Saturday, October 22, 2011

How the Peter Schiff Show Interview Really Went Down

I continue to be amazed at how the interview on Peter's show went down relative to how it sounds on the YouTube clip. As I pointed, I was muted out during main parts of the debate.

In the comments, Joe Fetz, who describes himself as audio production hobbyist has this to say about the interview and what techniques Schiff might have been using:

I've listened to the audio.

On any audio compressor, you have different settings such as the threshold (at what audio level the effect begins to compress), ratio (the ratio of loud vs quiet noises allowed in the compressed signal), attack (how quickly the signal is compressed), and release (how long it takes for the compression to subside after a particular audio signal has stopped). While compression is typically used to increase the overall signal gain of an audio channel, it can also be used to decrease the gain of all other audio channels other than the primary channel (this is ducking).

A ducking compressor uses a process called "side-chaining" to allow one audio channel to control the amount of compression used to reduce the gain of all other audio channels. This is a very important tool in radio, especially when one channel must be heard over all other channels (such as with talk radio or speech over music).

As I said, it is typical to use a soft ducking effect when doing something like a live commercial. You want the listener to hear the content of the commercial, but the host's voice must be prominent. Soft ducking is also used when there is a radio show that has more than one host. Typically, the "main" host has the primary signal, while the other hosts have soft ducking on their channels (you can still hear them, but when the main host is speaking their channels are quieter than his).

It should be quite obvious when and where to use hard ducking. On any call-in talk radio show, hard ducking is used on all of the random radio callers. The reasons vary from technical issues like line-noise or background noise from the callers position to something as simple as the fact that the host likes to talk over all of his callers or that most callers don't have much to contribute in the first place. Listen to any call-in radio show and you can hear the effect in action.

When it comes to call-in "guests", it is common radio etiquette and courtesy to use soft ducking. From what I heard, not only was Schiff using hard ducking for your spot, but he also set a quick attack and a slow release. The only reason to do this is to make sure that the other side doesn't get any words in edgewise.
Here's what really went down.

Although it sounds like I stopped talking, Peter interrupted me three times during the first part of the interview. He just talked over me. The first time it happened I thought it was rude, but, hey, I have had worse things happen. I waited for him to finish and then continued with a point. He interrupted me again, this time I thought I was not letting him get away with it. I said, "Peter...Peter...Peter...Peter." Trying to indicate that I did not give up the floor when he interrupted me. I was amazed that Peter didn't respond, since I thought it would show how rude Peter was being. Especially, when I called out Peter's name four times and gave him opportunity to stop between each time I called out his name. Now, I realize why he was unconcerned.

The third time he interrupted me, I simply continued talking. This went on for a full 15 to 20 seconds. I remember thinking to myself, "I can't believe Peter is letting this crosstalk go on." Again, now I understand why he was unconcerned.

Finally, in total frustration, I tried to take the conversation in a different direction, where a discussion might actually take place. This is when I asked Peter a question about the stock market to calm things down and I had some other questions for him, but Peter took the topic back to taxes. This was where I brought up the head tax, and more cross talk occurred.

At this point, I had figured out The Peter Schiff Show game, which was that I had the opportunity to get one sentence out before Peter could technically take me out of the conversation. Since Peter wasn't going to allow me to completely express my view on the consumption tax on his show, despite his inviting me on the show for just that purpose, I decided to take the debate over here to EPJ. In my one final sentence, I gave the address for EPJ and said I would post Murray Rothbard's take on the consumption tax and how it ultimately falls on the land and labor.

This seems to have worked, thousands of additional visitors have visited EPJ since my appearance on Peter's show. Welcome listeners of the Peter Schiff radio show.

Finally, one additional note. As I said on the show, since I am not running for office, I really don't do much thinking about a middle game of what I would do about taxes, if I were President. Since Peter raised the question, I have thought more about it.

Peter's father is in prison for tax evasion. One of the first things I would do as President is pardon Peter's father and others in the same situation and then I would bring down taxes so low that tax evasion would not make sense for anyone to attempt, for either pecuniary reasons or on principle. I think it's a better plan than Herman Cain's.


  1. "Peter's father is in prison for tax evasion. One of the first things I would do as President is pardon Peter's father and others in the same situation and then I would bring down taxes so low that tax evasion would not make sense for anyone to attempt, for either pecuniary reasons or on principle."


  2. Peter's show. Peter's rules. Sure he can be obnoxious at times,but that's the way he was raised. Also I believe his mind is already a few steps ahead of most people. Kind of genius like. Don't take it so personally. He converses like that with everyone.

  3. Well RW, now you are beginning to feel in a small way on what Dr. Paul is up against. Muted but non the less a force, and Schiff knows this. Paul and Wenzel, I rely on them, a shoulder, two pet rocks.


  4. Interesting technical insights. Have noticed that Mr. Schiff often does seem to overpower guests, coming off at times as rude. After all,
    why bother with a guest if the information, or differing opinion they provide is overshadowed? But overall I tend to like most his shows, sources good guests, so he must believe it is working for him. But, message to Peter if he reads any of this, give your guests more air-time.

  5. I think, in general, Peter is sharp as a tack...and I'm a big fan.

    However (and unfortunately) he has a history of being quite rude...almost O'reilly-like. At certain times, like when he's battling the talking drones on CNBC, I don't mind it as much.

    But when you're trying to have an intelligent conversation (e.g., with a Rothbardian) he needs to learn how to change gears and know when to be silent.

  6. This was normal Peter Schiff. Nothing personal against you. I believe Peter has such a huge ego and he sincerely believes his understanding is the correct one, that all the interruptions and not letting guests talk come naturally to him, not just for the sake of attacking and winning, but because he always believes he's right. He has no interviewing skills.

    He's also quite an egoist. Everything is about him. Even when he asks people to call his show, he says things like "lines are open, I need more calls" or "tell your friends about the show, I need more listeners". You get the idea. He's not even aware of it.

    Listen to the show where he interviewed Ann Coulter. Man did she handle him brilliantly. Soon enough Peter was giving his opinion instead allowing Ann to explain hers. She says: "that's a nice little theory. Why don't you write a book. Then I will invite you to my show and I will talk about my own columns". ha ha ha

    Nevertheless, I still listen to Peter's show, because he does provide useful insights and good explanations of what's going on. But I think he needs to learn how to interview people or quit having guests.

  7. "I would bring down taxes so low that tax evasion would not make sense for anyone to attempt, for either pecuniary reasons or on principle"

    Bob, you are nuts. First you criticize Peter for supporting 9-9-9 instead of 0-0-0. So basically, you are arguing on principle.

    And now you say that you will bring taxes so low that no one can argue on principle.

    So this implies that you are saying that you will lower taxes to 0.

    But then you avoid the main point of the debate between you and Schiff, which was "How would you fund a govt, if it were to not rely wholly on voluntary donations from the slaves?"

    So, please stop avoiding the question and stay on topic.

  8. Robert,

    I tried warning you on your post about going on the show!!! I don't think you got to my post in time though. Peter does this to everyone...even when he's not even on his own show!

    Ever since the "Peter Schiff was right" video came out...he got a huge ego. I get it, he has a business, probably made a lot of money and he's on TV. But, to be rude and arrogant is uncalled for. It's the main reason I stopped paying attention to him. I used to listen to his old radio shows and read his books...but I can't stomach the guy anymore. When you meet someone as humble as Dr. Paul (who called for the bubble to burst YEARS before Peter ever did) , you don't have the stomach for someone who wants nothing but attention.

    One thing I noticed is that when Peter ran for Senate...he used to get irritated that people wouldn't donate to him. Especially seeing how well Ron Paul did with his money bombs. Peter would raise decent money bombs ($100K+)...but would then do youtube videos for his site where he would call out his fans for not donating enough. We all know he's loaded...probably why no one donated.

    Guys like him are more concerned about their image more than anything else. They just want to be accepted. It's an inferiority complex. He doesn't feel enough love from the MSM like CNBC because they just laugh at him whenever he's on.

    Peter, I KNOW you will be reading this (or someone from your office will) get over yourself. You are much too arrogant and dismissive. You are a smart guy...use it for something good other than trying to prove to guys like Art Laffer that you "belong"

  9. Peter is very intelligent. This is out of the question. We all know that he very often talks to and debates with Keynesians and Marxists which can be pretty frustrating, but when he is debating a fellow Austrian (a Rothbardian in this case) he should be more patient, more polite, should listen more and not interrupt.

  10. "Peter's show. Peter's rules."

    Then why have Wenzel on at all? What a stupid statement.

  11. I made one small error. The release setting on a compressor controls how quickly the effect subsides after the audio signal falls below the threshold (not when audio stops). Not a big deal, I just like to be thorough.

  12. I have yet to listen to the interview but from what you have written here this sounds about par for the course on the Peter Schiff Show. I too dabble in the realm of audio engineering and I think Joes take on the hard/soft-ducking is spot on. Also, there is about a 1-2 second delay on phone calls into the show, including guests. This delay also accounts for alot of the crosstalk and this delay combined with the hard-ducking that the producers on the show use leads to some really annoying conversations. I can imagine how frustrating it would be to talk with Peter under those conditions. Then, on top of all that, Peter can be quite long winded to put it mildly. But of course it's his show.

    I've listened to most of his shows and during various technical issues the show sometimes has I get the impression Peter's understanding of the audio engineering/production aspects to his show are very lacking. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't even know that there is a noise gate on let alone know what a noise gate is.

  13. Peter is really really bad with talking over people, but that isn't unique to your interview. He needs to work on that. Kind of like you needing to work on your headlines and analysis exaggeration at times. But overall you both put out great stuff and your fans are grateful for it!!

  14. Peter likes to talk and he has a big ego. Don't take it so personally.

    He's an ally, not an enemy.

  15. Another excellent option is to, as president, simply instruct the DoJ to not prosecute "tax evaders" and select a Treasury Secretary who feels the same way. You wouldn't even have to make it a public announcement. Just let it happen and watch it snowball.

  16. Thanks for the note about how Schiff runs his show. It was very revealing. I've been an avid listener of his for some time and generally agree with his views, although his arrogance is off-putting and his treatment of you was unfair and unfortunate. Hopefully, he will look at the Rothbard article you mentioned and educate himself a bit about consumption taxes.

  17. I have to agree with Anonymous,PS is rude with most of his guests, when Tom Woods was the host a more polite show ensued. Also, PS is not used with the academic style where you make your point and move on, he is more like a lawyer who wants to win. Now P's father just tried to check if the voluntary which is attached to the income tax really means what it should, apparently not the case.I wouldn't call that tax evasion, is more like semantics research.

  18. Peter was pushing his luck with his interviewing style. It's about time it was made public by a guest, as I was fed up with it and cancelled my membership.

  19. Let me be clear from the beginning that I love the work of both Robert and Peter.

    That Peter behaves bossy during interviews is also clear, but to be honest, Robert, despite the fact that I agree with your (and Rothbard's) view on consumption taxes, even in the limited time you were given you didn't manage to convey your message too well. You said that the tax would shift the demand curves downward and that would burden originary factors of production. Unfortunately, you've omitted the important step about intermediate goods, without which the whole reasoning seems to be built on sand to someone who haven't already been familiar with what Rothbard had written in MES.

    Again, I know that your opportunities were scarce and when that is the case, such omissions are bound to occur but the consumption goods->capital goods->originary factors mechanism was sort of the elephant in the room in the entire reasoning.

  20. @gienek

    You don't seem to get it. As I was making my point, including related to intermediate goods,my points were muted out and Peter talked over me.

    It's really damn hard to get a point across to a radio audinece when you are muted out. Try it some time.

  21. I can only imagine how frustrating it was. When I was listening I could hear you going into an important point and then "boom" all I hear is Pete. To be honest, it was frustrating to listen to because I knew (to a degree) what you were trying to say. I mean, what modern Austrian doesn't know about Rothbard's argument? Seriously?

  22. @Wenzel

    I sympathize with you. I made this point in Language of Empire.

    The talk shows are geared to be "winner take all", sensationalistic, driven by sound bytes..and more like a court room drama between lawyers than discussion.

    It's a huge negative, because you can never get subtle points across. It's all black and white or yes and no.

    That's mob psychology just there and it works every time. People pay to have various aggressive abrasive talking heads.

    You want a good interviewer with no ego? Go on Brian Lamb's show.

    Charlie Rose is also way better than most.
    Peter is like Chris Matthews with more brains...

    Or like the McLaughlin show, which was good, but boy the hollering and screaming got out of hand..

    I suppose that's the difficulty with Ron Paul. He couldn't possibly get a word in edge wise with guys like that.


  24. Wenzel is the only guy I read or listen to that comes off more arrogant and condescending than Peter Schiff. Not sure what the complaints are about.

  25. Example of a show where the host has strong views but gives his guests carte blanche to make their points before cutting in is "EconTalk" w/ (G Mason U. Economics Professor) Russ Roberts. Far from a Rothbardian, Roberts is nonetheless an Austrian(in that unique GMU sort of way) who argues primarily from the Hayekian standpoint.

    EPJ readers should also check out the radio show/podcast "Free Markets with Mike Beitler". Beitler gives his guests ample latitude before cutting in. Similar to George Reisman, Beitler's economics are aligned with the Misesian/Rothbardians though he's ultimately more of a Randian. (** btw Look up Beitler's interview with Tom Woods in early 2009. It's phenomenal. Check out a short video I put together ( and posted to my YouTube Channel. Tom's brilliant one-sentence dismantling of the "more regulation would've prevented the financial crises." argument is even better than the account in his book "Meltdown". I'm sure most of you and Wenzel have read Meltdown, but you need to hear how Woods articulated this argumetn on Beitler's show in '09. how he phrases it on Beitler's show. First minute gives context, Woods' statwment I'm referring to is 1:02-end. This video needs to get more views, I think it's that powerful.

    Back on track:
    Peter is not a professor and therefore doesn't digest opposing views in that academic "all views have some kernel of truth which I can re-dissect and make the guest feel good by getting my point across in a bland devil's advocate response", where the guest can further develop his/her Keynesian nonsensical argument.

    The point an earlier comment-er made about Schiff's years of battling the CNBC drones was spot on--it's understandable why he's so quick to cut people off. 98% of the views he had to rebut on TV were and still are utter nonsense.

    But Schiff still could be a more effective host if he'd give his guests more latitude to flesh out their arguments before responding or cutting in.

    And RW, thanks for posting my upload of the show :-) Send me videos you want to promote and I'd be happy to post them.

  26. The funny thing is, Schiff spent about two weeks after he went on the Lawrence O'donnell show complaining about how rudely he was treated, how he could never get a word in edgewise, etc - but this is how he treats almost every single interviewee! I like Schiff, but he'd have a much better product if he'd learn how to interview someone.

  27. @Chris, that blog is saying that consumption tax is bad and that we should be focusing on the issue of shrinking government and lowering tax and not which tax is least damaging. Which seems reasonable except the blog is obviously a reaction to Wenzal's interview with Peter Schiff, where Schiff was asking a very simple question, which was: since government is a necessary evil, which tax is best or rather which is least damaging to the economy? To just say consumption tax bad, zero tax good is not really answering the question, which is basically what the blog is saying. I mean, no **** tax is bad but which hurts us least?

  28. @Anon 6:55

    The difference between Schiff and Wenzel is open to other people's arguments and doesn't cut them off. I have seen him give credit to Krugman and Stiglitz, although he disagrees with them most of the time.

    I also recall that during the tsunami Japanese nuclear disaster he ran an email that was very critical of his view.

    Wenzel punches as hard as Schiff, the difference is that Schiff can't take a punch.

  29. Looks as if Schiff pulled an O Reilly. It makes me lose respect for him to do that to a true austrian like wenzel.

  30. @Lila,

    "Peter is like Matthews w/ more brains."

    Lol! Nice.

  31. @PenguinProse,

    Thanks for the link!

  32. @Anon 10:38 PM,

    "Since government is a necessary evil....."

    Why must I grant this premise?

  33. @glenek, Robert Wenzel:

    I agree he didn't get the point out in the time he had... Rather than say "Rothbard said so," just say so next time.

    That said, let's not lose focus: Schiff hates the state. So if he expects a different outcome from a change in tax policy, it doesn't make him an enemy. He said on the show that ideally he'd like taxes as low as possible, and if you listen to him other times, he consistently says government needs to cut drastically. Look up especially an interview with the oklahoma freshman congressman in early 2011.

    On the actual argument: yes, Rothbard is right. But with today's circumstances, the logic doesn't completely work in the near term. First, the consumption tax would only apply to residents of this country. So to the extent that capital would provide goods to those not affected by the consumption tax, capital, labor, land would not pay it. People here could save and hope that the consumption tax would fall before they eventually spent their savings. Moreover, although the tax would eventually affect even domestic producers that *solely* provide goods to foreigners (foreigners can't buy w/ dollars they don't have, and their goods exported to us would be subject to the tax), that will take some time because of massive foreign dollar reserves. If domestic industries ramp up exports, they could employ local labor and resources to produce for foreigners holding those overseas dollars and be immune to the domestic consumption tax for some time.

    Finally, the consumption tax isn't completely "simple." How would producers buy tax-exempt? Would they give the government records of their sales to prove they purchased for production and not consumption? Would those with vendor's licenses be able to buy anything w/o paying tax? There would have to be mechanisms in place to handle these and other issues, and you can't ignore the possibility that the government would place incentives in the code to influence behavior toward favored industries, as it does with the income tax. (would, eg, medical products and services be exempt?)


  34. Peter is behaving like Alex Jones did a couple years back, the difference is that Alex figured it out and now does his best to shut up and let his guests speak, I have to respect him for that. Hopefully Peter will learn that his audience does not appreciate his tactics. I wonder what Tom Woods thinks about this and is he able to chime in?

  35. I was really interested in what you had to say, but Peter could not keep his mouth shut. I pay for Peter's show, but I get really annoyed when he has good guests on, but I cannot hear them because he's being the start. He's better off not having guests on at all.

  36. I went into the show siding with Peter, thinking you had distorted some of his views (He never said it would help most.) And, to your credit, I need to revisit this subject.

    I assume you and everyone is in agreement that you were interrupted way too often, and he built a straw man out of your philosophy (being the least accommodative), and therefore unworkable. In comparison to 999? (which constitutes a larger tax for most people (less on capital, and thus not popular) on its way to an even larger (for most) flat tax.

    Haven't listened to him since. In fact, there's no time for any of you. Or sparingly.

  37. I heard the interview with Peter. Yes, he interrupts. It is, I think, his biggest fault as a radio show host.

    That said, I heard everything both sides said, and I don't think Robert really understands Peter's point. He is NOT for taxes, but if the govt is going to tax us, he's for the least oppressive tax. I don't think that a sales tax is it either, and perhaps the least harmful might be a flat rate, across the board tariff. No favorites, low percentage.

    But to wish away all taxes, or have a head tax, seems pretty lame.

    He is inviting Robert to a return match, and Robert should take him up on it, with the provision that he not be interrupted. Ask him right off, if he is going to interrupt or let you speak. Once he knows your concern, you can point out any interruptions.

  38. @Anonymous 3:36

    How could you hear "everything both sides said" if Wenzel says he was interrupted and muted out?

  39. Listen to the online interview from his website. When he was interrupted, he stopped talking. But even when both were talking, I can still hear what Robert said.

  40. @Anonymous

    How can you possibly hear what Wenzel said if even the producer of the Schiff show said his comments were stopped?

  41. Darin- I think you bring up a great point- unless a "non-end user" exemption is carved out then one of the 9s becomes a VAT, but without the exemption. I buy milk to make cheese, and pay 9%, the buyer of that cheese pays 9% to make deli sandwiches, and the customer that buys those in bulk to sell in a vending machine pays 9% AND the final consumer pays 9% at the POS. It's utterly unworkable.

    Anon@336PM, the US constitution (like any politician gives a shit) only allows 2 taxes- a "head tax" and tariffs. I think both would be great, since the actual burden of taxation would become readily apparent to the consumer (especially at the lower-income level) and they would demand lower tax and tariff rates.

  42. How long has Schiff been in the radio business?

    I pose this rhetorical question because I imagine Schiff is not savvy with the radio as a means of communication; rather, like a user of a consumer device like an iphone, Schiff may not understand to the degree that these radio moderation techinique Fetz spells out actually impact the continuity of a live discussion over the airwaves. I imagine that Schiff has someone setup up the radio for him and that he just uses the device/program. I make these allowances for Schiff because of the frequency of calls he receive that seem dropped or of calls where there is a problem of hearing the caller or vice versa with the caller not hearing Schiff. Granted, it does seem at times Schiff interjects as his guest is fleshing out their response.

  43. The basic problem is this:

    Peter doesn't hate the state. I know someone earlier said he does...but I flatly disagree.

    Anyone "hating" the state would never endorse an additional revenue stream for said state while at the same time changing the tax system in a way that doesn't reduce spending/collections.

    The only way Schiff could redeem himself is if he acknowledged the likely of a big grey/black market for goods that will spring up as a result...possibly in the short term dropping revenue to our masters.

    Rest assured if the 9-9-9 rainbow & unicorns fantasy somehow came true and gov't was taking in less that the new "legitmized" revenue stream would immediately be raised/enforced with a vigor way beyond anything we've seen to date.

    Peter Schiff: Winner is life and good guy, but on this topic terribly wrong and clearly not quite of the same stout as his father.

  44. Anon @ 10/25, 8:25a:

    He does hate the state -- have you listened to him? He has often said everything washington does is wrong. I don't think it's sufficient base your argument on his position that the state is a necessary evil, as the anarchist utopia may well be unrealizable.

    He does not *endorse* an additional revenue stream. If you listen to what he says, he criticizes the plan for having a hidden 9 but thinks that it's an improvement over what we have now because it will increase domestic savings and investment. But he has said he thinks RP is the only candidate who has a clue, and he wants to drastically slash the federal budget.