Russell Brand's attack on 'terrorist' Fox News presenter
Russell Brand continues to become better known for his candid political attacks than his comedic acts.
This time, the 39-year-old has become involved in a tit-for-tat online feud over the highly sensitive Israel-Gaza conflict with a Fox News presenter.
Last week the British actor, author and comedian posted a video accusing Fox's Sean Hannity of "behaving like a terrorist".
The video, posted on Brand's satirical YouTube channel 'The Trews', was a response to a segment Hannity filmed on the crisis.
In the clip, Brand accused Hannity of being pro-Israel and of bullying his guests.
"Sean's not interested in truth," Brand says, "Hannity is only interested pushing a particular perspective."
Hannity repeatedly asks a Palestinian-American guest about how he would feel if missiles were being fired into his neighbourhood, before interrupting his attempts to answer.
Hannity also asked whether the guest, Yousef Munayyer of The Palestine Centre, was "thick in the head" before yelling "Is Hamas a terrorist organisation? I'm asking you a question... Answer, answer the question! You're a guest but you don't get to filibuster the question."
"One definition of terrorism is using intimidation to achieve your goals," Brand said, in response. "Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist?
"Sean Hannity - that's where the terrorism's coming from."
Hannity hit back at Brand a day later, saying: "Yesterday, Russell Brand a d-list actor, better known for his failed marriage to Katy Perry recorded himself going on a 12-and-a-half-minute tirade against little old me."
Hannity continues: "Russell, if you're watching, which I know you are, take a close look at the TV so I can educate you because you're kind of dumb and ignorant."
But, Brand appears to have had the greater impact.
His clip has been viewed by more than 2.3 million people, a point not lost on Hannity's guest Yousef Munayyer.
In a tweet on August 3, Munayyer pointed out that Brand's "slamming" of Hannity was viewed more times than the interview itself. Now, Brand has added fuel to the fire of this "online spat".
Brand has now posted a second 13 minute video, in which he addresses their "trivial conflict which actually has as its background the worst conflict on the planet".
Brand breaks down Hannity's attack, in which Hannity apologised if Brand didn't like his "style of interviewing".
"It's not a style of interviewing," Brand responds. "It's because he got that bloke on... to talk for Muslim people and then didn't let him answer...
"What's your style of interviewing Sean? 'I don't let people respond to questions that I ask them and then I bully and berate them and then... revert to my own agenda aggressively'... that's not a style of interviewing, that's not doing it."
Brand then plays a part of Hannity's rebuttal:
"Apparently Russell can't get it through his thick head and possibly fathom that this is the reality," Hannity said.
Russell responds: "It's not a reality. It's a combination of speculation, conjecture, and highly contextualised and selective information. That's not reality. It's piecing together a narrative that fits in with Fox's world view and his own bigoted world view," he says.
"That's not reality, it's a tiny aperture through which bigoted and particular information is glimpsed. That's sort of the opposite of all encompassing, wonderful, unknowable reality."
The second clip, posted on Friday, has already had more than one million views.
The articulate tirade is just the latest of many for the star, who refers to himself as a "recovering junkie".
Only recently, Brand stood before tens of thousands of people in London's Parliament Square and called for a "joyful revolution".
He also called for a "revolution" in a 2013 feature as guest editor for the New Statesman magazine.
In the controversial post he also encouraged people not to vote as "there is nothing to vote for".
"I feel it is a far more potent political act to completely renounce the current paradigm than to participate in even the most trivial and tokenistic manner, by obediently X-ing a little box."
Brand followed up the piece with an interview on BBC's Newsnight, which has now been viewed more than 10 million times.
In the interview, Brand and Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman went head-to-head about politics. Despite trading criticisms, Paxman later agreed that Brand had a point.
"I think part of Russell Brand's diagnosis is right. There is a huge sense of disillusion out there," Paxman said.
He also acknowledged Brand's political popularity.
"There is something irresistible about him... he stands squarely in the British tradition of cheeky chappies."
Sydney Morning Herald