Steve Bannon wants you to know that he’s a “good Catholic.”
Given his M.O. as an extremist flamethrower, I find that more than a little unsettling, and I’m sure Pope Francis is rolling his eyes about now.
Bannon also describes himself as a “street fighter.” (What happened to turning the other cheek, Steve?) Bannon has honed his fighting skills running the most influential, and inflammatory conservative website in the U.S., Breitbart News.
Breitbart is the platform of the Alt-Right Movement. Don’t take my word.
“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told Sarah Posner, a reporter for The Investigative Fund in 2016.
“…the alt-right,” Posner writes, “has been Bannon’s target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. …
“ ‘Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it,’ former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week in Daily Wire, a conservative website. ‘With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist meme-makers.’ ”
Originally founded as a “simple news aggregation service,” The Los Angeles Times reported (Nov. 18, 2016), Breitbart quickly evolved to include “extremist, xenophobic, sexist and… hate speech.”
At the center of this cabal of blustering bilge that passes for relevant information, is former White House Strategist, and current U.S. Insurgent-in-Chief Steve Bannon.
While Breitbart went from the “#45th most trafficked website in the United States,” to 281st place, that still leaves millions of followers who read, listen and pray at the feet of their messiah, Steven K. Bannon who, if he wore a cleric’s collar, might pass as resurrected ‘40s Catholic priest and demagogue, Charles Coughlin.
Since his White House departure, the Alt-Right Reverend Bannon has returned to Breitbart and, in a revealing interview with Charlie Rose, had much to say about his new role.
“I’m going to be his wingman outside [the White House],” Bannon says. “our purpose is to support Donald Trump.”
Some of that support led to Bannon’s defense of Trump’s statement about Charlottesville.
“I was the only guy that came out and tried to defend him [Trump],” Bannon insists. “I was the only guy that said, ‘He’s talking about something, taking it up to a higher level.’ Where does it all go? Where does this end? Does it end in taking down the Washington Monument?’ ”
“I tell you where many people suggest it should have gone,” Rose counters, “it should have gone in terms of denouncing specifically… Neo-Nazis and white supremacists… because those were people that Americans in World War II went to fight against. … you seemed to be doubling down in terms of a moral equivalency.”
“What he was trying to say,” Bannon explains, “is that people that support the monument staying there peacefully and people that oppose that, that’s the normal course of First Amendment…”
That’s not even close to what Trump said. Here’s what he said and later defended:
“I think there is blame on both sides.”
He then quickly tacked to the alt-right’s favorite slippery slope meme: what-about-ism.
“George Washington was a slave owner. So, will George Washington lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington?” Trump said. “How about Thomas Jefferson, what do you think of Thomas Jefferson, do you like him? OK good. Are we going to take down the statues, because he was a major slave owner?”
But for Bannon, as with Trump, loyalty overrides everything, including and especially, logic.
“When he’s talking about the Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates and the Klan, who, by the way,” Bannon says, “are absolutely awful…There’s no room in American society for that. My problem — and I told General Kelly this, when you side with a man, you side with him. I was proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media that day.”
Rose, however, knows how to stay on point despite how much Bannon tries to bob and weave, particularly on “the Russia thing.”
BANNON: There’s nothing to the Russia investigation. It’s a waste of time.
ROSE: What do you believe? You know what the National Security– Institution believes. …
BANNON: … It’s a total and complete farce. Russian collusion is a farce.
ROSE: OK, I didn’t say collusion. Did the Russians try to influence the election?
BANNON: If you consider maybe something they did that at the DNC—who…
ROSE: That’s not what the CIA believes. That’s not what the FBI believes–
BANNON: … have you seen the intelligence reports?
BANNON: OK, fine. So, you don’t know–
ROSE: Have you seen intelligence reports–
BANNON: I have seen the intelligence reports–
ROSE: And are you saying to me those intelligence reports do not suggest that the Russians tried to influence the election–
BANNON: I don’t — I would never devolve classified information on this show. But let me tell you, I think it’s far from conclusive that the Russians had any impact on this election.
ROSE: Well, that’s not the question. Did they try to influence the American election? That’s what the investigation is about.
BANNON: We’ll have to wait till the investigation is finished.
For the record, 17 intelligence agencies concluded that Russia meddled in the U.S. 2016 election. The top four – the C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., as well as the Director of National Intelligence – ALL had “high confidence” that “Russian spies had tried to interfere in the election on the order of Vladimir V. Putin.”
But Bannon sees all these institutions as part of the “permanent political class,” and as Trump’s chief strategist, he was going to take them all on as soon as Trump, Inc. hit the threshold of the Oval Office.
However, after six months, Bannon was out of the White House, but servicing the president the best way he knows how, as “wingman.”
Rose interviewed Bannon not long after President Trump spoke out against DACA, the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Bannon offered his own reasoning why the Catholic church is against any action taken by the federal government against the DACA kids.
“…they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. It’s obvious on the face of it. That’s what– the entire Catholic Bishops [are] condemning. They have– they have an economic interest,” Bannon bluntly says.
New York-based Cardinal Timothy Dolan was equally blunt.
“That’s insulting and that’s just so ridiculous that it doesn’t merit a comment.”
Talking about Trump’s incessant use of Twitter, Bannon tells Rose, “I think what he does on Twitter is extraordinary. He disintermediates the media [removes intermediaries]. He goes above their head and talks directly to the American people.”
“It’s not a question of going over the head of the media,” Rose points out, “it’s what he says.”
Trump’s blusterer-in-chief throws out another incendiary riposte.
“I don’t think he needs – the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and CBS News. And I don’t believe he thinks that they’re looking out what’s in his best interest…”
(Who’s best interest, Steve? I thought the president of the United States is supposed to look out for the people’s interests, not his own.)
“…I don’t believe that, and you don’t believe that, OK?” Bannon adds. “This is another just standard in judgment that you rain upon him in the effort to destroy Donald Trump. …
“And by the way, General Kelly… He’s not gonna be able to control it either because it’s Donald Trump… talking directly to the American people. And to say something else, you’re gonna get some good there. And every now and again you’re gonna get some less good, OK? But you’re just gonna have to live with it.”
So America, with Trump you’re either gonna get “some good” or “less good,” understand? Live with it!
After the fiascos of “repeal and replace”; Trump’s U.N. speech that precipitated North Korea’s dictator to announce that he may test a nuclear missile over the Pacific Ocean; Iran warning that they’re prepared to restart their own nuclear program after Trump threatened to cancel the Iran deal; and Trump’s threats to Venezuela, it looks like there’s more “less good” to come from the president and his “wingman.”
But at least Bannon believes he’s a “good Catholic.”
And so did Cesare Borgia.