The former head of Breitbart, Stephen Bannon, is the chief strategist to the president of the United States, Donald Trump. We are only starting to see how far-reaching the impacts of that relationship will be.
The press. Government employees. Non-partisan government agencies helmed by Republicans. All of them are now being portrayed by the administration as unworthy of the public trust, because they put out information damaging to the president.
Steve Bannon just can’t help himself. The president’s chief strategist, and former executive chair of Breitbart News, has repeatedly cited fascists and white supremacists without compunction or even discretion.
In a rare show of unity, all 100 U.S. senators this week issued a public letter urging the Department of Justice, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security to protect Jewish institutions and prosecute those responsible for terrorizing them.
Last week, the media couldn’t stop gushing about how “presidential” Trump sounded during his address to Congress. But within a few days, Trump’s pivot towards sanity veered sharply back, with his most conspiracy laden tweets since he was the nation’s chief “birther.”
Desperately searching for someone to blame for the generally chaotic start of Trump’s controversy-filled administration, the conservative media are refitting the former Democratic president as an all-powerful gremlin who’s to blame for Trump’s laundry list of political woes.
The Trump administration’s press strategy is clear: delegitimize mainstream news organizations, especially those that produce critical reporting that jeopardizes its efforts, while lifting up unabashed propaganda outlets. And his fans love it.
The GOP has been an absolute nightmare since about 1964, and this administration is just the least polished turd of the modern era. Trump couldn’t fulfill his vision without the party onboard. Good thing they don’t have any actual decency or ethics to stop them from going with the program.
At this time last week, Milo Yiannopoulos’ highlights were glowing especially bright. Then came the fall, thanks in no small part to a “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” 16-year-old from Canada identified only as “Julia.”
A “fringe element” is now in the White House. But direct association with racists and misogynists isn’t great for the conservative movement’s brand — or Breitbart’s bottom line. So the organizers of this week’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) are working hard to redefine the term “alt-right” in order to retroactively separate that movement from the White House and the website.
At every turn, the right has lauded Yiannopoulos as a free-speech hero, while disregarding his attacks on the most vulnerable of targets. But with bad PR and profit losses on the table, the entities that were so ready to sign up with Yiannopoulos are pretending to be surprised an awful person turned out to be exactly what he seemed.
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York, which has criticized the Trump administration repeatedly over anti-Semitism, said his comments were too little too late. “The president’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration,” Steven Goldstein, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
Given that Breitbart is a sewer with no standards, Yiannopoulos leaving would suggest that the website, amid a major advertiser boycott, has finally found a limit to the bad press it is willing to tolerate from one of its biggest stars.
“We continue to believe that CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies and disagreements among conservatives, however there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children,” Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, the event’s organizer, said in a statement, as reported by CNN.
Milo Yiannopoulos was seen normalizing pedophilia in a video that includes an interview with comedian Joe Rogan in 2015 where he had discussed his sexual relationship with “Father Michael,” which he allegedly had when he was 14. In the interview Milo is seen asking Rogan “So you’re saying you’ve never seen a 15-year-old girl, at any point in your life, that you thought was hot?”
Donald Trump lies and reporters fact-check him, then he and his team spin the lies to blame the “biased” and “dishonest” media. Trump’s team wants to create a world where no one knows what to believe, where facts and reality are irrelevant, and all that matters is what Trump says matters.
Our media gatekeepers act like they’re unaware that our president has chosen as his chief strategist a fellow who’s made disinformation his political vocation. Donald Trump is Lord, and Steve Bannon is his prophet—with the U.S. Treasury at his disposal to tell fairy tales like this about anyone who dares cross him.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to cut funding to the University of California at Berkeley after protesters smashed windows and set fires at the liberal-leaning school, forcing the cancellation of an appearance by a far-right Breitbart editor.
Thanks to Bannon and Trump, Breitbart’s efforts to stoke fears about refugees, Muslims, and immigrants will have the official aid and imprimatur of the federal government. This creates a synergy between the right-wing media and the Trump administration. The Trump administration wants excuses to limit immigration and crack down on undocumented immigrants, so they need an inflamed base focused on those issues.
Whatever the eventual costs, the current reality seems to be that Bannon—not his White House rivals, chief of staff Reince Priebus or Vice President Mike Pence—decides what piece of paper gets put in front of Donald Trump’s pen. Under Bannon’s watchful eye, the Washington establishment is being routed, and the “normal” administration of the American government has officially ended.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Steve Bannon told The New York Times. “I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
Trump’s weird post-inauguration obsession with puffing up the numbers of his celebration might seem like a baffling, insecure tick. It is — he’s just advertising that insecurity via an established right-wing media tactic. The pattern of lying about how many people assemble en masse enjoys a long history within the right-wing media; a history Trump has revived.
Trump’s ascent would not have been possible without the years of vitriol that the right-wing media directed at his predecessor. After years of listening to anti-Obama vitriol from right-wing talk radio and television hosts, conservatives wanted someone who could match that hate. They found him. And today, he’s the president.
Something is happening here that is more insidious than Trump and his administration lashing out at perceived enemies. According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, the administration is interested in potentially “stacking press conferences with conservative columnists and staffers from pro-Trump outlets.”