by Oliver Bateman
Wednesday, 22
June 2022
HerdWatch
11:00

Russell Brand: the latest Leftist to endorse Fox News

The comedian gave Tucker Carlson's show a thumbs up this week
by Oliver Bateman

Commenting on Jimmy Dore’s recent appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, comedian Russell Brand took to his own YouTube channel to make a bold claim:

Fox News used to be a channel that we continually berated and baited when it was Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. We used to torment them about their stances on numerous issues. But nowadays, if you want a channel that’s going to criticise big business, big tech, big corporations, and the mainstream media, you’re most likely to find that on Fox News….Why don’t we have a Leftist mainstream media outlet that would showcase a voice like Jimmy Dore’s? Why is that? What has become of the Left?
- Russell Brand

Brand — an inescapable part of the pop-culture firmament between his 2008 star-making turn in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and a widely-panned performance in the 2011 remake of the 1981 film Arthur — has spent much of the past decade becoming an increasingly strident and heterodox social critic. The actor’s praise for Fox rested primarily on the relative openness of the forum afforded by host Tucker Carlson, whose willingness to smirk and nod through interviews with the likes of Angela Nagle and Glenn Greenwald has infuriated many on the Left while helping his show dominate prime-time ratings among viewers age 25-54 for weeks on end. 

Brand’s praise for Fox was far from unqualified, with the comedian wryly observing that “someone once called [Tucker Carlson] a human boat shoe” and reminding viewers that Rupert Murdoch remained executive chairman of News Corporation, Fox’s parent company. He also explained that, although he and other Left-libertarians such as Greenwald and Dore shared Carlson’s reservations about support for the war in Ukraine and other narratives, “there will be cultural and indeed political points of disagreement” among them and Carlson’s other regular guests.

Implicit in Brand’s remarks is the nexus between disagreement and brand differentiation. Due to a hard division on particular issues within Left-liberal spaces, dissenters from the party line will have to choose between toiling in obscurity or casting their lot, however tentatively, with the “other team” in America’s binary Democrats-versus-Republicans paradigm. Brand seems to think the solution to intractable cultural and political differences between these strange bedfellows can be resolved by “decentralisation” mindset that, like so many libertarian conceits, has considerable surface appeal — “live and let live” and all that.  

However, there will probably be rough waters ahead for some of those who leave the safety of the Left-liberal mothership. Many other rising political groups are using Carlson’s show to gain influence, from testicle-irradiating “based” anons deploring the death of masculinity to New Right populists looking to use government powers to infuse society with a healthy dose of morality-driven legislation

Greenwald, Dore, and Brand most likely don’t share those aims, but they are now sharing this space — and as art critic Brad Troemel’s recent work on conflict-driven marketing shows, shared conflict provides the content that builds community, and new communities tend to cultivate their own orthodoxies and enumerate their own heresies. For how long will this prove acceptable to Brand, an individual who by his own admission is no fan of Donald Trump and who has shown a willingness to jump from issue to issue as it suits his whims? 

I understand the desire on the part of Brand, Dore, and Greenwald to have their voices heard. After all, I might be the only person on the planet who has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, the BBC, and the Killstream. But Dore and Greenwald, whose incomes are underwritten by subscribers and patrons, face challenges that a mere writer of content does not. 

Over time, they may find that their messages are being changed, however subtly, by the medium through which they choose to convey them. They may end up either inadvertently cosigning certain ideas with which they disagree, or else adrift in the marketplace of ideas, casting an eye around the ossified and degraded media landscape and wondering what’s left.

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Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago

The first politicians to articulate a joined-up plan to move power away from the elite class of unelected “experts” and Woke HR departments and back to the people through democratic means will clean up electorally. It appeals to left-libertarians and populist conservatives alike. This is, I think, Ron DeSantis’s plan.

John G
John G
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

100% true, there are people on both political wings just waiting, willing somebody credible to stick their head above the parapet…the whole plan of the unelected elites would tumble and fall, domino like, in the face of a modest force of genuine truth tellers.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

Hear hear. But how does he get the Donald out of the way? Or will the Dems shoot themselves in the foot once again and do it for him?

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 month ago

This article is a clumsy defense of the censorship that has closed Left and mainstream media to any thought outside a very narrow range, and driven those with any “deviant” opinions to seek out platforms that will have them, of which Carlson is the most visible. Intellectually, it is nothing more than a thinly veiled threat against those who get out of line, and I thought UnHerd was better than that.

The real story should be why people like Brand and esp. serious journos such as Greenwald and Taibbi have been effectively blacklisted.

Censorship and free expression are the defining issues of this moment and this article takes the wrong side.

Mark Kerridge
Mark Kerridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Perhaps the changing media environment ( substack, youtube etc ) means that it doesn’t really matter that greenwald or taibbi have been blacklisted. Many of us don’t give two shits about what the MSM has to say and find our news and info elsewhere.. Like here..

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 month ago

You mean Tucker Carlson will talk to people of various political persuasions without trying to ‘gotcha’ them or shout them down? Gadzooks, we can’t be having open discussion! Whatever next?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Yes, he must be shut down.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

Glen Greenwald also appears on Carlson’s show occasionally, it’s one of the few places left on ‘TV’ for independent voices. Also, love him or loath him, Carlson is original, articulate and to the point; providing lively entertainment as well as political comment. Refreshing after the dreary ‘worthiness’ on offer elsewhere, which is why I suppose more Democrats watch him that watch CNN. There’s life outside the echo chamber.

Calvin Pinnegar
Calvin Pinnegar
1 month ago

This article is literally incoherent babbling.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

The author should state explicitly what it is they are trying to leave half unspoken. That leftist dissidents should self-censor.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 month ago

It’s fun to see Dore, Tucker, Brand and Unherd coming together jhere…. we just need to get Lotus Eaters, Lauren Chen, the Daily Wire and LoTT to join this group and we’re all set.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
1 month ago

Wait, why do I care? Couldn’t get that from the piece.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
1 month ago

Brand has really outflanked the other commentators with nothing much to say anymore.