#1628 New Era of Antitrust for a New Era of Capitalism, Mega-Corporations and Big Tech (Transcript)

Air Date 5/11/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we delve into the effort to turn theory into practice in opening up new ways of thinking about antitrust lawsuits attempting to reign in big tech and other mega corporations, which are operating in a new phase of capitalism, some argue. 

Sources today include Planet Money, The BTLJ Podcast, Factually with Adam Conover, and The Majority Report, with additional members-only clips from The Majority Report.

FTC Chair Lina Khan on Antitrust in the age of Amazon - Planet Money - Air Date 11-3-23

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: The origins of antitrust law go back to the Gilded Age. Listeners who've heard parts one and two of Planet Money's series on antitrust in America will know the backstory to this history.

But here's a quick recap. The late 19th century saw the rise of these massive new companies, these trusts as they were called, like John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, which were using their sheer size to push competitors out of the market. 

LINA KHAN: So the antitrust laws at the federal level were passed back in [00:01:00] 1890 against the backdrop of this phenomenal industrial revolution that had delivered a lot of technological gains and progress, but had also concentrated power over these new industries and a very small number of hands. So you had farmers, for example, who are often dependent on a single railroad that was going through their town and they saw how that concentrated power could result in discrimination. It could result in arbitrary price hikes. There was a sense that who was winning and who was losing in our economy was not based on who, on the merits, was offering the best products or services or prices, but really the whims of these gatekeepers. And so there was a big movement to really push Congress to pass a set of laws to rein in some of this unchecked power. In 1890, you had the Sherman Act that was passed. In 1914, you had the Clayton Act, the FTC Act—which created the Federal Trade Commission.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: Is that your favorite one? [00:02:00] 

LINA KHAN: Yeah, I think it has to be. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: Over the next 60 years, the government took a pretty aggressive approach to policing anti competitive behavior, regularly stopping companies from merging, or even breaking up companies they argued had gotten too big. Until the 1970s, when there was a backlash to all this aggressive enforcement, and the pendulum swung the other way. 

A new way of thinking about antitrust started to take hold, which essentially said the fact that some shoe manufacturer or pie company is gobbling up market share from its competitors isn't necessarily a bad thing. The only thing we should really be worrying about is whether actual consumers are harmed by things like rising prices or fewer kinds of products.

What mattered should be consumer welfare, and that "consumer welfare standard," as it was christened, set the stage for the next 40 years. Antitrust regulators became a lot more hands-off. The market—the thinking went—would solve a lot of these problems all [00:03:00] on its own. 

LINA KHAN: There was a view that if you ever had, monopolization in the economy, and that monopoly started to hike prices or hurt its customers, that monopoly power would be disciplined by a new set of companies that would rush in and try to take business away from the monopoly.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: This new paradigm in antitrust thinking was spelled out most famously by a legal scholar named Robert Bork in his book The Antitrust Paradox. Antitrust, he argued, the law that's supposed to help competition, was actually harming it by intervening on behalf of particular companies. That was the paradox.

And Bork's view? That has become mainstream. That was the paradigm Lina Khan decided to attack when she was a law student at Yale back in 2017, when she wrote a provocative paper for the Yale Law Journal playing off the title of Bork's famous book, The Antitrust Paradox. 

LINA KHAN: The paper was called Amazon's Antitrust Paradox.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: And what was the vision you laid out in that paper for what needed to change when it came to antitrust policy in the U. S.? [00:04:00] 

LINA KHAN: So that paper that I wrote as a student in a very different role than the one I'm in right now, basically argued that the shift in antitrust that we had seen in the 70s and 80s now created serious blind spots in how we enforce the laws against monopolies, and those blind spots were especially acute in digital markets.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: In her paper, Lina pointed to the wave of social media platforms and online marketplaces—places like Amazon—that had come to define this new internet economy. These new business models, she argued, they'd started to pose whole new kinds of antitrust threats that couldn't be captured by a narrow definition of consumer welfare based on things like price or product variety.

LINA KHAN: One of the arguments was that a focus on short term price effects, for example, could disable us from recognizing monopoly power in its earlier stages, especially in digital markets—there can be a real premium on getting big as quickly as you can. [00:05:00] When you're looking to do that, you may not be focused on short term profits in the same way.

You're really looking to expand to build a huge user base, to build market share, and so some of the tactics that firms can deploy in those early stages can be anti-competitive, but they can really fall off the radar from antitrust enforcers if they're just looking at, for example, price or output as key metrics.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: In her 2017 Law Review article, Lina argued it was time to drastically shift our approach to antitrust enforcement. To return, in many ways, to the spirit of the original antitrust laws that had led to the breakup of Gilded Age behemoths like Standard Oil. The paper suggested that similar action needed to be taken now, by taking steps that included potentially breaking up Amazon.

Lina argued that focusing too narrowly on consumer harm had allowed a handful of tech companies and digital platforms to get so big and powerful. It had become nearly impossible for new businesses to compete. Antitrust [00:06:00] enforcement, she said, needed to go back to a more proactive approach. The paper went kind of viral, people went bananas, and it helped catapult Lina and a wider group of scholars calling for antitrust reform into the public sphere.

For a lot of scholars, it was a rallying cry, though others saw this reform movement as backsliding and dismissed it as a kind of vintage way of looking at monopolies. They called it "hipster antitrust." 

Apple's Antitrust Problem - Professor Talha Syed - The BTLJ Podcast - Air Date 3-10-24

STUDENT INTERVIEWER IMAN ESLAMI: We'll get to discussing the Apple case in a bit, but first I wanted to see if you could help situate us in the current moment in antitrust. Why are we seeing so much antitrust litigation targeting technology companies in recent years? 

PROFESSOR TALHA SYED: So, there's a number of explanations, but I would really single out two things.

First, is a bipartisan support in Congress for reviving antitrust concerns against big tech. For very different reasons, to some extent, but some overlap. Conservatives—republicans—are very much concerned about big tech's speech dampening [00:07:00] effects—their effect on political speech. And that's symbolized by Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, and so on. And then, liberals—progressives—are as or more concerned about big tech with respect to economic inequality and economic power. So, we have conservatives worried about their political reach, and progressives also concerned about their economic inequality and economic power. And we see the two sort of come together in the 2022 House Report on Competition in Digital Markets.

It's a 364 page report that, "Looks into the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, and their business practices to determine how their power affects our economy and our democracy." So I think that's one big source of the revival. 

And then the other one I would single out is the rise of what's called the neo Brandeisian movement in antitrust. And I think we'll talk about that more, but just to single out one [00:08:00] thing, the current chair of the FTC—Lina Khan—is one of the pioneers in the legal academy of the neo Brandeisian movement. In fact, her 2017 article on Amazon's antitrust paradox is a bit of a touchstone of reigniting that—sort of reviving—antitrust scrutiny of big tech.

STUDENT INTERVIEWER IMAN ESLAMI: You mentioned the neo Brandeisian movement, and I think we'll touch on that a little bit later, but I wanted to focus on the first thing you mentioned—that there's bipartisan support for this current antitrust movement. In your class, you talk about how the current moment in the legal world and economics is one you didn't expect.

It's a fundamental realignment of the American political economy. And you talked about kind of four eras of legal theory, starting with classical liberalism up to the Great Depression, past the Great Depression there was the era of the New Deal and welfarism, and then in the 1970s, the emergence of neoliberalism.

But today you say there's a fundamental realignment, and it's one you didn't [00:09:00] expect. Can you explain if I was correct in my summary of your four moments, and why is there a fundamental realignment occurring right now? Can you explain this evolution and how we understand a fair and decent society in the context of technological innovation?

PROFESSOR TALHA SYED: Terrific. Yeah, I think you have it exactly right. My understanding is that you have to understand the American legal political economy— American political economy—in terms of different epochs or eras in which there is a sort of consensus—ideological and institutional settlement. And I think the ones that —the ones you mentioned, the last three are from, as you said post Civil War until about the 1930s, which I'm gonna call "classical liberalism."

Then the 1930s to about the 1970s, the "New Deal era of welfarism," and then the 1980 or so, or 1970s to, I would say today, "neoliberalism." I think it's becoming increasingly clear to everyone that we're having [00:10:00] a tectonic plate shift realignment, and right now we're in a period of fundamental change and a new ideological institutional settlement hasn't yet been forged, and we're in a period of real struggle about that. So, it's kind of an exciting and disorienting period.

I want to say a couple of things about each of these settlements, just to help ground the analysis of antitrust to follow. In the classical liberal period, we can understand many areas of law and policy—private law, federal law, constitutional law—to be structured by a guiding idea which was fundamentally, I would say, usefully summarized in terms of a couplet.

One, markets left to themselves produce liberty and prosperity. Therefore, "Laissez-faire." Leave them alone. Don't interfere. And I think this was the banner under which many areas of law [00:11:00] and political economy developed in the classical liberal period. And then what happened was a sea change that began, in fact, in the 1890s with the rise of the big trusts.

And then it kept going until finally it came to a head in the 1920s and the 1930s with the Depression. And here there were two fundamental motifs as well. One, markets left to themselves may fail to be competitive. Sometimes markets left to themselves may result in collusion, combination, or ruinous competition in which one firm is left standing. So, left to themselves, markets are not always competitive. Second, even competitive markets may, left to themselves, fail to produce social welfare. And so, the first idea was the foundation of antitrust. Left to themselves, markets may fail to be competitive. And the second idea was the foundation of consumer protection laws, [00:12:00] labor protections, macroeconomic policy, and so forth—all the things we associate with the New Deal revolution. 

Then what happened—starting in the 60s, in Chicago with Ronald Coase, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Bork, Aaron Director—was a two-pronged attack on this New Deal consensus. And the two-pronged attack was, first, markets don't fail nearly as often as you think.

What you call a market failure is often just a transitory form of market dominance, which will soon enough be overtaken in a gale of competitive destruction or creative destruction. And second, even when markets fail, the government solution is often worse than the market failure. Governments can be captured or have informational problems, and therefore it's better not to intervene so much.

So the neoliberal period is, of course, a post New Deal resurrection, and [00:13:00] that's why it's called neoliberal. It's not classical liberalism. It's not just saying markets never fail and so on. It's saying markets do fail and antitrust has a role, but it's a smaller role and a more cabined idea of regulation.

And that has clearly been challenged ever since the 2008 financial crisis, Occupy Wall Street, and so on. And with the election of Trump in 2016, I think it became clear to more people that we're in a fundamental period of sea change, realignment. And which way it falls, that's not going to be clear for a few years yet.

FTC Chair Lina Khan on Antitrust in the age of Amazon Part 2 - Planet Money - Air Date 11-3-23

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: Lina pulled a move from earlier in her career, when she studied the impacts of monopoly power on chicken farmers by talking to them directly. She teamed up with the DOJ to collect information directly from the public about how mergers have worked in the time of online platforms like Facebook, Amazon, or Uber. 

LINA KHAN: We got a lot of input. We did a bunch of listening sessions with farmers, with [00:14:00] nurses, with health care workers more generally, with journalists, with musicians—really, with people across the economy to understand, on the ground, what has it looked like when you've seen mergers in your sector, and what have the real world effects been? We got thousands and thousands of comments, a lot of them from workers who had noted, for example, the ways in which mergers that have gone through have ended up resulting in their pay being cut, their work schedules becoming less predictable, their working conditions becoming worse.

We heard from small businesses, independent businesses about how mergers have resulted in them being muscled out of markets—not because they can't compete, not because customers don't want their products, but because firms that have merged have been able to use their muscle to bully firms and push them out.

 So there are revisions that we put forward this summer, for example, address platform markets for the first time ever. They address labor markets, they make clear that the agencies are going to look at how mergers could [00:15:00] potentially limit competition. Not just in ways that will harm consumers, but also in ways that could harm workers and labor.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: The FTC and DOJ put out a draft of the new merger guidelines this summer and they give you a sense of how Lina is exploring broader types of harm than many of her predecessors. The FTC is now looking not just at how consumers might be harmed by a merger—by higher prices or less product variety—but also at how a merger might affect, you know, workers.

And in speeches and articles, she's also talked about harm to digital security—harm to privacy. But the merger guidelines are only one tool she has to change the way companies behave. For this agenda to have any real teeth, it comes down to filing actual lawsuits against companies that Lina Khan and the FTC allege have broken antitrust law.

And with those lawsuits, she's taken some pretty big swings. We asked Lina to walk us through four of those lawsuits. The first one was a case the FTC refiled against Facebook, arguing that some high profile [00:16:00] acquisitions from the last decade or so shouldn't have been allowed. 

LINA KHAN: One of the claims there was that Facebook had become dominant on the desktop market. Then they quickly saw that the market at a later stage was shifting to mobile, and they saw that firms like Instagram and WhatsApp instead were threatening to become more dominant in the mobile space and make Facebook irrelevant. So we allege Facebook made those acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp because it viewed them as a threat in the mobile market. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: The FTC is arguing that the courts should unwind the deal, force Facebook to divest itself of WhatsApp and Instagram. We reached out to Facebook's parent company, Meta, for comment, and they referred us to a previous statement in which they say, "Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today. They've been good for competition and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products." The court has not yet made a decision on this case. The FTC's lawsuit is still pending, but the case shows [00:17:00] how Lina Khan and the FTC are now thinking about why it's so important to stop anti competitive acquisitions earlier in the process.

The idea is that if regulators aren't paying close enough attention to emerging markets, especially in tech, huge dominant firms can just buy up any would be rivals and scuttle that market before it ever really gets going. 

LINA KHAN: These technological inflection points can be really important moments of new competition, so the incumbents oftentimes feel threatened during these moments. We want to be making sure that we're not allowing dominant monopolies today to also solidify their monopoly power in tomorrow's markets through these acquisitions. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: And this is the underlying philosophy that's also motivating the second lawsuit we're going to talk about.

Another case the FTC brought against Facebook—this one after it had been rebranded to Meta. Meta was trying to acquire a virtual reality company called Within Unlimited. And even though that VR market was still in its [00:18:00] tiniest infancy, the FTC argued that Meta's behavior was still anti competitive because it preempted competition that might otherwise bloom in the virtual reality space.

So Lina and the FTC used an old legal theory that hadn't been used much for decades, since basically before the whole backlash against aggressive antitrust enforcement. 

LINA KHAN: The FTC's case seeking to block Meta's acquisition of Within was really about what's known as "potential competition." The claims in the case included noting that Meta had actually been planning to enter this market itself and then ended up doing this acquisition in ways that short circuited that organic competition that we would have seen if Meta had organically looked to enter. So that was one of the counts. We also noted that just the mere fact that Meta was potentially going to enter also ended up disciplining the existing players in the VR market. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: Now in the case of Meta/Within Unlimited the courts decided not to block [00:19:00] that acquisition. Tell me a little bit about what happened in the decision and what lessons you're taking from that.

LINA KHAN: Look, we only bring cases where we believe there's a law violation, and our team did a terrific job putting together that case in a very compressed period of time. It's true, , we did not win and we were disappointed by that, but the court's decision also had a whole set of really important determinations about how this potential competition doctrine applies in digital markets.

In this case, one of Facebook's argument was that this doctrine is so old, it doesn't even apply to these markets. And the court firmly rejected that. It said, "No, this potential competition doctrine is alive and well, even in markets like digital markets, even relating to virtual reality," and it noted a whole set of important ways that that doctrine applies in this market and gave us a whole set of wins that we can build on in any future cases.

But of course, anytime we have setbacks in the court, we look closely at those [00:20:00] opinions and try to figure out what we do better. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: According to the court, the argument the FTC made in this case was, "impermissibly speculative," but the court did accept potential competition as a valid argument in theory, and Lina sees that as a kind of win.

How to Fight Monopoly Power with FTC Chair Lina Khan - Factually! - Air Date 11-8-23

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: When you're thinking about working with the courts, I was really struck by--I read one of Tim Wu's wonderful books a couple years ago, and his account of how this sort of transition happened was that the school of thought arose that all that mattered when judging a merger was whether prices went down. And one of the advantages was, that's very easy for a judge to understand. When we're talking about very complex financial transactions, and so the companies can just go say, Oh, the prices are going to go down and the judge is, Okay, well, as long as they are, bang! And so to some degree, it seems like you're part of a shift in a school of thought. But there's a bunch of people who maybe still have an older school of thought that you are not totally [00:21:00] in control of. And so I wonder, is it about trying to move the boulder a little bit by a little bit and making your case, and trying to change the overall body, or?

LINA KHAN: So look, the laws themselves talk about things like unfair methods of competition, monopolization. They don't say that can only manifest through increases in price. And so the laws are broad and flexible. And they're like that for a reason, because Congress recognized that, in 1890 or 1914, we can't foresee all the different ways that firms are going to monopolize markets unlawfully, and so we want to create flexibility. We want these statutes to be durable, to last over time. But what that means practically for us as agencies is that we need to continue to apply those laws to the new fact patterns that we're seeing. And the burden's on us to be persuading the courts and explaining to the courts why these traditional, century old laws should apply in this way in these new markets. 

And, we've [00:22:00] already had some successes. Shortly after I joined the FTC, the court just tossed out the complaint against Facebook and we had an opportunity to refile it. After we refiled it, we actually got a really good decision where we survived the motion to dismiss. And the court recognized that, for example, degradations of privacy by Facebook itself can also be an indication of market power. And so that was important because, especially in some of these digital markets where people are paying with their data rather than with their dollars, what harm looks like and what exercise of monopoly power looks like will be different, right? If you're not paying any dollars, it's not an increase in dollars that you're going to be suffering, but say an increase in data that you're surrendering that you didn't actually want to. 

And so we've already seen some incremental advances. I think there's a lot more opportunity. We're also in court on the consumer protection side in a case relating to Kochava, this company that we allege [00:23:00] has been making people sensitive geolocation data available to third parties in ways that's compromising people's privacy. And in that case, the court also has recognized that harms to privacy can intrinsically be a harm under the FTC statute. 

So we're already seeing some progress. Of course, there's a lot more to do. We have more cases in the pipeline. Another area where we've been very active is our dark patterns work. So dark patterns-- 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: I love this. Please. 

LINA KHAN: Dark patterns are basically these manipulative design tactics that firms can use online when designing their website or apps to try to nudge you in some places rather than another. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: When they make the close box really hard to find on the thing they want you to opt into.

LINA KHAN: Exactly. Exactly. And so, again, we have our traditional statute going back 100 years, and we're now applying that to these dark patterns online, and saying that the method of deception might be different, but it's deception all the same, and the tools that companies [00:24:00] have to do it in digital markets is just going to look different. And so that's another area that we've been successful. 

We're also doing a whole bunch of rulemakings, and so related to this, one of our rules right now is going to require that companies make it as easy to cancel a subscription as they do to sign up for one. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: That would be incredible. 

LINA KHAN: Because firms use all these dark patterns to make it easy to sign up.

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: I have been paying an embarrassing amount of money to my cable company for years because I don't want to call them on the phone, because I know that they're going to read me the whole script about--and I just I can't deal with it. I'm like, fine. 

LINA KHAN: Yeah. So this is our click to cancel rule. We've got a lot of positive feedback about it.


LINA KHAN: We're also going after junk fees. So these are the fees that are surprise fees that come on at the end of your transaction. They're called things like service fees, convenience fees. Somebody was just telling me about an email fee that they saw just to get 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: Even Uber has this. Okay, there's this charge, that charge, driver benefit charge--that's before a tip, it's infected really almost everywhere. 

LINA KHAN: [00:25:00] Right. And it's frustrating for consumers. It's costing people billions of dollars. But it also harms honest competition, right? Because what it does is that it hurts the firms that are being upfront with you about what the total price is. And if you're on the front end saying, hey, it's just $10, but then by the time you get to the checkout, it's actually $18. The firm that advertised as $16 on the front end is going to lose out. And so there's a real dimension of this that's also going to promote honest advertising rather than dishonesty. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: Because it's a way to make it look like you're getting a discount when you don't. And if some amount of people don't notice, then that's some unfair competition.

So when you say that you're putting rules in place, or is the merger guideline a rule? Does it count as a rule? Or is it a guideline? 

LINA KHAN: Good question! It's guidance. So it technically doesn't carry the force of law, but we hope it can be persuasive and instructive. 

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: That was my question where there's laws made by Congress, there's the rulings by judges, but you're able to put out rules which [00:26:00] are somewhere in between. What status do these rules and guidelines have? 

LINA KHAN: Yeah. So the guidelines are just looking to be persuasive. But when we do rules, those do carry the force of law. And so, for example, if we're able to finalize our click to cancel rule, our junk fees rule, that will mean that if a company engages in a violation of these rules, it'll be on the hook for money, we'll be able to take them to court, we'll be able to require that they pay back the victims. And so these rules actually do effectively carry the force of law, and that if they're violated, we can take enforcement action. 

We also proposed a rule in January that would eliminate non-compete clauses from people's employment contracts, which is another rulemaking that's really important to us.

ADAM CONOVER - HOST, FACTUALLY!: So that would eliminate non-compete clauses, what, just like nationally? 

LINA KHAN: Yeah, as we've proposed it, it would ban them nationally in people's employment contracts. There are minor exceptions for if you're looking to sell a business. But [00:27:00] these non-compete clauses started off in the boardroom, but they've really proliferated across the economy. And so you see security guards, fast food workers, but also journalists, engineers, health care workers, and so we've heard so many stories about how these non-competes a) are being used in coercive ways such that they're hurting workers. Our staff estimate that American workers are making $300 billion less because of these non-compete clauses. And it also means that there's just less job opportunity, right? These non competes actually lower wages, not just for people who are directly covered by them, but even for other workers. Because if you're covered by a non-compete and you're less likely to leave your job, that means there's less job opportunity, even for the workers that are not covered by the non-compete. And so overall, there's just less churn. 

Trial Of The Century Is A Secret No More w Luke Goldstein - The Majority Report - Air Date 12-21-23

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Let's go back. The case is about the fact that Google is the default search engine and are [00:28:00] they essentially making it impossible for any other search engines to emerge when they have essentially cornered the market on how you access it? For instance, right now, if I go to my iPhone and I put in the URL some term: Luke Goldstein, it'll take me to Google to search you. And I never made that choice. It's just default. 

Let's go through what's the evidence that default makes a difference? And if I can change this? And I think Google, their mantra was "it's four clicks away" or something. Explain that.

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, exactly. Okay. I'll take this step by step. So just first of all, this is the first major monopolization case that's been brought by the government in almost 20 years. The Microsoft case was the last major one. So to win these kinds of cases, it's a Section two Sherman Antitrust Act. You have to prove, first, that a [00:29:00] company holds a monopolistic position based on a certain amount of market share, which is somewhat flexible. But in this case, that's not really up for dispute. Google, by its own admission, has well over 90 percent market share of search engine, the search engine market.

Then the second step is you have to show that the company has used its monopolistic position to harm competitors here. What the government argues is that these default search agreements are, really, the kind of bread and butter. But what defaults do is they automatically give Google a certain amount of scale, because people are just set up, preinstalled to use Google. They get a huge amount of traffic with that. And the traffic, the number of search queries on Google's devices, basically gives an advantage to refine the machine learning that drives the algorithm and improve the search engine function [00:30:00] for its product. 

And Google is also collecting huge amounts of data through all that traffic. The data is the premium factor for advertisers, which is, of course, how the company actually makes money. So that scale and data advantage is basically an insurmountable barrier for any kind of upstart rival search engine that's trying to get into the market, that's trying to build a better product, or as we heard from some of the witnesses in this case, a completely different kind of business model for search engine. So we heard from this company called Neva that, probably not many of you have heard of because they had a very hard time getting off the ground. It was actually run by--the CEO was a former Google employee who knew the inner workings of the company, knew how the defaults worked, and said in open court, default agreements are one of the main reasons why we could never get any traction. They wanted to build a privacy-focused search engine that you would pay essentially a [00:31:00] very small subscription to use it. And they would make the revenues that way rather than selling advertising. When they would try to get distribution deals from carriers, internet companies, they would have meetings with executives and they would say, we'll let you on, but we're going to have to restrict your traffic basically, because we have this agreement with Google. And if there's anything that comes close to violating that contract, we could lose a huge amount of. money. And we're wary of doing that. 

So the government brought forward a bunch of-- 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: That's literally like saying Yeah, we'll feature your product in our store, but if it starts selling a lot, we're going to have to take it off the shelf.

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, exactly. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: If you succeed, we're going to have to stop you. It's amazing. 

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: And then I think then that's where we're at with the anti-monopolistic element of this is, should this company be able to be a one-stop shop for all of this kind of internet usage, because it creates anti-competitive incentives just based on the size alone.

If you could just respond to that, Luke, but [00:32:00] also, if you could expand more on what you talked about how they hoard data, and how useful that is in terms of maintaining a revenue stream, because the products that Google has come out with recently. I'm old enough to remember that Google Glass that went nowhere, you've got that how outside of that are they, that seems to me from the outside, how they make their money with the collection of all that data.

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, absolutely. 

Two quick points here, and then I'll expand it out. 

I mentioned these smaller competitors, Neva, there's another one, BranchMetrics. But the default agreements are not just this kind of --it's a carrot and a stick. So there's a carrot in that they're handing over all this revenue to the big companies in this kind of oligopolistic arrangement. It's also a stick in that Apple at one point, as we learned through evidence that was eventually made available to the public, Apple had actually considered at one point creating its own rival search engine. And when Google caught wind of [00:33:00] this, they sent them essentially a warning shot that was like, no default placement, no revenue share. We're going to take away the billions that we hand over to you.

Apple also considered creating a choice screen that you could decide what you wanted your default to be. And Google said the same thing, we'll punish you by taking away all this revenue that we're handing over to you.

Apple's Antitrust Problem Part 2 - Professor Talha Syed - The BTLJ Podcast - Air Date 3-10-24

STUDENT INTERVIEWER IMAN ESLAMI: So on January 5th, 2024, the New York Times reported that the DOJ is in the final stages of investigating Apple, and could file a sweeping antitrust case targeting the company for its anti-competitive strategies as soon as March of this year. This is not the first case against a large tech company in recent years, as we've talked about, but as the most valuable tech company in the world, having yet to face major antitrust litigation in this neo-Brandeisian moment and in this fundamental realignment, this feels significant.

What do you think are the merits of an antitrust challenge to Apple? 

PROFESSOR TALHA SYED: So, I can't know for sure, I can't say for sure, we don't know because the details [00:34:00] are scant yet of what the theory is. But for as best as we can surmise from media reports and from prior cases against Apple, in particular Epic versus Apple that went to the Ninth Circuit but was not given cert at the Supreme Court. What we can surmise is that fundamentally the case is going to revolve around the extent to which Apple is tying various secondary products, like its Apple Watch, its iMessage app, and the App Store itself, to the iPhone. So that's the fundamental idea. Apple has the iPhone, this juggernaut, and then it has a series of other products, which it seems to interlink in very technologically or contractually sticky ways, so that they are privileged by iPhone users against competitor products. 

So, I think that's the [00:35:00] fundamental central theory, a set of tying theories, if you will. And, now, the Epic versus Apple case, the Ninth Circuit decision, didn't directly, at least in the opinions, attack the tie between the iPhone and the App Store as a platform. But it seems to me this is the most promising theory. The most promising theory it seems to me is very much like the old Microsoft case in the nineties, when Microsoft was alleged to be tying its Internet Explorer to its Windows operating system.

So, I think here, the most plausible argument is Apple is tying the Apple Watch, the iMessage app, but most importantly, the Apple App Store to the phone. And that this is being done for the sake of leveraging its monopoly or market power in the smartphone to get market power [00:36:00] in smart watches or in app stores or in pricing the commissions of app suppliers to iPhone users. That to me is the most promising theory. 

STUDENT INTERVIEWER IMAN ESLAMI: But what do you think if Apple comes back and says people are buying all the products in our ecosystem because our products are just better?

I think back to myself. Before starting law school, I bought a new MacBook. I bought an Apple Watch, because I've been using the iPhone for almost 15 years now. And it just makes sense, the integration between all the products is helpful for me. And I think this is something that consumers might, you could argue, that consumers might want.

So, how do you think the government will argue against Apple saying that our products are just better? 

PROFESSOR TALHA SYED: So that's really great. And we have to separate three different arguments lurking in what you just said, which is, I think, exactly what Apple's going to say. And I think two of the arguments are plausible, but one is less so, right?

So, one argument that we already know, and we have Tim [00:37:00] Cook being cited, is to say Apple does not have market power or dominant market power anywhere. But I don't think that's really the claim. The claim isn't that Apple doesn't have market power. The point is, possessing market power isn't in itself illegal under Sherman Act Section 2.

What's illegal is not having a monopoly, but monopolization. And monopolization means the pursuit or acquisition of monopoly power through illegitimate or exclusionary or anti-competitive or willful means. And so fundamentally Apple's argument has to be that it legitimately got market power in the smartphone market through a better product, and it's now legitimately recouping its investments in that product through higher commissions and others might charge for app suppliers on the App Store. And it's legitimately integrating the App [00:38:00] Store with its phone, with the Apple Watch, to provide what it calls "the walled garden" of security and privacy and interoperability for customers--a better consuming experience. So that's Apple's best argument. Not that they don't have market power, but that they have market power legitimately acquired in one market. And that they're not illegitimately now leveraging that market power for market power in other markets. That's their best argument, but I'm not sure it holds up, because you can provide consumers integration in a more optional way. It doesn't have to be technologically sticky or fixed that the App Store is, or contractually fixed at the App Store is your default or only way of getting apps. Of course it's not your only way, but for most consumers it is. 

And so, if consumers truly wanted the benefits of the walled garden, there are arguably [00:39:00] lesser restrictive ways that Apple can provide those benefits without using its market power in the smartphone market to extend or increase market advantages in smartwatch or application platform markets.

And so I think that's fundamentally where the argument has to come down: Is Apple's walled garden integrated market argument going to hold up, or do we say, well, no, there's a lesser restrictive way that's substantially lesser restrictive on competition to provide consumers the option of this integration while still opening up access to iPhone consumers, other smart watchmakers, other app developers, other app stores.

FTC Chair Lina Khan on Antitrust in the age of Amazon Part 3 - Planet Money - Air Date 11-3-23

JEFF GUO, HOST, PLANET MONEY: Another one of her big swings? The FTC's attempt to block what are called vertical mergers. That's when companies buy up other companies in their industry that they don't directly compete with, like a car company buying a smaller tire manufacturer, for example. [00:40:00] Under recent mainstream interpretations of antitrust law, vertical mergers are generally seen as okay. They're not seen as anti-competitive. They're even seen as a way to improve efficiency, which is good for consumers. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: But, Lena Kahn argues, those mergers can come at a big cost. They can give a company too much power in an industry. And you can see this argument playing out in case number three, the FTC's attempt to block Microsoft from acquiring a video game company called Activision Blizzard.

JEFF GUO, HOST, PLANET MONEY: Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, they aren't direct competitors. Not exactly. Microsoft makes the popular gaming console, the Xbox, while Activision Blizzard makes games. But the FTC's case argued that this merger could allow Microsoft to starve other video game platforms, like the PlayStation, from getting access to big Activision games, like Call of Duty.

LINA KHAN (2): We've generally had a market where you could have platform agnostic content developers that are able to reach video [00:41:00] gamers through a whole set of platforms. And there's a risk that if this acquisition goes through, we'll instead see a shift to a series of walled gardens that will make it much more difficult for organic content to be getting to video game users.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: But the courts decided again in this case against the FTC. They let Microsoft's vertical merger go through, saying the FTC hadn't proven the deal would hurt consumers, though the FTC is still pursuing a case post merger. 

JEFF GUO, HOST, PLANET MONEY: This leads us to the fourth and final case that Lena walked us through, the one that many people across the world of antitrust had been waiting for for years. This fall, the FTC brought a case against the subject of her famous law school paper, against Amazon. 

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: But the crux of the FTC's case against Amazon rests on more conventional antitrust arguments about consumer welfare, that Amazon had had a policy that harmed its third party sellers, which ultimately had harmed consumers.

LINA KHAN (2): So our lawsuit lays out how [00:42:00] Amazon is, for example, harming the millions of merchants that rely on Amazon to access consumers. In today's digital economy, if you want to be visible in e-commerce, you generally have to sell on Amazon, and the lawsuit lays out a set of tactics that Amazon has deployed against those merchants that we believe are anti-competitive. It has basically dictated policies that say, if you sell on Amazon, you can't list your products on any other website for a price that's lower than what you're listing on Amazon. And one reason that ends up being problematic is because Amazon has also been hiking the fees that it charges these merchants. So these merchants face higher costs on Amazon, but are not able to raise their price on Amazon to reflect those higher costs. And instead they have to either raise their price on other websites, or they just stop selling anywhere else entirely, because Amazon is so punitive when it does see [00:43:00] that people have listed their products elsewhere for a lower price.

And so at the end of the day, Amazon's tactics are actually resulting in higher prices, not just on Amazon, but across the rest of the economy. And if you step back, in a healthy, competitive market, if you have a company that's raising prices for its customers and making the service worse, you should expect competition, right? It creates an opening for new businesses to come in and take business away from that incumbent. But we really haven't seen that successfully in this market. And we allege that in part because Amazon has engaged in illegal tactics to block rivals. And so it's able to harm its customers without really paying the price that it should in a competitive market.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI - HOST, PLANET MONEY: One thing that a lot of people have pointed out about this case is that it's not exactly the same prescription you called for in your famous law school paper. That frames the harm on terms that are familiar to the consumer welfare standard way of thinking about monopoly power. Help us understand how your kind of thinking and strategy has [00:44:00] changed between the time that you wrote that paper and now what you're bringing as chair of the FTC. 

LINA KHAN (2): I'll say as a general matter, the exercise of doing independent research and writing an academic paper is very different from being a law enforcer, where you have subpoena power, you can investigate what's really going on, and ultimately you're charged with, if you bring a complaint, making sure you're alleging law violations and setting up that case to succeed in court.

But that said, I'll also note that when you have the monopoly playbook, there are different life cycles of where you can be at any given moment. And the tactics that a firm will take to achieve monopoly power, to become a monopoly, will look different from the tactics that it deploys once it's become a monopoly and is really focused on protecting that monopoly and exploiting that monopoly power.

And so the case that we brought really reflects Amazon in the year 2023 and what we believe is now extraction mode, where having cemented its monopoly power, having locked out rivals [00:45:00] through this illegal tactics, it's able to extract from customers, both on the consumer side as well on the seller side.

And so that's what the case is about. If enforcers had investigated and decided to bring a case a decade ago, there's no doubt that the set of tactics that would have been focused there would have looked different. 

BONUS Real Estate Fees Crushed By Anti-Trust w David Dayen - The Majority Report - Air Date 3-26-24

DAVID DAYEN: The issue is that the national association of realtors and a bunch of large brokers have set up these conditions that mandate the 6% commission. And one way they do it is they control what is called the multiple listing service or the MLS. And if you're on Zillow, if you're on Redfin, and you're looking for houses, which, used to be the province of the buyer's agent, only the buyer's agent had, you know, the listings of what the houses were, now everybody has it because of these websites, so, like, why do we need a buyer's agent?, is a question. But the only way that you can get your house on the MLS as a seller is [00:46:00] if the agent stipulates specifically that how much of a commission they're going to give the buyer's agent. So, this is collusion, right? This is the seller's agent saying ,I will give you part of my fee and that is the condition for which I will list this home so everybody can see it. And so the seller's agent has to do that. The buyer's agent then knows, Okay, this house is listed, which means I know what amount of money I'm getting. A house that's unlisted, that's a for sale by owner, for example, I don't know how much I'm getting. So, the buyer's agent can steer their customers away from homes where they get a smaller fee. 

And so, this has been in place for a long, long time. And finally some plaintiffs' lawyers put together a class [00:47:00] in Missouri that said this is an illegal price fixing conspiracy. And they won the case. And they won the case with an insane verdict, that was given by a jury, of 1.8 billion dollars. And that was just for sellers of homes in Missouri, right? This is not the whole country, 1.8 billion. And because it's an antitrust case, you can triple the damages. So, the judge could put that at 5.4 billion dollars just for Missouri. That verdict came out last year. It ended up spurring a bunch of copycat cases. The National Association of Realtors was on the hook for tens of billions of dollars which they don't have. And so what they did was they settled this case, just last friday for I think 418 million dollars. 

But more important than that, [00:48:00] they said, Okay, we will end this rule that in order to get listed on the MLS you have to split the commission. And what this is going to likely do is create new standards in the industry that will dramatically drop the amount of commissions that sellers pay, and to a certain extent buyers pay, and that is likely, according to economists that have looked at this, to be a 30% reduction in these fees.

By the way, the US pays the 6% commission, in the UK the commission is more like 1%. So, we have the highest commissions on real estate in the world, and this ruling, and the settlement is going to likely bring those more in line with the rest of the world, which means a savings of about 30 billion dollars for people who buy and sell homes. This is a hundred [00:49:00] billion dollar a year business, real estate commission. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Nobody does middlemen like we do middlemen here. I mean, all this sounds like, you know, managers in show business and sort of the double dealing that happened with, you know, the manager becomes the executive producer and all of a sudden they're working both for the buyer and the seller at the same time, essentially. 

All right, but okay, so let's talk sort of like practically what we can maybe expect, because the seller is still responsible ostensibly for 3% of the seller agent. Do we know how this... let's put it this way: Is there going to be any standardization? Because like I know in New York City, it 's been that 3%, but if you go upstate, you can have the option of paying your seller-broker and hiring them and getting some type of exclusive deal with them, and I [00:50:00] don't know if they end up getting the commission or not at that point, but it's a different relationship that's not available, I think in New York City. So I don't know what it is in other places. 

DAVID DAYEN: I think you're going to see a lot of innovation in this industry. And the example to look to is travel agents. We don't really use them anymore unless you're a large business that is conducting a great deal of travel, there really aren't a lot of travel agents out there. And that is because companies sprouted up and said, Hey, you can book this and we'll make it real easy and you can book this on your own. I think that's the kind of thing that you're going to start seeing with respect to the buyer side of the business. So, you could see a buyer agent put up an offer of, Hey, I'll do this for a flat fee, $2,000 I'll do it for a flat fee. And that would be a tremendous savings. They're going to undercut that competition because there actually will be competition now. And I think the [00:51:00] buyer is going to have a lot of better options. Now, it won't seem like better options because the buyer will have to pay that maybe up front and make an arrangement with their agent up front. Whereas now they just hire an agent and they kind of feel like they don't pay them, but they do, because it all gets folded into the price of the sale.


DAVID DAYEN: And so these commissions are a portion of that sale price. So, what you're likely going to see is the sale price come down you know. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: So I've been looking at a house for, whatever it is, $250,000, and this comes out this ruling comes out, and they've made this change, theoretically, I'm looking at that thing and it should all of a sudden be like, $10,000-15,000 less or something like that, right? 

DAVID DAYEN: Yeah. And I think that the dynamics of the market are such that that is what's going to happen. And so it's really a reduction of fees, junk fees, you could [00:52:00] say, on on real estate sales, but it will look like a reduction of prices in the cost of homes.

BONUS Trial Of The Century Is A Secret No More w Luke Goldstein Part 2 - The Majority Report - Air Date 12-21-23

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: There was a quote that you had in your piece—I can't remember what it was—along the lines of, like, We don't have to spend anything on improving this thing. We've locked it all up. 

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah. It's almost even better. I'll tell you some of the backstory behind that. That full document that that's from is, it's one of Google's top executives, I believe it's the vice president of advertising, who's comparing Google's business model to drug markets and cigarettes in terms of how lucrative it is. And that was a major moment in the fight for public access in the trial. Google and the Department of Justice were fighting over whether that document was going to be presented in open court. And this was just one of many, many such instances. Google pushed as much as it could to keep proceedings of sensitive, you know, documents and evidence, they wanted them to be in closed door [00:53:00] proceedings rather than open court. And in that moment, in the fight over that document, Google also took this opportunity to try to kind of admonish the Department of Justice because they had been publishing evidence shown in open court on a sort of digital portal on its website, which to my understanding, and from other people I spoke to, is fairly common practice for these kinds of cases.

The judge got mad at the Department of Justice for not informing him that they'd been doing this, and he told them to take down all the public evidence that was already being shown in open court. And that's when a Bloomberg reporter, Leah Nylen, actually stood up from the audience section and protested this decision and said, this is important public access, it's public evidence, we would like to have a third party representative from the press in the room if you're actually going to go forward with this. That was this kind of watershed moment when a lot of outside outlets started to, kind of [00:54:00] realize that, Well, you know, why aren't we hearing that much of what's coming out of this courtroom? There were a number of articles about how... 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: I want to just, I would just want to, I want people to understand the context of this, 'cause this really is extraordinary. And because, the judge had decided there would be no audio feed for this court. Now, why is that important? Because if there's an audio feed, you can be anywhere in the country. Where was this? This took place in where? 

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: DC District courthouse. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: In DC. So,you could be in New York. You could be in San Francisco. You could be a tech reporter. You could be an antitrust lawyer. It doesn't matter. You could be a reporter. You could literally report on the case from afar. Instead, everybody has to go. And there's a limited amount of resources to send people. But then on top of that, you have veteran reporters of antitrust cases, and there's really not that much of a beat for that as much anymore, because the last one was Microsoft, which we should say, very similar case in terms of default, but we can talk about that in a moment. [00:55:00] And it really is sort of—I mean, I don't want to overhype this—but like a reporter gets up in the middle of a case, it's not, it's not like they're party to this case. They're just in the, basically, the peanut gallery saying there's something really going on here. 

And it's interesting because to me, what really provides insight is, the judge is intimidated, it feels, like from the beginning by Google, on some level, and just acquiesces. The DOJ, I think Matt Stoller is quoted in your piece saying the DOJ, they just want to win. And if they buck up against the judge, the judge could be predisposed to being annoyed by the DOJ and they feel like they can win because they have access to it and they can just make this case. 

But it's amazing how the judge is both intimidated by what the defendant, and then when there is light [00:56:00] shined on this dynamic, in a dramatic fashion—and we've had people on, I think, reporting on how all of this stuff was being kept secret, and it doesn't make the same splash—but when this reporter stands up, then other reporters, particularly The New York Times, are sort of like, almost embarrassed or, slash, see a thread they can pull and the whole process starts going.

So, she gets up there from Bloomberg and says, This is wrong. And then what happens? 

LUKE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah. So, there's this kind of arrangement, as you described, that is really led by Google. I mean, it became clear in the first couple of weeks, Google devised this strategy that was, you know, We want to control the narrative coming out of this courtroom and so we're going to try and just block as much information as possible and kind of just hope to sweep this under the rug. People will sort of tune out. We think that'll [00:57:00] work in our favor. And judge Mehta, in the early court proceedings, had this quote when they're just figuring out procedural stuff, and he says, you know, I'm just, I'm slightly paraphrasing here, but not that much, he says, I'm just a mere trial judge. I don't understand how complicated technology markets work. So, you know, I'm going to more or less defer to Google here. And that was kind of maybe like the original sin of the trial. He actually admits this later on. 

And as you said, the Department of Justice, you know, they're trying to win the case. They don't want to be an irritant, really. They want to stay on the judge's good side. So, there's this really kind of awkward complicity between the parties. Leah Nylen stands up and at that point, I also should note that that week, over half of the proceedings had been in closed court session. So, the other thing that does for press access: it was kind of a boiling point, is what I'm saying. So, [00:58:00] you're a reporter and you're in DC, okay? You've already overcome that obstacle. You show up, there's no trial list when you show up for that day in court, you don't know how much of it's going to be in open court. A lot of people just stop showing up. I mean, you don't have copy to turn into your editor by the end of the day. Most of the reporters are just kind of hanging out in the hallway. Hoping to, see when they can get back in the court or, put a mic in some lawyer's face who's coming out of this closed court session.

So, that moment with Leah Nylen kind of breaks this spell and the judge sort of eases off and from the rest of the court, for the rest of the trial, I mean, it's all in in open court. That was one actual, kind of concrete victory. But there's this other problem, which is that Google wants to have this review process for evidence that's already been shown in open court, for the posting of those documents. And the judge kind of acquiesces, allows for there to be some kind of [00:59:00] streamlined process for both parties, DOJ and Google, to decide on this. But Google kind of has a veto. And the delays to all that evidence and transcripts getting out is what then gets The New York Times it involves and files this motion to protest the public access and the trial.

Final comments on the new show format tried out in the campus protesters episode as well as a retraction

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Planet Money, describing the history of antitrust law. The BTLJ Podcast explained the sudden rise in interest in antitrust action. Planet Money continued talking with FTC chair, Lina Khan, about her thoughts on the need for a renewed antitrust movement. Factually with Adam Conover also spoke with Lena Khan, who explained that the courts are beginning to see things like privacy as relevant to monopoly power. The Majority Report discussed the current case against Google. The BT LJ Podcast looked at the arguments against Apple in their antitrust case. And Planet Money finished off with Lina Khan discussing the impact of vertical mergers. [01:00:00] 

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from The Majority Report discussing the case against the real estate companies artificially locking in higher than reasonable commission structures for themselves. And The Majority Report also looked at how the case against Google went from closed sessions to open court, a win for journalism.

And now to wrap up just a couple of quick notes about the previous episode on the campus protest against Israel's war in Gaza, the first is to issue a retraction, which I am not sure I have ever had to do before. So this is new. 

In short, there was a comment made by a college activist referring to stories they'd heard, which is always a questionable way to start a sentence before conveying information, that turns out to be almost certainly untrue, and at the very least unsupported by any reporting that I could find. 

And to be clear, I did hear this comment in the production process, [01:01:00] about how the Israeli military was treating the bodies of dead Palestinians in relation to hundreds of bodies being discovered buried next to a hospital. And I thought to myself, Really? I better check on that. And then I forgot. Now the hundreds of dead bodies next to the hospital seems to be true. And even the story of bodies being buried, exhumed and reburied also seems to be true, likely because Israel's military were hoping to ID hostages who had been killed, so they were digging up bodies to take DNA samples or in any other way, ID the bodies. But any accusations beyond that, which originally appeared in the show, but have now been removed, can't be supported with evidence. 

So we regret the error. Like I said, I always had my doubts and I simply forgot to double check them. And as a big believer in knowing the difference between [01:02:00] explanations and excuses, I know exactly what the explanation is for why I forgot to check. I can tell you all about how the week leading up to the publication of that episode went and you'd be like, oh yeah, that does somewhat explain it. But still, that is not the same as an excuse. So I don't mind simply taking it on the chin for this one. And I only bother to explain further to say that I truly don't believe that this was an example of a systemic problem with the show or our curation process or editorial guidelines or anything like that. It is very much rather a specific circumstance with a specific, unfortunate result. 

And speaking of specific and unique circumstances, if you haven't already heard the episode on campus protestors, please do, because it's an experiment with a brand new format of the show. I mean, well, actually it's both exactly the same and completely different from what you're used to. It's the first major change I've tried out in like [01:03:00] 17ish years. So I would love to hear your thoughts on it. My hope is that listeners will like to have the option to dive deeper into specific subtopics related to the main thrust of the show, in what I'm referring to as extra lettered sections, like in a newspaper. But for those who like things the way they are, they can stick with the front page, which will continue to be the same show you know. That's the idea so far, but I am happy to hear suggestions, criticisms, whatever you've got to help make any changes to the show as good as they can be. 

So that is going to be it for today. As always, keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991 or simply email me to [email protected].

Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our [01:04:00] transcriptionist quartet, Ken, Brian, Ben, and Andrew for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work behind the scenes and her bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today at BestoftheLeft.com/support. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can continue the discussion. 

So coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.

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