Steve Bannon has a Nazi problem

Vanity Fair reports: Hunkered down for his first television interview since he left the White House, an unkempt Steve Bannon succinctly outlined the populist-nationalist mission of Breitbart News. “Our purpose is to support Donald Trump [and] to make sure his enemies know that there’s no free shot on goal,” he told 60 Minutes host Charlie Rose last week. Those enemies include a familiar list of Breitbart targets: establishment lawmakers like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the G.O.P. swamp; undocumented immigrants protected under DACA; the liberal media; White House “globalists” such as Gary Cohn, and so forth.

But the biggest danger to the president and to Breitbart may be their fellow travelers on what Bannon once called “the alt-right,” as became especially clear after Charlottesville. And Bannon was itching to distance himself from the white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis that have rallied under Trump and supported his agenda. “They’re getting off a free ride off Donald Trump. They’re getting a free ride,” he exploded, his eyes red, calling them a “small,” “vicious group” that “add[s] no value.” As he condemned them, though, he took a characteristic swipe at the media for continuing to blur the lines between racial extremists and his movement. “I don’t need to be—I don’t need to be lectured—by a bunch of—by a bunch of limousine liberals, O.K., from the Upper East Side of New York and from the Hamptons, O.K., about any of this.”

Prior to Trump’s surprising election, Bannon’s Breitbart pursued, essentially, a no-enemies-on-the-right policy, with a disparate group of believers in its big tent. For years, as Breitbart cultivated a scurrilous following of anti-Islamists, anti-immigrants, and Internet trolls with questionable Photoshop skills and even more questionable taste, Bannon defended his collection of deplorables as people who were simply united by their hatred of the establishment, whatever it was at any given moment. In August 2016, Bannon called Breitbart “the platform of the alt-right,” yoking his site to an ugly strain of American politics at the expense of his own allies. “I’ve talked to people who work with him, and they said, ‘They don’t know why he said that,’” said Morton Klein, echoing several other Bannon associates I’ve spoken to over the past several months. He rolled with it, however, and tended to dismiss complaints about some of the constituencies as political correctness. [Continue reading…]

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