In his first major interview since being named Donald Trump’s chief adviser, Steve Bannon denied being a white nationalist, while name-dropping Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, and Satan.
“Darkness is good,” he told The Hollywood Reporter media columnist Michael Wolff. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”
That feels like the kind of signature Bannon trolling he routinely dispenses to make liberals pull their hair out: Who exactly are “they” and “we” and what exactly are “we” doing? Was he expressing admiration for Cheney, Vader and Satan, or just how well they manage their brands? (Basil Exposition’s advice to Austin Powers applies here: “I suggest you don’t worry about this sort of thing and just enjoy yourself.”)
Breitbart News, where Bannon worked before joining Trump’s campaign, specializes in incendiary, provocative headlines, many of which have led to accusations that Bannon is racist, sexist and anti-semitic. Bannon responded to the accusations of bigotry in his interview with Wolff.
“I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” he said. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over. If we deliver we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. That’s what the Democrats missed, they were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about.”
It’s notable that Bannon chose to talk to an entertainment trade publication instead of a more politically-focused news outlet like The New York Times, Washington Post or Politico.
Did he think he would get a less critical reception? We don’t know. But we do know he spends a lot of time worrying about where stories promoting his agenda are placed, and that Trump, a former reality star, has melted the lines dividing political and entertainment coverage. (Bannon, who made a fortune on “Seinfeld,” goes way back with Hollywood.)
Earlier this week, we wrote about the PR campaign to rehab Bannon’s reputation. The THR exclusive is part of Bannon’s quest for good press, and it’s interesting to read both on its face and for what it tells us about how Bannon will try to manage the news media.