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Takeaways: How an right-wing internet broadcaster became Trump’s loyal herald

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — The Right Side Broadcasting Network has become a major player in Donald Trump’s MAGA universe — a reference to the ex-president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan — amassing more than 2 million subscribers on its YouTube channel and on Rumble, an alternative video-sharing platform.

As Trump’s loyal herald, carrying his message live and unfiltered from his rallies and other events, RSBN has allowed the former president to bypass traditional media and inject his vision for America directly into the veins of his diehard supporters. Here are a few things to know about RSBN and how the upstart channel covers Trump.

A TRUMP FAVORITE

RSBN’s positive coverage has made the internet channel a Trump favorite and a destination for his MAGA movement. Out of all the conservative news outlets Trump had to choose from, he picked RSBN to host a special from his Mar-a-Lago estate on March 4, the day before voters in 16 states cast presidential primary ballots.

Joe Seales, RSBN’s founder and CEO, denied the channel acts as a surrogate for Trump or his presidential ambitions.

“We aren’t affiliated with them,” Seales said. “We just cover Donald Trump. Our goal has never been to be an extension or a cheerleader for the Trump campaign.”

Jennifer Mercieca, a professor of communications at Texas A&M University and a historian of American political rhetoric, called RSBN “a pro-Trump propaganda channel, not an objective news source.”

A RISKY BET

Like other broadcasters, most of RSBN’s revenue comes from selling ads. The commercials that run on Seales’ channel are aimed at attracting consumers of a conservative political inclination.

During a recent rally, a viewer was peppered with ads from the Birch Gold Group urging them to buy precious metals to protect their retirement accounts. Then came offers for a free “Kids Guide to President Trump.” Prominent election denier and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell promises “Up to 80% Off Everything” in another ad.

RSBN has racked up more than 305 million views on YouTube since it launched in 2015. Still, banking on Trump is a risky bet. If he isn’t stumping for office, advertising revenue drops. RSBN, Seales said, has only been profitable during presidential election years.

“If Trump’s not on the air, we’re not making money,” he said.

Seales declined to discuss RSBN’s finances in detail. But he said a single livestream of a Trump rally can generate as much as $15,000 for RSBN.

LIVE AT A TRUMP RALLY

Brian Glenn is RSBN’s star correspondent. At a March 2 rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, Glenn walked along the line of attendees, promoting Trump and nodding approvingly as rallygoers spoke highly of the former president.

“Take a look at this line. It is insane!” Glenn said as the camera panned the throngs of people waiting to get in.

“We just got to get President Trump back in office,” he said a bit later.

He asked several people why the country needs Trump back in the White House without pushing back as their answers were livestreamed.

“He is a man with morals,” said one woman.

A man with “Ultra MAGA” stickers on his jacket told Glenn that Trump would “root the corruption out of the government.”

Glenn did not put the comment in context by noting that Trump faces dozens of federal and state charges related to hush money payments, the hoarding of classified government documents and a scheme to overturn the results to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Glenn said in an interview that “mainstream” outlets offer “relentlessly negative” coverage of Trump and, to a lesser degree, conservatism in general.

“I wish it wasn’t necessary for someone like Right Side to specifically focus in on Trump and the America First agenda,” he said. “I wish all media would report what’s happening. … It would be nice if everyone talked about Trump, not just in a negative way but in a positive way. Because there are millions of Americans who support him.”

That doesn’t mean Glenn thinks mainstream outlets are puppets for Trump’s opponents. “Do they have to call before they write a story? No, I don’t think that’s the case,” he said.

A HOMEY HEADQUARTERS

RSBN is headquartered in a single-family home in a sprawling suburban development. Seales moved there for safety and privacy.

The channel used to operate out of rented office space in an industrial park with its logo out front. The address was publicly listed, and jobseekers would drop in unannounced. Seales recalled a man once showed up in his pajamas and said he’d dreamed he worked there.

Far more troubling, Seales said, were threatening messages RSBN employees received. He described them as “pretty vicious and serious.” He said he couldn’t provide details because the messages were turned over to the FBI, which has launched an investigation, Seales said.

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Seales said he isn’t sure how much longer he’ll run RSBN. He’s even considering selling the company. Politics, he said, has become too vitriolic and has “taken enough of our life and our time.”

RSBN also faces an uncertain future. If Trump’s comeback bid for the White House fails, the channel’s main attraction will no longer be running for office. Should he win, RSBN’s status as the hub for wall-to-wall Trump coverage will be diminished as a global press corps tracks his every move.

“We have based our entire business model,” he said, “around one man doing one thing.”

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Barrow reported from Greensboro, North Carolina.

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The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Bill Barrow And Richard Lardner, The Associated Press



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