Politics & Policy

Bannon Owns the Resistance for a Day

Steve Bannon at CPAC 2017. (Gage Skidmore)
Liberals are oddly credulous when it comes to Steve Bannon’s tales about the Trump administration.

At least for a day or so, Steven Bannon has taken over #TheResistance to Donald Trump.

You could see it start early. The liberal punditariat, unsatisfied with Trump’s obvious and manifest incompetence as a reason to despise and oppose him, has been reinventing new Russian plots centered on ever more obscure administration figures. And this morning they finally got the confession they wanted from an insider. They held aloft Steve Bannon’s quote criticizing Jared Kushner for a “treasonous” meeting at Trump Tower. They gloried in the triumph over skeptics who believed the Mueller investigation was now chasing its own tale. See, we finally have the truth! We got it from the guy running the media outlet that was smearing Roy Moore’s teenaged victims a few weeks ago!

You could still see Bannon’s dominance of the Resistance in the early afternoon, with the political media giddily sharing a saucy excerpt of Michael Wolff’s new book on every embarrassing detail about the Trump campaign and administration. What does the excerpt reveal? Lots of colorful details about Trump’s ignorance and impatience, rendered with cinematic dialogue and scene setting. You can look those bits up yourself. I’m sure some of it is true.

What else does it reveal? That Steve Bannon was the first person at the White House on Inauguration Day. That Steve Bannon was being considered for chief of staff, but he scares the Establishment so much that it was impossible to give him the job. We find out that Bannon was cool to administration flameouts like General Michael Flynn. That alone among the early Trump cast, Bannon had a plan for the first 100 days. That Bannon knew exactly what he was doing — melting liberal snowflakes — when the White House released the shoddy travel-ban executive order on a Friday. That, despite credible rumors Bannon had little influence and spent much of his day in Reince Priebus’s office looking at Twitter, in fact Bannon was having 6:30 p.m. dinners with the head honcho himself.

Wolff’s excerpt is accompanied by a note explaining how he got the story, something you might wonder after all the cinematic flashes of dialogue. Wolff had set up camp in the White House as an interloper. Based on the above, who do you think he spent his time with? You might also take a guess based on Wolff’s soft spot for Steve Bannon. Last time Wolff looked at Bannon, he told us that the Breitbart.com leader was “the official strategic brains of the Trump operation.” And allowed Bannon to position himself as “Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors.”

Wolff has been previously tagged for his unique approach to journalism. “The scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created — springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events,” Michelle Cottle relayed over a decade ago.

I have no idea what’s true and what isn’t true in Wolff’s story. In his recreation of Election Night, Trump is said not to have known who John Boehner was. Boehner was an occasional Trump golf partner, and Trump had been tweeting about him for years. I don’t even know how this got past fact-checking.

Steve Bannon couldn’t get voters to believe Roy Moore. He couldn’t keep his post in the Trump White House. But there’s one class of people credulous enough to believe tales of Steve Bannon’s amazing work ethic, foresight, wisdom, and power. One group ready to immediately credit his concern for the sanctity of the election and sovereignty of America when it comes to Russia — the media.

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