Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
The pro-Trump Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) has parted ways with two of its hosts -- including prominent “alt-right” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich -- and is scaling back plans to become a “24/7” news outlet, its CEO told Media Matters
After the small media upstart found success during the 2016 campaign by providing live streams of Donald Trump’s rallies, RSBN sought to use Trump’s surprise win as a springboard to a bigger platform. Politico reported in January that RSBN had begun “quietly attempting to transform itself from a small live-stream operation into a major and diverse digital media outlet” with the goal of becoming a “24/7 news outlet of the common man.”
But in recent months, those plans have apparently floundered. RSBN has struggled to find viewership for original streaming programs and has had to apologize for incendiary comments from its personnel.
In January, RSBN attempted to appeal to its YouTube-centric audience by hiring YouTube prankster Joey Saladino (also known as “Joey Salads”). The move backfired, as numerous self-identified conservative Trump fans criticized the hiring on Twitter and in YouTube comments sections, specifically pointing to Saladino’s production of a hoax video purporting to show that the “black community is very violent toward” Trump supporters.
Media Matters also documented that Saladino has a history of tweeting racist remarks, including warning that you’ll get “shot” if you “steal a niggas food stamp” and claiming that “Facebook is for old people and niggers.”
The network cut ties with Saladino after airing only six episodes of The Joey Saladino Show -- the last on February 10.
In February, RSBN began airing the commentary and call-in show The Right Mindset with Mike Cernovich. Cernovich is a prominent “alt-right” figure who is infamous for launching online harassment campaigns, promoting rape denial, pushing conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate,” and tweeting racist and misogynistic remarks.
Though Cernovich has friends in the Trump White House and a large social media presence, his RSBN program never took off, with no episode currently garnering more than 7,500 views on RSBN’s YouTube page. The views for Cernovich and Saladino stand in stark contrast to the millions racked up by RSBN for Trump rallies and events.
In emails to Media Matters, RSBN CEO Joe Seales confirmed Saladino is no longer with the network and said Cernovich “is no longer doing The Right Mindset with us. Was a mutual decision pretty much as the views were not what we expected.”
He added that there weren’t “enough views on the programs to justify the cost of producing them.”
RSBN has had other problems with personnel. It recently issued a statement apologizing for comments by host Nick Fuentes, who said it was “time to kill the globalists” who run CNN and that he didn’t “want CNN to go out of business … I want the people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged.”
Politico magazine also noted in a January profile that RSBN had to reprimand an employee for “suggesting on Twitter that Islam is an inherently inferior religion.”
Former Infowars reporter Joe Biggs also announced that month that he was filming a “pro 2nd Amendment show” for the network. Media Matters subsequently noted that Biggs had tweeted his approval of date rape, sexual violence, revenge porn, and punching women and transgender people. (Politico reported that the tweets “may have put his chances for full-time employment at RSBN in jeopardy.”)
In his email to Media Matters, Seales wrote that Biggs “never worked for or with us. We worked up the idea of a pilot for a show, which included him, but it wasn't meant to be.”
He added that RSBN is “anything but racist or sexist,” writing:
I know you folks at Media Matters like to take shots at us, but I hope you get the facts straight. We are anything but racist or sexist here.
Our #1 producer, Brandon Davis, is African American...and as you know, so is our host Wayne Dupree.
Steve Lookner, our #1 reporter and host is Jewish.
And we have Margaret Howell and Liz Willis as reporters.
RSBN’s efforts to finance its expansion plans through online fundraising have produced fewer donations than hoped. It started a GoFundMe account in late January with a goal of $50,000 but had only raised a little over $12,500 as of posting.
RSN also started a Patreon site in early April and promised donor perks such as appearing “monthly on an RSBN Show,” “your own personalized song created by RSBN's Jacob Seales,” and a “live on-air shoutout during a news broadcast.” As of posting, the fundraiser has raised commitments of nearly $900 per month of its $20,000 goal.
In the wake of those setbacks, RSBN said it is scaling back its original programming and reorienting its focus to what made it popular during the Trump primary.
“It doesn't look like we'll be going to 24 hours anytime soon,” Seales wrote. “We're going to focus more on live breaking news coverage during the day and sending out crews to cover major events (such as POTUS rally this weekend).”