On YouTube, right-wing candidates are using appearances from Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to campaign for office

Bannon’s show was suspended by YouTube after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol


Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Multiple Republican candidates are using appearances on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to campaign for office on YouTube, even though the show has been banned from the platform.

Media Matters has identified at least 14 GOP candidates who have posted clips of their appearances on War Room to their official campaign YouTube channels. YouTube banned the War Room channel nearly a year ago after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and the platform has removed content from other channels featuring Bannon spreading misinformation since then. Bannon played a pivotal role in fomenting the insurrection, both on his show and behind the scenes. 

Many of the War Room clips uploaded by candidates effectively circumvent YouTube's already weak ban of the podcast and contain apparent violations by spreading election misinformation

Now, right-wing candidates at the local and national levels are flocking to Bannon’s show to promote their 2022 campaigns and uploading the clips to their own YouTube channels. They often express their support for the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, a critical “litmus test” for Republican candidates to demonstrate their loyalty to the most extreme demands of Bannon’s hardcore right-wing audience. 

Many of the candidates Bannon throws his support behind and who appear on his show are linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has also been banned on YouTube. 

Here are the GOP candidates using their War Room appearances to campaign for office on YouTube, totaling 191,173 views total:

  • Alabama Senate candidate and current Rep. Mo Brooks bragged to Bannon that “after November 3, I was the very first United States congressman or senator to publicly state, and I’ll say it again for you out there in the audience, in my judgment, if only lawful votes cast by eligible American citizens were counted, Donald Trump won.” 
  • Disgraced former Missouri governor and current Senate candidate Eric Greitens suggested to Bannon that the 2020 election had “anomalous results,” arguing that Republicans need to “fight for and make sure we get the truth” about purported election fraud in battleground states. 
  • Kari Lake, an Arizona gubernatoral candidate who is linked to QAnon figures and Nazi sympathizers, called for election audits “in every county in Arizona” similar to the QAnon-linked audit in Maricopa County and suggested that “we were not told the truth about who won the election. I believe we’re going to find out that Joe Biden did not win the election.” She also said that “we need to decertify the election results in Arizona right away” because of “fraud in Arizona” and “many other states.” (There is no legal pathway to decertify or change the results of a presidential election.) 
  • Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance told War Room listeners to not comply with any vaccine mandates put forth by the Biden administration and to “force them to come after you.”
  • Joe Kent, a QAnon-linked candidate for U.S. Congress from Washington, told Bannon that his constituents’ most discussed issue is the “stolen election of 2020." 
  • Teddy Daniels, a QAnon-linked candidate for U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania, blamed Biden for inflation and said to Bannon that “people are going to end up freezing to death this winter because of the inflation that is happening.” (Inflation is not predominantly Biden’s fault.) 
  • Jim Marchant, a QAnon-linked former Nevada state representative who’s running for secretary of state, claimed Nevada is a blue state because George Soros “implemented the machines” for voting and helped get Democratic secretaries of state and other public officials elected. 
  • Rachel Hamm, a QAnon-supporting candidate for California secretary of state, told Bannon that “because of what we have seen from our government, with all three branches of government being stolen from we the people, I think it’s time for we the people to rise up and take it back.” She later added that “it’s very likely that Trump won in California.”
  • Anthony Sabatini, a QAnon-linked member of the Florida House of Representatives who is now running for Congress, told Bannon that states should attempt to nullify the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate and said that “any OSHA officer” who attempts to enforce the rule on vaccines “must be arrested as a trespasser and prosecuted under state law.”
  • Matt Salmon, a former House representative from Arizona who is running for governor in 2022, said he is “calling on the state legislature to expand the audit statewide” to “show the breadth and depth and width and everything of this fraud that’s been perpetrated.” He also called for a “statewide canvas” of the 2020 presidential vote. 
  • New Hampshire congressional candidate Karoline Leavitt appeared on War Room and falsely claimed Trump “absolutely” won the 2020 election but was undermined by Democrats who “took over our election system ... in the guise of pandemic precautions.” She also called for an Arizona-style audit “across the country.”
  • Alaska Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka told Bannon Democrats are making “an attack on the very principles that this country was established on” and “unraveling those ideas” that make up the basis for American democracy “while claiming that this is bringing unity.”
  • Arizona congressional candidate Eli Crane touted his credentials as a business owner and veteran while asking Bannon’s audience to support his campaign. 
  • Shiva Ayyadurai, a QAnon-linked Senate candidate from Massachusetts, suggested to Bannon that machine voting is a conduit for fraud by political elites and promoted his campaign website. (It is unclear if Ayyadurai is running as a Republican.)