Trump Strategist Steve Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump's chief White House strategist, laced into the American press during an interview on Wednesday evening, arguing that news organizations had been "humiliated" by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as "the opposition party" of the current administration.

"The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while," Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call.

"I want you to quote this," Mr. Bannon added. "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."

The scathing assessment — delivered by one of Mr. Trump's most trusted and influential advisers, in the first days of his presidency — comes at a moment of high tension between the news media and the administration, with skirmishes over the size of Mr. Trump's inaugural crowd and the president's false claims that millions of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants swayed the popular vote against him.

Mr. Bannon, who rarely grants interviews to journalists outside of Breitbart News, the provocative right-wing website he ran until last August, was echoing comments by Mr. Trump this weekend, when the president said he was in "a running war" with the media and called journalists "among the most dishonest people on earth."

During a call to discuss Sean M. Spicer, the president's press secretary, Mr. Bannon ratcheted up the criticism, offering a broad indictment of the news media as biased against Mr. Trump and out of touch with the American public. That's an argument familiar to readers of Breitbart and followers of Trump-friendly personalities like Sean Hannity.

"The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong," Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it "a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there."

"The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign," Mr. Bannon said. "Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: they were outright activists of the Clinton campaign." (He did not name specific reporters or editors.)

"That's why you have no power," Mr. Bannon added. "You were humiliated."

Of all of Mr. Trump's advisers in the White House, Mr. Bannon is the one tasked with implementing the nationalist vision that Mr. Trump channeled during the later months of the campaign, one that stemmed from Mr. Bannon himself. And in many ways Mr. Trump's first week has put into action that vision — from the description of "American carnage'' Mr. Trump laid out in his inauguration speech, to a series of executive actions outlining policy on trade agreements, immigration, the building of a border wall and the demands that Mexico pay for it.

He is one of the strongest forces in a White House with competing power centers. A savvy manipulator of the press, and a proud provocateur, Mr. Bannon was among the few advisers in Mr. Trump's circle who was said to have urged on Mr. Spicer's confrontational, emotional statement to a shocked White House briefing room on Saturday, when the White House disputed press reports on the inauguration crowd size. He mostly shares Mr. Trump's view that the news media has misunderstood the movement that the president rode into office.

On the telephone, Mr. Bannon spoke in blunt but calm tones, peppered with a dose of profanities, and humorously referred to himself at one point as "Darth Vader." He said, with ironic relish, that Mr. Trump was elected by a surge of support from "the working class hobbits and deplorables."

The conversation was initiated by Mr. Bannon to offer praise for Mr. Spicer, who has been criticized this week for making false claims at the White House podium about the attendance of Mr. Trump's inaugural crowd, for calling reporters dishonest and lecturing them about what stories to write and for failing to disavow Mr. Trump's lie about widespread voter fraud in the election.

Asked if he was concerned that Mr. Spicer had lost credibility with the news media, Mr. Bannon chortled. "Are you kidding me?" he said. "We think that's a badge of honor. 'Questioning his integrity' — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work."

"You're the opposition party," Mr. Bannon said. "Not the Democratic Party. You're the opposition party. The media's the opposition party."

Mr. Bannon mostly referred to the "elite" or "mainstream" media, but he cited The New York Times and The Washington Post by name.

"The paper of record for our beloved republic, The New York Times, should be absolutely ashamed and humiliated," Mr. Bannon said. "They got it 100 percent wrong."

He added that he has been a reader of The Times for most of his adult life.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters


Trump strategist Stephen Bannon tells media to "keep its mouth shut"

President Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist says that the media should “keep its mouth shut.”

In an interview with The New York Times published Thursday, Stephen Bannon said that the media is the “opposition party” of the new administration and “should be embarrassed and humiliated” by the unanticipated election result.

The article cites Bannon as referring to himself at one point as “Darth Vader.”

Asked if he was concerned that press secretary Sean Spicer lost credibility after a forceful opening press conference peppered with false information, Bannon replied, “we think that’s a badge of honor.”

He adds, “The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence and no hard work.”

“I want you to quote this,” Bannon to The New York Times. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

A Navy veteran, Bannon earned his wealth as a Goldman Sachs banker and later as a Hollywood investor, reportedly acquiring partial rights to the “Seinfeld” series.

In 2012, Bannon took over conservative website Breitbart after the death of founder Andrew Breitbart. Bannon boasted about turning the site into “the platform for the alt-right.”

As chief executive of the Trump campaign, Bannon was responsible for several attention-grabbing moments including the pre-debate press conference with multiple Bill Clinton accusers.

Bannon’s appointment to the White House has drawn criticism from Democrats and several civil liberties groups, in part because of his (and Breitbart’s) strong association with the alt-right, a political movement with strains of white supremacy.


Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

WASHINGTON — Just days after President Trump spoke of a “running war’’ with the media, his chief White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, ratcheted up the attacks, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by the election outcome and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday.

“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

The scathing assessment — delivered by one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted and influential advisers, in the first days of his presidency — comes at a moment of high tension between the news media and the administration, with skirmishes over the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd and the president’s false claims that millions of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants swayed the popular vote against him.

Critics See Stephen Bannon, Trump’s Pick for Strategist, as Voice of Racism NOV. 14, 2016
Mr. Bannon, who rarely grants interviews to journalists outside of Breitbart News, the provocative right-wing website he ran until August, was echoing comments by Mr. Trump last weekend, when the president said he was in “a running war” with the media and called journalists “among the most dishonest people on earth.” Mr. Bannon’s remarks added to the growing acrimony between the press and a president who made attacks on the media a rallying point of his election campaign.

Among Mr. Trump’s advisers in the White House, Mr. Bannon is responsible for putting into action the nationalist vision that Mr. Trump channeled during the later months of the campaign, one that stemmed from Mr. Bannon himself. And in many ways Mr. Trump has acted on that vision during his first week in office — from the description of “American carnage” he laid out in his inauguration speech to a series of executive actions outlining policies on trade agreements, immigration and the building of a border wall.

Mr. Bannon is one of the strongest forces in an administration with competing power centers. A savvy manipulator of the press, and a proud provocateur, he was among the few advisers in Mr. Trump’s circle who were said to have urged Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, to give a confrontational, emotional statement to a shocked West Wing briefing room on Saturday, when the White House disputed news reports about the size of the inauguration crowd. He shares Mr. Trump’s view that the news media misunderstood the movement that the president rode into office.

Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, Mr. Bannon delivered a broad indictment of the news media as being biased against Mr. Trump and out of touch with the American public. That is an argument familiar to readers of Breitbart and followers of personalities friendly to Mr. Trump, like Sean Hannity of Fox News.

“The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,” Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it “a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.”

“The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign,” Mr. Bannon said. “Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: They were outright activists of the Clinton campaign.” (He did not name specific reporters or editors.)

“That’s why you have no power,” he added. “You were humiliated.”

Mr. Bannon spoke in blunt but calm tones, peppered with profanity, and humorously referred to himself as “Darth Vader.” He said, with ironic relish, that Mr. Trump was elected by a surge of support from “the working-class hobbits and deplorables.”

The conversation was initiated by Mr. Bannon to offer praise for Mr. Spicer, who has been criticized this week for making false claims at the White House podium about attendance at Mr. Trump’s inaugural, for calling reporters dishonest and lecturing them about what stories to write, and for failing to disavow Mr. Trump’s lie about widespread voter fraud in the election.

Asked if he was concerned that Mr. Spicer had lost credibility with the news media, Mr. Bannon chortled. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “We think that’s a badge of honor. ‘Questioning his integrity’ — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”

“You’re the opposition party,” he said. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”

Journalists reacted with alarm and defiance to Mr. Bannon’s comments. “What country are we living in?” Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent, wrote on Twitter.

“We are not the opposition,’’ Stephen Engelberg, editor in chief of the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, wrote in an email. “We are part of an essential function in any democracy.” He added that ProPublica had no intention of “shutting up in response to this or any other president’s demand.”

“We are here to tell the truth and we intend to continue doing so, regardless of how badly some might want us to parrot ‘alternative facts,’” Mr. Engelberg said.

Mr. Bannon mostly referred to the “elite” or “mainstream” media, but he cited The New York Times and The Washington Post by name.

“The paper of record for our beloved republic, The New York Times, should be absolutely ashamed and humiliated,” Mr. Bannon said. “They got it 100 percent wrong.”

He added that he has been a reader of The Times for most of his adult life.

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