Democracy Now! A White Nationalist & Anti-Semite in the Oval Office: Trump Taps Breitbart's Bannon as Top Aide
A White Nationalist & Anti-Semite in the Oval Office: Trump Taps Breitbart's Bannon as Top Aide
By Democracy Now!
democracynow.org As the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center are slamming President-elect Donald Trump for naming Stephen Bannon to become his chief strategist, we speak with SPLC President Richard Cohen about Bannon’s role as former head of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart Media and as Trump’s campaign manager. "Two weeks after the Charleston massacre, [Breitbart News] ran an article talking about how people should proudly fly the Confederate flag," Cohen says. He argues that the alt-right that Breitbart is associated with "is nothing more than the rebranding of white supremacy, white nationalism, for the digital age," and calls on President-elect Trump to "speak out forcefully against all forms of bigotry, and then he has to follow talk with the walk." TRANSCRIPT
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Marrakech, Morocco, here at the U.N. climate summit, but we’re covering events closely that are taking place in the United States, and we’ll soon bring you voices of protest from the front lines in New York. Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center are slamming President-elect Donald Trump for naming Stephen Bannon to become his chief strategist. Bannon is the former head of the right-wing outlet, news outlet, Breitbart Media. He took over as Trump’s campaign manager in August. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, quote, "It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the 'alt-right'—a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists—is slated to be a senior staff member in the ’people’s house,’" unquote. The Southern Poverty Law Center accused Bannon of becoming, quote, "the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill," unquote. Even former Breitbart employees have spoken out about what the site became under Bannon’s watch. The site’s former editor-in-chief, Ben Shapiro, recently said that staffers are now openly pushing white ethno-nationalism. Donald Trump announced Bannon would become chief strategist on Saturday. Trump has also tapped RNC Chair Reince Preibus to serve as his chief of staff. Steve Bannon has also faced questions about domestic abuse. He was charged in 1996 with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness. A Santa Monica, California, police report said Bannon grabbed then-wife Mary Louise Piccard "by the throat and arm" and threatened to leave him with—to leave with the couple’s twin daughters. Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were dropped later that year when Piccard did not appear in court. Piccard claimed in divorce proceedings that Bannon pressured her not to testify. Piccard also said in a sworn 2007 court filing that Bannon made anti-Semitic comments when the two argued over whether to send their daughters to a private school. According to one document, Piccard said, quote, "He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be 'whiny brats' and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews," unquote. Joining us in New York is Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. So, Richard Cohen, you got the news, with everyone else, that Steve Bannon would be the chief strategist for Donald Trump. Your thoughts? RICHARD COHEN: Well, it was incredibly disheartening, Amy. You know, the night that Trump was elected, he said that he was going to be the president for all Americans, that he was going to bind the wounds of division—wounds, of course, that he had caused. And now we see him doing the opposite, you know, appointing someone who was very proud to give a platform to the alt-right. And, you know, the alt-right is nothing more than the rebranding of white supremacy, white nationalism, for the digital age. So, Trump says one thing the day he’s elected, does something else at this point. It’s really discouraging, really disheartening. And, you know, it doesn’t portend well for his administration, I’m afraid. AMY GOODMAN: Richard, describe more fully what is the alt-right. What is the Breitbart News website and the significance of Bannon now being the number two man for President—soon-to-be President Trump? RICHARD COHEN: You know, when—Breitbart traditionally was a very conservative website. But under Bannon, it’s become a cesspool for white supremacy, according to one of his former colleagues. You know, the alt-right is white nationalism. It rejects multiculturalism. It’s opposed to immigration. You know, the godfather of the alt-right is a fellow named Richard Spencer. His motto is "All men are created unequal." He believes that black people are intellectually inferior. He calls for, you know, the peaceful ethnic cleansing of our country. He was ecstatic when Trump was elected, and, I’m sure, equally ecstatic now that Bannon is in the White House. AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Bannon’s background. Talk about his operating of Breitbart News. RICHARD COHEN: Yeah, you know, look, I don’t want to talk about Bannon’s personal background. I’ll just talk about what he’s done at Breitbart News. I mean, anyone can go and look at the archives there and see unbelievable stuff. Two weeks after the Charleston massacre, for example, you know, they ran an article talking about how people should proudly fly the federal—the Confederate flag. They’ve talked about Islam as a religion of a rape culture. He mocked women who are, you know, the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s obsessed with kind of, you know, the so-called scourge of black-on-white crime. It’s racist. It’s misogynist. It’s anti-Semitic. It’s everything that this country should not be. AMY GOODMAN: Former Breitbart employees have spoken out. This is the site’s former editor-in-chief, Ben Shapiro, who wrote, quote, "Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers." This is Shapiro speaking to CNN earlier this year.