Steve Bannon, who President-elect Donald Trump has chosen to serve as White House chief strategist, gave a rare interview that provided insight into the thinking that led to Trump’s electoral victory last week. Speaking to Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter
, Bannon appeared in the interview to be nonplussed by the reaction found in the media and among Democrats to his selection by Trump. He has been described by as a “white nationalist” and “anti-Semite” by some. In response, Bannon told the magazine, “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist. The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over.”
While Bannon has been called an anti-Semite, the Anti-Defamation League recently had to retract its earlier statements about him:
"While there is a long fact pattern of evidence that Breitbart served as a platform for a wide range of bigotry and there is some controversy related to statements from Mr. Bannon’s divorce proceedings in 2007, we are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements made by Bannon himself. In fact, Jewish employees of Breitbart have challenged the characterization of him and defended him from charges of anti-Semitism. Some have pointed out that Breitbart Jerusalem was launched during his tenure."
Bannon was the chief executive at Breitbart News, a media platform that has earned fame for reporting on the Obama administration and issues such as immigration. Breitbart has been cited by groups such as the ACLU for being a so-called “platform for the alt-right,” and for catchy headlines that have brought the news service notoriety. Leftists, progressives, and Democrats are calling on Trump to banish Bannon.
A closed circle
For his part, Bannon believes that the Democrats have “lost sight of what the world is about,” in view of the results of the recent election. “The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,” Bannon continues. “It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what’s going on. If The New York Times didn’t exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern. The Huffington Post and everything else is predicated on The New York Times. It’s a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information — and her confidence. That was our opening.”
New York Time apologizes
Following the election, NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and editor Dean Baquet issued an apology to their readers. “After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions,” they wrote. “Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters? What forces and strains in America drove this divisive election and outcome?” Ultimately, Sulzberger and Baquet pledged to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.”
Wolff quoted Bannon: “Darkness is good...Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing." Wolff understood Bannon to say “they” in reference to liberals and the media.
Wolff wrote of Bannon, “It's the Bannon theme, the myopia of the media — that it tells only the story that confirms its own view, that in the end it was incapable of seeing an alternative outcome and of making a true risk assessment of the political variables — reaffirming the Hillary Clinton camp's own political myopia. This defines the parallel realities in which liberals, in their view of themselves, represent a morally superior character and Bannon — immortalized on Twitter as a white nationalist, racist, anti-Semite thug — the ultimate depravity of Trumpism.”
Fox News got it wrong
Fox News has long been accused of being a shill for conservatives and for Trump. But Bannon said of Fox News, “They got it more wrong than anybody. Rupert is a globalist and never understood Trump. To him, Trump is a radical. Now they’ll go centrist and build the network around Megyn Kelly.”
Bannon appeared to become most excited about the prospect of forming a new political movement of a populist bent. Signaling just who would be the leader of the movement, Bannon said that Trump is “probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan, coupled with an economic populist message and two political parties that are so owned by the donors that they don’t speak to their audience.”
Heralding a Jacksonian populism that neither liberals or conservatives will understand, Bannon said he is propagating a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.” Bigger than the Reagan revolution, Bannon said, it will bring together “conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."
Bannon has plenty of experience in several fields: naval service, investment, and media. For example, he is the part owner of the syndication rights for the Seinfeld comedy series of the 1990s. Having come from a working-class family, he went on to become a naval officer and served as special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.
Later, Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker but then launched his own boutique investment bank specializing in media. Through Bannon & Co., Bannon negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to CNN founder Ted Turner. As payment, Bannon & Co. accepted a financial stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld. Société Générale purchased Bannon & Co. in 1998. Bannon became an executive producer in the film and media industry in Hollywood. He made a documentary about Ronald Reagan entitled, “In the Face of Evil.” It was then that he met publisher Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News. Bannon became involved in producing other films.
Bannon became a member of the board of Breitbart News, and became executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC after founder Andrew Breitbart's death. He has described himself as a conservative, and once said, "We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly 'anti-' the permanent political class."