veracity of a public official or the wisdom of a government policy, when a single commentator or producer, night after night, determines for millions of people how much of each side of a great issue they are going to see and hear, should he not first disclose his personal views on the issue as well?

Rachel Maddow: Agnew's assault on the press was sort of a shock to the system at the time. The President of NBC News took the rare step of appearing on NBC's nightly newscast to push back.

Julian Goodman: Evidently, he would prefer a different kind of television reporting, one that would be subservient to whatever political group happens to be in authority at the time. Those who might feel momentary agreement with his remarks should think carefully about whether that kind of television news is what they want.

Rachel Maddow: The Vice President seemed to be stirring up something dangerous in the country. The Washington Post wrote in December 1969, "One little noted and wholly unintentional result of Vice President Agnew's speeches against the press and television is a renewed wave of public expression of anti-Semitism. It was noticeable at once in this city where local television stations were swamped for three days after Agnew's first speech with obscene phone calls protesting 'Jew-Commies on the air.'"

Rachel Maddow: One Jewish newspaper editor in Louisville, Kentucky reported at the time that he was, "buried under an avalanche of sick anti-Semitic mail." A leading Jewish organization said anti-Semitic groups across the country were "Using Agnew's speeches to justify their hate campaigns and urging their followers to support him." And it's not that Spiro Agnew himself ever directly espoused any of those beliefs, but something about his rhetoric seemed to give his supporters license to express these views that they hadn't felt free to express before.

Rachel Maddow: His attacks on enemies of the administration became so heated that Democrats, and even some Republicans, started to warn that if he didn't tone down his rhetoric, somebody was going to get hurt. Here's Arkansas Democratic Senator William Fulbright.

William Fulbright: He intimidates people. I don't think there's any doubt about him intimidating. He inspires other people to do radical actions. I think of threats through letters, and telephone messages, and so on is an outgrowth of this kind of a spirit.

Rachel Maddow: That was Spiro Agnew, the political figure. He was a lightning rod. He was a demagogue. He had a devoted base inside the Republican Party that he seemed to be able to control in ways that other politicians couldn't, in ways that seemed even dangerous at times. And he was about to bring all of that to bear on members of his own Justice Department who had just discovered that Agnew, in addition to all of that other stuff, also happened to be an active criminal. Stay right there.

Female Voice: A three pointer at the buzzer. The big political speech everyone's posting on social media about.

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David Brinkley: Richard Nixon chose Governor Spiro Agnew of Maryland for his Vice President. Until two years ago, he was unknown outside Maryland County politics.

Rachel Maddow: When Richard Nixon tapped Spiro Agnew to become his Vice President, Agnew was on a very fast rise in Republican politics. When Nixon picked him to be VP, Agnew had been Governor of Maryland for just a couple of years. Before that, he was a local elected official. He was Baltimore County Executive. So, Agnew emerged onto the national scene, basically, out of nowhere. But his rise in Maryland, in famously corrupt Maryland, that came with some secrets that would slowly start to be revealed right at the height of the Watergate scandal.

Garrick Utley: Good morning. The place: the Senate Caucus Room in Washington. This is day four of the Senate Watergate hearings.

Rachel Maddow: That spring of 1973, as the country was in the grips of Watergate fever, a team of young federal prosecutors based in Maryland had just launched a brand new investigation that had nothing at all to do with Watergate.

Tim Baker: It was based solely on just kind of rumors.

Rachel Maddow: That's Tim Baker. He's one of the people at the heart of this story. He was an assistant US attorney in Maryland in 1973. And the rumors that he's talking about there were basically whispers that Maryland politics, at the time, had a real bribery and corruption problem. And that spring, Tim Baker, along with two of his fellow prosecutors, they decided they were going to dig into those rumors. Ron Liebman was another prosecutor on that team.

Ron Liebman: In essence, it was follow the money, get the documents, follow the money.

Rachel Maddow: If the Watergate era had a theme song, this was it, right? The FBI, and congressional investigators, and intrepid reporters from The Washington Post, they were all busy following the money.

Garrick Utley: And that brings us to the third major element in the Watergate story: money. Cash. Cash given to the President's re-election committee secretly and, in some cases, illegally.

Rachel Maddow: Following the money led to almost all of the most interesting stuff in the Watergate scandal, but in their unrelated, contemporaneous investigation in Baltimore, these young federal prosecutors from the US Attorney's office in Maryland, they too were following the money.

Barney Skolnik: Investigate, which is like, you know, it's like throwing catnip. I mean, you know, "Oh, okay, fine. You know, we'll investigate."

Rachel Maddow: That's Barney Skolnik. He was the senior prosecutor on this three-man team. There are some people in this story you will come to know and love. Top of that list is these three young, scrappy federal prosecutors. They're all around 30 years old at the time. They're trying to take a bite out of political corruption in their state.

Rachel Maddow: What Barney Skolnik, and Tim Baker, and Ron Liebman all started to find when they started following the money in Maryland was a scheme, a bribery scheme, where local elected officials took thousands of dollars in cash kickbacks from companies that got public contracts. It was exactly the way that you imagine it, businessmen putting cash into plain envelopes, handing those envelopes full of cash to elected officials, and then walking away with a job to design that local bridge or that county building.

Rachel Maddow: These three young prosecutors started lifting this rock in Maryland. And what they found underneath it was an underworld of longstanding, local corruption. Basically, small-time officials who were on the take. That's what this case looked like to them in early 1973. Watergate may have been gripping the nation. President Richard Nixon looked like he might end up in deep trouble, but these guys had this local investigation going that was world's away from all of that. Until suddenly, it wasn't.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: I, Spiro Theodore Agnew, solemnly swear …

Rachel Maddow: Because that spring, Richard Nixon's Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who came from that swamp of Maryland politics, he started hearing rumors of his own about this team of investigators who were now poking around in his old neck of the woods. And upon hearing that, Spiro Agnew did something that was sort of suspicious. He went to go see the Attorney General of the United States himself to ask the Attorney General about this local investigation that was under way in Maryland.

Rachel Maddow: At the time, the Attorney General didn't even know about that investigation yet. But that little visit from the Vice President, that sent alarm bells ringing with these three prosecutors in Baltimore because, at that point, as far as they knew, their investigation had nothing at all to do with the sitting Vice President. Here's Tim Baker and Ron Liebman.

Tim Baker: I immediately thought to myself, "Why is he so upset? He's upset because he's got something to hide." So, I say in this meeting, "We're going to get Agnew."

Ron Liebman: I remember Tim Baker telling me and Barney, in so many words, that he smelled a rat. It was way beyond our horizon. But Tim, to his eternal credit, smelled it first. He saw something.

Rachel Maddow: There sleepy little investigation in Maryland was about to change the country. What these young prosecutors were about to discover was that the country didn't just have a criminal President in power, but a criminal Vice President as well, who, of course, was next in the line of succession.

Tim Baker: We have evidence that Vice President Agnew took bribes as County Executive Governor and even as Vice President.

Ron Liebman: Not only is it Watergate, but he's the Vice President and we have hard evidence of corruption.

Tim Baker: Fifteen $100 bills he gave Agnew in the basement of the White House. This was in the White House.

Barney Skolnik: It really was, "We're all in this together, and we got to figure out what to do for the country because this is some heavy shit."

Rachel Maddow: This isn't just the story of a political corruption scheme that got exposed. It is that, but it's also a story of how exactly a criminal occupant of the White House reacts and lashes out when his own Justice Department starts to zero in on him for his criminal behavior.

Spiro "Ted" Agnew: Because of these tactics which have been employed against me, I will not resign if indicted. I will not resign if indicted.

Rachel Maddow: Spiro Agnew rose to national prominence as a lightning rod, as a flamethrower, as someone who wasn't afraid to smear his opponents and roll around in the mud. He was quite willing to be dangerous to the country if it suited his own purposes. And ultimately, he employed all of that for this fight, to fight back against an investigation and a small team of investigators who were not only threatening to remove him from the White House, they were threatening to throw him in jail.

Martin London: And that's really — to use a legal expression — that's when the shit hit the fan.

Rachel Maddow: That's Marty London. He was Spiro Agnew's defense lawyer. We will spend a little more time with him later in this story. You're going to love him. This scandal has somehow gotten itself forgotten. It barely registers, but it's wild. A sitting White House occupant under criminal investigation from his own government, pulling out every stop to survive, including obstructing that investigation and trying very hard to shut it down.

Barney Skolnik: I mean it was, you know. That's why get sort of emotional about it.

Tim Baker: The pressure, and it was big pressure, the pressure was, "Get the guy out of the line of succession."

Ron Liebman: We were determined. You know, we're kids, but we we were determined to follow this case through.

Rachel Maddow: Part of the reason we wanted to make this podcast now is because this is a story that I think is worth hearing for the first time, particularly right now. But it's also because, now, there's new stuff to know about it. The prosecutors themselves haven't even been aware of the full story all these years. They're going to hear it all right here for the first time.

Tim Baker: Good night. No, I didn't know this.

Barney Skolnik: Oh my Lord.

Ron Liebman: 45 years later, and my blood still boils when I read stuff like that.

Rachel Maddow: For the last several months, ace producer Mike Yarvitz and I have been digging back into this story, going through the archives, and interviewing the people who were involved in it. What we learned is that when law enforcement gets on a collision course with the White House, specifically with a criminal in the White House, who is a self-styled counter-puncher, who seems to be able to command at will an entire base of supporters across the country, when that kind of collision happens, what we've learned is that things get pretty thoroughly insane pretty quickly.

Rachel Maddow: I'm Rachel Maddow, and that's all ahead on Bagman.

Rachel Maddow: Bag Man is a production of MSNBC and NBC Universal. This series is executive produced by Mike Yarvitz. It was written by myself and Mike Yarvitz. Editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa Schneiderman from Neon Hum Media. And you can find much more about the story on our website, which is

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