These days, simply agreeing with someone who is a political enemy of another is enough to get folks frothy at the mouth. It’s not good enough to argue ideas or stances anymore. Instead, if a celebrity or public figure aligns themselves even with the idea of someone viewed as a political villain (from either side), that is enough to be cast out into the proverbial cornfield. Such is the case with Russell Brand recently who came out in a video in support of Donald Trump around one specific issue and talking point. He was clearly not in favor of Trump as a person/ President but rather admitted that around one hot-button topic, Trump might have been in the right. That was enough to get Russell Brand trending on social media.
In a video on his YouTube channel, Russell Brand discussed some aspects of Russiagate, a topic that had been at the forefront of the 2016 Presidential Election. At the time, it was widely proliferated by Democrats that Donald Trump had ties to the Russian government. In his video, Brand brings up a piece by journalist Glenn Greenwald that suggests Hillary Clinton and members of the Democratic Party were those responsible for a disinformation campaign around RussiaGate and that Trump didn’t have nearly the ties to that government some had suggested. Check out the video which lasts about 15 minutes and is already pushing up towards two million views on YouTube.
Russell Brands mentions Greenwald’s reporting that an attorney for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was indicted with a felony count of lying to the FBI after helping to propagate an incorrect story about Donald Trump and Russiagate. That person was Michael Sussman who apparently met with the FBI prior to the election to hand over, what he said, was evidence that Donald Trump had colluded with the Russians. In that talk with the FBI, apparently, Sussman did not reveal that he was there acting as a representative for the Clinton campaign and was also representing a tech mogul who was seeking a government appointment after the election (assuming Clinton won).
Of course, as with anything political, and especially anything related to or concerning Donald Trump, the internet quickly jumped to either defend or condemn the comments made by Russell Brand in his response to the Greenwald story. Both sides cherrypicked the aspects of the story they wanted to use most for their own personal/ professional narratives around the situation. This has Russell Brand, predictably, trending on Twitter in particular. You can see the responses are all over the map.
In a political arena that more resembles rooting for sports teams at this point, it is entirely predictable that each side would see this Russell Brand video in a different way. On the one hand, the Democratic left sees it as just another celebrity going off the rails, “converting” to a different set of values. This is, of course, silly. Brand said as much that he didn’t in any way support Donald Trump and still was a left-leaner. In this case, he was offering a different set of information than had been printed in mainstream media. On the Republican right, folks took a victory lap thinking this new information vindicated Donald Trump who has plenty of other marks on his record outside of this one thing. So again, we continue into the political and rhetorical quagmire with both sides thinking this makes them “right”.