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How CPAC Is Trying To Wash The ‘Alt-Right’ Stench Off Breitbart

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How CPAC Is Trying To Wash The ‘Alt-Right’ Stench Off Breitbart

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Bannon, Breitbart, CPAC

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

The term “alt-right” is toxic. It should be. The loose confederation of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and misogynists have spent the last year spreading fear, hatred, and conspiracy theories.

The problem for conservatives is that the movement is directly connected to the major right-wing news outlet Breitbart; its former executive chairman, Stephen Bannon; and Bannon’s new boss, President Donald Trump.

“The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for the ‘Alt-Right,’” Hillary Clinton said last year after Bannon was hired by the Trump campaign, highlighting the website’s promotion of “race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman [ideas].”

“A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party,” she added.

That “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.

In cable news interviews and speeches from the conference lectern, CPAC’s organizers have condemned the “alt-right” — even having security very publicly remove from the premises Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who originally coined the term.

But at the same time, they have vouched for Bannon, are hosting seven Breitbart staffers and accepting a sizable donation from the website, and they even claimed that the “alt-right” is really made up of liberals. Bannon’s “alt-right” ties went unmentioned this afternoon when he sat alongside White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for a fawning “conversation” with Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC.

In a speech this morning titled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right at All,” the ACU’s Dan Schneider claimed that the term “alt-right,” which he claimed had previously “been used for a long time, in a very good and normal way,” had been “hijacked” by a “hate-filled, left-wing fascist group” that “stole the term specifically to confuse us.”

The ACU is having trouble getting its story straight — Schlapp claimed during an MSNBC interview this morning that he had never heard of the term before last year — according to him, it is a “new term.”

But Schlapp did want everyone to know that Bannon is definitely not associated with the “alt-right.”

“Today, [Bannon] would repudiate what these people stand for,” he said. “He’s a good man, and he’s a tolerant man.”

“I know Steve Bannon well. He’s a good man; he is not a racist,” Schlapp added on CNN. “Yes, the conservative movement and voices in the conservative movement are changing. But I do not believe that he is associated with the ‘alt-right’ at all.”

This is all bullshit. Bannon himself described Breitbart last year as “the platform for the alt-right,” and he led the website in an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, ethno-nationalist direction that appealed to that movement. He hired Milo Yiannopoulos and had no apparent problem with the despicable commentary and activism he wrought — or the way he championed the “alt-right.”

Notably, when Breitbart produced a list of “20 lies” in Clinton’s speech on the “alt-right,” it made no effort to distance itself from the movement or suggest that she erred in linking it to the website and its former leader.

When Bannon was hired by Trump’s presidential campaign, white nationalists cheered. When his move to the White House was announced, they were ecstatic.

Bannon was very happy to be associated with the movement when it was boosting Breitbart’s traffic, influence, and revenue. But now things have changed, as companies and ad vendors have pulled their advertising from the site in huge numbers due to its association with racism and misogyny.

And so CPAC is helping the website out, repeatedly condemning the “alt-right” while very deliberately separating it from Bannon and Breitbart.

IMAGE: Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus speak at the annual CPAC conference. REUTERS

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9 Comments

  1. sigrid28 February 24, 2017

    Just remember that these numbers are smaller than they seem, representing loud but easily discredited crank points of view. The proximity of their gatherings to the White House makes any number of these wingnuts packed into one room seem like one too many. Remember how it seemed like a crisis when Breitbart types were sending Trump the Nazi salute just steps from the White House after he won the election? In the same way, it seems like a big deal today that a handful of Bannon’s alt-right cronies have been embraced by CPAC. It’s like the warning on your rear-view mirror, “objects may seem closer than they are.” The numbers at these gatherings of discontents from the far right and the “Christians” they duped are miniscule compared to the population of the entire United States with its sprawling diversity and multicultural riches.

    It’s true that tiny numbers of disgruntled citizens can sometimes deliver a fairly accurate snapshot of the state of the national psyche, but I think this is happening not at CPAC but at town hall meetings from coast to coast. These impromptu gatherings offer raw data that has not been massaged for the media the way CPAC’s programming has been, while introducing far greater numbers of Americans to survey. I find it refreshing that both phenomena are occurring at the same time–the awkward honesty of town hall meetings with members of Congress, our would-be heroes of the people, being dragged kicking and screaming toward courage; and CPAC’s clumsily orchestrated paean to the far right and Donald Trump, a would-be dictator who pretends to have won the popular vote when he really represents only the furtive aspirations of a little (though vocal) xenophobic fringe element.

    Reply
  2. Dan S February 24, 2017

    It sounds like Steve Bannon and Breitbart are having an identity crisis. So which is it ? Are you Alt Right or are you the new Nazis ? Either way you will be charged with treason and locked up forever

    Reply
    1. rhetoric_phobic February 26, 2017

      Alt Right is the term they like because it normalizes them. They are white supremacists and neo-nazis.

      1. Dan S February 26, 2017

        Agreed

  3. FireBaron February 24, 2017

    Sorry, but it would take a sandblaster to knock the Alt-Right (i.e. Nazi) stench off Bannon and Brietbart!

    Reply
    1. Thoughtopsy February 24, 2017

      Can we try that?

  4. Thoughtopsy February 24, 2017

    It’s interesting…
    The GOP demand absolute consistency from everyone else.
    – Obama can praise the military endlessly but if he salutes just once with a coffee cup in his hand then he obviously disrespects them.
    – Hillary can work tirelessly for the American people for years, and for American security and interests for more years as StateSec… but one embassy attack or email server and she is a traitor.
    – Muslims can speak out against Extremists… but one bomb and they are all terrorists
    – The press can print story after story of correct and factual information about the rolling dumpster fire that is the current Administration and it’s fat orange moronic leader… but they get one largely irrelevant fact wrong about a bust in the oval office and they are obviously all fake news.

    On the other hand the GOP demand the opposite analysis of their own behavior… they can piss on their own principles, their own promises, the philosophy of Conservatism and the Constitution, but if they can cherry pick even one instance of their own guy doing something even half-supportive of any of those things then we are supposed to read that as being supportive of everything and ignore the inconvenience of the consistent theme of all the rest of their actions…
    – Trump can retweet the KKK and anti-Semites, ignore the Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, be totally silent on attacks on Jewish cemeteries, praise the alt-right, employ Steve Bannon, and tell a Jewish reporter he’s a liar and avoid his question… but have one meeting with Bibi and you’re “obviously” not an anti-semite because you support Israel.
    – The GOP can pay off political donors with cabinet positions, give welfare to corporations, destroy the social safety net, lower taxes on the rich, raise them on the poor, write rules allowing corporations to move their jobs off shore, deregulate Wall Street and indirectly cause a crash, take away PP for low income people, take away the minimum wage, remove Obamacare from the poor, and demonize the poor… but say one nice thing about poor working people and you’re obviously a blue collar politician who is totally on their side.
    – The current Administration and Congress (who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution) can piss on the Constitution by lying, proposing religious tests and religious persecution, attempting to restrict free speech, attempting to influence the FBI, defrauding the American people by making money off the Presidency and taking gifts from foreign powers, and deliberately not doing their job to review Obama’s supreme court pick purely to keep power… But praise “The Constitution” once or scream about how important the Second Amendment is and suddenly they’re all patriotic Constitutionalists.

    It’s worse than a double standard.
    It boils down to:
    – If the Democrats do anything wrong, accuse them of doing everything wrong.
    – If the Republicans do anything right, assume everything they do is right.

    What cowards.

    Reply
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  5. rhetoric_phobic February 26, 2017

    They are still the minority, by a lot. Hold that thought and fight like hell against it.
    Speak the truth in all forums. Call them what they are, white supremacists and neo-nazis.
    Vote.
    Resist.
    They would like to change the narrative and make it about partisan politics and the left being angry/sad about losing the election.Projection and deflection are all they have as responses.
    It’s about protecting our democracy and our Constitution.

    Reply

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