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Former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon

Photo by Nordiske Mediedage/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has kicked off a national speaking tour about the upcoming election titled "The Plot to Steal 2020." It's a thinly veiled attempt to spread conspiracy theories and discredit any efforts to ensure that citizens can vote safely.

Bannon, who recently pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges, has stated that the tour will take place in select swing states and via digital streaming platforms. In his most recent appearance, he outlined three main prongs of his conspiracy theory: Democrats will use "lawfare," social media, and street protests to supposedly steal the election from Donald Trump. His vague and incoherent conspiracy theories have also featured heavily in recent episodes of his podcast, War Room: Pandemic. Here's a selection from the September 21 episode:

  • Bannon described the Democrats running a moderate candidate against Trump and then ensuring all votes are counted as a conspiracy to "foist an illegitimate regime onto the republic of the United States." He also baselessly claimed Democrats "admire" the Chinese government because they want to implement "state capitalism combined with the authoritarian model."
  • In another rant, Bannon described a nefarious, unsubstantiated conspiracy between former Attorney General Eric Holder, The New York Times, law firm Perkins Coie, solicitors general, and ex-U.S. attorneys to use "digital muscle" and "lawfare" to "hit the trip wires to make sure on December 14 that the true Electoral College is not those slates of electors that support Trump." He said the goal is to send the ultimate decision about who becomes president to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
  • Bannon baselessly asserted that Democrats are using the "street thugs of antifa and the radical parts of Black Lives Matter" and "lawfare" to "steal the election" and "force a recount." Bannon also said Democrats will be "shoveling [ballots] in by the pound" and, as a result, "Joe Biden's administration is going to be an illegitimate government they're going to try to foist on the American people" and they will "do this by counting."
  • Bannon described the run-up to the 2020 election as the "pre-game of the civil war in the United States."
  • He characterized the Democrats' efforts to ensure that people are able to both vote safely and have their mail-in ballots counted as wanting to "vote for three months, … vote by Western Union, they don't want a secret ballot, they want people's hands all over these — no chain of title, no chain of custody" and said that "they're going to be voting by the pound in Philadelphia."

Bannon announced his new tour on the September 17 edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, explaining that he was "kicking off a national tour on Monday called 'The Plot to Steal 2020'" to ensure the election "is not stolen" from Trump.

Spreading conspiracy theories to muddy the waters in anticipation of an election, regardless of truth, is the bread and butter of the former Breitbart executive chairman's deceitful methods. In 2015, Bannon was one of the forces behind Clinton Cash, a discredited book by Peter Schweizer about Hillary and Bill Clinton. Despite the book's fabrications, Bannon and Schweitzer secured a promotional deal with The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fox News, and it became an important issue pushed by mainstream media during the campaign. This national "tour" employs many of these same strategies, imposing the fog of inscrutable but nefarious-sounding conspiracy theories on the democratic process in order to boost Trump.

So far, Bannon's tour has not garnered much attention in the mainstream media. But we'll be watching!

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