Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, campaign leader, and now chief aid to President-Elect Donald Trump is certainly controversial. His appointment ignited a “firestorm of criticism,” and even angry debate on CNN. It seems he won’t even deny accusations of evil. Friday he told The Hollywood Reporter that his plan was to replace the GOP with a new movement that could be in power “for the next 50 years.” That interview made network news in CNN’s report, ‘Darkness Is Good,’ that quoted Bannon saying, “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”
Make no mistake, Bannon is a genius of the worst kind. On Thursday’s Fresh Air, Joshua Green (a reporter who interviewed Bannon for Bloomberg Businessweek) said, “…Steve Bannon Had A ‘Years-Long’ Plan To Take Down Hillary Clinton,” though that was clearly just the beginning. Through Breitbart News and working with Trolls like Mike Cernovich, Bannon crafted a narrative of conspiracy theories and media distrust that ensured Donald Trump’s victory. Ironically the message also included distrust of lobbyists, banking, and Wall Street, but Trump’s team appears to include the appointment of more Wall Street businessmen in White House positions than has been seen since the 1920’s. Trump is a figurehead to Bannon’s larger goals. He is ‘Pinky’ to Steve Bannon, ‘The Brain.’
According to Fresh Air, Bannon’s career has been full of twists and turns. From a Naval Officer with a job at the Pentagon and a Masters from Georgetown University, he changed careers in the 80’s, went to Harvard Business School then straight to Goldman Sachs, “specializing in mergers and acquisitions . . . so Bannon decided to specialize in media and shipped out to Goldman’s Los Angeles office and basically wound up as a deal-maker making deals between movie studios and TV companies.” In Hollywood he met and made friends with Andrew Breitbart, who Bannon would succeed as head of Breitbart News in 2012.
When asked why Steve Bannon was brought into the campaign to begin with, Green said, “I think messaging and theater, for lack of a better word. I mean, Bannon is a guy who came out of the media world. He used to be a movie producer. He made documentary movies. He’s somebody, I think, with a pretty clear sense of narrative and also of the value of presentation and how you can seize the attention of the entire political culture if you push the buttons right.”
Bannon told Green that “Breitbart is almost like a medieval guild where you’re passing on that special knowledge, you know.” Green confirmed the vast right wing conspiracy that Hillary Clinton mentioned, where “a lot of the tendrils lead back to Steve Bannon.”
“So not only was Bannon executive chairman of Breitbart News, but then with some of the same financial backers, he started the Government Accountability Institute which is a nonprofit research organization . . . And whereas Breitbart is gleefully provocative and hard right, the conceit at GAI is that this is a research organization that is going to do digging and stick to the realm of facts, and they’re going to investigate corruption in cronyism in government, be it Republican or Democrat… what GAI did . . . was to reach out to investigative reporters and mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and others and try and encourage their reporters to take this research that they’d done and to go off and do some digging on their own.”
Joshua Green’s most thought provoking comments were in Bannon’s own assessment of Breitbart News:
“I think the thing to understand about Breitbart – and this is not to excuse anything they write or publish – is that they are deliberately provocative. They’re aiming to offend and upset people in order to stoke the grassroots anger at government and the broader culture. . .
“The question I was always interested in getting at with Bannon was do you really believe this stuff – because a lot of it is offensive and inflammatory. And he said, you know, personally I’m mixed on a lot of this stuff. But we’re airing a lot of things that traditional people are thinking that don’t get mainstream media representation anymore. So they were making a market for these kinds of views and these kinds of stories and attracting an audience, what’s turned out to be an extremely large and powerful audience by tapping these sentiments.”
Steve Bannon described Breitbart News to The Los Angeles Times as “the ‘platform for the alt-right,’ or alternative right. It’s a brand of far-right conservatism that generally embraces and promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.” Our own author, Charlie Barrell, profiled the alt-right’s founder, Richard Spencer. Spencer has said that the alt-right vision for America “is this ideal of a safe space effectively for Europeans. This is a big empire that would accept all Europeans.”
These implications are all pretty dark. Let this sink in for a minute:
A Pentagon official left the service to learn the trade of hostile financial takeovers, ended up in Hollywood, made media contacts and learned the power of narrative and spin. He used those narratives to elect Donald Trump. Seated in high-powered positions, Bannon and his 1%er friends also seem to embrace the alt-right agenda of White Nationalist Imperialism.
It appears that our country is Steve Bannon’s latest acquisition. Welcome to the Alt-Right Corporatocracy. This is not just another conspiracy theory. The facts are coming from the mouths of the conspirators themselves. Even conservative Glen Beck called Bannon “a nightmare, and he’s now the chief advisor of the United States.” Beck told Anderson Cooper, “The Alt-Right is real. They are truly terrifying… This message about the alt-right must be heard, by the conservatives. They must take it seriously, separate and apart from any kind of politics.” He pointed out that among Trump’s core supporters, the media doesn’t have credibility, largely because of Breitbart and Steve Bannon. Beck’s own warnings are worth the watch: