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Wednesday, October 25, 2023
MRC Hypocritically Defends Russell Brand Following Rape, Assault Allegations
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center used to hate Russell Brand -- until he started spouting right-wing-friendly narratives, after which it proclaimed him to be a champion of "free speech." Since then, Brand has whined about being "censored on YouTube" for what Brand euphemistically described (and uncritically repeated by MRC writer Catherine Salgado) as “changing narratives around COVID[-19], the pandemic and COVID treatments.” But as we learned later, this apparently involved him falsely claiming that the FDA had approved ivermectin to treat COVID. Still, the MRC put this in its completely made-up "secondhand censorhip" metric even though everyone involved, including Brand, agreed that his claim was false.

As we learned with Kanye West, the MRC will give you a lot of slack for offensive behavior if you're been offering lip service to its preferred right-wing narratives. When people started to back away from Brand after numerous allegations of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse surfaced, the MRC rushed to portray him as a victim despite the seriousness of the allegations. Luis Cornelio huffed in a Sept. 19 post:

YouTube appointed itself judge, jury and silencer in the kangaroo court of public opinion preemptively punishing individuals subjected to leftist cancel culture or accusations — but only in some cases.

YouTube announced on Tuesday that comedian and actor will no longer be able to monetize his videos amidst sexual assault allegations brought against him. According to the New York Post’s Page Six, YouTube acknowledged that the punishment — despite no arrest or criminal convictions — followed “serious allegations against the creator.” The decision drew the ire of prominent voices who blasted YouTube’s unilateral decision and pointed out the disproportionate punishment as YouTube has turned a blind eye to accusations raised against Democrats and media members on the left.

In recent years, Brand has become a voice against Big Tech’s attack on free speech and has been subject to YouTube’s censorship in the past. It isn’t immediately clear whether YouTube’s targeting of Brand, which applies to “all channels that may be owned or operated by the actor,” has been applied to leftist individuals who have also faced damning allegations of sexual misconduct.

Catherine Salgado hopped board the anti-cancel culture bandwagon in a Sept. 21 post:

Rumble has refused to follow YouTube’s example in preemptively silencing Russell Brand amidst new allegations of sexual assault, touting “the vital cause” of a “free internet.”

Video platform Rumble has insisted on standing for free speech in the wake of calls to demonetize Brand. Rumble responded to an anti-free speech letter Caroline Dinenage by stating, “Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be in violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands.”


"Rumble is right to reject and rebuke the U.K. or any other 'Cancel Culture Mob' demands to demonetize its customers," said MRC Free Speech America Director Michael Morris. "American social media companies should also be exporting the American principles of freedom, free speech and expression to the four corners of the earth, not importing the anti-American censorship ideals of totalitarian governments overseas."

Rumble posted a letter on X (formerly Twitter) in response to the U.K. letter sent to Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski. “While Rumble obviously deplores sexual assault, rape, and all serious crimes, and believes that both alleged victims and the accused are entitled to a full and serious investigation, it is vital to note that recent allegations against Russell Brand have nothing to do with content on Rumble’s platform,” Rumble explained. Rumble further noted that it is dedicated to “the vital cause of defending a free internet,” where individuals cannot arbitrarily demand censorship of other users.

You will not be surprised that all of this fretting about cancel culture on the MRC's part is totally hypocritical. When singer Lizzo was accused of sexual harassment of her backup dancers, Teirin-Rose Mandelburg wrote an Aug. 2 post under the headline "‘About Damn Time’ Lizzo Got Canceled" that began by gloating, "Cancel culture looks like it’s about to strike again. The latest victim is a big one … pun intended." (Remember, the MRC thinks that making fat jokes about Lizzo is the height of comedy and "media research; Mandelburg also referenced Lizzo's supposedly "morbidly obese body.")

The MRC published a Sept. 23 syndicated column by Ben Shapiro, who dubiously claimed that Brand has traken "heterodox positions on matters ranging from COVID-19 to the Ukraine war," then absolves Brand of guilt because he supposedly is no longer the same person who committed those offenses:

Full disclosure: I’ve interviewed Russell and been interviewed by him at length. I consider him a friend. You can never truly know another person well enough to rule out vile, despicable, criminal behavior in their past; I didn’t know Russell during his most debauched period, and I assume that if I had, we wouldn’t have gotten along. And the allegations, as Brand himself says, are incredibly serious. Presumably we will find out all the facts as time goes on.

There is a question worth asking here, aside from the obvious question about Brand’s alleged crimes: What prompted the media to begin digging into Brand? It was an open secret in Hollywood that Brand was a sexual degenerate throughout the 2000s; the media were utterly unconcerned about such matters. In fact, the same media outlets now investigating Brand were happy to make money off of him as he engaged in overtly vile behavior he himself would now be ashamed of.

So what changed? Brand did. He began taking political positions that contradicted many of the most cherished assumptions of the media class. He spoke out on a variety of issues that were considered taboo. He abandoned his past embrace of debauchery and began promoting more honorable personal behavior.


This is dangerous stuff, no matter what emerges about Brand. If he’s guilty, he will pay for his crimes. But the preemptive destruction of his career makes for a truly ugly incentive structure. And it is now just one more reason for those who do have heterodox opinions to avoid speaking up.

The fact remains, however, that Shapiro is all too willing to give Brand a pass for apparently criminal behavior because he's spouting conservatively correct things now. He would not be so generous if Brand had not moved to the right.

Salgado continued the MRC's cancel culture hypocrisy in a Sept. 26 post:

In the latest instance of anti-free speech cancel culture, several companies have pulled their advertising from Rumble for its refusal to buckle to censorship pressure.

The anti-free speech left frequently uses financial or government pressure to demand censorship of individuals or content, even resorting to canceling shows, products or people by cutting off advertising funds. Burger King, HelloFresh, Asos and The Barbican are the latest to do just that.

The four companies withdrew ads from pro-free speech video platform Rumble when the latter refused to demonetize Russell Brand over as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct. The group The News Movement, which is tied to a group funded by climate activist James Murdoch, was behind the advertising pressure, Reclaim the Net reported on Sept. 23.

Salgado then tried to argue it's not cancel culture when right-wingers do it:

The Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon explained the difference between consumers boycotting companies and companies or government officials exerting pressure to cancel opponents in an X (formerly Twitter) post. “I didn't see conservatives calling on stores and venues to stop carrying Bud Light. They just stopped buying it,” Dillon posted on Sept. 21. “They applied market pressure, but they didn't cancel anything. It's like the difference between changing the channel when a show you don't like comes on and calling the advertisers/network to try and get the show taken off the air entirely.”

Dillon apparently didn't mention the right-wing activists twisting the arms of those consumers for partisan political benefit.

Salgado played whataboutism in a Sept. 27 post complaining that YouTube CEO Neal Mohan defended the platform suspending Brand:

"If creators have off-platform behavior, or there's off-platform news that could be damaging to the broader creator ecosystem, you can be suspended from our monetization program,” he claimed. YouTube demonetized Russell Brand quickly after as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault first began to circulate in the media, allegations which Brand denies. Yet, YouTube continues to platform former CBS News journalist Charlie Rose and former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) despite their own sexual harassment and assault allegations. Mohan’s defense thus seems hypocritical.

Salgado didn't explain why her co-worker Mandelburg cheered Lizzo falling afoul of "cancel culture" despite no criminal charges being filed against her.

Remember, the MRC has a very long record of embracing and defending right-wingers who engage in atrocious behavior or embrace extremism because it doesn't believe what they do, no matter how henious, discredits the narratives they peddle.

Another Sept. 27 post by Salgado cheered Rumble's continued hosting of a credibly accused sexual assault perpetrator:

Rumble continues to defy government officials, media outlets, and companies fiercely pressuring the pro-free speech video platform to censor Russell Brand.

Rumble has refused Russell Brand could be banned under the UK’s new anti-free speech online safety laws. “[O]ur staff has never been more prepared and ready for whatever comes at us,” Rumble announced in a Sept. 27 post on X formerly Twitter).

“Rumble has been under relentless attack from governments and the mainstream media on various fronts,” the platform posted. “What they fail to understand is that every attack only emboldens our community and makes us stronger.” Rumble added that it “was built for pressure and built for these types of moments,” and that its “infrastructure,” “ad system,” and “staff” have “never been more prepared and ready for whatever comes at us.”

Then again, Rumble CEO Pavlovski regularly associates with far-right and anti-Semitic poeple on his platform, so that's not quite the win Salgado thinks it is.

Salgado listed the Brand situation as one of the "Five Shocking Examples of Big Tech Censorship" that happened in September in an Oct. 3 post, rehashing her complaint that "YouTube constituted itself judge, jury, and hangman by demonetizing comedian and actor Russell Brand almost immediately when as-yet unproven sexual assault allegations began circulating." Of course, demonetizing is not "censorship," given that Brand has not been prohibited from posting anything.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:21 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 5, 2023 3:40 PM EDT

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