The Trump Campaign Has Made A Deal With An Online ‘Propaganda’ Network

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) joins Right Side Broadcasting Network's Brian Glenn on camera during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip So... Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) joins Right Side Broadcasting Network's Brian Glenn on camera during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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On May 31, Vanessa Broussard lost her cool. She was reporting live as an anchor for Right Side Broadcasting Network and President Trump was set to hold a press conference to discuss the previous day’s guilty verdict against him or, as Broussard put it, the “horrific outcome in the bogus hush money trial.” To hear Broussard tell it, the gravity of the moment overtook her. 

“This is not how I usually start a broadcast — but today’s different, so I’m unapologetic today for this side of me that you’ve never seen before,” Broussard declared to the more than 136,000 viewers. “Today, I am tired, I’m fed up, I’m disgusted, and I’m mad — and you should be too.”

Broussard’s blend of blatant Trump boosterism coupled with a gesture toward some more traditional journalistic separation exemplifies the approach that has helped Right Side Broadcasting go from a small independent operation to one with over 1.65 million subscribers on YouTube. These viewers are generally treated to unedited footage of Trump’s regular rallies and events that is sometimes bookended with supportive introductions from RSBN’s anchors and hosts. The company also re-airs a show featuring Trump’s daughter-in-law and Republican National Committee chairwoman Lara Trump. But explicit Trump partisanship isn’t the only way RSBN is different from other broadcasters. They are also doing business directly with Trump’s campaign. 

Campaign finance reports filed by the Trump campaign show it made eight payments to RSBN between April 2023 and last month totaling $59,000. The company’s leaders, founder and CEO Joe Seales and his wife, Bridgette Seales, explained the reason for the payments in a conversation with TPM last Friday afternoon. According to Bridgette, the campaign paid RSBN for some of the footage that its cameras have obtained from their consistent coverage of Trump’s rallies — and that relationship is ongoing. 

“We would give raw video feeds that we sell,” Bridgette explained. “We sell those to anybody, anybody can buy them, so the Trump campaign did buy them from us that they used for rebroadcasting purposes and they still do buy them from us.” 

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung also confirmed the arrangement in an email to TPM. 

“RSBN has made available the option to purchase their broadcast feed so the campaign can use it to stream out to various social and video channels,” Cheung said. 

It’s quite natural that the Trump campaign might turn to a supportive organization that reliably has cameras filming the former president’s events for footage. However, the deal is also somewhat at odds with the veneer of independence that RSBN has sought to maintain. 

The story of how the company grew along with Trump’s political career has been well told in a series of articles published over the years. In general, the narrative of RSBN’s rise started with the (often false) assertion Trump made at many of his signature rallies during the 2016 campaign that the mainstream press never showed the size of his crowds. During that race, Seales began to set up cameras to film Trump’s events. The operation, which officially incorporated in the Seales’ home state of Alabama a few days after Trump took office in January 2017, eventually grew to its seven figure audience. However, in all of the tellings of RSBN’s origin story, Seales has framed it as some kind of independent voice. That includes an extensive profile of the company published by the Associated Press last month where Seales denied being any kind of official campaign surrogate.

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

Asked how taking payments from the Trump campaign squared with his comments, Bridgette Seales insisted selling raw footage does not constitute an affiliation. 

“We are not affiliated. They buy them for their rebroadcasting services,” Bridgette said. 

It’s a delicate distinction — and one the Seales’ argue includes editorial independence. The Associated Press article (also published by the Washington Post) included a quote from an academic expert who described RSBN as “a pro-Trump propaganda channel, not an objective news source.” In his conversation with TPM, Joe Seales bristled at that and described it as an unfair characterization.

“I think sometimes my hosts have sort of — if you’re watching from home, it might seem like they’re more cheerleaders for the Trump campaign, but my original idea for this network was just not to provide a whole lot of commentary at all, and just kind of show up, and cover a live event, and let people decide for themselves what they want to believe,” Joe said. 

Joe further described his objective for the operation as a desire to ensure Trump wasn’t taken “out of context” by the mainstream press. 

“I am conservative myself and I just felt the need to show up and document some of the stuff that was going on so that we could have a record of it,” he explained. 

While Seales might not appreciate how his network or Trump are characterized by other media outlets, RSBN’s mix of MAGA boosterism and supposed objectivity has fueled explosive growth. Along with selling footage, the company brings in donations. Its broadcasts also include sales pitches. 

Moments after expressing her anger at Trump’s conviction, Broussard, the RSBN achor, offered some financial advice pegged to the verdict. 

“Before we start, we want to remind you that Democrats are in control,” Broussard said, adding, “It’s now crystal clear that they will go to any depth to hurt Americans any chance they get, so don’t let them control you and don’t let them control your finances. That’s why we encourage you to contact the Birch Gold Group. Highly recommended by RSBN, the Birch Gold Group can be trusted with your financial future.” 

RSBN has also expanded beyond airing Trump’s events into a broader online media operation. The company hosts articles on its home page and shows featuring its personalities. In early March, just ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries, former RSBN director of programming Brian Glenn taped a special interview with Trump at the former president’s Florida beach club. RSBN also rebroadcasts shows from other conservative personalities, including a podcast talk show hosted by Trump’s daughter-in-law-slash-Republican National Committee chairwoman, Lara Trump. 

To recap, that means Trump’s relative, who has become a top figure in his party, has her own online show, which is running on a pro-Trump network that also has a deal with the campaign. Mapping these connections reveals the connections and often blurred boundaries between Trump, the official GOP, and the world of right wing MAGA influencers — if there are any boundaries at all. 

RSBN’s unique place in the pro-Trump influencer ecosystem has led to growing pains along with the growth. Last month, Glenn, who is reportedly the boyfriend of far right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and widely seen as a rising star in MAGA media, revealed he was leaving the network. Glenn ultimately announced a move to the far-right cable network Real America’s Voice on June 3. 

“Brian really wanted to do shows — long form show production — which is something that we don’t do here,” Joe Seales told TPM. “We weren’t able to offer him that opportunity. And so, yeah, he moved on to Real America’s Voice, and we split amicably, and so, we wish him the best.”

Along with facing competition for its talent, RSBN’s close ties to Trump raise larger questions about where it might be headed after the election. In his conversation with the Associated Press, Joe Seales described the company’s business model and continued existence as relying on Trump. He similarly told TPM that he has no long-term plans for the broadcaster, and that RSBN’s future could depend on “the outcome of the election.”

Whatever is next, Seales might not be along for the ride. Like so many of us, the founder of RSBN feels the politically charged landscape of the past few years has taken a toll. 

“I personally don’t plan to be a part of the company in terms of anything operational. I’m ready to get out of politics,” Seales said. “Too much vitriol in it for me. Eight years is enough.” 

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