Russell Brand's revolution hit a bit of a snag last night after his comments on the BBC's Newsnight got him painted as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Judging by the headlines and the Twitter responses, you'd think Brand had said that burning jet fuel couldn't melt steel.
Here's what he actually said:
Newsnight host Evan Davis: Do you believe the Twin Towers were destroyed by forces of the American government or similar?
Brand: I think it's interesting that at this time, we have so little trust in our political figures, that ordinary people have so little trust in our media, that we have to remain open-minded to any kind of possibility. Do you trust the American government? Do you trust the British government?
Davis: My views aren't important, but I think people regard it as ridiculous to suggest anything other than that al Qaeda destroyed those buildings.
Brand: Well, what I do think is very interesting is the relationship the Bush family have had for a long time with the bin Laden family. What I do think is interesting is the way that even the BBC reports events in Ottawa to subtly build an anti-Islamic narrative. I think it's interesting the way these tragic events are used to enforce further controls on us. I think it's interesting the way the media works in conjunction with big business and with the government..."
Davis: But you're not suggesting the Bush family were involved in 9/11?
Brand: I don't want to talk about daft conspiracy theories here on Newsnight, mate!
Somehow, Brand's dismissal of "Bush did 9/11" as "daft" turned into "Russell Brand says Bush did 9/11!"
In fact, everything Brand said was consistent with the message he's been shouting all along, in TV appearances, in his YouTube show, and in his book: He believes nobody trusts the government or the news anymore.
Whether you agree with his premise or not, Brand hasn't wavered from it. So, when he says "ordinary people have so little trust in our media, that we have to remain open-minded to any kind of possibility,"he's pointing to these "daft conspiracy theories" as a symptom of that perceived lack of faith.
And when he tries to change the subject to Islamophobia and the post-9/11 security state, Davis keeps coming back to the Bush family. Brand didn't fall for the trap, but he got caught in it anyway thanks to the day-after coverage, which focused on the "open-minded to any kind of possibility" blurb and not the "daft conspiracy theories."
As for what's in Brand's book, Revolution, that's so controversial, here's the exact passage:
This "controlled demolition" stuff is horribly Loose Change-y, and fuck all that, but it's also not really Brand's point. He's focused on all the decisions made afterward, in the name of 9/11, that contributed to a toxic lack of trust in governments and the media apparatus.
Plus, there's the line, "I'm not saying 9/11 was an inside job," which has somehow been read as Brand saying exactly that.
If anything, his appearance on Newsnight was far less batshit than the sketchy "causes for question" he cites in Revolution, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to suddenly call him a 9/11 truther.
There are plenty of legitimate things to argue with Russell Brand about. This seems like a particularly fruitless one.