Conservatives have mastered the art of the freakout, and they know that railing against a product or corporation for weeks will net them millions of views, and possibly even millions of dollars. All they have to do is slap the “woke” label on them and they can milk it until they find something new to be outraged about. This is how conservative media thrives, and Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins talks with Around The Nation host Jeff Waldorf about the right wing freakout machine.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins: Folks, Republicans are still freaking out about Bud Light in between their freakouts about the Little Mermaid, and of course, Nike’s and Yeti coolers and Keurigs and Mr. Potato Head, and pretty much every single thing that you’ve ever heard of, there’s gonna be a little bit of right wing freak out attached to it at this point. I am joined now by Jeff Waldorf, the host of Around the Nation. Find him on YouTube, Jeff, it’s great to have you back on Ring of Fire, especially to talk about something so insane. You know, I know we have other issues facing the nation right now, but oh my God, we can’t get away from these Republican freakouts. So, I mean, Bud Light, I mean, it’s horrible now. We’re not allowed to touch it because I guess it’ll turn you gay in the eyes of the Republicans now.

Jeff Waldorf: Exactly. Hey, first of all, glad you invited me. It’s good to be here. It’s good to talk to you again. And I think this is gonna be fun. I enjoy a good right wing freak out more than anybody. Okay. So, I don’t know, you might have to like, be careful on YouTube with this, right? There was a video that I saw yesterday about somebody like a right winger opening a can of Bud Light, putting this to his lips, and then suddenly it turns into a big black, well, you know, tally whacker.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And, God, I mean, just in the last, you know, what, two weeks now, I guess, we’ve been dealing with this freak out and just in case.

Jeff Waldorf: Oh, longer.

Farron Cousins: Anybody’s not familiar with it, Dylan Mulvaney transgender influencer did a promotion for Bud Light. Now, that should be the end of that story. That should be all that we know about that story. Like, okay, cool, Bud Light reached out to a popular person and said, endorse our product. We’ll, you know, send you some beer cans with your face on it. That’s pretty cool. Hey, I’d do it. But, oh my God, Kid Rock kind of kicked it off shooting his Bud Light out there that, like you paid your money for this thing that you’re now destroying. And it culminates goes through, you know, a couple weeks now. We got the idiot on video in a Walmart like destroying Bush Light, because they hate Anheuser-Busch now. Who by the way, it’s also worth noting, that guy got arrested for that but also charged with exposing himself. Um, so that’s a little bit of interesting tidbit here. It’s always the ones you most expect.

Jeff Waldorf: Let me just add, to a minor, a 16 year old.

Farron Cousins: Oh God.

Jeff Waldorf: This is the party of protecting children and the party of family values, and we gotta stop the drag queens because they’re going after the children. Come on.

Farron Cousins: It is, it’s almost too much. You know? I mean, but you have to also understand, and I know you know this and I know this, but the reason we see these freakouts, whether it’s Bud Light, you know, we got the Little Mermaid coming up, and she’s not white now, so, oh my God. It’s because it draws them viewers. Like, they make millions of dollars off of these freakouts that otherwise nobody would even care about. It’s not a blip on anybody’s radar. Nobody’s pushing an agenda except for you guys, because it makes you money. They don’t actually care about it. They want the money from the freakout of their base. That’s what this is.

Jeff Waldorf: Yeah. Look, a lot of us, at least I can speak for myself here, I didn’t know who Dylan Mulvaney was before this happened.

Farron Cousins: I didn’t either.

Jeff Waldorf: There was a lot of people who didn’t know who Dylan Mulvaney was, and, you know, no shade on her or anything like that. I’m just not familiar with like Instagram influencers or anything like that. And, well, now we all know who Dylan Mulvaney is. Now we all know, and it’s because of these massive right wing freakouts that take all the oxygen out of the room. At the same time, Republicans are rolling child labor back, child labor laws back in 10 different states, at least. I forget what the most recent one is. There was Arkansas, I believe might have been Iowa.

Farron Cousins: Idaho, right?

Jeff Waldorf: Idaho. Idaho.

Farron Cousins: No, maybe it was Iowa. I’m sorry. Idaho is where they’re doing the trigger time with Kyle Rittenhouse. Iowa is the child labor law. So both “I” states are doing pretty bad.

Jeff Waldorf: Yeah. There’s been so many of those, as I mentioned, 10 different states that are rolling back child labor laws. Get the kids back in the mines. I hear kids play a lot of Minecraft. So Republicans heard that, and they said, well, the children, they yearn for the mines. Send them back to the mines.

Farron Cousins: Well, and a lot of it too, like, while all of this freak out is going on, and like you said, it sucks up all of the oxygen, we got Kevin McCarthy, who’s been, you know, he went to the New York Stock Exchange Monday, assuring them that, listen, I’m gonna make poor people suffer. In any debt ceiling negotiation, we’re gonna make sure the poor people are the ones who get screwed. I’m not gonna raise your taxes, not gonna let it happen. So he’s got his debt ceiling deal that includes Matt Gaetz’s work requirements for Medicaid, and just absolute devastation for low income Americans. You know, millions of children will be kicked off of public assistance because of this. But Republican media, they don’t talk about that. They’re only talking about the fact that, guys, you can’t drink Bud Light anymore because, you know, this promotion clearly shows that they’re part of the woke agenda.

Jeff Waldorf: You know what’s funny about this whole thing? One of the arguments I see is, well, we can’t drink Bud Light because they don’t represent our values anymore. Right? They don’t represent traditional conservative values. And so we can’t support them. And the only thing that I thought about that, or I should say the first thing I thought about that is, hey, welcome to what it’s like being on the left, where no corporations share our values whatsoever. Where all these corporations, you know, yeah, it’s good that they’re coming out and doing these awareness campaigns, and they’re trying to be inclusive in their advertising, that’s fine, but let’s not forget what this is. This is rainbow washing. Rainbow washing, and then they also do greenwashing when they say, oh, we’re gonna be carbon neutral. We’re gonna do all this wonderful stuff for the environment.

And they’re actually doing a lot of the pollution, and they’re also paying off politicians in order to deregulate. It’s the same thing with the rainbow washing that’s going on with these companies as well. A lot of the companies, and there are different, you know, examples of a lot of beer companies and, or at least, a lot of the brands owned by the two or three beer companies, let’s be honest, that are, you know, putting out these advertising campaigns. Oh, we support LGBTQ rights, we support trans rights. Look at our pride can. All that’s fine, but behind the scenes, you’re still giving money to anti-gay politicians in Republican states, in red states, in Congress, you’re giving this money to people that are actively passing laws to harm gay and trans people, non-binary. Also cis women, cisgendered women by cutting off their reproductive rights.

And so anybody with a uterus, anybody who has the capacity to give birth, or, you know, shall I say, birthing person, you know, they’re affected by this. Anyone who has the capacity to get pregnant affected by this. These are dangerous things. And yet, here are these companies that only have one goal in mind, that is to make as much profit as as possible. They have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. They say, well, trans issues, obviously, they resonate with the majority of the people. Majority of Americans are not behind these anti-trans bills. We saw that in 2022 with the midterm elections where you had, you know, all of these anti-trans politicians, anti, you know, choice politicians lose with their extremist agenda. And so, hey, we’re gonna put money in these ad campaigns, but we’re also gonna donate to these terrible politicians for one reason, tax cuts.

Farron Cousins: You know, Max Collins from Eve 6, I believe it was early last week, he had tweeted out, like, it was, well, maybe it was even the week before when this whole controversy was erupting, at the beginning he’s like, you know, listen, these companies, no matter what it is and I’m paraphrasing, he’s like, they focus group these things to hell and back. This didn’t just happen because Anheuser-Busch woke up and said, oh my, hey, whoa, whoa, we’re woke now. No, they tested out. They are like, okay, we could lose this many people, but maybe it gains us, you know, twice as many therefore profits will increase, therefore, we move forward. There’s not one person sitting there saying, oh, I’m gonna tank the company. They did it because they thought they could make money. And honestly, even bad publicity is good publicity because as we have repeatedly seen Republicans freak out about every single thing.

And then, you know, look, a month from now there’ll be a new thing. Like there will be a new thing that they’re freaking out about, and they’re gonna absentmindedly reach for their Bud Light and start drinking it while they’re freaking out about the new thing, because they already forgot about the old thing. It’s how the cycle works. And it’s all, as you said, because we wanna make money. Like we don’t actually care about these things, and we’re gonna keep giving money to the horrible politicians. Trump Jr. came out this week and was like, hey guys, uh, they’re a huge donor. Could y’all back off? Now he’s in trouble with the Republican base. It’s, it is just the stupidest timeline to live in right now.

Jeff Waldorf: And it’s a cottage industry. It really is a cottage industry on the right. Funny enough, this has gone too far for, you know, people like Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan, so, look, Joe Rogan, he’s got transphobic views. He’s very clearly on the record platforming people who are openly transphobic. But even he’s like, this ain’t it, dog. Drink your Bud Light. Who cares? And so it is interesting because it really shows you how I think far the Republican party has backslid into the culture of wars. Because again, Joe Rogan is not some leftist. Joe Rogan is a con, you know, he is a libertarian at least. Okay. And sometimes there are good takes that had come from libertarians on, you know, the issues of civil liberties or just like leaving people to f alone. So that’s like a classic libertarian take. That is too far and too extremists for the right wing now. Oh, you’re a lefty now. You’re next to Marx and Stalin.

Farron Cousins: You can’t have any independent thoughts over on the right. Independent thoughts are the devil if you’re on the right. You’ve gotta be lockstep with whatever it is we’re mad about, whoever it is we’re trying to oppress. If you are not with us, you are against us, they tell you. I mean, hell, we heard the Bush administration literally say those things to us while they were in power. I think a lot of people seem to have forgotten about that. And, you know, you mentioned the drag queens, and right now we’ve got all these laws coming onto the books being proposed where they’re banning the drag shows because, you know, we gotta protect the children. We gotta save the kids. There is, I mean, I’ve looked, I can’t find anything, you know, an example of a drag queen at a show luring a child backstage or following them after. Like, that’s not a thing that’s ever happened that I can find.

But it is all a big distraction. First of all, as we said, you got the money factor. They make a ton of money off this, the politicians raise money off of it. But then you have that distraction factor and I cannot stress that enough, how important that is. Like, look at my state of Florida where woke goes to die. Well, we got a governor who’s fighting and losing a fight to Mickey Mouse, but it’s all to distract. And his anti CRT and anti-drag shows and his abortion ban, it’s all to distract from the fact that 25 years of Republican rule here in Florida has sent our economy into the toilet. Our environment is eroding away. A new study, you know, I think last week, the Gulf States, Florida in particular, we’re losing land mass like crazy. Of course, nobody cared about that, because it’s an environmental story.

Jeff Waldorf: Right.

Farron Cousins: We’re getting screwed left and right. Housing prices have risen faster in Florida than anywhere else in the country. But nobody talks about that because everybody’s saying, well, I mean, Disney and the CRT, it’s a distraction and it works. That’s the dumbest part. It works.

Jeff Waldorf: Exactly. And, you know, another point here about these, you know, how the right wing is targeting so-called woke corporations, right? We already went through how they’re not woke, they’re just, you know, trying to make money. But I find it interesting that now they’re targeting these companies, the right wing, and they’re not talking about the issues these companies do. I talked about greenwashing before. I talked about rainbow washing before. It’s all to just to distract, of course, from these companies that have terrible labor practices, do union busting, target, you know, go after their workers, have terrible working conditions. Nobody talks about that. Everyone’s distracted by woke. And by the way, this is a slight criticism, you know, towards the Democrats as well, towards, you know, the sort of more liberal crowd.

While we’re talking about woke. And by the way, I think it is important to engage against the stuff that the right wing is saying. Because we do it all the time. We gotta fight against the misinformation. But also we can’t say Disney’s the best company in the world. I’m gonna support them or, you know, Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch. We have to circle the wagons to protect these, you know, companies against the far right. These companies have terrible records when it comes to, again, labor violations, even in some cases child labor violations. Let’s talk about M&M Mars for a second, right? They were sued from child labor, using children in the cocoa fields.

Did we hear about that when Tucker Carlson was, you know, going against M&M’s? Did we hear any of that come from the right wing who’s like, I don’t like these corporations? And we’re supposed to, and we’re just doing it to protect children. No, you’re not doing it to protect children. You don’t care about the children. It’s so incredibly transparent what they’re doing and why they’re doing this and what they actually don’t care about, which is protecting actual children. Because if you actually did care, you’d be talking about the children in the cocoa fields. You’d be talking about the child labor stories that are coming out and these meat packing plants. You wouldn’t be rolling back child labor laws. Oh, no, we’re just trying to give the kids the ability to go and work. No, what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to exploit labor, child labor, because you don’t feel like paying people a living wage. That’s what it is. Get it, you know, call it out for what it is, and then we on the left have to do a better job of that.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And, you know, this is something I’ve pointed out. I don’t know if I’ve pointed out on the podcast or just in videos, but just everybody’s aware, federal minimum wage laws actually allow you to pay somebody under the age of 18 below minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment. So that is a huge benefit to these people that are now hiring child labor thinking, wow, I don’t even have to pay them the $8 an hour I was gonna pay somebody. I can pay ’em, I can pay ’em six, I can pay ’em five. Why would I not be taking advantage of this? And then if they complain after, you know, 89 days before we hit that part, I’ll just fire ’em and I’ll just hire somebody else or maybe rehire them after the summer. It is set up for exploitation. The laws are written to let exploitation run rampant. And like you said, with the M&M thing, nobody wants to talk about the child labor or the cocoa fields. All Tucker Carlson wants to talk about is, I’m no longer aroused by the green M&M, by God. And that’s the real travesty, isn’t it? No.

Jeff Waldorf: Well, you know, those sexy boots, you know what I’m saying?

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Jeff Waldorf: It’s just, you know. What are we gonna do?

Farron Cousins: And so we do end up, like, I think it just overall, it dumbs us all down. I mean, even if we’re fighting against it to a degree, it prevents us from being able to have these real important conversations about these issues that you bring up, because that is one thing we have always tried to do. And then unfortunately, when you do that, okay, well now we got a segment out there that eight people are gonna watch and be like, oh, it actually sounds important, but, you know, whatever, I’ll see you later. Because people want to be outraged about something. And we see that in our own traffic. You know, if we wanna do a video about climate change, I can guarantee you that just killed our traffic for the day. But if I wanna talk about something stupid Mike Lindell did, oh boy, that little chart’s gonna go off the top right there. And it’s, it is frustrating because I do feel at times like we end up talking about things we don’t even want to talk about, just so that we can continue to survive doing what we do.

Jeff Waldorf: Well, it’s capitalism.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Jeff Waldorf: It is capitalism and it is something, you know, let me just add, like, politics is dumb, policy is important. Okay. Politics is dumb, necessary in order to get policy. So one thing that I like to do is, for example, I don’t know if you noticed the other day, Marjorie Taylor Greene talking about, you know, she shared a graph from like Fossil Future or something from this Alex Epstein who is, you know, his main argument is more carbon, carbon good for us, let’s do more, let’s burn more fossil fuels because it’s good for everyone. It’s the best thing in the world. So she shares this graph and it’s incredibly misleading, obviously. And so that’s a good segue into, you know, have fun making fun of Marjorie Greene because she’s a moron. Um, sorry, but not sorry, it’s true.

But also bring up important points. This is what I try to do. I try to pepper in some, you know, some facts, some knowledge into different segments in order to share it. And look, you know, my audience and your audience incredibly smart, knowledgeable people, y’all already know this. And so I think a lot of people who watch our respective shows tune in for the dumpster fire, because I think it makes us feel better because we already know all the disaster stuff that’s happening. We already know that there is, you know, massive amounts of problems in this country. There are, you know, existential climate change, and I think a lot of us just wanna be entertained for a little while. And, but I think it’s still important to slip in the stuff for the people that are not initiated, who are not overly engaged, like our, you know, core audiences are, and, you know, who are just absolutely wonderful, great people and tune in and support us and love us, and all that wonderful stuff.

It’s for the uninitiated. And so if you wonder why, you know, those segments don’t do very well, it’s not because it’s not important. It’s not because the audience doesn’t care. It’s because we already know this. It’s because we’re already aware, we’re already woke, so to speak, to bring it full circle. And I think we just want to be distracted and entertained a little bit. There’s a reason that the band was still playing on the Titanic. It’s because the whole thing may be sinking, so we might as well listen to some music while we go down.

Farron Cousins: That is a brilliant analogy. I do, I really, really love that. And when you contrast that to what we see on the right, they can’t talk intelligibly about policy. I mean, we’ve seen ’em try, God love ’em, they’ve tried. We’ve seen, you know, Michael Knowles try to sound smart. Ben Shapiro always tries to sound really super smart when he’s talking super fast. But, I mean.

Jeff Waldorf: So, let me say something controversial before you, you know, continue with your point. I think Ben Shapiro is a smart person. I just think he plays stupid.

Farron Cousins: Yes. Oh, a hundred percent.

Jeff Waldorf: He plays to a stupid crowd.

Farron Cousins: I have said that exact thing in videos too. Like, Ben Shapiro is smart, but he knows he has to be stupid. And that’s, I’ve drawn the distinction. Charlie Kirk, I think is an idiot. Charlie Kirk I think is genuine with his stupidity. Michael Knowles is smart, pretends to be stupid. Candace Owens genuinely dumb. Tomi Lahren, dumb. But then you also, we can extend it to Congress, like Dan Crenshaw. Dan Crenshaw is very cringeworthy, but he’s not dumb. He’s actually very smart and he knows what he’s doing. Now, Matt Gaetz, dude’s dumb as a rock. So, it extends all throughout the Republican party is, you’ve gotta act stupid, but sometimes you gotta try to figure out who’s dangerous by separating who’s only pretending and who’s just genuinely nuts. Like Mike Lindell, dude is.

Jeff Waldorf: Nuts

Farron Cousins: Like, totally gone. But, a Dan Crenshaw type, even a Ted Cruz, smart guys who play dumb to get votes. And that’s what makes them a little more dangerous than the other ones, I think.

Jeff Waldorf: Yeah. I actually totally agree with you on that point. Yes. So many people do, again, let me just point out how a lot of these people that end up being these grifters on the right are failed screenwriters or failed actors, failed Hollywood, you know, people.

Farron Cousins: Yep.

Jeff Waldorf: That had aspirations and when it didn’t work out, when they I guess either didn’t have what it takes, well, I think they took their skills and their abilities, which are formidable. I mean, Ben Shapiro didn’t build an audience as big as, you know, he did without having some sort of intelligent strategy. You know, you gotta give him credit for that. If that’s the only thing you could ever give him credit in his life for. They know what they’re doing. They know their audience, and they are very, very good at working with that audience.

And I don’t really see the same kind of ability on the left. And by the way, they have something that we don’t, money, lots and lots of money, and that money is reach. Money is your megaphone and they use it incredibly effectively. And it does help that they have daddy billionaire coming in and, like Dennis Prager, for example, just gets a grant, millions of millions of dollars a year, just handed to him. He doesn’t have to, you know, be profitable. A lot of these ventures wouldn’t be profitable without that, without Koch money, without, you know, Foster Friess, without these big billionaire, you know, backers. That’s our big disadvantage. But at the same time, we also have the advantage of having our views be more popular and palatable with the American people. And so we have to find a way to leverage our own advantages and not tear each other apart while doing it.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. That’s always the hardest part, right? You know, it’s the crabs trying to escape the pot where, oh no, this one’s getting too high. Let’s pull them down so that I may take their place. Another thing that the right has, and this I guess applies more to when a lot of these groups were starting up, they had Fox News. Fox News would call ’em up and be like, Ben Shapiro, come on Fox News. We’ll elevate you. Charlie Kirk, still goes on there. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gotten a call from MSNBC. CNN has never sent me an email saying, come on down. Now, Mike Papantonio, who started Ring of Fire, used to go on MSNBC all the time, but those calls eventually stopped. Fox News would still call him, because they’d love to have him come on and just, they’d shout at each other.

But MSNBC, you know, the so-called liberal network does not do a good enough job of elevating anybody else, and they never really have. And it’s a shame because a lot of the hosts on that network now, and a lot of the contributors are people that through our 19 years at Ring of Fire, we used to have on the show all the time. Like, you used to be our go-to guest. We would email and text like all the time. Where, where are you? You know, we helped you. Come on, and not that I want to, but I’m just saying, look, they could be elevating more independent voices, but they don’t. And that’s what’s disappointing. And perhaps I am bitter about this because a lot of these folks, you know, we had considered friends for many years and they never once reached out to help us do, you know, help do for us what we helped do for them.

Jeff Waldorf: Yeah. I think it all comes down to it being a club.

Farron Cousins: Yep.

Jeff Waldorf: A good old boys club or good old, you know, boys and girls club in this case and we’re not invited to the club, Farron. And maybe it’s because we’re critical of the club.

Farron Cousins: Yes, that is true.

Jeff Waldorf: So maybe, maybe it’s because we upset some of the people in power, that we upset some of the people with some of the things that in positions that we hold. I don’t know if that’s the case, but that’s my guess. Either way it is, it’s a missed opportunity for them as well as us because we, if we had unity, I think it would help a lot. And when I say unity, I don’t mean like the fake, you know, BS, unity, right? That we’ve seen before. No, we’re talking about real lefty worker, solidarity, you know, working class people, members of the activist community, leftists and media figures getting together to push this country, not even to push this country, sorry, to push the narrative.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Jeff Waldorf: To push, you know, to really illustrate how the country’s progressive. We believe in progressive values. We believe in fairness in the workplace, you know, labor power. We believe in making sure that we can protect the most vulnerable. We don’t believe in punishing people for their orientation, who they are. These are common American values. And unfortunately with the media landscape the way that it is, I wouldn’t, it’s not surprising to see that there are people out there that mistake the right wing values for being the dominant in this country. And it’s just not the case. It’s just they’re louder and they’re well financed, and a lot of them happen to be on the same side when it comes to platforming each other and elevating each other.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And, you know, it doesn’t hurt either that the right also can put on those big, massive conferences with fireworks coming up outta the stage. Look, I’ll walk out to fireworks. I would love that. But that’s not really our style on the left. But listen, Jeff, you and I could talk all day. I know neither of us unfortunately has the time to do that, but I wanna thank you so much for doing this. Every time you’ve joined me here on Ring of Fire it has been fun. Like that’s one thing, by the way, that is missing a lot of times from this job. It gets frustrating. It gets depressing. Talking to you is so much fun. So, I not only thank you for being here, thank you for letting us have fun, you know, for the last 45 minutes, Jeff. Thank you so much.

Jeff Waldorf: Likewise on the fun. And thank you again for the invite. It’s always a good time talking with you, Farron. I absolutely love it.

Farron Cousins: Once again, folks, Jeff Waldorf,, on Twitter @jeffspolitics. Jeff, hope to have you on again soon, man. Thank you.

Jeff Waldorf: Yeah. Looking forward to it. Thank you.