- - Monday, December 6, 2021

In an era with precious little common ground, everyone objects to social media platforms. Conservatives gripe that they put speech in the hands of Big Tech oligarchs, corporate liberals that reap billions while giving content creators mere pennies. 

But upstart video platform Rumble has chosen another route, and it’s better to light a candle than tweet about the darkness.

Rumble’s simple commitment to open expression just gained a big-time ally. The platform just joined forces with CF Acquisition Corp. VI, an entity sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, which is expected to provide about $400 million to the “neutral video platform.”

Rumble not only respects free speech; it offers monetization for videos ten times that of Google’s YouTube, which recently demonetized “Sad Little Man” for criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The video’s content may make Dr. Fauci’s fans faint, but is it any different than the music video for the ’80s hit “Land of Confusion” by Genesis, which depicted a grotesque, senile puppet of President Ronald Reagan kissing a chimp and accidentally nuking the world? 

I had a front-row seat for two of the media’s biggest free-speech revolutions: ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show” and Fox News Channel (FNC). Before them, the majority of Americans tuned in to see their beliefs ridiculed or ignored. There certainly was no outlet willing to pay them for opinions, thanks in part to the deceptively named “Fairness Doctrine.”

Both liberal and conservative broadcasters have told me that laboring under its restrictions felt like the Grinch wearing shoes that were too tight. 

Norman Lear was inspired to create ‘All in the Family’ to demonstrate that Archie Bunker’s clan could argue but ultimately get along. Simply put, we don’t need Big Tech cramming us into cozy partisan—well, for lack of a better word, ‘bunkers.’

Rumble is still a digital David taking on Google’s Goliath, but those of us who left Rush’s TV show to launch Fox in 1996 didn’t think the country would support a third cable news network, especially with Microsoft and NBC backing MSNBC. But we were young and figured the gig would last just long enough to pay off our bar tabs.

Twenty years later, what is now the #1 cable news channel, proved us wrong.

“We report; you decide.” “Fair and balanced.” These slogans appealed to Americans and struck such fear into the dominant media that, early on, Democratic Party representatives boycotted those of us trying to book guests. The market had our back. Now it has Rumble’s. 

FNC had Rupert Murdoch’s deep pockets. Rush had support but laughed at the notion that he’d ever sought “funding.” His success was built on ideas. Look no further than the failure of Air America and the endless headstones engraved “The Next Rush Limbaugh.” Touted by huge ad campaigns and gushing media, they flamed out like Steve Austin’s jet in “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and no Rudy Welles could rebuild them.

Thanks to its merger, Rumble now has that key ingredient of financing. More importantly, they have that commitment to freedom. Compare this mission to the new Twitter CEO, Parag Agrawal, who bragged that the company is “not to be bound by the First Amendment.”

That sentiment is far removed from the wisdom of President James A. Garfield, who wrote in 1875, “It is pleasant to read the views of a strong man with whom you disagree. He is sure to give you some valuable thoughts.”

It’s for this reason that Rush always put callers who disagreed at the front of the line, and Fox countered Sean Hannity with Alan Colmes to throw a left hook for every right that clipped his chin. Confident boxers can take a punch, even when it’s set to music.

“The American people are so wise of heart,” Mr. Lear said, “and so ready and interested in being engaged and so interested in disagreeing.” He’d often write angry viewers. “[S]uddenly, I’m engaged in a real reasonable discussion, and attitudes are changing. I’m learning something; they may be learning something. I think that’s where the bulk of Americans are.”

Rumble has an uphill climb every bit as steep as Rush and Fox, but they benefit from the fact that Americans are disillusioned with Big Tech. We can watch videos without being transformed into mindless zombies out of a George Romero film — and we like to get paid for what we create.

We’ll hear a lot of shade thrown at Rumble as it eats away at YouTube’s market share. But America is still an exception to a world of repression, and 44 million have already flocked to its platform, eager to be free of censorship, biased algorithms and digital serfdom.

So what do you say, my fellow citizens? Let’s get ready to Rumble. 

• Dean Karayanis @HistoryDean is a producer for the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, longtime Rush Limbaugh staffer, and host of the History Author Show on iHeartRadio.

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