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Loving The Fringe To Own The Libs: The Case Of Russell Brand

The Media Research Center hated actor Russell Brand -- until he started spouting conservatively correct narratives. Even Brand facing credible allegations of sexual assault, abuse and grooming hasn't stopped the MRC's admiration of him.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/5/2024

Russell Brand

The Media Research Center spent years attacking actor Russell Brand as a hopeless, crazy liberal. In 2014, for example, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin wrote a post headlined "Branding Russell: Moonbat Ravings of a C-List Celeb," which accused him of being a "champagne socialist" who was spreading "unoriginal, often hate-filled, intolerant left-wing rants that run to conspiracy theories about corporations and “power structures, as well as "perpetually auditioning for MSNBC talking head job." The attacks on Brand regularly continued for having opinions the MRC didn't like:

But sometime after 2017, when that last post was written, the MRC changed its mind about Brand -- just as it did about Ricky Gervais and J.K. Rowling -- when he started spouting conservatively correct things, shoving its previous attacks on him down the memory hole. It now wanted to hear Brands's "big thoughts on big issues." Alexander Hall wrote in an April 2021 post:

Comedian, actor and commentator Russell Brand interviewed University of Toronto Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson and took time to hammer Big Tech companies.

Brand, a famous liberal free thinker, torched the idea that Western Civilization can thrive without personal freedom. He suggested that the flaw of modern progressivism was that it failed to observe “something that I can plainly see before my eyes, that big corporations and state power are collaborating in order to conserve power.” Brand then specified that, particularly in “Anglophonic countries” like the United States and the United Kingdom, “people are becoming less and less able to exercise agency in ordinary life.”

Brand skewered the political and Big Tech establishment for using the COVID-19 crisis to invade the lives of ordinary people:


Brand explained his concern with modern “progressivism” as corporations have famously gone woke in order to adapt to social change while maintaining profits. Brand illustrated that progressivism has been “used to underwrite a kind of intransigence around power, and I think it’s used as a panacea to dissolve the voices of discontented people.”

Hall was silent on the fact that his employer spent the previous several years denigrating Brand for being a "famous liberal free thinker." A month later, Hall touted Brand again, this time for spreading election conspiracy theories:

Comedian, actor and commentator Russell Brand interviewed independent journalist Glenn Greenwald and raked Big Tech companies over the coals for interfering with the 2020 election.

“Did the media and social media conspire together to keep information about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden’s relationship with foreign energy companies out of the media?” Brand asked in a preview video for his podcast. “The answer is: yes, they did.” Brand shared clips from his interview with Greenwald about corruption in the media.

“[R]evelations that there are financial connections between energy companies in the Ukraine, energy companies in China, and the Biden family, are troubling,” Brand explained. “That should be public knowledge. And it’s even more troubling that Twitter and Facebook and the media at large deliberately kept it out of the news because they didn’t want it to influence the election.”

This, of course, is the same conspiracy theory the MRC has been peddling ever since the presidential election.

In a December 2021 post, Hall again proclaimed Brand a "free thinker" as he promoted another pro-Trump, anti-"big tech" conspiracy the MRC loves:

Comedian, actor and commentator Russell Brand called out the fact that Twitter once represented the Wild West of free speech, but has since become a machine for controlling public opinion. The unexpected rise of former President Donald Trump propelled the shift, he observed.

Trump may have initially become famous as a liberal entertainer, but Brand called out the big reason Big Tech and the political establishment have cracked down on Trump and his supporters. “I suppose one of the things that make me sympathetic towards affiliates of Trump, aficionados of Trump, is the way that Trump is subsequently being handled and censored and controlled,” he explained in a Dec. 1 episode of his YouTube show. After reading an excerpt from investigative reporter Matt Taibbi Substack post, noting how Trump forever discredited the establishment and undermined the media to such an extent that they “couldn't put the genie back in the bottle,” Brand explained, “What I have to acknowledge, and what I’m sympathetic towards, is censorship.”

Hall used a March 2022 post to tout Brand spouting more MRC talking points:

Comedian, actor and commentator Russell Brand called out the American government for criminalizing misinformation, despite the government’s deep record of pushing misinformation itself.

Brand is well-known as a free-thinker and comedian, but he gave a dire warning that even he could be under threat by new government policy. “Misinformation has newly been labeled as ‘terrorism’ by the Department of Homeland Security, so I am going to speak very carefully now,” Brand said in a Feb. 22 video. “Now let’s just be very careful how we talk because misinformation ain’t just now an inconvenience. If you’re the wrong person and the misinformation is the wrong type of mis-information, mal-information, dis-informaton, then you’re, uh, actually the same as a terrorist.”


Brand mocked the credibility of the American government, noting its history of misinformation: “if you are anti-misinformation, and you’ve got a rich history of spreading the stuff, people might think you've got another agenda at play.”

Hall served even more gushing over Brand in a May 2022 post:

Comedian, actor and commentator Russell Brand wrecked the very idea of a Disinformation Governance Board and the war on disinformation itself: “Who gives a shit about disinformation? Sort out getting baby food!”


Brand observed that the rise of evil in the modern world looks remarkably different from what many people have been taught to watch out for: “We’ve been given such a clear vision of what evil looks like,” said Brand, citing past decades’ examples of terrorism or communism, saying that now, instead “tyranny looks like what’s happening now.”

Brand went on to suggest that freedom, by its very nature, is messy, but crucial to a thriving society: “Freedom is messy, people bang each other in the ribs by mistake with their elbows, tread on each other's toes, misspeak, mispronounce, miss-say stuff all the time. But misinformation and misinformation boards are not the solution to that problem.”

Funny how the MRC praises Brand as a "free thinker" only when those "big thoughts on big issues" mirror the MRC's own narratives and talking points.

Since then, Brand has whined about being "censored on YouTube" for what Brand euphemistically described (and uncritically repeated by MRC writer Catherine Salgado in a September 2022 post) 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 censorship" metric even though everyone involved, including Brand, agreed that his claim was false.

In a March 6 post, P.J. Gladnick cheered that "left-wing comedian" Brand was "shattering [the] protective liberal-establishment bubble" of MSNBC commentator John Heilemann in another COVID medicine-related debate:

The only real debate was whether Heilemann blubbered his silly protective phrase "non-responsive" five times or was it more. His protective shield began as soon as Brand started replying to his challenge with, "Do you want an example? The ludicrous, outrageous criticism of Joe Rogan around Ivermectin. Deliberately referring to it as a “horse medicine,” when they know it is an effective medicine. Rachel Maddow turning on the TV, saying if you take this vaccine, you’re not going to get [Covid] when it hadn’t been clinically trialed."

In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that ivermectin is not an effective medicine against COVID. Gladnick did not indicate that Brand offered any proof otherwise.

Defending Brand over rape allegations

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, Tierin-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 taken "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 heinous, 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 people 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.

Salgado repeated her lament that Brand "was demonetized by YouTube" in an Oct. 9 post, adding. "The censorship occurred almost as soon as the as-yet unproven accusations of sexual assault were leveled against Brand."

Interestingly, the MRC hasn't mentioned Brand since then, except for a year-end post touting Gladnick's writeup of the "hilarious beatdown by actor/comedian Russell Brand on HBO’s Real Time on longtime MSNBC analyst and liberal tool John Heilemann" as one of the year's most-read posts. Perhaps it has decided that defending and promoting a credibly accused sexual abuser and groomer is no longer a good look -- even inside its right-wing bubble.

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