In recent months, we Americans have found ourselves in an odd position: rooting for faceless corporations. Specifically, rooting for voting technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, which have filed billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against a number of right-wing figures who promoted Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him through massive fraud.
There’s a good reason we should be rooting for Smartmatic and Dominion, though. Due to these claims, company employees and their families have been subjected to ghastly harassment and trolling. The bottom feeders even harassed the 14-year-old son of a Smartmatic executive.
Among the targets of the lawsuits are three major members of the right-wing media ecosystem: Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News. The lawsuits contend that these outlets ceaselessly promoted claims of fraud despite clear evidence that there was no evidence to support them.
The outrageous behavior of Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News is well-known, overshadowing even more appalling content that another right-wing network has seen fit to air. How does a right-wing network get worse than promoting bogus claims of election fraud? Quite easily: by condoning one of its hosts making terroristic death threats.
On Nov. 5, two days after the election, former Breitbart chairman, ex-White House chief strategist, and longtime right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon made one of the most chilling statements ever uttered on American television. Bannon, like most Trump acolytes, was peeved that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray had not kissed Trump’s ring often enough. He told his audience on his daily talk show and podcast War Room that, if it were up to him, he would execute Fauci and Wray, then “put the heads on pikes” at either corner of the White House “as a warning” to any bureaucrat who dares oppose Trump’s drive to “Make America Great Again.”
Before the day was out, Twitter had nuked the War Room account, and Facebook and YouTube had deleted the video from their platforms. Incredibly, the network that aired this terroristic screed—a small news network called Real America’s Voice (RAV)—did not act. Indeed, as of this writing, Bannon’s War Room still airs on RAV for as many as six hours a day, six days a week.
Any network that gave a platform to Bannon after his sordid, thuggish, racist, and outright criminal past would have to be disreputable, desperate, or some combination thereof. His efforts to position Breitbart as a vehicle to normalize hate and racism to the point of joining hands with some of the worst people in the world have been well-documented. Former Breitbart staffer Kurt Bardella once recalled that under Bannon, a typical editorial call at Breitbart was little different from “a white supremacist rally.” Another Breitbart alumnus, Ben Shapiro, recalled that Bannon didn’t blink at promoting white nationalism, and sat on his hands while hateful bile flooded the comment sections. Bannon is also an open and unashamed fan of one of the most racist books ever written, The Camp of the Saints.
After Trump tapped him as his chief strategist—a post that shared the top of the White House org chart with then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus—further evidence came to light that showed Bannon was a stone cold racist. Known to openly talk about the “genetic superiority” of certain races, Bannon also had no problem with limiting the vote to property owners. When told it would effectively disenfranchise most Black voters, he quipped, “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
Since leaving the White House, Bannon made an unsuccessful attempt to build a network of right-wing populist parties in Europe and racked up federal fraud charges for allegedly using crowdfunded money—intended to pay for Trump’s stupid wall—to line his own pockets. Within 24 hours of Bannon’s call for Fauci and Wray to be beheaded, the lawyer representing Bannon in that fraud case unloaded him.
All of this should have given any legitimate news network pause about hiring Bannon. But Real America’s Voice seems to be aiming for the same target audience who watches Newsmax and One America News Network: conservatives who think Fox News is not supportive enough of The Messiah, Lord Donald Trump, The Most Merciful. RAV was founded in 2018 as America’s Voice News, adding the “Real” in 2020 in an effort to brand itself as “the real voice of America.” Translation: the voice of those who wanted to “Make America Great Again.”
Even allowing for RAV going full-on deplorable, any defensible reason to let Bannon stay on the air should have gone out the window on Nov. 5. No network with an iota of decency should find it acceptable to keep someone who spews terroristic threats on its payroll. Imagine if Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, or Don Lemon had made such threats against Trump or his supporters. There would have been a furious outcry from both sides of the aisle—and rightly so. At any decent network, such “talent” would have been placed on leave, if not fired, during the next commercial break.
Unfortunately, Real America’s Voice remained silent amid the national outcry that ensued over Bannon’s threats. Does anyone seriously believe that “the real voice of America” should be permitted to threaten people with beheadings? Even before the Jan. 6 insurrection, the only answer that any respectable network should have given would be “no.” After Jan. 6, it should have been “hell, no!”
Months later, it appears that RAV’s answer to that question is “yes.” Such threats are funded by Mike Lindell, who seems to have few qualms about letting Bannon use War Room to hawk MyPillow products. Indeed, a typical War Room episode sees Bannon effortlessly meander from a far-right tirade to urging his viewers to head over to the MyPillow website with a personalized promo code.
In exchange, Bannon allows Lindell to ramble on about election fraud without any pushback. Right Wing Watch recently got a clip of Lindell likening his legal headaches to Nazi persecution.
In the wake of the Smartmatic and Dominion lawsuits, Bannon is one of the few hosts still willing to let Lindell continue to spew the Big Lie. That’s very telling considering that Dominion’s suit contends that Lindell is willing to spew this baloney and endanger its employees, all in the name of selling pillows. If I were Dominion and Smartmatic’s lawyers, I would at least be thinking about adding Bannon as a co-defendant … that is, if Bannon hasn’t already been put on notice.
Lindell, of course, bills himself as a Christian businessman. However, as Matthew 7:16 says, “You will know them by their fruit.” Lindell’s ceaseless promotion of the Big Lie would be enough by itself to prove that his fruit is rancid as all hell. But you would think that endorsing—and apparently bankrolling—a man who finds death threats acceptable would be a bridge too far even for him. Apparently not, based on his continued support of Bannon. It’s all the more reason that MyPillow must be driven out of business.
A number of Republican lawmakers and candidates also seem to have no problem with Bannon, according to a recent report from NBC News. For example, Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, three of the leading members of the Sedition Caucus, have sat down for televised chats with Bannon. Disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, another favorite among Trump diehards, was a frequent guest even before he launched a bid for Roy Blunt’s Senate seat.
While it should surprise no one that some of the most deplorable of the deplorables have stopped by Bannon’s show, a number of (supposedly) more mainstream Republicans have shown up as well. Rep. Elise Stefanik, for instance, stopped by War Room as part of her push to become the third-ranking House Republican. Stefanik has been criticized for forsaking her original role as one of the voices of a new generation of moderate Republicans, instead doing everything short of gluing a MAGA hat to her head. Still, it once seemed as though she would have had some standards. Then again, she and the other leaders of the House GOP frequently make their Senate counterparts look like paragons of integrity.
NBC News notes that Bannon has no trouble getting Republican figures to come on War Room because they know that he still has clout among Trump diehards. Republicans have spent four years characterizing Democrats as a violent mob, but they have allowed a guy who made actual death threats to become a gatekeeper, even after he spewed, and continues to spew, the same filth that led an actual mob to storm the Capitol. In late June, Bannon even allowed Greene the Mad Georgian to give out the private cell phone number of the National Children’s Museum’s director as punishment for—the horror!—teaching kids about racism.
Watch for yourself, courtesy of Raw Story, which, unlike RAV, had the decency to mute out the number.
Right-wing commentator and cosplay journalist John Solomon seems to have no problem associating with Real America’s Voice. His own toxic media venture, Just the News, has a content partnership with RAV, serving as the network’s “news engine” and producing several shows. One of those shows, The Water Cooler, is hosted by David Brody; it’s a side hustle to his day job as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s chief political analyst. Brody has been responsible for some stomach-churning moments himself, such as allowing Diamond and Silk to call for a military coup against Joe Biden.
When I first saw this in March, I wondered what network would allow this kind of seditious garbage, especially after Jan. 6. Who owns Real America’s Voice? A company called Performance One Media, which has a best-known property called WeatherNation, a cable and satellite weather network. The network’s programming chief, Gina Loudon, joined the network as an anchor in March 2020 and was promoted to her current post two months later.
Loudon once claimed that Trump is—don’t laugh—”the most sound-minded person to ever occupy the White House.” Somehow, I would think that making over 30,500 false statements and going on unhinged tirades at the tiniest possible slight isn’t exactly a sign of being sound-minded. Though Loudon, who calls herself “Dr. Gina” when appearing on-air, claims to have a Ph.D. in psychology, it’s actually in “human and organization systems.” It’s as if she was made to order for a network that has gone full deplorable: She thinks a pathological liar was a great president, and has few qualms about lying about her own credentials.
As if that wasn’t enough, Loudon thinks Derek Chauvin should be a free man.
For all the criticism the Murdochs have taken for turning Fox News into an agitprop shop LARPing a news network, and all the criticism that Newsmax and OAN have taken for trying to cater to Trump diehards, at least they pretend to have standards. By keeping Bannon on the payroll, Loudon and Real America’s Voice demonstrate that they have none.
When a network condones one of its hosts breaching every standard of decency, it’s only fair to ask if that network should exist. If Real America’s Voice is willing to air violent threats, then it has no place in our national conversation. As harsh as this may sound, we’re talking about a network that continues to deliver into American homes the very kind of rhetoric that caused the Capitol insurrection. This sort of talk had no place in our discourse before Jan. 6, and it for damn sure has no place now.
To be sure, several people who stoked the fires that led to the horrors of that day have been booted off social media. Most notably, Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter. He has also been blocked from Facebook and Instagram until at least 2023, and won’t be allowed back until he can demonstrate that he is no longer a threat to public safety.
Yet if we’re serious about ensuring that there isn’t a repeat of the horrors of Jan. 6, one would think holding RAV and Bannon to account would be at the top of the to-do list. But it seems Bannon’s November screed has faded into the ether. For instance, when NBC News wrote about how Bannon had become a gatekeeper for the GOP, it made no mention of his threats against Fauci and Wray. That’s hard to understand, given how similar the tenor of his screed was to the threats floating around the lower reaches of the tubes before Jan. 6.
From the looks of it, RAV has only a fraction of the reach of the other two news networks that have gone full MAGA. While Newsmax and OAN have managed to weasel their way onto some cable and IPTV systems, RAV is dependent almost entirely on Dish Networks and streaming platforms. But it says a lot about our current political climate that a network with that little reach has enough clout that one of its hosts has effectively become a gatekeeper for a major party.
That being said, it’s not too late to do something about it. Putting the squeeze on Real America’s Voice is actually fairly easy. If you have Dish Network, drop them a line and ask them why they are willing to have a network on their lineup that condones one of its hosts calling for people to be beheaded. Dish Network has a lot of leverage if it chooses to hold Real America’s Voice to account: The satellite provider could also drop WeatherNation. Share your thoughts with Dish on social media, and if you’re a Dish customer, you can also contact them at MyDish.
RAV is also available on the streaming platform PlutoTV; you can contact Pluto via their support page, as well as on Facebook and on Twitter. If PlutoTV doesn’t respond, pester Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime Video; PlutoTV has channels on all of these platforms. Further, RAV apps can be found in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Spare no effort to get this channel de-platformed.
Such campaigns have gotten results before. Remember in 2020, when Jim Bakker hawked a colloidal silver solution as a cure for COVID-19? In response, Christian-left activist group Faithful America petitioned DirecTV and Dish Network to drop Bakker from their lineups, and also pressured Roku to delete Bakker’s channel. DirecTV ultimately told seven Christian channels on its lineup to “carefully review” Bakker’s show in order to ensure that it meets DirecTV standards. In response, two of those Christian channels, GEB America and World Harvest Television, dropped Bakker’s show. That was a pretty significant hit for Bakker, since he relies almost entirely on satellite for his viewership—just like Real America’s Voice.
Why go so hard after a relative small fry, you ask? The signal needs to go out that there is a line that you can’t cross in our political discourse. Real America’s Voice has crossed that line by continuing to provide Steve Bannon a platform. If we’re serious about making our political culture more civilized, we have to make sure RAV pays for broadcasting death threats, all under the guise of promoting “the real voice of America.”
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