Rumble rejects MPs’ demand to cave in to Russell Brand ‘cancel culture mob’

Russell Brand
Russell Brand has been blocked from making money from his YouTube channel - PA

Rumble has rejected a “dangerous” demand by MPs to demonetise Russell Brand’s channel, as it vowed to shun “a cancel culture mob”.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, the Tory chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, wrote to the video platform on Wednesday to say she was “concerned” that the comedian, who has 1.4 million followers for his daily weekday shows, “may be able to profit from his content on the platform”.

The committee is sending letters to numerous companies connected to Brand in the wake of four women accusing him of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse, with the alleged incidents said to have taken place between 2006 and 2013 in the UK and United States.

On Monday, YouTube took the rare step of “demonetising” Brand’s channel, which has 6.6 million followers, meaning he can no longer make income from advertisements on it.

It was the latest in a swathe of cancellations that have hit the 48-year-old since the anonymous allegations surfaced, with the BBC, Channel 4, Brand’s podcast company, his book publisher, an Australian wellness festival and the promoters for his UK tour all cutting ties.

In a letter that has sparked uproar on social media, Dame Caroline asked Rumble: “We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his content, including his videos relating to the serious accusations against him.

“If so, we would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform.”

Russell Brand
Brand leaving the Troubabour Wembley Park theatre in London on his UK tour, which has now been 'postponed' - James Manning/PA

But the move has backfired as Rumble issued a stinging public rebuke in response, insisting it stands for “an internet where no one arbitrarily dictates which ideas can or cannot be heard”.

Rumble wrote in a public statement: “We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK Parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living from doing so.

“Singling out an individual and demanding his ban is even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble.”

The company added pointedly: “Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands.”

Rumble’s dress down of the select committee makes it the first company to explicitly refuse to take any actions while the allegations remain as unproven claims.

Netflix, which has not commented, has also not removed his Re:Birth show, despite BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 pulling down episodes featuring the comedian.

Alongside the four accusations made in an investigation by Channel 4, The Times and Sunday Times, the Metropolitan Police is investigating a separate allegation of a sexual assault in 2003.

Brand uses the platform to make lengthy speeches about issues such as Covid to his followers, but in his most recent show – hours before the anonymous claims were first released – he told fans he vehemently denied “very serious criminal allegations”.

He denounced what he described as “astonishing” and “rather baroque” claims of a “serious nature”, insisting that all of his relationships have been consensual.

He also tried to separate his life now from previously working “in the mainstream”, adding: “It’s been clear to me, or at least it feels to me like there’s a serious and concerted agenda to control these kinds of spaces and these kinds of voices – and I mean my voice along with your voice.”

Dan Bongino, the former Fox News presenter, who is both a shareholder in Rumble and one of its biggest stars, has in recent days encouraged others to follow Brand on the site.

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