Jane Mayer talking:
it’s very unusual, what happened with this man, David Magerman. He is a senior employee at Renaissance Technologies, this wildly lucrative hedge fund. And he spoke out about Mercer’s views. I mean, the thing is, this hedge fund is very secretive. It has its own sort of secret sauce about how to make money. Nobody there talks. They’re all also getting so rich. There’s a lot to lose by alienating the people who run the firm. And so, it was very unusual that Magerman came forward.
But what happened was, he is involved in Jewish politics, Jewish causes in Philadelphia. And he became very concerned about the Mercers’ role in the campaign and the sort of the promotion of the alt-right, which has these anti-Semitic strains to it, and got into a conversation with Bob Mercer that devolved into an argument about politics. And at some point, Magerman said to his boss, Bob Mercer, you know, “You are using money that I helped earn for this firm to do these things. And if you’re harming America, you have to stop.” And he spoke to colleagues about it, and Mercer called him and said, “I understand you’re saying I am a white supremacist.” And Mercer said, “That’s ridiculous.” And Magerman said, “Well, I didn’t use those words exactly, but, you know, you’ve got to stop doing this.” Eventually, this fight got written up in The Wall Street Journal. Magerman spoke to The Wall Street Journal. And when that happened, when it went public, the firm suspended Magerman for 30 days from his job without pay, and—which God knows how much that would be.
And at that point, Magerman didn’t back down. He wrote an essay himself about how he saw things. And what he wrote is really very eloquent, I thought, which is that he says about his boss, Mercer, “He’s making an investment. He’s buying shares in this candidate, Trump. And now that Trump’s been elected, he owns a piece of him. He owns a share of the presidency.” And he said, you know, “Everybody’s got a right to express their own political views, but it’s a real worry when the government of the United States is being set up to reflect—is being peopled by Mercer’s people, who are running our government, and it feels more like an oligarchy than a democracy.” So, anyway, Magerman was one of the people who actually opened the—allowed one to get a glimpse of what it is that Mercer believes.
– Arthur Robinson, who is also the person that Mercer intervened on behalf of when he was running for Oregon’s governor. He bankrolled this institute and has been pushed to be a science adviser to Trump, this man who believes that nuclear radiation is good for you.
he is an eccentric. He lives on a sheep farm in Oregon. And as he says, he’s a graduate of Caltech. But, you know, if you listen carefully to what he was saying to Rachel Maddow, he’s talking about how “I am a physical scientist, and thus can come to this conclusion about climate change.” He is not a climate scientist. And he put together a petition that was meant to undermine belief in global warming, that had the signatures, he claimed, of zillions of physical scientists. It actually had a lot of, apparently, false signatures. And these scientists, again, were not climate scientists.
The consensus, as I think most people who are fact-based and interested in reality—the consensus we know is that science, overwhelmingly, and particularly climate scientists, overwhelmingly, accept that man-made global warming is causing all kinds of problems and that they are an immediate danger to life on Earth, and it’s something that we need to address.
But you have a few of these sort of holdouts, and Arthur Robinson is one of them. And Mercer is another. And Mercer has helped fund this research by Arthur Robinson and then—and promote it. And the Mercers have talked about, as you mentioned, trying to make Arthur Robinson get chosen as the national science adviser. Trump, too, has taken this position, calling global warming a hoax. It’s a tiny minority view, even in this country. If you look at—The New York Times did a piece this week about belief in global warming. The population understands this isn’t—this isn’t true, this position that these people are taking. But because you’ve got huge money behind it, including Mercer’s, it’s being pushed as the policy of the United States.
– Bannon and the Mercers
from what I’ve been able to figure out, Bannon and Rebekah Mercer are quite close. They’re partners politically, in many ways. She’s the money in the team, and he is the kind of political vision. There are people who know the Mercers, who have worried that their kind of evolution into this tremendous political influence role is the work of Bannon and, to some—that he may have become kind of a Svengali to the whole family. But at any rate, they seem to be working closely together. In the past, they’ve talked a lot, quite frequently. Bannon is a social guest of the Mercer family. They have a tremendous yacht, 203 feet long, that costs $75 million. And he’s, you know, been described by The Wall Street Journal as kind of hanging out on it like a member of the family. And so, they are close. And they’re aligned on many things.
As you mentioned, there are areas of disagreement, particularly between Bob Mercer and Bannon, politically. Bob Mercer is stridently and extremely antigovernment, wants to just, you know, reduce it to a pinhead, according to David Magerman. And Bannon has been talking about an expensive, really expensive, infrastructure program in this country. And so, that would be a point of tension. That would be a government program that Bannon supports and that this family does not. But they are aligned on this idea of deconstructing the administrative state, which sounds like gobbledygook. But what is it really? They’re talking about completely gutting all kinds of government programs and regulations that have to do with things like the environment, that they’ve—just completely undoing the EPA from the inside by putting someone like Scott Pruitt in charge of it, who, basically, doesn’t believe in its mission.
the language is the language of populism. But the enemy, in his view, is government. And so, if you substitute the word “government” for “elites,” when he’s talking about taking on the elites, you end up pretty much in the same place where the Kochs have been all this time, the Koch brothers, who actually worked closely with the Mercers for a few years. They’re undoing the—sort of the government as we know it, which has, you know, the protections for people, for workers, for the environment, for the poor, for the disabled. That’s where—that’s where they’re heading with this.
staff writer at The New Yorker. Her latest piece is headlined “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency.”
— source democracynow.org