Russell Brand went toe to toe with MSNBC political analyst John Heilemann while they were both guests on the “Real Time with Bill Maher” podcast.
The actor and comedian, 47, said Heilemann was hypocritical for condemning Fox News “within the castle of MSNBC.” The rant, which aired Friday, has since taken off on social media, with one clip garnering a million views on Twitter and another clip with over 2.5 million on TikTok.
Brand said both Fox News and MSNBC are “mouthpieces for their affiliate owners in BlackRock and Vanguard,” referring to controversial investment firms.
“It’s disingenuous to claim that the biases exhibited on Fox News are any different from the biases exhibited on MSNBC,” Brand said. “I’ve been on that MSNBC mate. It’s propagandist nutcrackery over there,” he added, referencing his tense appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2013.
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Heilemann told Brand that comparing his home network’s messaging with Fox News is “false equivalency” as the latter is being sued by Dominion for allegedly knowingly sharing 2020 election voter fraud conspiracy.
“You don’t actually know anything about any of these organizations you’re talking about,” Heilemann continued. “You went on MSNBC once.”
Heilemann pressed Brand for specific examples that MSNBC, known to be left-leaning, had comparable practices as right-leaning Fox News. The “Death on the Nile” star shot back that the network was “outrageous” for their treatment of podcaster Joe Rogan and his promotion of ivermectin as a successful COVID-19 treatment.
“Deliberately referring to it as a horse medicine when they know it is an effective medicine,” Brand said.
The National Institutes of Health, FDA and the World Health Organization have advised against the use of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug used primarily for farm animals, as a treatment for COVID.
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Brand then took aim at MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for her claim in a March 2021 broadcast that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents you from getting the virus.
The vaccine lowers the risk of contracting the virus and vastly reduces the likelihood of hospitalization. Maddow corrected the common misunderstanding of the vaccine’s function within the same broadcast.
In Brand’s continued rant, he asked Heilemann, “Do you think you can improve America by determinedly and avowedly condemning Fox News without acknowledging that you’re participating in the same game?”
“Bickering about which propagandists network is the worst is not going to save a single American life, not improve the life of a single American child, not going to improve America standing in the world — and the world needs a strong America, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “So you have an obligation — a duty! — not to condemn these people.”
Brand followed up the interview by posting a YouTube video Monday to further break down his analysis between Fox News and MSNBC. “My perspective is that all mainstream media outlets are so beholden to corporate and commercial interests that they will not give you the type of information you need to make valid decisions about the way that systemic power operates,” he said.
“I believe that we deserve an open media. That’s why I’m working in these spaces in order to participate in open conversations, because guess what? I might be wrong about stuff, you know things that I don’t know. I don’t want a media that talks down to me and I know you don’t either,” Brand continued.
During the 16-minute video, the actor compared the two network’s coverage as a way to show their alleged financial interests which may produce biases.
Contributing: Daniel Funke, Sudiksha Kochi
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