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‘California Insider’ Accounts Taken Down by YouTube

‘California Insider’ Accounts Taken Down by YouTube

EpochTV's "California Insider" hosted by Siyamak Khorrami.

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

10/12/2023

Updated: 10/24/2023

In an unexpected move, EpochTV’s two “California Insider” program channels, along with their archive of over 700 episodes, were removed from the YouTube platform on Oct. 9.
According to host Siyamak Khorrami, the team did not receive any prior notice regarding the decision.
“We were not happy about it, because we tried to follow their policies, despite the fact that they didn’t really speak to us,” Mr. Khorrami said. “They didn’t tell us what we did wrong or if they don’t agree with any part of our content. [So] for them to demonetize us and de-platform us … it was shocking.”
Since its debut in 2019, the show has interviewed guests on a diverse array of topics within the state, such as homelessness, crime, education, agriculture, health care, and drug abuse.
Mr. Khorrami said the show serves as an educational platform, providing insights into areas of concern that directly impact the community.
“California Insider is a platform for Californians to come and discuss the issues they’re facing—especially challenges that we’re facing with policies, laws, the trends that are going on in the state—so that other Californians can get informed,” he said. “People of experience are coming and talking about behind-the-scenes issues that sometimes manifest in our lives.”
As of Monday, both channels had accumulated around 400,000 subscribers and over 160 million views. The program has additionally received acclaim from guests who are prominent leaders in their respective fields.
“A lot of people here look into the California Insider to get an unbiased, honest approach to the news of the day, and without that vehicle, it’s a real disadvantage to California residents,” former San Francisco City and County Supervisor Tony Hall told The Epoch Times.
Former supervisor Tony Hall campaigns for mayor of San Francisco in 2011. (Courtesy of Tony Hall)

Former supervisor Tony Hall campaigns for mayor of San Francisco in 2011. (Courtesy of Tony Hall)

The show was also demonetized approximately two months ago, with no notification provided to the team regarding why the decision was made.

In-Depth Discussion

What stands out about the show, Mr. Khorrami said, is that it gives experts the freedom to explain the issues in an uninterrupted manner.
“They have 40 minutes to express what they think, and they don’t have to worry about us taking two-minute soundbites or whatever they didn’t want on the show,” he said.
During those approximately 40 minutes, guests have the opportunity to engage in in-depth discussions and offer insights into the causes of different problems based on their experiences and expertise.
“When people come on the show, we feel that they become authentic and honest,” he said. “[Guests] become really themselves ... and a lot of times they have passion about California, about a specific issue, or a specific city, and this passion comes across to our audience.”
Guests who have appeared on the show have expressed their gratitude for the platform.
“It is a full interview, deep dive into the issues with ... behind-the-curtain information that helps the viewers understand why things are actually happening a certain way, whether it was in California government or other issues,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig to The Epoch Times.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig stands next to a photo of one of five infants believed to be killed by their father during a news conference in Woodland, Calif., on Jan. 27, 2020. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig stands next to a photo of one of five infants believed to be killed by their father during a news conference in Woodland, Calif., on Jan. 27, 2020. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)

“The detailed information from key decision-makers in an uncut format is something I’ve never been able to find on any other channel, certainly not any mainstream channel,” Mr. Reisig said. “The value is tremendous because of the depth which the show goes into the issues.”

Building Connections

Other guests have noted that the show provides an opportunity for local leaders and experts to establish connections in the community.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue—who came on the show to talk about cartels and illegal marijuana issues in his county, receiving over 1.2 million views on YouTube—said the show provides a place where law enforcement officers like him can freely connect with everyday people.
“People are witnessing [all kinds of violent crime and theft] themselves in their daily lives so they’re looking to law enforcement leaders for answers. [But] oftentimes, we aren’t allowed to tell it the way it is,” Mr. LaRue told The Epoch Times.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue in Irvine, Calif., on Feb. 24, 2023. (David Skelnik/The Epoch Times)

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue in Irvine, Calif., on Feb. 24, 2023. (David Skelnik/The Epoch Times)

Mark Nakata, a fifth-generation farmer and CEO of California United Water Coalition—a nonprofit aimed at ensuring water access for all Californians and protecting residents’ water rights—told The Epoch Times that being featured on the show allowed him to share with more people about the difficulties farmers are facing in California and also across the world.
“I got phone calls and emails, no exaggeration, 50 to 100 a day for a long time,” Mr. Nakata said.
“I’ve been contacted by people that live in Japan, in the Philippines, and in the Middle East. I realized that ‘Hey, these issues are not simply our issues. They touch everybody,’” he said. “You guys have demonstrated the ability to reach across all lines and to touch all people.”

Free Speech

The removal of “California Insider” from the streaming platform also raised concerns from guests over freedom of speech.
“To me that a program like California Insider, that even by its own record in the history of success, would be canceled just seemed like such a flagrant violation of free speech,” Mr. Hall said. “Anytime you look at something from a different angle, you run the risk of being censored.”
Mr. LaRue echoed his message, saying that people should have the freedom to express their opinions. However, such freedom is often challenging to find within the current media landscape.
“We have a hard time because a lot of what we want to talk about and a lot of what we want to say gets filtered out by mainstream media,” Mr. LaRue said.
“We need a bigger voice. We need to be able to be heard and ... your channel and other [independent media] give us that,” he said.
California Insider shows Siyamak Khorrami

New Beginning

While the program hopes to resolve the situation with YouTube, Mr. Khorrami announced that they are simultaneously exploring alternative platforms to ensure the show can still reach viewers. This includes launching a new website called CaliforniaInsider.com that will serve as the permanent home base for all past and future interviews.
“We realized that a lot of the news is not covered well in California, and we want to create a platform for Californians to go to, and they can see all the important things that are happening,” he said.
Additionally, the show will be available on other outlets like X, Rumble, and Gan Jing World, said Mr. Khorrami.
“We encourage more people to watch the show and tune in. It’s going to be a really important platform for the future of California, and we need to make sure we have our own platforms to make sure we don’t get censored again,” he said.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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