'Propagandist Nut-Crackery': Russell Brand Annihilates MSNBC Analyst Over Network's COVID Hypocrisy

Matt Sayles
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As verbal bloodbaths go, this one was exceptionally enjoyable to watch.


The setting was Bill Maher’s HBO talk show, “Real Time.” The panelists were British comedian and podcast host Russell Brand and MSNBC analyst John Heilemann. The subject was COVID and the malfeasance practiced by the media, particularly MSNBC, in pushing viewers towards vaccines and away from alternative approaches for dealing with the virus. The result was total annihilation of Heilemann.

First off, let’s address the obvious: Brand is quick-witted, verbose, and excels at verbal sparring. Language is his art. Heilemann is your garden variety leftist hack; sure, the Democrats write his talking points for him, but his delivery is, well, your garden variety MSNBC analyst hack. (There’s also the hair disparity, but it would be petty of me to pit Brand’s flowing locks against Heilemann’s follicularly-challenged dome, right?)

On Friday night’s show, Brand took offense to Heilemann “throwing rocks at Fox News” and accused MSNBC of “propagandist nut-crackery” in their coverage of COVID. Brand put the liberal network on blast:

I have to say, it is disingenuous to claim that the biases that are exhibited on Fox News are any different from the biases exhibited on MSNBC.

It is difficult to suggest that these corporations operate as anything other than mouthpieces for their affiliate owners, in Black Rock and Vanguard.

And also, mate, just spiritually, if I may use that word in your great country, we have to take responsibility for our own perspectives. I’ve been on that MSNBC, mate, it was propagandist nutcrackery.


Brand then went on to recount his experience on MSNBC’s morning show, saying, “I went on a show called “Morning Joe.” It was absurd the way they carried on. It wasn’t morning. There was no one called Joe there. No one could concentrate. They didn’t understand the basic tenets of journalism. No one was willing to stick up for genuine American heroes like Edward Snowden, no one was willing to talk about Julian Assange and what he suffered trying to bring real journalism to the American people, and I think to sit within the castle of MSNBC, throwing rocks at Fox News, is ludicrous.”

Incidentally, the comedian gave a blistering first-hand account of his experience on “Morning Joe” 10 years ago:

One of the things that’s surprising when you go on telly a lot is that often the on-camera “talent” (yuck!) are perfectly amiable when you chat to them normally, but when the red light goes on they immediately transform into shark-eyed Stepford berks talking in a cadence you encounter nowhere else but TV-land – a meter that implies simultaneously carefree whimsy and stifled hysteria. There is usually a detachment from the content.

As the Brits would say, not a bloody thing has changed at MSNBC in those 10 years. It’s only gotten worse, in fact, with the network being utterly broken by — and reliant on — Donald Trump. They did not cover themselves in glory during the COVID years, a point Brand was sure to make to Maher’s audience, imploring, “Make MSNBC better. Make MSNBC great again!”


This did not sit well with Heilemann, who blathered, “My friend… Russell, darling… I’d like to hear a provable specific example of an MSNBC correspondent or anchor being on television saying something they knew was false, and were saying behind the scenes, ‘I’m about to go out and we know that the election wasn’t stolen.’ Or something equivalent. ‘But I will go out on television and say the opposite, I will lie.'”

Brand attempted to respond, while an agitated Heilemann kept saying, “Non-responsive. Non-responsive.” When Brand was finally able to get a word in, he brought the receipts:

Do you want an example? The ludicrous, outrageous criticism of Joe Rogan around Ivermectin. Deliberately referring to it as a “horse medicine,” when they know it is an effective medicine. Rachel Maddow turning on the TV, saying if you take this vaccine, you’re not going to get [Covid] when it hadn’t been clinically trialed.

You have to listen. Do you think you can improve America by determinedly and avowedly condemning FOX News without acknowledging that you’re participating in the same game? Did you not just listen to Bernie Sanders, someone who plainly and legitimately believes in this country and believes it is possible to change, but is bound by corruption, bound by the lobbying system?


The crowd broke out into applause when Brand concluded, “And bickering about which propagandist network is the worst is not going to save a single American life, not improve the life of a single American child, not improve America’s standing in the world. And the world needs a strong America.”




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