How Bannon and Milo Repackage Hate Speech
Trump supporters at CPAC told the Real News they admired Breitbart’s provocative rhetoric because it legitimized their own sentiments, which they feel the mainstream misconstrues as racist and bigoted
TOM HEDGES: Front and center at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC was the rise of the far right news site Breitbart.com. It’s where Donald Trump’s top advisor, Steve Bannon was Chief Editor before joining the Administration. Trump’s most significant donor, the billionaire hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer, has also invested millions of dollars in the media company. Breitbart has become an alternative news source for people who subscribe to Bannon’s philosophy that the mainstream media is the enemy, something he along with Trump emphasized here at CPAC several times.
STEVE BANNON: They’re corporatist, globalist media, the mainstream media are the opposition party. They are absolutely dead wrong about what’s going on today.
TOM HEDGES: Breitbarts also sustained Bannon’s nationalist agenda, which includes a plan not only to preserve America’s economy but what he defines as its distinct culture.
STEVE BANNON: We are a nation with a culture and a reason for being.
TOM HEDGES: Much of the buzz here at CPAC, which 10,000 people attended this year, centered around one of Bannon’s cultural stars and former colleagues at Breitbart. Milo Yiannopoulos, who was slated to be a keynote speaker for the event, fell from grace last month after comments he made defending pedophilia surfaced on the internet. He has since lost a book deal, resigned from Breitbart and lost his invitation to speak at CPAC.
STEVE BANNON: We are okay with having controversy on the stage at CPAC, but there are boundaries.
TOM HEDGES: Milo has served a specific role in Bannon’s campaign to reshape American culture, which is to use his young, gay, Jewish persona to stretch the previously limited boundaries of what conservatives could say about transsexuals.
MILO YIANNOPOULOS: This is a psychiatric disorder.
TOM HEDGES: African-Americans.
MILO YIANNOPOULOS: So, I give it 20 minutes. The statistics of the black incarceration are about to go up.
TOM HEDGES: White privilege.
MILO YIANNOPOULOS: Oh, no no, the mark scheme favors white men. Give me a fucking break.
TOM HEDGES: And other civil rights issues in America.
WOMAN: He is starting conversations that a lot of people like myself, and others of my color and my so “privileged” background as the left would like to say, wouldn’t take seriously. So, coming from him, he’s able to say things that are actually very true about situations going on in this country with Muslims, and he can get away with it.
STEVE BANNON: I don’t mind poking the bear, when it comes to making people on the left uncomfortable and unhappy. I… I do. I don’t.
TOM HEDGES: Do you feel like it comes at the expense of groups that are actually marginalized in the United States though?
STEVE BANNON: Yeah, I guess it can. I mean, I guess it can, but listen, isn’t it the old… the old Adam(?) here, I mean, doesn’t… didn’t he get away with all this, just because he was a gay man? Even though he was a conservative, he was a gay conservative.
TOM HEDGES: So, basically because of his identity he got away with–
STEVE BANNON: Oh, absolutely. He says his main issue is free speech, and, you know, that’s why he tries to really, you know, penetrate the college campus, you know.
TOM HEDGES: Is hate speech free speech?
STEVE BANNON: No, it’s not. I don’t think it is.
TOM HEDGES: What’s the difference between what Milo says and hate speech?
STEVE BANNON: What Milo says and hate speech, I don’t know. I’m not sure if that there is, you know… I’m trying to think, how I would define hate speech. I have to think about that.
TOM HEDGES: In the statement he gave last week, when he resigned from Breitbart, Milo said his castigation by the mainstream would fail and that he would continue his work on free speech through the creation of a new media venture he would announce in the coming weeks.
MILO YIANNOPOULOS: My full focus is now going to be on entertaining and educating everyone, left, right and otherwise.
TOM HEDGES: Bannon’s plan for America is about turning the country’s legacy of racism, sexism, and bigotry on its head, using the anger and frustration of the American working class. Most people at CPAC felt as if they were the victims in today’s political climate and that what Milo did was rectify the right’s rhetoric, where many feel the mainstream and Hollywood shut it down.
MAN 1: I think the way that white liberals talk about working people from West Virginia is as bad as how David Duke talks about Jews. It’s the same exact thing. But these people went to Harvard, or Princeton or they live on Park Avenue. So, they’re not like David Duke, because they’re here and he’s there. They’re the same thing. They are the same thing.
MAN 2 They really misunderstood how many people are out there angry and scared, and I think that’s why you see 29 million people going to Breitbart. There’s a lot of angry and scared people out there who believe their voices weren’t being listened to. You know, I think I was probably one of them and, you know, we came out and voted. The enthusiasm was all on our side this time.
TOM HEDGES: For The Real News, Thomas Hedges, National Harbor, Maryland.