The move underscores how far-right and self-proclaimed open speech sites continue to provide shelter for Russian state information. But it also shows how limited access to those news sources has become in the wake of the Ukraine invasion as they face discontent from their own ranks over the war.
Rumble reported an average of 36 million monthly users in the third quarter of 2021, a number largely dwarfed by YouTube. Used by the likes of Steve Bannon and – albeit occasionally – former President Trump, Rumble has taken on an anti-cancellation-culture YouTube posture. The company claims “a mission to protect a free and open Internet”. But it has become home to far-right conspiracy theories and conservatives booted from mainstream sites. Rumble did not return a request for comment.
At least four Sputnik shows — “Fault Lines,” “Political Misfits,” “By Anything Means Necessary” and “The Backstory” — appeared to begin posting their content on Rumble on March 14, around the time that Google began posting its content on Rumble. Moved to ban Sputnik. By mid-March, “Fault Lines” was booted from YouTube. The show’s Twitter account told followers, “Fault Lines Are Banned By Big Tech, But It Won’t Stop Us.” It included a link to its Rumble page. In what appears to be the first video of this on the site, one of the show’s hosts, Jamarl Thomas, explained to listeners that the programming was in need of a new home.
“As you guys know who’s waiting for the YouTube feed to happen, Sputnik has been taken off YouTube not only in Europe but in the US as well,” Thomas said. “We’re basically trying to find other means to give shows to you guys: um, rumble and a few other apps. We’re also thinking about doing shows, um, basically unlisted and our various supporters.” either on Patreon or otherwise.
Sputnik reflects criticism of the mainstream Western media and government, especially around the war in Ukraine. The hosts of “Fault Lines” have questioned President Joe Biden’s description of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal”, disparaging media coverage of the ongoing conflict, and Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. defends. In the show “by any means necessary”, which aired on March 14, the hosts claimed that the US was genuinely “aggressive”, lamented the “anti-Putin frenzy” and suggested the US should, in fact, allow Russia to invade Ukraine. wanted to influence the public. Opinions in favor of America and the West.
In an episode that aired before his expulsion from YouTube, John Kiriakou, a host of “Political Misfits” and a former CIA officer convicted of leaking information to the media, warned listeners and viewers that if the show was ever removed from the stage, was booted, they would be able to find the show on Rumble.
“Political misfits” and “by any means necessary” continued to perpetuate YouTube channels, despite the fact that Sputnik was banned by the platform. However, when this reporter contacted YouTube owner Google about their accounts, a YouTube spokesperson said it blocked both of their channels.
Later in the day, the show “by any means necessary” tweeted a screenshot of its blocked account, saying, “This is what ‘democracy’ looks like in America, guys,” and linking to its Rumble page. Is. The account added, “No matter how hard they try to silence us, we’ll keep rockin’ and #TruthWillWin!”
“The Backstory” remains up on YouTube as of Thursday afternoon. A YouTube spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The producer of the four shows is a limited liability company known as Ghebi. According to filings under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, Ghebi has reported spending from Russian state media conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya for services of approximately $2.7 million, as well as $3.8 million. All four are broadcast on Radio Sputnik and are featured on SputnikNews.com. In its registration with the Justice Department, Ghebi stated that it has “independent editorial control over its production.”
Although he remains active on Twitter, The platform has said it will reduce the visibility of Russian-state media content. and identified each show as “Russian state-affiliated media”. But there is no such disclaimer on Rumble. The platform also continues to host RT News, including a live feed that the website claims is watched by thousands of people concurrently. In a statement, RT’s deputy editor in chief Anna Belkina vowed that the news organization “will continue to distribute our content to millions of viewers and readers around the world through the platforms available to us.”
“These sanctions are corporate censorship coupled with the political agenda of the government; Our voices are being blocked not for what we say but for who we are.
As of Wednesday, Sputnik continued to operate a page on the podcast platform Simplecast, which is owned by SiriusXM. However, when contacted by Politico, Simplecast removed Sputnik’s programming as well.
“As soon as the Simplecast team has been notified of Sputnik’s use of the company’s hosting services, it has been decided to immediately delete all related content, RSS feeds and accounts associated with the organization,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “Any digital content referenced inside that feed was also purged.”