The Right Side Broadcasting Network, which prides itself on its live-streaming of Donald Trump’s rallies, once gave its guests free rein to spout paranoid theories about politics. Now, due to YouTube’s recent crackdown on misinformation, the channel increasingly cuts them off.
“We do have to be super careful,” RSBN’s Liz Willis recently told Mike Lindell, the Trump-supporting MyPillow CEO, just as he veered toward conspiracy-mongering about coronavirus vaccines. “I hate to do it, you know I love you, but due to YouTube’s guidelines, we will get our whole platform shut down if you talk about vaccines.”
In another awkward moment, caught by the Daily Beast, reporter Mike Nificent was interviewing attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference when one woman asked him a question.
“You know how they said they changed the votes using a satellite?” she asked, apparently alluding to a delusional theory about the 2020 election.
“We can’t go there,” Nificent told her. “We’ll lose our entire platform. We have to play by the rules.”
YouTube has tightened its policies against misinformation since the riot at the US Capitol, which itself was largely spurred by conspiracy theories that the presidential election was stolen.
“Due to the disturbing events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have now been certified, starting today *any* channels posting new videos with false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike,” YouTube wrote in a Twitter post on January 7, referring to its “three strikes” policy.
The platform has also increasingly cracked down on misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccines for it. That puts any pro-Trump video channel in an awkward position, because one of the loudest voices promoting misinformation about both the 2020 election and COVID has been Mr Trump himself – and that penchant for conspiracies has filtered down to his supporters.
The result on RSBN has been a strange game of conspiracy whack-a-mole, in which anchors halfheartedly interrupt paranoid comments to which they themselves seem sympathetic.
In another example, reported by Raw Story, one Trump supporter at CPAC told Nificent that she knew President Biden had stolen the election.
“Well, some would say that it hasn’t been stolen," Nificent replied. “They would say that Biden’s won the presidency fair.”
Soon afterward he added, “Wink, wink.”