Russell Brand rails against Rachel Maddow, MSNBC and Fox News ‘propaganda’ in viral rant

The comedian said whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange practiced ‘real journalism’

Graig Graziosi
Monday 06 March 2023 19:10 GMT
Russell Brand compares MSNBC bias to Fox News

A clip of comedian Russell Brand went viral after he appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and defended Fox News from claims of bias, arguing that liberal-leaning MSNBC was just as complicit in promoting "propaganda."

The episode aired on Saturday evening, after which the clip was spread widely around social media, largely by conservatives celebrating Brand's comments.

Brand argued that MSNBC and Fox News were essentially the same — both peddling in partisan propaganda — and held up NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as better examples of honest journalism.

"It's disingenuous to claim that the biases are exhibited on Fox News are any different from the biases exhibited on MSNBC," Brand said. "I've been on that MSNBC mate it's propaganda."

His comments were directed to MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann, who was also a guest on the show.

The comedian went on to claim that both networks were "mouthpieces for their affiliate owners in Blackrock and Vanguard," a pair of controversial investment firms.

Maher and Mr Heilemann eventually got a word in and accused Brand of making a false equivalence between the networks.

"You don't actually know anything about any of these organisations you're talking about," Mr Heilemann told Brand. "You went on MSNBC once. Big f***ing deal."

Brand was challenged to provide evidence that MSNBC had engaged in anything close to Fox News' frequent amplification of Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans' 2020 election conspiracy theories.

He responded by pointing to MSNBC's "ludicrous, outrageous" mockery of podcaster Joe Rogan's insistence that ivermectin was an effective Covid-19 treatment, claiming the network was "deliberately referring to it as a horse medicine when they know it is an effective medicine."

Russell Brand, right, accuses political analyst John Heilemann of hypocrisy, claiming MSNBC and Fox News express the same level of bias in their reporting, during an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher (screengrab / Real Time with Bill Maher)

Brand is wrong. Ivermectin is used both in animals an humans, with even proponents of its use referring to it as "horse paste," and, during the pandemic, many of those supporters reported purchasing their medicines from feed stores. Studies have repeatedly shown that ivermectin, while a useful anti-parasitic in humans, is ineffective at treating Covid-19.

He also pointed to a 2021 clip of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow incorrectly explaining how the Covid-19 vaccines work. In the clip she repeated a misconception that the vaccine can completely block Covid-19 infections. That is incorrect — the vaccines reduce the likelihood of symptoms that can lead to death. She later acknowledged that fact later in the same broadcast.

Court filings from the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit targeting Fox News and other conservative media figures revealed that the network's own top stars called election conspiracies "total bs" and "mind-blowingly nuts."

Rupert Murdoch, the founder of Fox News, admitted in a deposition that the network's shows "endorsed' the allegations.

Brand did manage to win the Los Angeles audience over at the end by praising Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Did you not just listen to Bernie Sanders, someone who plainly, legitimately believes in this country and believes it’s possible to change, but is bound by corruption, is bound by the lobbying system?” Brand asked, to wild applause.

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