WASHINGTON — In his October 1936 address at Madison Square Garden to announce the Second New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt took aim at the forces of “organized money” fighting his populist agenda. The “old enemies of peace,” he called them, singling out business monopolies, financial speculators, out-of-control banking, and war profiteering. He said these forces and the monied interests behind them had come to see government as an “appendage” of industry, that the best government was an indifferent one. Then Roosevelt uttered one of his most famous lines: “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”
Of the Democratic presidential candidates, no individual seems to inspire more fear and hatred among the nation’s financial and tech elites than Elizabeth Warren. And by all accounts, Warren welcomes their hatred.
On Tuesday, the Verge published leaked audio of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking candidly about everything from competing with TikTok to Facebook’s cryptocurrency project to government regulation during two private all-staff meetings earlier this summer. At one point, Zuckerberg invokes Warren in response to a question about the possibility of future regulators breaking up Facebook. “If [Warren] gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge,” Zuckerberg says, according to the audio. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government…But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”
It’s true: One of Warren’s most ambitious plans calls for tougher antitrust oversight and enforcement of massive tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, and Google. For Facebook specifically, Warren wants to appoint new regulators who would cleave away Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook. The result of that, she contends, would lead to more competition among tech platforms for users and advertisers, which would cause more dollars to reach the musicians, news publications, comedians, and other creators who increasingly depend on social media to share their content with the world.
Warren responded to Zuckerberg by embracing his comments. “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system,” she tweeted, “that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
This is hardly the first time an executive inside an insanely lucrative industry has singled out Warren for criticism.
A few weeks ago, CNBC reported that Wall Street executives who had previously supported Democrats were contemplating sitting out the presidential race — or backing President Trump — if Warren won the nomination. “You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’” an anonymous private equity executive bravely told CNBC. Jim Cramer, CNBC’s resident screaming-head pundit, said the message he’d heard from financial leaders was that Warren has “got to be stopped.”
Warren’s response? “I’m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message.”
I'm Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message. https://t.co/2Ewkbm0ZwA
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 10, 2019
And earlier this summer, during a primetime interview on Fox News, Peter Thiel, the libertarian venture capitalist and Trump supporter, told host Tucker Carlson that the Democratic candidate he feared most was Warren. Thiel called her “the dangerous one” and said she was “the one who’s actually talking about the economy, which is the only thing — the thing that I think matters by far the most.”
Warren’s reaction to Thiel’s “dangerous” comment was as memorable as it was short: