Reason Podcast

A Dark and Stormy Week for Free Speech: Podcast

While America gawks at tales of consensual Trump-spanking, Internet freedom is coming under legislative and cultural attack


There's no question that the legal dispute between President Donald Trump and adult actress/filmmaker Stormy Daniels has been good for television ratings. 60 Minutes last night scored its highest audience share in a decade. But is it good for America?

On today's Reason Podcast, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman and yours truly pivot quickly from the shiny object of pre-presidential sex to the neglected—and far more disgusting—free-speech assault passed by the Senate last week with only two dissenting votes. In addition to covering the "Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" (FOSTA) and concomitant social media panic, we discuss the terrible omnibus spending bill, the ungood nomination of John Bolton as national security adviser, and the various questionable cultural products they are currently consuming.

Subscribe, rate, and review our podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Relevant links from the show:

"Don't Let President Trump Distract You with Stormy Daniels," by Nick Gillespie

"FOSTA Passes Senate, Making Prostitution Ads a Federal Crime Against Objections from DOJ and Trafficking Victims," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Hours After FOSTA Passes, Reddit Bans 'Escorts' and 'SugarDaddy' Communities," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"YouTube Plans to Shut Down Gun Instructional Videos," by Brian Doherty

"Mark Zuckerberg Is Calling for Regulation of Social Media To Lock in Facebook's Position," by Nick Gillespie

"Omnibus Bill Chips Away at Citizens' Abilities to Protect Data from Government Snoops Across the World," by Scott Shackford

"Your Friday Cliffhanger: Will Trump Sign or Veto the Omnibus?" by Scott Shackford

"Rand Paul Reads the Omnibus Spending Bill (Because Someone Has To)," by Brian Doherty

"9 Ridiculous Things About the Omnibus Budget Bill," by Eric Boehm

"5 Things About John Bolton That Are Worse Than His Mustache," by Jacob Sullum

"My Conversations with John Bolton," by Matt Welch

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NEXT: Sessions Distorts the Law to Give Trump the Bump Stock Ban He Demanded

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  1. The real question is: why do we let porn stars sell themselves into human sex trafficking?

    1. Duh, the First Amendment.

      If the First Amendment didn’t protect prostitutes, then the whole profession of journalism crashes to the ground.

      1. This is why freedom is bad: next thing you know, people are selling themselves into slavery.


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    2. Is this related to politicians and pay for play?

  2. Since Ed left, Reason has dropped the ball with respect to links on two occasions.
    Since Ed left, I haven’t been able to reach climax.
    Coincidence? I think not.

  3. 60 Minutes last night scored its highest audience share in a decade.

    Hopefully they find a way to sex up the broadcast every week. Maybe Leslie Stahl showing a little more T&A.

    And remember Johnny Lunchbucket didn’t give two shites about Whitewater, but add some presidential jizz into the mix and Ken Starr knew he had a ratings bonanza! Hopefully we can continue that from Mueller and journalists for the rest of the Trump term. Less tariff scrutiny and more golden shower hooker talk.

    1. Sex sells. Every network knows this.

      1. Not well enough. She’s nasty. As a avid aficionado, she was only tolerable in her young, coke whore days.

        Tough life for porn stars. They pretty much are only not nasty in the 22-24 window.

        1. She’s nasty.

          It’s funny that people keep saying this. I know they’re saying in the “she’s way hotter than I could ever land but I’ll call her ugly” sense, but that doesn’t make it less weird. She’s a reasonably attractive woman with giant fake tits.

          1. I say she’s still better looking even now than Monica Lewinsky was in her “prime”.

    2. Maybe Scarlett Johansson will play Stormy Daniels in the movie.

      1. Dig deep enough, and you can probably find Stormy Daniels playing Scarlett Johanson.

        I wonder, has the pr0n title XXX Men has already been taken? You come up with a title like that, and the plot writes itself.

        Well, there would be no plot. But definitely costumes.

        P.S. Yeah, I know X-Men isn’t the Avengers, you geeks. That’s why no one invites you to parties.

  4. Robby Soav @robbysoave

    I believe pretty much everything Stormy Daniels says. But for the life of me I cannot understand why they bothered trying to pay her to be quiet.

    yes, it is utterly mysterious why a billionaire might throw money at an accuser rather than engage in an expensive and public lawsuit

    the rational thing to do is assume the accuser is telling the truth, for… because, what personal benefit could they possibly… wait, hold on a second. need to check my math here.

    In any case, i think the default thing is to always believe what pornstars say. they can be trusted not to compromise their personal digni…. well, i mean, its unlikely they’d just pretend something for…. hmmm. well, I support them, regardless. Because i am a libertarian, and i support self-ownership, which is what makes me liberal about porn and drugs. And that also obligates me to pretend that pornstars and drug users are highly reliable people, obviously. this is logical.

    1. I don’t judge whores and junkies but I’m still going to make sure my wallet is secure when they’re around and I’m sure has hell not going to trust anything they say if money is involved.

  5. In regards to the “social media panic”, Ars Technica broke a story about how Facebook is tracking people’s phone calls on Android–apparently, that includes people who didn’t use Facebook Messaging.

    “A review of my Google Play data confirms that Messenger was never installed on the Android devices I used. Facebook was installed on a Nexus tablet I used and on the Blackphone 2 in 2015, and there was never an explicit message requesting access to phone call and SMS data. Yet there is call data from the end of 2015 until late 2016, when I reinstalled the operating system on the Blackphone 2 and wiped all applications.

    . . . .

    Facebook never explicitly revealed that the data was being collected, and it was only discovered as part of a review of the data associated with the accounts. The users we talked to only performed such reviews after the recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data.

    Facebook began explicitly asking permission from users of Messenger and Facebook Lite to access SMS and call data to “help friends find each other” after being publicly shamed in 2016 over the way it handled the “opt-in” for SMS services. That message mentioned nothing about retaining SMS and call data, but instead it offered an “OK” button to approve “keeping all of your SMS messages in one place.”…

    1. The article shows you, you, you where to look and see if Facebook was tracking all your SMS messages and all your phone calls.

      If you’ve ever used Facebook on a phone or tablet, chances are they tracked your calls and SMS messages.

      If Facebook is abusing people’s privacy through trickery and/or not getting people’s explicit permission, then a libertarian government has a legitimate function in protecting our rights–even from private parties. What libertarian ever said that rapists shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted because the government has no business interfering in the private sector?

      At some point, anyway, it stops being a “social media panic” and becomes a non-consensual violation of people’s rights.

      1. If Facebook isn’t telling people how they will use their data, then they are committing fraud and any government libertarian or not has a right to put a stop to it.

      2. What if the people doing the collecting have an honest message and are trying to do good works?

        1. You mean, what if they’re neither racist nor homophobic?

          I’m not a lawyer, but I think the fraud laws still apply to those people, too. At least outside of California.

          1. Ah, just curious, because the argument I got back when it was pointed out that the Obama campaign literally harvested the entire US Social Network on Facebook, was that his message was honest and so there was no issue.

            1. Yeah, but they’re neither racist nor homophobic, too, and they may have used a proxy in California, so . . .

    2. This will be fun to rub in the faces of all the losers who can’t afford iPhones and come up with lame excuses for why their shit devices are better.

      1. You mean just having a Facebook account isn’t enough to rub in some poor loser’s face?

        1. I still have a MySpace account; any moment they’re gonna make a comeback you’ll see.

      2. Apple is by no means innocent.

        They may not be as bad as Facebook, but they’re still selling your information to advertisers.

        They claim they’re better because all Apple’s information about you is collected, stored, and sold under the auspices of a unique user ID. That they know everything about you but, supposedly, but you name hardly makes them much better.

        They certainly aren’t better than Facebook because they’re more principled. If they don’t collect as much data, it’s because they can’t–and they make more money from hardware rather than software.

      3. We should have known that Tony was an i-Snob!

  6. How much “human trafficking” goes on in legal industries? Little or none as far as I can tell. If they really care about ending “human trafficking”, legalize and regulate prostitution. In the day and age of drug resistant STDs and HIVs, only the suicidal would go to an unlicensed hooker and no way would legal businesses want to kidnap and enslave their employees.

    I have no idea how much human trafficking in the sex trade actually occurs. Hookers and white slavery are just not my thing. But, these people seem to think it does. Okay, if it is that bad, then why not legalize prostitution and end it?

    They won’t do that because whatever the actual prevalence of human trafficking, controlling it is the pretext for the real goal, which is controlling men’s sex drives. We wouldn’t want men being able to pay for sex. That would take away women’s control of it. And maintaining the power and prestige of top shelf white women seems to be one of the most important functions of government these days.

  7. Panem et circenses on full display during this congressional term.

    1. New World Coliseum!!!

  8. Has there ever been an article about “that woman” that did NOT include a gratuitous cleavage shot?
    Does anyone care?
    Is this really news?

    1. They cost a lot so it’s probably in every appearance contract. Gotta maximize the ROI.

    2. Well in this case, I think porn stars and models intentionally only give people cleavage shots. For all of the hub bub about how fat and ugly Trump is, his “other women” sure are a hell of a lot better looking than every other politician’s “other women”, which is quite hilarious.

  9. Obviously, Americans are under-represented in our government.

  10. What the hell is she talking about regarding the cocaine angle being a porn star thing? Does she not remember the explosion of people accusing Trump of being on coke during the debates?

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