All-Star Panelist Aaron Gulbransen on Freedom of Speech and the Fight for the Public Square

Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Aaron Gulbransen in studio to discuss freedom of speech, the press, and the battle for the public square.

Leahy: We’re joined in studio by the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report, also the state director of the Tennessee State, director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the former lead political reporter of The Tennessee Star, Mr. Aaron Gulbransen. Good morning, Aaron.

Gulbransen: Good morning. I got to take a little issue. This is just my rule. I don’t listen to Christmas music. You made me break my rule by sitting here in the studio. (Leahy laughs) I do not listen to Christmas music until December 1st.

Leahy: We understand the rule and we are sympathetic. (Gulbransen chuckles) We have empathy for you. But our guest host, the original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael, had a specific request of us that after Thanksgiving we play Christmas bumper music. But I understand December because, you know, it’s just like you got to wait for Christmas. I get it, but we’re an accommodating program.

Gulbransen: There you go. Far be it for me to dis Crom. What’s your favorite Christmas song, by the way?

Leahy: Our listeners will know that my favorite Christmas song and Patrick knows what it is. “A Tender Tennessee Christmas,” Written by Gary Chapman and performed by Amy Grant. Released, I think, in 1984. I first heard it in 1989, living in Sonoma, California.

And Gary Chapman was sitting in your seat a couple of weeks ago when we talked about that song and how significant it was in my life. And it ended up being an influencer in our decision to move to Tennessee. Thank goodness.

Gulbransen: There you go.

Leahy: We moved to Tennessee, the greatest state in the United States of America.

Gulbransen: My favorite, and this should come as a shocker, given my background, where I grew up.

Leahy: Does it have WWE?

Gulbransen: No. It is “Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte.

Leahy: I’ve never heard of “Dominick the Donkey.”

Leahy: Well, our crack producer …

Gulbransen: He’s going to have to play it.

Leahy: Our outstanding producer Patrick will find “Dominick the Donkey” at some point. I don’t know if I’ll have it today, but I’ll pass on “Dominick the Donkey.” Any song with that name is rough. Let’s talk about what’s going on in the world today.

Freedom of speech is at risk and freedom of the press is at risk. We know this at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. How do we know this? Because when we put a story up that hurts the left, we get a denial of service attack.

We’ve had a couple of them with our reporting at The Arizona Sun-Times. We own 12 state-based news sites. The Tennessee Star, of course, being the flagship of them. And we’ve talked about this many a time. Facebook is throttling our stories. Google is throttling our stories. There was a period of time when Twitter was throttling our stories, but no longer.

Twitter’s not throttling our stories. And there is a big fight. Elon Musk has acquired Twitter for $44 billion and Fortune 500 companies have responded. He’s restored freedom of speech and people aren’t banned from Twitter, except for pedophiles and terrorists, but normal people are back on.

How have Fortune 500 companies responded to this? Apparently, half of them have said, we’re not going to advertise with you because you support freedom of speech. It’s not quite like that. So you got that going on.

Then there’s a report that Apple is going to remove Twitter from the App Store. This is a report. And Elon Musk said, game on. Elon Musk is an unusual character. I don’t think he’s left or right, but I don’t think he’s a lefty. He’s just for freedom of speech. What do you make of all this?

Gulbransen: This is kind of like to use an old WWE term from 10-15 years ago when Donald Trump appeared on WWE television. This is kind of a battle of the billionaires at the moment, with Elon Musk taking on Tim Cook and Apple.

Of course, he takes his potshots and long-standing feud with Amazon owner or majority shareholder Jeff Bezos. It’s this constant fight for control of what is known as the public square. And now, mind you, this is a private company, and Elon has not given unlimited free speech on his platform.

Leahy: You say Twitter is a private company.

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: TESLA is not. TESLA is publicly traded, but Twitter is private.

Gulbransen: And so since Elon is able to control all of his companies in one form or another, he’s threatening to come up with his own version of the iPhone.

Leahy: I’m all in favor of that, by the way.

Gulbransen: And I have to tell you, I’ve been told by many security experts that you don’t want to have an iPhone anyway, the Chinese and other organizations are a lot easier to hack than an Android oddly enough.

So it’s interesting. I think we’ve reached a point in the previous ownership and iteration of Twitter has shown us this, and of course, Facebook continues to do it.

As an aside, I’d really like to see if because Elon has opened up Twitter to more conversations if Facebook and Instagram, and Google are doubling down. And what I mean is, are they being even harder on free speech on their platforms than they were previously? They were pretty damn hard before.

Leahy: Generally speaking, what you see from Democrats and legacy media and Big Tech, when challenged with facts, they are double down on suppressing alternative views. That’s been their pattern.

If you look at, I don’t know, but politically at this pattern, the Democratic Party has done this. They double down. They triple down, no dissent is allowed. It’s worked.

Gulbransen: It has.

Leahy: It has worked for them. But they have something that Republicans don’t have, which is lemming-like unity and loyalty to the leader.

Gulbransen: For many years, the only real bastion of any kind of free speech has been talk radio.

Leahy: I agree. I mean we can say things here on this radio program. We can express our views as long as we don’t say a few particularly bad words.

Gulbransen: Right.

Leahy: Which we don’t say. As long as we don’t say those bad words we can say whatever want to. And we do say whatever we want to. But this is a very small space in the public square because the public square is dominated now not only by the internet but by apps.

You get all these apps that send you the news. You’ve got The Washington Post which is Jeff Bezos’s private left-wing newsletter. You get that. You go on the internet and you are just bombarded with leftwing news.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Wiki person that edits. CC BY-SA 4.0.


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One Thought to “All-Star Panelist Aaron Gulbransen on Freedom of Speech and the Fight for the Public Square”

  1. william r. delzell

    You Republicans don’t believe in free speech for anybody except yourselves!