The campaign’s new chief executive, Stephen Bannon, joins from Breitbart News—where he helped mainstream the ideas of white nationalists and resuscitate the reputations of anti-immigrant fear-mongers.
White nationalists today invest a lot of energy worrying about growing Hispanic and Muslim populations in the U.S. Turns out, Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about those things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.
“Latterly, Breitbart emerged as a nationalist site and done great stuff on immigration in particular,” VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow told The Daily Beast.
VDare is a white supremacist site. It’s named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born to British colonists in North America. Brimelow said he and Bannon met briefly last month and exchanged pleasantries about each other’s work.
“It’s irritating because VDARE.com is not used to competition,” Brimelow added. “I presume that is due to Bannon, so his appointment is great news.”
Brimelow isn’t the only prominent white nationalist to praise the Bannon hire. Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.
“Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart,” he said. “In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers. I don’t think it has done this deliberately; again, it’s a matter of elective affinities.”
Spencer said Breitbart and Bannon have helped Alt Right ideas gain legitimacy—and, more importantly, exponentially expand their audiences. He cited the work of Milo Yiannopoulos as evidence of this.
“As is evident with Milo’s piece on the Alt Right, Breitbart has people on board who take us seriously, even if they are not Alt Right themselves.”
Yiannopoulos wrote a piece on March 29, 2016, about the Alt Right, praising its members as “dangerously bright,” and cheering the VDARE and American Renaissance sites as an “eclectic mix of renegades.” American Renaissance is helmed by Jared Taylor, who advocates for voluntary racial segregation and says African Americans are genetically predisposed to be criminals.
Yiannopoulos defended Brimelow and Taylor by saying they “don’t want to commit any pogroms,” which is… not a very comforting sentiment.
Reached for comment, Yiannopoulos referred The Daily Beast to Breitbart editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow. He has not returned a request for comment.
The Clinton campaign immediately pounced on the announcement in a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, noting Bannon’s Alt Right ties. “After several failed attempts to pivot into a more serious and presidential mode, Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who’s best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters.
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a follow-up email asking if they will continue to provide press credentials to Breitbart reporters.
Bannon didn’t just make Breitbart a safe space for white supremacists; he’s also welcomed a scholar blacklisted from the mainstream conservative movement for arguing there’s a connection between race and IQ. Breitbart frequently highlights the work of Jason Richwine, who resigned from the conservative Heritage Foundation when news broke that his Harvard dissertation argued in part that Hispanics have lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites.
Bannon loves Richwine. On Jan. 6 of this year, when Richwine was a guest on the radio show, Bannon called him “one of the smartest brains out there in demographics, demography, this whole issue of immigration, what it means to this country.”
And, unsurprisingly, Bannon heaps praise on Pamela Geller, an activist in the counter-Jihad movement who warns about “creeping Sharia.” When she appeared on the SiriusXM Breitbart radio show that Bannon hosted, he called her “one of the leading experts in the country if not the world” on Islam.
Geller told The Daily Beast she’s thrilled by the Bannon news.
“Steve Bannon is a warrior,” she told The Daily Beast. “He has long understood that this is a war in the information battle-space (something the right has failed to grasp despite the left’s smear machine against those with whom they disagree). The media is out to destroy Donald Trump. Trump needs a champion, a ‘Patton,’ a Bannon. This is fantastic news.”
Specifically, Geller said Bannon “articulates what millions of Americans are thinking about how we need to tell the truth about jihad and the Muslim migrant invasion of the West.”
One former Breitbart worker puts it a little differently. Kurt Bardella, who had the site as a client until quitting this year, said Bannon regularly made racist comments during internal meetings.
“I woke up and the world came to an end,” he told The Daily Beast. “They have put in place someone who is a dictator-bully—a figure whose form of management is verbal abuse and intimidation.
“He made more off-color comments about minorities and homosexuals than I can recount,” he added.
Bardella, who lives in Virginia and was formerly a Republican Hill staffer, said this November, for the first time in his life, he will vote for a Democrat: Hillary Clinton.
—with additional reporting by Lloyd Grove