In October, I celebrated my 30th anniversary at Reason, the nation’s magazine of “Free Minds and Free Markets.” Thirty years is a helluva long time and my tenure here has been filled with a fair share of highlights and memorable moments. None is more precious to me than an experience I had this past September on Bleecker Street, where I live in New York City. On a slightly crowded sidewalk, I brushed past a guy who looked to be in his late 20s, walking with a friend. I mumbled an apology for grazing his sleeve and kept walking when I heard him shout out excitedly, “Hey, Reason guy! I love your videos! You have the best videos anywhere online!” He turned to his companion and explained to her, “These guys have the best videos!”
New York is not the friendliest place on Earth, so when someone says something nice, you stop in your tracks. I thanked him for the compliment and asked how he came to know our work. A college professor had turned him on to us, he explained. “That RFK interview was insane,” he offered, laughing, before we went our separate ways, me feeling a few inches taller after the encounter.
Welcome to Day 3 of Reason‘s annual Webathon, the one time each year we ask our online readers, viewers, and listeners to support our principled libertarian journalism. We’re trying to pull in $400,000 in new donations between now and the end of Monday, December 4. Your gifts help us make “the best videos anywhere online” (not my words!) alongside thousands of articles and hundreds of podcasts every year. Go here for giving levels and associated swag (for instance, a $100 gift nets you a digital subscription; shout-outs on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; and a pair of Reason-branded socks that are both fun and durable). As an added incentive to give now: All gifts are being matched, so your contribution is instantly doubled!
Reason‘s video platform launched in 2007, the brainchild of comedy and TV legend Drew Carey, who was a longtime reader of the print magazine. Our stories were great food for the brain, he explained, but we should be taking advantage of the ever-cheaper camera and editing technology to make documentaries that would hit people in the gut as well as the mind. Nascent distribution platforms such as YouTube could give us a global reach. The Drew Carey Project was born, a series of videos featuring the man himself offering libertarian approaches to legalizing marijuana, creating markets for organs, freeing street vendors from capricious and punitive regulations, and fixing Los Angeles’ truly awful traffic congestion. We also created Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey, an hour-long, award-winning documentary that promoted libertarian fixes to the problems faced by “the Mistake on the Lake and other once-great American cities.” You can watch the whole thing, including a spirited Cleveland City Council meeting with Drew and me that took place after our series came out, here.
In the 16 years since Reason TV first came online, we’ve posted more than 3,700 videos on YouTube, where we have 880,000 subscribers (that’s more people than live in San Francisco, Denver, or Washington, D.C.), and over 297 million views as of this writing. Those are huge numbers and, if my sidewalk encounter in September is any indication, our videos make a real impression on people. Your support has been absolutely essential to our growth and impact over the years, so please consider giving now, especially with a match in place.
More importantly, your gifts will allow Reason to keep putting out videos such as our June in-depth interview with independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. My colleague Zach Weissmueller and I talked with him for 90 minutes, conducting a scrupulously fair but tough Q&A that fully examined his controversial stances toward vaccines, past calls to imprison oil and gas executives, and his positions on everything from foreign policy to Bitcoin to gun control. That interview exemplifies part of what Reason does best: We interrogate the people and policies that have the potential to radically reshape the world. It was part of our experiment in hosting weekly livestreams on YouTube. That show lives on, now hosted by Zach and Liz Wolfe under the new monicker Just Asking Questions, which airs every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Our offerings go beyond interviews and livestreams, of course. Consider Zach’s July documentary about Prospera, a charter city being built in Honduras that has the potential to change how developing countries approach the future. Plagued by corruption and political instability, Honduras has allowed investors to build a city from scratch that will offer fully private governance. If it works, Prospera may radically alter not just urban development in Latin America but the rest of the world. Watch all our documentaries—on everything from the psychedelic renaissance to Florida’s new and privately built high-speed rail system to the latest developments in Bitcoin—here.
And then there are Reason‘s comedy videos, which have evolved incredibly over the years. Check out these 2008 offerings, “Stop Outsourcing Roles in Pro-Obama Videos” and “Obama Kids: Sing for Change (Pyongyang Remix),” before moving on to our dozens of Remy song parodies; series such as Mostly Weekly and Crime Squad (“real crimes, puppet cops”), and “libertarian editions” of Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and Star Wars. One of our most popular comedy series, produced by Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg, and John Carter, is Great Moments in Unintended Consequences, which looks at how so many policies end up causing bad results regardless of their creators’ aims. The most recent installment (there are 13 so far) is just a few weeks old and reveals how gun-buyback programs, poppy-eradication efforts, and attempts to jack up the average miles per gallon cars get had terrible (and yet foreseeable) outcomes.
In the past year, we’ve massively increased our output. On YouTube alone, we put out an average of 39 videos a month, more than doubling the previous year’s average. We’re also moving deeply into Instagram, TikTok, and whatever platform emerges over the coming months. Along with our in-depth interviews, deeply researched and original documentaries, and legendary comedy vids, we’re minting a new generation of commentators such as Robby Soave, Emma Camp, Bess Byers, Natalie Dowzicky, and Billy Binion who are issuing smart and timely comments on the most important stories of the day. Look for them on Reason‘s “Shorts” tab on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Our goal is to be everywhere people are looking for libertarian takes on politics, culture, and ideas.
We’ve come a very long way since Drew Carey came to us with the idea for Reason TV—nearly 300 million views on our YouTube channel and random street encounters in New York with folks graciously declaring, “You have the best videos anywhere online!” But we are barely getting started and there are miles to go before we sleep (apologies to Robert Frost). Your tax-deductible gifts make Reason videos possible. If you like what we’ve been doing—and what we will keep doing—please give now!