Since Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced in April that Rumble would host the exclusive livestream of the Republican presidential primary debate, top U.S. newspapers as well as broadcast and cable news outlets have overlooked the right-wing video-sharing platform’s extremism in their reporting about the GOP debates.
A new Media Matters analysis found that top U.S. newspapers told readers that they could stream the first debate on Rumble without noting that the platform is rife with dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, and hateful rhetoric. Cable news outlets CNN and MSNBC and broadcast outlets ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS did not report on the RNC’s partnership with Rumble at all. Only Fox News mentioned the right-wing platform during coverage of the debates.
Notably, various mainstream journalists have also previously left out context about Rumble’s extremism. Leading up to the second Republican primary debate on September 27, which will again be livestreamed exclusively on Rumble, it is essential that journalists provide context about the GOP's partnership with an extreme right-wing platform that is overrun with violent, racist, and conspiratorial content.
As Rumble hosts the RNC’s exclusive debate stream, new audiences may be led to extreme and harmful content on the platform
On April 12, McDaniel announced that Rumble would host the exclusive livestream for the first Republican presidential primary debate, calling the platform “fair” and “unbiased” and claiming that the RNC is “getting away from Big Tech.” On August 9, McDaniel announced that the RNC would again partner with Rumble for the second primary debate.
Media Matters has repeatedly reported on the extent of Rumble’s extremism. Misogynistic Rumble streamers have been promoting racism and antisemitism to their audiences on the platform for months, including Holocaust denial, blood libel propaganda, Christian nationalist talking points, and calls for violence. The day of the first debate, Rumble placed RNC ads on videos of a pro-Hitler, World War II revisionist films.
The platform is also dominated by QAnon content and other dangerous conspiracy theories. In a six-month study of Rumble’s “Battle Leaderboard Top 50” — a prominently displayed ranking of the 50 most-liked videos from the previous 24 hours — Media Matters found that multiple videos from QAnon channels appeared on the leaderboard every day from February 1 through July 31. Media Matters also found that Rumble has used its “Editor Picks” list to promote videos pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory, conspiracy theories about 9/11, a false flag conspiracy theory, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
As the platform tries to court new audiences with “Rumble Exclusives” creators and now the RNC debates, it’s important to note that Rumble can be a bridge to extremism. For example, Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes (a former Republican member of Congress) appeared as a guest on a QAnon show that streams on Rumble and admitted that he became familiar with the program because of its popularity on the platform.
Top U.S. newspapers told readers that they could stream the debate on Rumble but didn’t mention the platform’s extremism
Media Matters reviewed coverage of both of the GOP primary debates from the top 5 U.S. newspapers by circulation — the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today — since McDaniel’s April 12 announcement. We found just 10 print and online articles that mentioned Rumble in relation to the GOP primary debates, and none which mentioned the platform’s extremism; only 4 even mentioned Rumble’s right-wing or conservative bent.
The New York Times published an article with the headline “How to Watch the First Republican Presidential Debate” which merely described Rumble as an “online streaming platform” but noted that it was “an official R.N.C. partner.” In another article from The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher described it as “a right-wing online streaming service.”
USA Today at most described Rumble as an “online streaming platform” or “video platform” across 5 articles that appeared online. The Washington Post ran 1 online article about the debate that mentioned Rumble without providing any context about the platform.
Print articles from the Los Angeles Times simply mentioned that Rumble has a “heavily Republican audience” or called it a “conservative online video platform.” These details are not false, but they alone don’t provide enough context for an accurate understanding of the platform.
Cable and broadcast news should have reported on the RNC’s partnership with the extreme platform
Media Matters reviewed transcripts on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, as well as transcripts for news shows on broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS after McDaniel's announcement on April 12 through September 24 and found only 2 segments about either of the GOP debates that mentioned Rumble. Both segments aired on Fox News, one of them from the debate itself and the other from an interview during which McDaniel promoted the RNC's partnership with Rumble. Neither mentioned the platform’s extremism.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream and Kinetiq video databases for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC and all original episodes of ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and This Week; CBS’ Mornings, Evening News, and Face the Nation; NBC’s Today, Nightly News, Sunday Today, and Meet the Press; and PBS’ NewsHour for the term “Rumble” from April 12, 2023, after McDaniel announced that Rumble would be the exclusive livestreaming service for the first GOP presidential primary debate, through September 24, 2023.
We also searched print and online articles in the Factiva and Nexis databases from the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today for the term “Rumble” and any of the terms “GOP,” “Republican,” “RNC,” “Republican National Committee,” or “Fox News” and also any of the terms “primary,” “debate,” “stage,” “candidate,” or “presidential” from April 12, 2023, after McDaniel's announcement, through September 24, 2023.
We included segments, which we defined as instances when either of the GOP presidential primary debates for the 2024 presidential nomination was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of either debate. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either debate with one another.
We also included articles, which we defined as instances when either of the first GOP presidential primary debates for the 2024 presidential nomination was mentioned in the headline or lead paragraphs. If a paper published the same article in both print and online, we included only the print edition.
We then reviewed the identified segments and articles for whether their mentions of Rumble included the platform’s ideological leaning or extremism.