Russell Brand Mocks MSNBC News Anchors and the Mainstream Media on Live Television and in Print

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jun 17 2013

Location: 

New York, NY

On June 17, 2013, Russell Brand (a stand-up comedian and actor) visited MSNBC’s
'Morning Joe' news show to promote his international stand-up tour, 'The Messiah Complex', but he also managed to mock the 'Morning Joe' news anchors, as well as the mainstream media. Clips of this particular interview immediately went viral on YouTube, and one of the videos is linked to this page (see the first link below).

At the beginning of the live 'Morning Joe' interview, the news anchors did allow Brand to promote his stand-up tour and discuss its subject matter. Then one of the news anchors asked Brand if he is more partial to performing stand-up, or appearing in television shows or films. This is where the interview becomes really interesting to watch. The aforesaid question prompted Brand to explain why he prefers stand-up comedy to other forms of media. According to Brand, stand-up comedy allows him to speak directly to his audience and personally explain his intended messages, whereas the mainstream media have a tendency to alter information so it can “suit their particular agenda” and cause “fake stirs and stuff”. Essentially, Brand rebuked the mainstream media’s tactics on live television.

Halfway through the interview, the 'Morning Joe' news anchors began to continuously refer to Brand in the third person, as if he was not even present. Furthermore, one of the interviewers commented on Brand’s British accent, and another one called him by the wrong name. Frustrated by the interviewers’ lack of manners, Brand decided to take control of the interview. In other words, Brand used the tactic of ‘media-jacking’, and he proceeded to reframe the focus of his interview from himself to Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.

Unfortunately, the news anchors disregarded Brand’s remarks and questions about Snowden and Manning*. Instead of engaging in a thought-provoking dialogue about these two newsworthy figures, the news anchors decided to focus their attention on Brand’s outward appearance. Brand responded to their appearance-oriented comments with the following statements: “Look beyond the superficial. That’s the problem with current affairs! You forget about what’s important, and you allow the agenda to be decided by superficial information. What am I saying? What am I talking about? Don’t think about what I’m wearing. These things are redundant and superficial.” So Brand openly criticized the mainstream media not once, but twice during his eight and a half-minute interview.

On June 28, 2013, "The Guardian" published an eloquent article in which Brand discusses the 'Morning Joe' interview and what it reveals about the current state of the mainstream media (see the second link below). In short, he seized an opportunity to publicly condemn the mainstream media yet again.

Although some may not consider Brand to be a veritable activist, he is at least using the media to draw attention to precisely what is wrong with our media, unlike most celebrities.

*Coincidentally, on the same day that Brand appeared on 'Morning Joe', the official 'I am Bradley Manning' YouTube channel published the 'I am Bradley Manning' video, which features Brand, among other celebrities (see the third link below).

Posted by jng280@nyu.edu on