Mike Benz, Former State Department Head of Cyber Portfolio, Discusses Extent and Mechanisms of Censorship with Tucker Carlson

I am normally not keen about posting long-ish videos, and about having a mini-run of Tucker Carlson interviews, but one he had last week was very important yet it seems oddly not much noticed by the commentariat (or truth be told, the site writers) despite getting nearly 30 million views on Twitter. Readers Li and Chuck L alerted me to this oversight. So I am running this segment as an extra post rather than part of our regular roster.

Tucker spoke to former State Department officer Mike Benz,1 who is arguably the top US expert on the workings of the censorship state to go public about the scope and workings of the censorship regime. He also helpfully describes the trajectory that led the US blob to go from seeing the Internet as its friend, particularly for helping facilitate regime changes, to its enemy by allowing non-mainstream views like support of Brexit to drive events. He also describes some major initiatives, like trying to thwart criticism of mail-in ballots.

Benz’s overview very much dovetails with the work of Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger. Shellenberger showed up very earlier in the Twitter thread on the interview to corroborate some details:


1 Formally Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Communications and Information PolicyBureau of Economic and Business Affairs in the Trump Administration. He has also been the subject of a 2023 hit piece by NBC. Benz claimed that his covert seeming white-supremacist project was to fight anti-semitism by converting white supremacists.

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  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    Thanks for this. What impressed me was Mike Benz’s ability to give long and detailed yet clear answers. He also made an effort to keep things in chronological order, which made it much easier on me, the listener. (I almost never listen to long interviews on video, so I was somewhat leery about whether I’d follow.)

    Reacting to Yves Smith’s headnote, as to why the commentariat and the site’s writers didn’t pick up on the significance and breadth of this interview: For anyone who has been reading Naked Capitalism since 2015 or in the aftermath of the 2016 elections, not much is new in this video. Naked Capitalism and its writers have been following this story and presenting good information all along. The commenters have been filling in any gaps.

    It is much like Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin: If one has been paying attention, not much of what Putin offered in that interview was shockingly new.

    1. juno mas

      Agreed. But Mr. Benz concise, specific, and clear description of the machinations of the ‘Blob’ was stunning, if not disconcertingly blunt. If you want to know why most Americans are waving Blue and White striped flags and sending Billion$ so others are slaughtered, the video explains much of it.

  2. Rip Van Winkle

    Appreciate the article. Yves. I first came across Mike Benz about a month ago on Judge Nap show, shorter version, before Carlson. George Papa. gave his first person account on Mel K show about a month ago. So Benz, Matt Taibbi and Micheal S. are identifying by names key players in The Blob which James Howard K. has been referring to the past several years.

  3. flora

    Thanks for posting this. The reach is more extensive, including playing ‘pinball’ with the foreign 5-Eyes govts’ intel agencies than I realized. Also, this being an election year in the US and in 60% of the world things could get very interesting on the free speech front, 1st Amendment front.

  4. Gulag

    What is new in this article is an extremely persuasive historical narrative on the complete reversal of U.S. cybersecurity/political warfare strategy that developed between 1948 and 2024–from support of color revolutions of various sorts abroad to the present support of U.S intelligence community/cybersecurity operations to introduce a color revolution (if necessary) in the U.S.in 2024.

    Benz also offers some important insights on the trajectory of U.S. social/internet media over the past 5 years. For example, he refers to a panel discussion in 2019, sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, in which a four star general posed a hypothetical question to his audience about what happens to the national security state when the New York Times is reduced to a medium sized Facebook page–where the gatekeepers (our legacy/mainstream media) no longer are able to dominate the airways.

    Formerly, all the victories on social media had gone to where the money was (State Dept., Defense Dept., and intelligence services). But now there are dissident groups (including the Carlson network itself) which are beginning to have the bandwidth to profoundly challenge mainstream narratives on all sorts of issues.

    Hence the increasing panic, hysteria, and desperation of our managers to maintain narrative control.

    1. Charles

      I really don’t think it is about narrative control per se. A thought experiment:

      If this coup machine is as through as it seems, even if one party won the election with 80 % of the real vote they could rig the results for the other party and say it was the migrant votes Anything that gives even the smallest fig leaf of plausibility will stir up enough cognitive dissonance to paralyses a portion of the electorate into acceptance. If the others riot, the judicial / surveillance tools now exist to crush them. It would be J6 on steroids. The vax mandates purged the military of the disobedient, This is how coups and fake elections played out across the world for the last century.

      The coup leadership does not need to public to actually believe their narrative but they need enough of a narrative that some will choose to live with rather than face the life or death responsibility of a real revolution.

  5. Richard

    Justice Brandeis; ” We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.
    “Mike Benz, “What I’m describing is military rule,” “It’s the inversion of democracy”.
    See also Matt Taibbi: CTIL Files #1: US and UK military contractors created sweeping plan for global censorship in 2018. https://www.congress.gov/118/meeting/house/116615/documents/HHRG-118-FD00-20231130-SD001.pdf
    Also Sheldon Wolin’s book about “managed democracy and the specter of inverted totalitarianism” so appropriately named “Democracy INCORPORATED”. I capped the last word incorporated because that word is the word that is most responsible for all that is enshitifide in government and life. We need A NEW ECONOMIC SYSTEM, otherwise it is our fate to spend time continually repairing ceaseless problems created by the GOP (Grand Old Predators). Time that could be spent creating a social system whose only purpose is to, as I believe is destined, bring all of humanity to its’ complete fruition.

  6. Carla

    Hhhmmm. I searched the Foundation for Freedom Online site for any mention of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) and found none. Searched eff.org and found no mention of foundationforfreedomonline.com.

    I find this rather odd. Does anyone else?

    1. flora

      I don’t. The EFF has priors. The FFO has priors. They don’t overlap. That doesn’t mean either is wrong or not worth considering, imo. Both are worth considering, imo. Mike Benz’s info has a ring of truth, imo. The intel agencies seem like an elephant in size, to me. See the old poem The Blind Men and the Elephant. (Although I think Benz has seen more of the elephant than anyone else who’s come forward to date, except maybe Ed Snowden and William Binney.) / my 2 cents.


      1. flora

        adding: not meaning to be trite with the reference to this old poem. It’s something I’ve often referenced to my IT students when they are approaching a technical problem and say their problem solving efforts aren’t working even though “but my other professors said”, “but the papers say”, “but the textbook says.” All these learned professors and papers are correct about their narrow subject expertise but are so often no help in solving the immediate IT problem before the student. Reject no thinking out of hand. Test everything. etc. (Sorry for the pedantry.)

  7. Gulag

    Mike Benz stated the following in his interview with Carlson:

    “What I’m essentially describing is military rule. I mean what’s happened with the rise of the censorship industry is a total inversion of the idea of democracy itself. You know, the democracy sort of draws its legitimacy from the idea that it is the rule by consent of the people being ruled.”

    “The whole push after the 2016 election and after Brexit and after a couple of other, you know, social media run elections that went the wrong way from what the State Department wanted…”

    He argues that what he calls democracy inversion is centered not really around literal military rule but about the need to reach a consensus among largely undemocratic institutions like the military, NATO, IMF, the World Bank, mainstream media, and the NGOs.

    For Benz, the essence of democracy is now defined as getting these institutions to agree among each other. “Democracy is getting the NGOs to agree with Blackrock, to agree with the Wall Street Journal, you know, to agree with the community and activist groups who are onboarded with respect to a particular initiative.”

    1. flora

      That’s how Benz describes how those institutions define democracy, not how we “uninstitutionalized” (heh) voters define democracy. Benz objects to the institutional redefinition of democracy as applying only to them and their cohorts.

  8. Ashburn

    Incredible interview with Mike Benz. Thank you NC for posting this.

    The only thing missing in this interview, in my view, is the failure to address how much of the architecture for the censorship industrial complex was constructed under Trump’s administration, and how this was accomplished. This point speaks directly to the ability of the Deep State to control things despite whoever is actually elected.

    I guess this is exactly what Benz is describing when he states “it is essentially military rule and the inversion of democracy.”

  9. Snailslime

    Tucker seems to think that the censorship and the blatant subversion of democracy (which isn’t even the proper way to express it, because american “democracy” was born inchain, with the constitution it’s original cage, so there wasn’t that much to subvert in the first place) is something recent.

    But Benz basically makes very clear, and Tucker may or may not truly get it, that it has been going on the entire time.

    The CIA being able to kill any inconvenient story in the Washington Post while it and similar media had a monopoly on information makes any claim that there ever was anything resembling genuinely free speech a pure mockery.

    It also turns Tucker’s stereotypical pieties about freedom of speech at the start of the video into an utter joke..

    Even Benz himself doesn’t seem to get it or be less than honest, otherwise it’s inconceivable he ever could talk about the pre social media system as a democracy with a straight face.

    I’m not sure but my impression is that likely both of them compartementalize agood number of things.

    Sorry Tucker, but your CIA daddy was NOT any more a friend of democracy than ANY other spook after or before him.

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