Saturday, December 31, 2016

Let NPR and Bloomberg explain the hatred for Steve Bannon

 Full interview by Fresh Air, NPR with Joshua Green,  without my comments and cut aways (it is very long and very opinionated) is

Dave Davies, NPR: Tell us about Steve Bannon. Where did he grow up? What was his background like?

JOSHUA GREEN (senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek): Well, Bannon grew up in a blue-collar, Irish-Catholic family outside a naval base near Richmond, Va. And after college, he joined the Navy - this was in the late '70s - wound up with a job in the Pentagon got a Master's degree in Georgetown. . . . Bannon described it to me is he had to talk himself into a job at Goldman Sachs, but he wound up specializing in mergers and acquisitions, and this was at a time when Wall Street was changing and banks like Goldman recognized that there was going to be a premium on specialization. . . . he wound up as a dealmaker making deals between movie studios and TV companies . . .  started a boutique investment bank that got further invested in setting up deals between people like Ted Turner and Castlerock Pictures. . ."

NPR: Because he was in the entertainment end of the financial industry, he ended up making movies. . .  connected with Andrew Breitbart. Tell us who he was and how they got together.

GREEN:  Andrew Breitbart was a conservative provocateur. . . worked for Matt Drudge who runs the Drudge Report website. . .  Breitbart was an interesting guy because he lived and circulated in Hollywood which, as we know, tends to be a bastion of liberalism.  He delighted in kind of, you know, provoking and outraging those liberals, really derived a lot of joy,  . .   Breitbart, I think, conscripted Bannon into what was then - it was pre-Tea Party, but it was that kind of Republican populist view that we have to kind of rise up and take back our government and take back our culture.  Bannon became the executive chairman of Breitbart News after Andrew Breitbart died. . . 

NPR: Andrew Breitbart died in 2012 suddenly, and Bannon became executive chairman of Breitbart News. Was his approach any different from Mr. Breitbart? . . .  In 2012, when Steve Bannon was the executive editor of Breitbart, he established a research arm - the Government Accountability Institute. What does it do?

GREEN:  . . .So not only was Bannon executive chairman of Breitbart News, but then with some of the same financial backers, he started the Government Accountability Institute which is a nonprofit research organization based in Tallahassee. . . a research organization that is going to do digging and stick to the realm of facts, and they're going to investigate corruption in cronyism in government, be it Republican or Democrat. GAI was a pretty sleepy shop.

But what really brought GAI into the forefront was that GAI's president, Peter Schweizer, wrote the book "Clinton Cash" that became an unexpected best-seller back in the spring of 2015, just as Hillary Clinton was getting ready to launch her presidential campaign. It drove up her unfavorability ratings, and it raised all sorts of pernicious questions about who Clinton - in the Clinton Foundation had financial relationships with and whether or not this was going to be a problem in her presidential campaign.

. . .  What GAI did instead was to reach out to investigative reporters and mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and others and try and encourage their reporters to take this research that they'd done and to go off and do some digging on their own. And they did, and that wound up resulting in front-page stories in a lot of major newspapers that got this negative information about Clinton in front of a whole different audience than reads Breitbart News or listens to talk radio.

And if you look at how Donald Trump chose to run against Clinton in the general election, Trump was essentially channeling the same attacks that Bannon had conceived and pushed in the "Clinton Cash" book. And so - and, you know, so ultimately, you know, he succeeded in this year's-long plan to plot and carry off the downfall of Hillary Clinton.

NPR:  The concern (about Bannon in the White House) is that it suggests a tolerance, if not embrace, of racism and anti-Semitism. What about the idea that Breitbart News itself propagates, you know, white supremacist views? I mean, The New York Times editorial on this said to scroll through Breitbart's headlines is to come upon a parallel universe where black people do nothing but commit crimes, immigrants rape native-born daughters and feminists want to castrate men. The Southern Poverty Law Center says he made Breitbart News a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill. (I post this question in full, because it propagates lies in the form of an innocent question, with no credible source). What's your sense of the content of Breitbart News?

GREEN: Well, it is certainly inflammatory and fixated on race, on religion, on all the sorts of things that have upset people. I think the thing to understand about Breitbart - and this is not to excuse anything they write or publish - is that they are deliberately provocative. They're aiming to offend and upset people in order to stoke the grassroots anger at government and the broader culture. . .

NPR: You know, it's one thing if white supremacists read Breitbart News and if they write shocking comments in response to the stories. But as you look at the content, I mean, does the website seem to, you know, embrace and propagate these views of white nationalism and white supremacists? What's your sense?
(Another provocative question, to communicate the leftist views of NPR--the interviewer Davies is building up steam).

GREEN:  [I interviewed him in 2015] And what he said essentially was that they are trying to reach an audience that doesn't have an outlet anywhere else in mainstream media. I pulled up some of the quotes. He said, you know, we focus on things like immigration, ISIS, race riots, what he calls the persecution of Christians. He says, we give a perspective that other outlets are not going to give. There are not a lot of outlets that are covering that, at least not from the perspective that we should be running a victory lap every time some sort of traditional value gets undercut.

The question I was always interested in getting at with Bannon was do you really believe this stuff - because a lot of it is offensive and inflammatory. And he said, you know, personally I'm mixed on a lot of this stuff. But we're airing a lot of things that traditional people are thinking that don't get mainstream media representation anymore. So they were making a market for these kinds of views and these kinds of stories and attracting an audience, what's turned out to be an extremely large and powerful audience by tapping these sentiments. (Davies pretends the leftist media is never provocative or inflammatory.) . . .

NPR: He's an interesting character, and, you know, in your profile of him, the photos show him wearing cutoffs. And when you see him in photos now like with the transition team, he really stands out from the Trump family who are so carefully, you know, tailored and coiffed.. .

GREEN: That is just him. I mean, if you want to be blunt, he looks like a bloated homeless alcoholic... (imagine an Obama supporter being described this way on national radio--wouldn't happen)

NPR: (Laughter). 

GREEN: There's been so much kind of shock and consternation about how a guy like Bannon who is so far outside the bounds of anybody who'd typically be considered for, you know, a West Wing position gets elevated to one, I think it's important to remember what we've just witnessed and what Trump himself has just seen that Bannon - and this is what originally attracted me to him as a profile subject - is a smart guy and a clever strategist who orchestrated this elaborate plan to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency that we've just watched work. It succeeded. And so I think that Trump has a degree of faith in Bannon that he doesn't have in another people.. . .

. . .  Part of it was Breitbart News with its rolling narratives about how Clinton was corrupt and doing Benghazi and this and that and really stoking all this conservative right-wing anger against her and against any Republican that treated her as anything less than, you know, a terrible pariah and a threat to the country. That eventually came to include people like Paul Ryan who are the most mainstream of Republicans. And then on the other hand, you have the Government Accountability Institute and the "Clinton Cash" book that figured out a way to kind of hack into the mainstream media and propagate these negative anti-Clinton stories. It had the effect of driving up her unfavorability ratings.

If you look at what happened in the election, essentially Clinton was too unpopular to reconstitute the Obama coalition that got him elected twice. She lost the presidential race narrowly. I mean, to my mind, Bannon is one of the major figures, if not the major figure, that conceived of an orchestrated and carried out that attack. That was what he laid out in the piece that I thought was so interesting. And, to be honest, I never thought in a million years he would carry it off. But, look, he has. (And since he fooled Green, he needs to be demonized.)

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