This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published November 16, 2016 by PJ Media.
The Left doesn’t like that Donald Trump won the election. How ironic: before the election, mainstream hacks lectured Donald Trump about what horrors would ensue should he not accept its results. As with so much that emanates from the Left, they were projecting: the attacks on Trump counselor Steve Bannon are all part of their plan to do exactly what they accused Trump of planning to do.
Here are five things you should know about the Left’s campaign to smear Bannon:
1. Thoroughness Doesn’t Matter
A recent article at National Review is headlined: “Steve Bannon Is Not a Nazi — But Let’s Be Honest about What He Represents.” Rather than dwell on the manipulative headline, let’s inventory that article’s sins of omission.
In describing Bannon’s supposed parade of horribles, the article slips in this zinger:
In May, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was labeled a “Renegade Jew.”
Wow. By who?! Bannon? A Bannon staffer?
One obviously wonders, but the article never says who had described Kristol this way. For if it had done so, it would have undermined the scent of anti-Semitism the post intended to conjure.
The author of the “Renegade Jew” line was the great David Horowitz — who has spent much of his career defeating anti-Semitism in the public square — writing at Breitbart. And the context of Horowitz’s article? Whether or not Trump was going to be a good defender of the Jewish people.
As PJ Media’s David Steinberg tweets:
— David Steinberg (@DavidSPJM) November 16, 2016
This is not the stuff that anti-Semitism is made from.
When I said it was relevant to include that David Horowitz had authored the piece, Ian Tuttle — National Review Fellow and author of the above-linked hit on Bannon, disagreed with me on Twitter:
Apparently, when attacking Bannon, thorough reporting doesn’t matter.
2. Attacks on Bannon Are Alinskyite
The attacks on Steve Bannon are straight out of the Left’s bible of “community organizing,” Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
We’re seeing radical leftists doing what leftists do, and just because some #NeverTrumpers are participating doesn’t change the tactic’s pedigree.
Alinsky advocated “personalizing” disputes and “destroying” the targets. Truth didn’t matter. That’s why you are hearing nasty — and false — branding of Bannon as a racist or anti-Semite.
If the Left succeeds against Bannon, they will then maul the next person in line, assuming they are a fighter. The Left doesn’t bother with Republican quislings, because they know they pose no threat to their agenda. See, for example, Mark McKinnon.
3. Lose the Bannon Fight, Lose the Bigger Fight
The attack on Bannon is a probing attack on all constitutionalists, outsiders, Tea Partiers, and Reaganites. The attack is an effort to see if Trump has the spine to stand by the people who got him elected.
The Left hates the limited government agenda of movement conservatives — the attack on Bannon is an effort to limit the influence of movement conservatives over the next four years.
If the Left can cause damage in this fight, they will use this Bannon model for the next fight.
Unfortunately, this strategy overlooks Trump’s biggest asset — he doesn’t care what the Washington Post thinks. Like Bannon, he knows their audience doesn’t support him — and he also knows the Washington Post’s business model is no longer viable.
4. Truth Doesn’t Matter in the Bannon Attacks
I challenge anyone to find one thing Bannon has said that is racist or anti-Semitic.
In all the time I’ve spent with him, not a single thing of that sort has come out of his mouth — not even close.
Steve is simply not your normal political player. When we were both on a panel a year ago in September, Bannon quipped it was the first time he had “long pants on since Memorial Day.” Tsk tsk! You don’t say things like that inside the Beltway! Bannon might break the mold, but he’s no racist.
5. Out with the Old, In with the New
Twenty years ago, the conservative media landscape looked very different. Bannon and others have ushered in nothing less than a revolution.
The Washington Post hardly matters at all anymore, and those legacy conservative forums matter far less. Is it a coincidence that some of them are hosting the most toxic attacks on Bannon? Perhaps.
But you can’t help but wonder if this is more about competitive advantage being sought by the publications who mattered a lot more before Steve Bannon and other conservative media sources supplanted the dominant players from two decades ago.