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The TikTok Ban: Narrowly Tailored or Trojan Horse?

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2024 4:03 pm

The TikTok Ban: Narrowly Tailored or Trojan Horse?

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk

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March 14, 2024 4:03 pm

Is banning TikTok a good idea, or a Trojan horse to expand government power? In hyperpartisan Washington, the issue is splitting both parties. The Charlie Kirk Show digs into the text of the bill to try to decide if a ban is the right move. Anti-China authors James Fanell and Bradley Thayer pay a visit to explain the threat the TikTok bill seeks to nullify.

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Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Charlie Kirk Show. This is Andrew Kolvet, executive producer of this fine show, filling in for Charlie, who's on assignment at Cal State Fullerton, arguing with a bunch of lefty students. Can't wait for him to tell us all about that. Today, we go into the question of the day.

To ban TikTok or not to ban TikTok, is it a Trojan horse? Is it a narrowly tailored bill that is getting everything that we said we wanted? I discuss it and more. We bring in two China experts to discuss what they think about the bill and why China is such an intense and existential threat to American power, both domestically and abroad. Very important debate here. Very, very important question.

It is the center of the political debate right now in Washington. Don't go anywhere. Buckle up. Here we go. Charlie, what you've done is incredible here. Maybe Charlie Kirk is on the college campus. I want you to know we are lucky to have Charlie Kirk. Charlie Kirk's running the White House.

I want to thank Charlie. He's an incredible guy. His spirit, his love of this country. He's done an amazing job building one of the most powerful youth organizations ever created. Turning Point USA. We will not embrace the ideas that have destroyed countries, destroyed lives. And we are going to fight for freedom on campuses across the country.

That's why we are here. Noble Gold Investments is the official gold sponsor of The Charlie Kirk Show, a company that specializes in gold IRAs and physical delivery of precious metals. Learn how you could protect your wealth with Noble Gold Investments at noblegoldinvestments.com. That is noblegoldinvestments.com. It's where I buy all of my gold.

Go to noblegoldinvestments.com. So it is one of the messiest stories in the country to ban TikTok or to not ban TikTok. It truly is something that people on the right of good faith, the people we respect, people that have very, let's just say a track record of challenging the establishment of challenging authority like Rand Paul, like Thomas Massey, guys that we have a lot of respect for, especially in certain topics, are seeing this differently. It seems like you've got Rand Paul, Thomas Massey, and these types, as well as maybe even President Trump, Matt Gaetz. They're saying this is a Trojan horse. RFK Jr. is out saying it's a Trojan horse.

I mean, I was looking across social media this morning. It was like cat turd is calling it a Trojan horse. That seems to be, I would say, a very popular sentiment on the right currently that this is a Trojan horse, that it expands government power. But then you have Bannon.

You have Raheem Kassam. Laura Loomer is out in force doing what she can. You've got a lot of people, Brendan Carr, who's a rock-ribbed conservative on the FCC, who says, no, this is exactly the bill that we wanted during the Trump administration.

What's going on here? And then you have people with a very large stake in the company, Jeff Yass, who has a history of donating campaigns like Rand Paul, like Thomas Massey, like Mike Lee, that has obviously a very large stake in TikTok. And so there is a lot of questions about, well, are people doing this to protect campaign donations?

I'm not going to cast aspersions on any of these guys. We have worked with them. We trust them. A lot of times, things can look a certain way in politics. And in reality, they only work with people that actually support their viewpoint. So I believe that Rand Paul and Thomas Massey truly believe what they're saying. And they believe that this bill could be a Trojan horse. I believe that they're standing on principle. I am not so cynical as to say that just because somebody backs your campaign, that you're going to do everything that they say. And somebody might be backing your campaign because you guys already see eye to eye on so much stuff. So there is a very healthy skepticism about this bill. I have zero problems with anybody being skeptical about it. That being said, I'm looking at it, reading through the documents, reading through the bill itself. It's only 12 pages.

I recommend everybody out there in the country. You all have a stake in this government. Read the bill yourself.

Now, here's if we're just going to play devil's advocate. And Charlie and I talked about this a lot yesterday. The timing is very weird. Now, sometimes this is just the normal process of government.

You work through bills, you have different priorities. This might have just been this bill's priority. It was this at this point in the list. And they brought it to the front. So but the timing is weird. It feels sort of random in the middle of an election year, total gridlock, and then swoosh, suddenly it's passing in about a week with near unanimous, it was unanimous through the committee, the Commerce Committee. And then it was, it received a ton of bipartisan support from people like Nancy Pelosi, which is very weird, I admit.

So I want to go through a couple of different points on this that I think are very important. I want to play this Rand Paul clip because you know, he got into it with Brian Kilmeade. And again, we have a massive amount of respect for Rand Paul. So I'm, my very public position is that Rand Paul, yes, in the past, he's taken campaign contributions from somebody that owns TikTok. It's a it's a fact. But he is also a civil libertarian.

And he has been right about so much when it comes to government overreach, that we deserve to pay attention to what he says. The so here's Oh, wait, Rand Paul 109. I want to play a cut 109.

And then I want to I want to get into some of the aspects of that cut 109. Maybe you have some foreign owners. I don't know if everybody's an American citizen. And then what if they say, well, Fox News is giving misinformation on the election, you have a foreign ownership, you have misinformation, according to the government, and all of a sudden, they say, well, we're going to shut down Fox News, or we're going to shut down Twitter. So the bill isn't just about TikTok, it mentions TikTok by name, which is also a problem, because laws are not allowed to target one company. But there's also a danger that it goes beyond that. Yeah, so he talks about how this danger of it going beyond that now, without getting too deep into the weeds, you have to you guys have to understand something called a bill of attain attainder. So Article One, Section Nine of the US Constitution bans all bills of attainder, and he and Rand Paul touches on that briefly, he says you're not allowed to target a specific company. It's ex post facto laws and bills of attainder. So basically, Congress can't declare someone or some group, or some company guilty of a crime on its own, or punish them retroactively declaring an act to be criminal. A bill of attainder is a legislative bill declaring one guilty of a crime.

It was an abuse by Parliament back in the UK, which is why they included the US Constitution. So basically, you could be going about your business, and think everything's fine and dandy and legal. And then Congress, in theory could have passed a law that would have passed the law and said all those things that you were doing ex post ex post facto is illegal, you're now in trouble.

So you're not allowed to do that. So you can't pass a bill that just singles out TikTok as a criminal organization. And you can't charge them for crimes in the past.

Rand Paul in that same interview goes on and says, Listen, they deserve their day in court. So what this bill does is it actually follows a precedent set that actually involved Huawei, I think that's how you say it, another Chinese technology firm. And these types of laws have been challenged in court, they've stood up in court.

So that's another important thing. So they're following a model that's worked previously. So you have to sort of say this and, right, you can't just target TikTok, that would be unconstitutional. But what you can do is you say that companies that fit these criteria, and then the challenge becomes how narrowly you can tailor that and still be constitutional. Now, this bill does specifically reference TikTok and ByteDance. But it also says that any other apps or social media companies that that fit this, these parameters could also be subject to this law, meaning that they're not just targeting TikTok. Again, if you just targeted TikTok, that would be unconstitutional. So a lot of people are saying this is Trojan horse, they have to also understand that there's no way to do a law like this, you can't do a clean ban of TikTok. And so what it says is, is the new laws of the land. So you now have six months to comply with these new laws.

Namely, you're not allowed to have 20% stake of your company owned by a foreign adversary, in this case, the Chinese Communist Party, and you have six months to rectify the company and comply, namely sell it to an American company, or basically pull out, we're going to ban you. Let's talk real risks and real safety for a second. Right now, banks are juggling debts under the radar. Commercial properties, cars, credit cards, they're owed on.

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That is noblegoldinvestments.com. All right, so I've kind of defended the bill a little bit, and I actually don't really mean to do that because I do have critiques of the bill. Now, I will say that I think the timing's suspicious. I also think that some of it is a little overly broad.

I want to get into that piece of it, all right? So the TikTok bill bans apps that are controlled by a foreign adversary. So two of these are really good, and the third clause is a little questionable. One, it defines it as the three following things. One, being based or headquartered within the territory of an adversary. Two, being at least 20% owned by anyone who resides in the territory of an adversary. Okay, fine. Or three, being subject to the direction or control of a foreign person or entity that is covered in categories one or two.

Now, number three is particularly broad in my reading. It's like the Trump campaign clearly controlled by Putin, so we got to ban it. We got to ban Trump.

A box is full of Putin puppets. We're going to ban that. Now, you have to also remember the safeguards, though, right? So there's an interagency review process, then that would then, so the president would give Congress his recommendation. Then they would have essentially 160 days to file a legal challenge to that finding or the recommendation for the president.

And at that point, it goes to the DC Circuit and potentially up to the Supreme Court. So how do we define adversary? There's essentially four countries included in this. It's China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. So Russia is another question mark, because it would include potentially Telegram. Although Telegram has an adversarial relationship with Putin, doesn't mean that some interagency report couldn't find that it was actually, you know, in cahoots with Putin or something. Or maybe there was a couple employees that were spying on the company and therefore controlled by Putin. So all of that is very interesting.

And I will say a little concerning. Why couldn't you just say Chinese companies? Perhaps that would be a better bill.

That's not the bill that we're debating right now. I want to play cut 110. This is Steve Mnuchin, who says he's putting together an investor group to potentially buy TikTok.

Play 110. I'm going to put together a group to buy TikTok. You're trying to buy TikTok. I am, because this should be owned by U.S. businesses.

There's no way that the Chinese would ever let a U.S. company own something like this in China. You say have you already put a group together? Yeah, well, I'm working on it.

I've spoken to a bunch of people, but who would be part of your group? I can't tell that to you now. All right, so this is sort of raising more and more suspicions, because, so let's get brass tacks. What do we really want? We know that TikTok has an algorithm that is highly addictive, especially young people. We know that it also has, potentially has access to, I mean, this is what our intel agencies are telling us. I wish we had more trust in our intel agencies.

In a better America, we would. Intel agencies are saying it's basically 150 million spy devices in the hands of Americans. They can tap into anything else in your phone via this app. It can gather all sorts of data. If an American company owns it, so if Mnuchin's group owns the piece that is divested from Chinese control, does that instantly make it better? Or is it just does that instantly make it better? I would argue probably, but it's kind of uncertain, because the ownership would then control the algorithm and would be able to push different topics, different videos, and this is what they do. So for example, when this bill was first brought up, when it started to become public knowledge that they were going to push this forward in the commerce department, TikTok put out an alert, asked for the zip code of its user, the user input the zip code, and then it would give you the name and number of your local representative and people engaged in an influence campaign. Could you do that in other ways? Absolutely.

But it's softer usually. What the algorithm is pushing in America is usually trans ideology, gender ideology, anti-conservative values. Charlie has been very vocal about this. He's been kicked off the app about a hundred times.

We have other influencers like Isabel Brown at Turning Point USA, who has a really good following on TikTok, but she's also had to navigate the bans. It is absolutely a problematic app from the content perspective. Would that be better if it was in American hands? It depends whose American hands it's in. And this bill does not determine that either.

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All right, so I want to bring in two incredible guests. James E. Fannell is a retired US Navy captain. He served 29 years in the military. He's the former director of intelligence and information operations for the US Pacific Fleet. And then we've got Bradley A. Thayer, PhD, founding member of the Committee on Present Danger China.

And they have a great new book called Embracing Communist China, America's Greatest Strategic Failure. All right, so let's get into it. James and Bradley, welcome to The Charlie Kirk Show. Well, it's wonderful. It's wonderful to join you today. Thank you for having us. Perfect.

Well, thank you. So tell me about the title. At first I read it and I was like, embracing communist China.

That's the opposite of what I want to do. What is your guy's thesis in this book? And why did you write it now? And either of you can take it.

James or Bradley, please. Well, Andrew, it's great to have the opportunity to join you. Our thesis is that America made a fundamental mistake when Wall Street financiers, in conjunction with the Chinese Communist Party, came together to invest in China, to invest in the People's Republic of China, thus facilitating its rapid growth in the 1990s, the naughties, to where it is today. So China went from a very small economy, about 0.6% of 1% in 1990 to about 19% in 2019. And it became our greatest strategic threat as a consequence. And it was largely the United States that was responsible for funding and supporting the growth of its greatest adversary through what we call the engagement school.

Those who believe that by engaging with China, you could change the Chinese Communist Party, when in fact all that happened was that the Chinese Communist Party became stronger. And year after year, Andrew, we make the argument that the U.S. threat deflated. We consistently, year after year, underestimated the threat that the Chinese Communist Party essentially generated. Why do we write it now?

Because the question is so obvious to our minds. How is it that the United States could not do what it would have done during the Cold War, or previously in World War II, and that was balance the rise of Chinese Communist China? It didn't do that, which is a gross aberration and our greatest strategic failure, as we argue in the book. So now our work is cut out for us. We've got a lot to do to essentially repair the mistakes that we ourselves made.

So this is a multi-pronged attack that's threatening American influence, both abroad in the Middle East and Africa, certainly in the South Pacific. But right now, we're also talking about domestic interference by China, namely with this TikTok app. I know that you guys, so we're sort of trying to work through this bill to see if it's something that conservatives should be supporting or not. You guys have come out, as I understand it, against this particular bill. But it's not that you're not pro-TikTok, obviously.

But why is it that you do not think this is the right bill to solve this problem? Well, I think, yeah, we'll just say that TikTok is a cancer. TikTok is a cancer from the Chinese Communist Party.

And so that's the first point that we have to make. We've had, you mentioned the word multi-prong, and so in our book, we talk about the Chinese Communist Party's comprehensive national power that they're applying to the United States, who stands in the way of their strategic goal of becoming the global superpower. And they want to displace us from that role, and they want to destroy us in the process. And they want to do it through all methods available. They would prefer not to have to fire shots if they can get away with demoralizing and destroying their enemy from within.

That's what they would choose to do. So what we've seen over the last several years, since the Communist Party's come to power, but really over the last 30-plus years since Deng Xiaoping took over and created this hide-and-bind strategy, what we've seen is the Chinese really go after us. And they went after us with, you know, we can talk about fentanyl. We have 70 to 100,000 people being killed every year for the last five or six years.

That's as many men that were killed in World War II. So now we have this other thing called TikTok, which is in a totally different domain. It's in the information domain, and it's being run and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

ByteDance is a state-owned enterprise or subject to state-owned enterprise rules and regulations from the Chinese Communist Party, and it is a threat to us. So we have to do something. So the intent of Congressman Gallagher's legislation that he created in the House, I think is a good idea in the sense that we have to deal with cancer. Thirty-five years ago, I dealt with cancer.

I was in the hospital for a year. And cancer will kill you. You cannot leave cancer running around in your body.

The question is, what do you do with it? Do you use cancer? Do you use chemotherapy? Do you use radiation?

Or do you use surgery? So right now, we're in this American process of debating how we can best get rid of this cancer of TikTok. And so, there's a lot of solutions out there. And there should be great concern by Americans to make sure that we don't empower our government to violate the Fourth Amendment and other amendments that give us the right to privacy and the right of assembly and free speech.

But the fact of the matter is, is TikTok is a lethal threat, and we have to deal with it. And so this bill, as originally written, I think has some goodness to it, because it basically says, you can only ban somebody that's from one of the four designated adversary nations, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. So those four are designated in writing, and then it says, and they have to have the president buy off on that.

And he asked to have, you know, kind of a, I say it's this, and he can't say it's anything else. So if we can keep the law written in such a strict way that is clear, simple, concise, that restrains any kind of expansion of this, then we should move forward on it. That's the challenge that will be for all of us as citizens is to hold our elected officials accountable, both in the House and the Senate to make sure that they don't try to seek to expand this. So I think that's where we're at right now on this specific issue.

And it fits in perfectly with our book. For 30 plus years, as we talked about, the US government failed to protect this nation from the predatory threat of the Chinese Communist Party. And we're seeing the results of that. And we'll talk about that more throughout this this hour. But that's where that's where I stand. I think Brad stands on this issue.

Yeah, Brad, do you have any nuance on on James's take there? Or I mean, or do you guys are in alignment on this TikTok issue? We're in alignment on it, that it is a cancer, as Jim said, or it's, you know, two major things. It's an intelligence collection device, TikTok is, and then secondly, it's a weapon of political warfare. To be put, you know, it's putting Xi Jinping, the communist dictator on your phone, if you've got TikTok. So the CCP is with you constantly, and Xi Jinping is with you constantly, and he's mining your data, and he's influencing your opinions.

He may influence your vote. So it's a pernicious, pernicious threat. And it's one, again, we need to recognize this is a cold war.

We would have never allowed the Soviets to do this during the Cold War. It's time to recognize. Yeah.

Yeah. So I guess the question then becomes, so you're broadly supportive of the effort. The question then becomes, you know, can this law be abused by the executive branch specifically?

A lot of people believe it gives him too much power. But secondly, I think there's a larger geopolitical question here. So say we do move forward with this, and we're not sure what's going to happen in the Senate, but it's cleared the house hurdle. Would China have, China says this is going to come back and bite us in the rear.

Basically, if we do this, we're going to rue the day that we did this. Are there any economic levers that China could pull that would be truly damaging to us? For example, Boeing's going through a lot of problems right now. They have an airline competitor.

They're now an exporter of cars. How could China try and exact their pound of flesh if we move forward with this? Oh, they could do it in obviously many different ways. In agriculture, that's another way in which they might respond. But nonetheless, it's necessary. These are necessary steps to take to separate ourselves. India went through the same thing in 2020 when they banned TikTok and a variety of other apps too, right.

TikTok is not alone. There are some other pernicious ones out there. But India went through that pain of doing it and dealt with the PRC's abuse as a consequence of it.

Look, this is, again, it's an apt metaphor. This is a cancer and you have to treat it like cancer and recognize, of course, that the PRC can retaliate. And a positive element which might come from that is to recognize, hey, we are in a Cold War, we are in a Cold War with Communist China, and it's time for all Americans to recognize that and act accordingly. From an economic standpoint, if they want to ratchet that up, they're not in a position of strength over us economically. Even though we have serious problems, their problems are much worse.

Hey, everybody, Charlie Kirk here. We're all getting the sense that we're being lied to. Well, that's because we are. Suspicious events are unfolding. Even worse, it's hard to believe what anyone has to say about it.

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So check it out right now at mypatriotsupply.com. Is China on the verge of collapse or do or or or is it something in the middle? And do they have much power? Do they not have much power economically over the United States?

What's your take? Well, I'll say, first of all, I don't think they're on the verge of collapse. I think they have great structural problems economically that, as you mentioned, Gordon Chang has been very vocal about and accurate about.

And they have ideological problems that Brad will probably expound on better than I. But in terms of real power, yes, they do have real power. And we need to be concerned with that power. I talked about fentanyl. We have 70 to 100,000 Americans killed every year by that power, by the malign power of the Communist Party that's driving that drug into our nation and killing our fellow citizens. That should outrage us. But in terms of the military, where I spent my career, and I just want to make it clear, I don't work for a defense contractor.

I'm retired and I live in Switzerland, where my wife is from, and I have no financial interest. But I have been preaching for a long time about the military threat from the People's Republic of China. And what you saw this past couple of weeks was the Chinese holding their National People's Congress, where they announced that they were setting the target growth of their gross domestic product to be 5% for the year 2024. But before they announced that 5% target growth, they went out and told all of China and the world that they would grow their defense, their defense of military, the PLA, the People's Liberation Army, by 7.2%. That is about 30 years 30 years where they have been growing their military greater than their own domestic economic growth.

So if you put it in terms that, you know, we all can live with, you have your budget, you have the money, you have your income, would you prioritize spending guns and bullets over food to feed your family or hospital visits to see the doctor? Well, that's what the Chinese have done for 30 years. And that's why they've gone from having a brown water navy that could only barely get past 20 miles off their coast in 2000 to having a navy today that dominates the Western Pacific and threatens the US 7th fleet where I serve. They have more ships than us. 125 years ago, they had 100 less ships, now they have 100 more. And not only do they have more ships than us, their ships have anti-ship cruise missiles that fly at supersonic speeds that ours do not have, that are longer range, they have hypersonic missiles, they have anti-ship ballistic missiles that they test launched a few years ago in 2020 with the DF-21D and the DF-26 that traveled thousands of kilometers, thousands of miles and hit a moving target in the South China Sea. And we're seeing that now reflected in real time in the Red Sea as Houthi rebels shoot anti-ship ballistic missiles at our ships.

That technology came from China. China is proliferating nuclear weapons technology and ICBM technology to North Korea. They're a malign actor that's very powerful and has a very strong military, along with diplomatic strength. Just a report that came out here in the last couple of days, they have more diplomatic missions around the world than the United States of America. So they have more diplomatic influence than we do.

That's unforgivable. Let's get on that economic angle too, though, Bradley. Size up how strong they are and how much they could retaliate against America using their economic might, or do we still have the leverage?

Well, we still have leverage. Their economy's in free fall, right? They have profound structural problems in terms of the collapse of the real estate market, the lack of transparency and banking. The whole banking system is a fraud. So every word that they say about their economic growth is a lie, including the words and and the.

So you have to take whatever they say with a major grain of salt. So those profound economic problems are not going to be resolved, and they're not just a result of the draconian zero COVID issues. These are deep and lasting problems in their economy.

In addition, you've got a layer of environmental problems, a layer of demographic problems, a layer of essentially a structural economic problems. Additionally, and finally, you have a lot of the world's manufacturing and investment is waking up to the hazards of investing in communist China. And so they're beginning to go elsewhere. So the Chinese have been screaming for investment for over a year now, right? Touting about how China is still safe and they want your investment money while money flows to Indonesia, India, Vietnam and elsewhere. And that's very positive. Yeah, that is very positive.

I think COVID woke a lot of the world up to what was going on in China and really is going to be seen, I think, in hindsight as a turning point in all of this. Gentlemen, thank you for your profound insights and congratulations on your book, Embracing Communist China. Thanks so much for listening, everybody. If you get anything out of this show, if it's important to you, if you find it a place of refuge, of information, if you find it a sea of calm and order in an otherwise chaotic world, please consider joining members.charliekirk.com. That's members.charliekirk.com. We're even doing a weekly members only call. It is a really important new tool that we are currently adding to every day. You also get a weekly column, you get exclusive content and video that Charlie releases just there. So be a part of the inside exclusive community at members.charliekirk.com. It would be our pleasure to welcome you. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-14 18:18:08 / 2024-03-14 18:31:32 / 13

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