Russell Brand's show on Rumble uncritically platforms right-wing figures and conspiracy theories
Stay Free isn't the “inclusive and progressive” programming that Rumble advertised
Despite Rumble’s claim that actor-turned-activist Russell Brand and his show, Stay Free, would offer an “inclusive and progressive” perspective, interviews featuring dangerous right-wing figures and conspiracy theories have become a fixture of the daily live stream.
In 2022, Rumble announced that Russell Brand would produce a new, exclusive daily live show for the platform, touting it as an “alternative news source that is both inclusive and progressive, exploring global events and providing unique perspectives on culture, news, and politics.” Brand had previously earned over 6.4 million subscribers on YouTube and left the platform after receiving a content strike for pushing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
Since its creation in 2013, Rumble has marketed itself as a platform that provides an alternative to the imagined (but nonexistent) censorship of conservatives on other social media platforms and as one that is “immune to cancel culture.” Even though Rumble has marketed itself as “the neutral video platform” and CEO Chris Palovski has claimed that some of Rumble's exclusive content creators “aren't right-wing,” these creators have trafficked in conspiracy theories and hate speech on the site, making it a favored platform for the right.
In an ad for Rumble, Brand claimed the site does not “assume free speech means the right to freely hurt people,” and he has taken issue with being labeled as right-wing, claiming that his own politics are “way, way, way, way, way to the left of any government party anywhere in the world.” However, Stay Free frequently and uncritically amplifies right-wing conspiracy theories and figures in its effort to explore “new ways to connect with ourselves and one another and how to elevate our consciousness.”
Brand has amplified conspiracy theories and right-wing talking points
- Brand has repeatedly discussed the “great reset” on his show, with video titles and thumbnails frequently fearmongering over the conspiracy theory. Brand even admitted that it “sounds like a conspiracy theory” when he speculated that the New Zealand government is “pursuing a great reset agenda to bankrupt farmers and take their land.
- Stay Free has repeatedly peddled COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories, with Brand insinuating that the pandemic was planned by the Chinese government and claiming that it was caused by the “scientific ineptitude” of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
- Brand has frequently derided mainstream news sources, claiming that such outlets “can no longer make claim to” “authority and legitimacy,” and has accused CNN of pushing false narratives about Russian collusion with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and COVID-19 vaccines.
- In multiple episodes of Stay Free, Brand has held up the Hunter Biden laptop story as evidence of “a corrupt political system” that’s “keeping the story out of the news while it could potentially sway the outcome of an election,” even claiming that President Joe Biden directed the CIA to suppress the story.
- He has evoked the Clinton body count conspiracy theory and its claim that Bill and Hillary Clinton have murdered political opponents, joking that Hillary Clinton is not running for president, she’s “running people into an early grave.”
While hosting progressive guests, Brand has promoted dangerous right-wing figures
- When ardent bigot Steven Crowder signed a similar exclusive deal with Rumble, Brand welcomed the “Mug Club” maven to the platform with an almost hour-long interview.
- Brand has hosted Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, and Matt Taibbi to defend their so-called “Twitter Files” and bemoan the supposed government suppression of conservative voices on social media.
- Right-wing streamer Tim Pool, known for his history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, has appeared twice on Stay Free to wildly speculate about the supposed collapse of American society.
- Anti-LGBTQ bigot and fellow Rumble affiliate Dave Rubin appeared on the show to celebrate Elon Musk’s leadership of Twitter and to hype Ron DeSantis’ 2024 campaign.
- Brand hosted “patriarchal pseudoscience” pusher Jordan Peterson to discuss Peterson’s views on gender identity, with Peterson using the interview to attack actor Elliot Page and gender-affirming care centers.
- Conspiracy theorist Kim Iversen appeared on Stay Free to celebrate a Project Veritas sting video against Pfizer and defend the right-wing operation from claims that it produces “fake news.”