Steve Bannon, the man seen as the power behind Donald Trump’s throne, has declared that the president will take the US back from a “corporatist, globalist media” that opposes his brand of economic nationalism.
Trump is “maniacally focused” on fulfilling his campaign pledges, Bannon warned, predicting a daily fight against the media he has branded as the opposition party.
“The mainstream media ought to understand something: all those promises are going to be implemented,” Bannon told a gathering of thousands of conservatives near Washington on Thursday, who feted him and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Bannon is a liberal bete noire whose confrontational, populist brand of Republican politics also upends decades of conservative orthodoxy. He has emerged as Trump’s most powerful aide and been dubbed “Trump’s Rasputin” or, in Twitter speak, #PresidentBannon. On Thursday, he stepped out of the shadows to make rare public remarks.
“Every day is going to be a fight. That is the promise of Donald Trump … All the people who’ve came in and said you’ve got to moderate. Every day in the Oval Office he tells Reinceand I: ‘I committed this to the American people, I promised this when I ran, and I’m going to deliver on this.” The crowd at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) erupted in cheers and applause, with some delegates standing and punching the air.
It was a very rare public appearance for Bannon, 63, who cut a casual figure with a dark open-necked shirt and light beige trousers. He sat on stage alongside Priebus, in a more traditional suit and tie, as the pair made their latest attempt to bury reports of discord. “We’re basically together from 6.30 in the morning to 11 at night,” Priebus said, in adjoining offices.
But Bannon, who described his own West Wing office as the “war room”, soon launched into his attacks on the media. “If you look at the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition, how they portrayed the administration, it’s always wrong.”
Bannon is a near constant presence every time cameras cover a Trump press conference or follow him into the Oval Office. He has gained a place on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council, elevating him above the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence.
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Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said: “It seems like we are getting his ideas coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth to a great extent.
“I think we are seeing Bannon’s influence in Israel policy: the idea we have to support a militarily strong Israel and the coexistence in the Oslo process for two decades needs to be thrown out. That tells us he has a lot of influence and he wasn’t kidding about this.”
Crucially, Cassino argues, Bannon determines what media Trump consumes and shapes his worldview. “The information flow seems to be going through Breitbart and Fox News rather than through the national security apparatus. That’s troubling. It points to the influence of Bannon and how the other people briefing him are not having influence.”
A few “Make America Great Again” caps were visible among the attendees but establishment Republican senators, congressmen and governors were relatively scarce.
The pro-Trump Breitbart News was prominent. The tone was triumphant and aggressive, championing gun ownership rights and tough law enforcement while criticising and mocking liberals.
But tensions were clear as Dan Schneider, leader of the American Conservative Union, took the stage to denounce the “alt-right”, the rebranding of the far right that has been accused of racism, Islamophobia and neo-Nazism. “There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks and we must not be duped,” he told the audience. “Just a few years ago, this hate-filled leftwing fascist group hijacked the very term ‘alt-right’.
“That term, alt-right – it had been used for a long time in a very good and normal way, but this group has hijacked it. We must not allow them to be normalised. They are not part of us.”
Schneider added: “They are antisemites. They are racist. They are sexist. They hate the constitution. They hate free markets. They hate pluralism. They hate everything and despise everything we believe in.”
Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.