Open Thread: Steve Bannon, the New Karl Rove?

As in “the guy who’s about to have a major meltdown, live and on camera”? Somebody has it out for the man, because one doesn’t bring in professional assassin Olivia Nuzzi for just a puff piece…

When Steve Bannon was the chief strategist and senior counselor to President Donald Trump, he spent his days and often long into his nights in an office on the first floor of the West Wing, separated from the Oval Office only by his neighbor Jared Kushner and the presidential study…

The last time I saw him before he was fired in August, West Wing construction had forced him across the driveway into a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. His central whiteboard had been relocated to basement storage, and a smaller version had been wheeled in and positioned by the desk. Anywhere Bannon is existing, it seems, becomes a kind of pop-up war room.

Since leaving the White House and its adjacent properties altogether, he’s moved his operation back into a war townhouse he calls the Breitbart Embassy. Breitbart News, where he’s the executive chairman, is headquartered in the basement; upstairs, he hosts glitzy parties and plans his hostile takeover of the GOP. And, depending on which sources you believe, the Breitbart Embassy is also where he happens to live…

During his time in the White House, rumors circulated in D.C. about the Breitbart Embassy; he was thought by many in the White House press corps to be living there despite having claimed to put a barrier between himself and the website he ran that served, during the campaign and thereafter, as Trump’s very own Russia Today. During the campaign and into the current administration, there was little meaningful difference between Breitbart’s coverage of Trump and Trump’s own press releases. Under Bannon, Breitbart also incubated and amplified voices that played at the edges of right-wing extremism. In 2016, Bannon referred to it as “the platform of the alt-right,” but attempted to move closer to the middle — by hiring staff with traditional journalism backgrounds — once the alt-right became synonymous with neo-Nazism.

Even now, with ethical constraints in the rearview mirror, Bannon is unwilling to admit that he calls the Breitbart Embassy home. A source with knowledge of his real-estate holdings told me he lives in Northern Virginia and stays at the Embassy when his schedule demands it, but provided no further details or proof. Another source close to Bannon told me that wasn’t true, and for what it’s worth, the general consensus here in D.C. is the same. “Steve lives on the top two floors,” this source explained, “so Steve will do his meetings at the second-floor dining-room table.”…

Whatever the case, in the deeply weird environs of Washington in the Trump era, the Breitbart Embassy, as the command-and-control center of the far-right insurgency against the conservative political Establishment, has taken on a sense of ominous gravity — in spite of being more than a little ridiculous. If, like in Ghostbusters, there were a vortex above one building in this troubled city, it could be this one rather than the White House or the Capitol…

Built in 1890, the Embassy has a vibe that is less Office Space or evil-genius lair and more what it might look like if a wicked witch turned a Civil War reenactor into a house. Gold curtains adorn the intricately muraled walls, and crystal chandeliers float overhead. The carpet is a serene shade of blue, dotted with white stars. There’s a lot of gleaming, yellow brocade.

“This idea that it’s just, like, this band of pirates is not totally accurate,” one source close to Bannon said of the Embassy’s inner workings. This person stressed that although there are “an enormous amount of people that come and go and leave from the Embassy,” the chaos is structured…

“At the White House, I had influence,” Bannon said after being fired as the president’s chief strategist. “At Breitbart, I had power.” Through some old-fashioned PR guru moves, the perception of that power has only inflated since his return.

The lines between Breitbart’s publishing and political factions were always barely existent, but they’re even less clear now. By working for Breitbart, Matthew Boyle is also a political operative, and as the first year of Trump’s term slumps to a close, the outsiders of the Embassy are feeling more convinced of the nobility of their cause than ever…

Surrounding Bannon were other members of his staff and his movement, naturally, but also Establishment conservatives, people with ties to Paul Ryan or who had worked for Mitt Romney or Scott Brown. Late in the evening, Sean Spicer showed up. “All of these, like, Romney people eating beef tenderloin and ham croquettes,” a member of the media remarked, in shock. “How thirsty are you gonna look waiting to talk to Steve Bannon?” The room wasn’t smoke-filled, but guests quite literally slapped Bannon’s back and whispered into his ear. I even saw one guy I’d met in Iowa when he was working for Hillary Clinton; he walked around with his eyes bulging, like he’d sleepwalked his way into the party and had just been jolted awake…

I walked through the kitchen, where Stephen Miller was hunched over the counter, shoving cookies into his mouth. A few minutes earlier, to the crowd in the living room, Bannon had introduced Miller, a senior policy adviser to the president, as “the last man behind enemy lines.”

“It’s quintessential Bannon,” said a journalist who attended the party. “He wants to be seen as this populist, flame-throwing, take-on-the-whole-Establishment — and yet he has a Dean & Deluca party and clearly covets everyone being there, standing under chandeliers and taking selfies, and his private security carrying his bags out to the private plane to California.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that journalists in pursuit of free food & booze will show up for just about any kind of dog and pony show… but does that make the purveyor a “power”? This was a guy who had an office next to the Oval Office; now he’s holding conferences from his dining room table. (But it’s a very expensively decorated dining room!) “How thirsty are you gonna look waiting to talk to Steve Bannon?” Especially if the best minions Bannon can show off are Stephen Miller and Matt Boyle?






95 replies
  1. 1
    Jeffro says:

    There have been enough pics and reporting on the “Breitbart Embassy” to know exactly where in DC it is…

    …and I have way too many eggs on hand going in to this weekend…

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Obligatory:

  3. 3

    “what it might look like if a wicked witch turned a Civil War reenactor into a house” is the most striking visual I’ve read in quite a while!

    Also, I took a good picture of my cat.

  4. 4
    Jeffro says:

    Meanwhile, “Cards Against Humanity” joins the #Resistance!

    Cards Against Humanity, an irreverent card game company known for its attention-seeking pranks, says it bought land on the U.S.-Mexico border to block President Trump from building his wall.

    The Chicago company said on its website that this was part of a holiday promotion, for which customers could contribute to the wall-blocking project with $15 purchases for surprise gift packages.

    On Wednesday morning, just a few hours after the launching the program on Tuesday, Cards Against Humanity said it was sold out.

    “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans,” said Cards Against Humanity on its web site. “He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing. So we’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.”

  5. 5
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Mysterious kitty is mysterious!

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    “what it might look like if a wicked witch turned a Civil War reenactor into a house”

    Sounds tacky AF to me.

  7. 7
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Somebody with photoshop skillz needs to do a ‘Steve Bannon / Spoiled canned ham” meme!

  8. 8
    Jeffro says:

    Also (since this is an OT) I am confused: wasn’t it just a few short weeks ago that NFL players were taking a knee, the president* was calling his fellow American citizens “sons of bitches”, and the fate of Western civilization hung in the balance?

    I’m curious as to how that turned out.

    The Mooch still holds the record for shortest flash-in-the-pan, though.

  9. 9
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Nuzzi is a sometimes clever writer, but “professional assassin” is giving her way more cred than she deserves, IMO.

  10. 10

    i get that breitbart matters, but I can’t imagine MSM outlets obsessively following a left wing news outlet under any circumstances

    I’m trying to imagine what lefty Breitbart is, and then what it would be like if it elected a president. What’s the closest we have to lefty Breitbart? Ironically, RT is pretty close.

  11. 11
    GregB says:

    Wasn’t Nuzzi recently on record gushingly living Milo?

  12. 12
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Sounds tacky AF to me.

    As I said: Nuzzi is a professional assassin. She can ply her trade openly because she uses words instead of an actual shiv… but this is the lady who got her first national break reporting on Handsy Anthony (and his) Weiner.

    This whole article, IMO, is a masterpiece of the “Don’t you think he looks… tired?” genre. Not one word Bannon can reasonably object to, and yet he comes across as a aging charlatan trying to leverage what little leverage he’s got left with some half-bright minions to dazzle a bunch of media sharks who’ll be just as happy to write up his demise.

  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    Infinitely more Churl Lessta than Pearl Mesta.

  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: RT isn’t lefty, its a front for an authoritarian state.

  15. 15
    mike in dc says:

    @Anne Laurie: Bannon’s political cachet’ will not outlive Trump’s.

  16. 16
    JR says:

    If there was a modern Marat these fuckheads would crawl over each other to lick the dogshit off his shoes. But since the US left is concerned with governance (at this writing) we don’t have one.

  17. 17
    NotMax says:

    No particular interest in reading the whole shmear, but picturing all nighters playing Stratego and tantrums being thrown over the bowl of Buffalo chicken including some left wings.

  18. 18

    @Adam L Silverman: I know. And yet, if you were to make a lefty Breitbart, it would do a lot of what RT does.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Anne Laurie: No mention of Joel Pollack? These national-populists really do like to exclude their Jewish colleagues.

  20. 20
    sharl says:

    @GregB: To a lot of dismayed people on the political left, she certainly seemed to be giving Mike Cernovich a tongue bath in this August piece: Mike Cernovich Pivots From Pizzagate to Not-So-Fake News

    She hasn’t done an exclusive on Milo – at least none that I’m aware of – but this Deadspin piece suggests a certain affection for him on Nuzzi’s part, as well as something approaching an obsession for Ann Coulter.

    It’s been interesting watching Young Left Media’s response to what seems to be Nuzzi’s increasing attraction for some of the alt-right crew. NYC-based Young Left Media often criticizes her via subtweet or other means that leaves her name out of their tweets (avoids detection via easy name-searching). On a couple occasions I’ve seen the wisecrack “I did Nuzzi THAT coming”, leading me to wonder oh, boy, what has she written now?

    She exhibited none of this while she was at The Daily Beast, though maybe being assigned to cover Trump’s campaign had something to do with that…dunno.

    ETA – just remembered that some young reporters criticized this very article on twitter today, because it didn’t provide the names of any of the “respectable/mainstream” reporters in attendance at this event. (Michael Calderone showed up later in that timeline with a Politico link where the names were named.)

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: Ah, the Mandrill Mentality himself. Perhaps he slipped her some of his super serum?

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    What I’d really like to know is how Democrats keeping losing to these geniuses?

  24. 24
    Mike J says:

    Since Chris Elliot was brought to mind the other day, I’ve been meaning to rewatch Cabin Boy. Trying to find something to kill a half hour before I can really appreciate it.

    Ok. The Mighty Boosh.

  25. 25

    @Adam L Silverman: We haven’t lost to this one yet.

    And to answer the rest of your question, many voters are idiots and racists and racist idiots.

  26. 26
    Aleta says:

    GothamGirlBlue‏
    @GothamGirlBlue
    57m57 minutes ago
    Replying to @jayrosen_nyu
    This is what happens when newsrooms aren’t diverse. Would POC and women be as comfortable partying with white supremacists?

    Jay Rosen‏Verified account
    @jayrosen_nyu
    54m54 minutes ago
    Good point.

  27. 27
    NotMax says:

    Open thread silliness, for no reason other than fun.

    Inquiring minds want to know (past edition), did Jimmy Olsen, um, spend the night there and Clark was using the power of super verbal tap dancing for the cameras?

    :)

  28. 28
    donnah says:

    OT, but the news broke a minute ago that Charles Manson is critically ill and reportedly near death. Someone tweeted:

    “I saw Charles Manson trending & assumed the GOP had picked him to take over for Roy Moore in the race.“

  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JR: Huh?

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I was referring to the strategic genius that McConnell is putting on display over this meshugas.

  31. 31
    Aleta says:

    @Adam L Silverman:To say that’s a bad precedent would be a horrible understatement. Even if he sees a way to do it, he can’t dissolve the result of an election process because he doesn’t like it. He needs to resign from democracy.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    If there was one thing that could nudge Strange into the no column on a tax bill, that would be it.

  33. 33
    Doug R says:

    @Major Major Major Major: The Intercept or Common Dreams agree with Breitbart that the Russian story ain’t no big deal.

  34. 34
    Mike in NC says:

    Is the Unabomber eligible to run for US Senate in Alabama?

  35. 35
    hellslittlestangel says:

    Steve Bannon, the New Karl Rove?

    I like that. It manages to insult both men.

  36. 36
    Wapiti says:

    Given Bannon’s history of registering to vote in (non-tax) Florida, while not actually living at the addresses on his registration, I always figured he was dodging California income taxes. So if he’s hinting that he has a place in Virginia… Nah, the tax rate is lower in DC so that’s very likely his home of record.

  37. 37
  38. 38

    @Doug R: You would need to sort of merge The Intercept (again with the russian propaganda vehicles beloved by lefties!) with the economics reporting from Cracked and Current Affairs, probably with a dash of old-world antisemitism for old time’s sake.

  39. 39
    Aleta says:

    @NotMax: That was Christmas ’72 except, if memory serves, it was a bowl of Bugles.

  40. 40
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m not sure we’re going to lose to them as much. The 26-year-old lesbian winning an Oklahoma state senate seat makes me wonder if some members of Mitch’s tribe are starting to smell the coffee.

  41. 41
    Redshift says:

    Steve Bannon, the New Karl Rove?

    Yes, exactly. Like Rove, Bannon pulled scummy stuff to help get an awful person elected, and the beltway press immediately believed him when he claimed he was a genius and it was entirely his doing. And she of them will continue to believe it no matter how much he fails.

  42. 42

    @Adam L Silverman: The problem isn’t that finding ways to delay shit until circumstances are favorable doesn’t really take much talent, the problem is that they’re the only ones willing to do it and our voters keep not showing up when they need to in order to counteract it in ways that would prevent us from having to get our hands dirty…

  43. 43
    lgerard says:

    @Wapiti:

    income is taxed in the state you earn it in, and i don’t think he could make a case for Florida

  44. 44
    Aleta says:

    For real?

    Judge Roy Moore
    @MooreSenate
    Dear Mitch McConnell,

    Bring. It. On.
    8:52 PM · Nov 15, 2017

    https://mobile.twitter.com/MooreSenate/status/930976729124007936

  45. 45
    Mary G says:

    NYT says administration walking back some deadline on DACA.

    After nearly 100 applications to renew permits that let immigrants stay and work in the United States legally were rejected because they had been delayed in the mail, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency last week said nothing could be done; the decisions were final.

    But on Wednesday night, the agency reversed its position. In light of the delays, it agreed to allow those rejected because of mail delays to resubmit their renewals for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

    The Department of Homeland Security’s acting director, Elaine C. Duke, told the immigration agency to allow applicants to resubmit their paperwork if they have proof that they mailed their renewal in a timely manner and that the reason it missed the Oct. 5 deadline was because of Postal Service mail delays.

    After this plus refusing to throw out a bunch of people from Honduras who’ve been here for decades, despite personal pressure from COS Kelly, I wonder if Ms. Duke is long for her job.

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Aleta: Everything they’ve suggested, including expelling him, is a bad idea and would set a bad precedent.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Just an FYI for those in Texas:

  48. 48
    dmsilev says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I assume this is some sort of Hail Mary play to at least ensure that there are 2 Alabama Republicans in the Senate in mid December to vote on the Tax Cut, holy is its name?

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: We are not dealing with the American Sun Tzus here.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Woohoo?

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: No he has a permanent residence in Colorado.

  52. 52
    lgerard says:

    @Aleta:

    Hey, it’s one of his favorite movies

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I am unfortunately aware.

  54. 54
    LurkerNoLonger says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Brilliant tactician and legislative genius, Mitch McConnell. Beloved by no one.

  55. 55
    hueyplong says:

    All I can say to McConnell and Moore is that real men would fight to the death.

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’ve got my katana and shoto and am ready to go!

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    This is a sign of hope:

  58. 58
    dmsilev says:

    From that Politico piece Adam linked to:

    “I’ve been with him in probably over 100 different meetings and been around probably an excess of 10,000 different ladies … not one time have I ever seen him act even remotely inappropriate against any woman,” he [Moore’s attorney] added.

    Within moments after the news conference wrapped up, a new Moore accuser emerged. Tina Johnson told al.com that Moore grabbed her buttocks during a 1991 meeting at Moore’s law office.

    “He didn’t pinch it; he grabbed it,” Johnson told the outlet.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I have my sword and another reason to stay out of Texas.

  60. 60
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Just in time to boost holiday sales at the local Things To Kill People With R Us.

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Again, the inability of anyone on this administration’s White House staff to do even the smallest of staff tasks with even a modicum of competence is just staggering.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I only go if I’m on TDY. Last time was at Hood in 2012.

  63. 63
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Yet more items to add to the list of those impossible to disguise with gift wrap.

    ;)

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’ve been to Dallas twice, but it was an escape from Sill. Pity me.

  65. 65

    @Adam L Silverman: That’s not even an understandable typo. Christ.

  66. 66
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Holy mother of dog, they are stupid.

  67. 67
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Fook yeah!

    What?

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I feel your pain. I only had to do a ten day TDY stint at Sill. I was supposed to be their quarterly, but the SES who requested that retired suddenly and the remaining trips never happened. I suppose it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been Rucker, but Lawton is just terrible.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: Yep.

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Where did they make you stay?

  71. 71
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @sharl:

    The frequency of Nuzzi’s appearances on the various MSNBC shows has dropped precipitously since the Milo episode in early October. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or causality.

  72. 72
    Redshift says:

    @Adam L Silverman: He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook’s…

  73. 73
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Mike J:

    “I went out there a mere cabin boy, but I came back—a cabin man!”

  74. 74
    Mike in NC says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Spent three weeks at Fort Hood back in 2005 supporting OIF replacement unit training. God that utterly sucked, working the midnight to 0800 shift for USJFCOM. Hoping to never set foot in Texas ever again.

  75. 75
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I stayed in the relatively new La Quinta Inn and Suites off post.

  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Redshift: Great now I want Chinese take out!

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Redshift:

    I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s
    And his hair was perfect

    Just saying. @Adam L Silverman: Geronimo’s grave is pretty cool. And there are some “high quality” strip clubs.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Tracking.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Off to bed.

  80. 80
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: I was the temporarily assigned control cultural advisor to the Commanding General of III Corps in 2012. So I was back and forth a couple of times to Carlisle. Including a month on site in the late summer for a warfighting exercise. I was really busy, but I had a nice room in the VOQ just across from the HQ building. Access to the gym. And I got to actually do my job, albeit in a simulation, on the ops side of the house. Which is always good.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Geronimo’s grave is cool. I have never actually been in a strip club. No offense to the profession of the ecdysiast.

  82. 82
    The Lodger says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Isn’t that Lee Ho Fook? I wondered what happened to him after his chow mein place in Soho closed.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ft. Sill/Lawton has what it has.

  84. 84
    cynthia ackerman says:

    @Redshift:

    That the place between Sum Ting Wong and Bang Ding Ow?

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    There’s a pretty good documentary by John Landis called Slasher that’s about a guy who travels the country doing used car sale events. At one point, he tells the camera that the dealership guys are going to drag him to a strip club because him being in town is their excuse to go to one, and he is really bored by strip clubs now.

    Sure enough, a few scenes later, he’s in a strip club chit-chatting with one of the dancers and clearly not having a very good time.

  86. 86
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Real market here.

    Opened in 1917, it was sold only last month; new owners will be changing the name. Was in a much, much larger space forever and ever until a spectacular fire in ’05, which took out an entire wing of the shopping center. Store policy was to not charge senior citizens excise tax on their purchases and eat that cost themselves.

  87. 87
    Raoul says:

    I’m sure we all want to know if Bernie Bernstein was among the guests.

  88. 88
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: Excellent.

  89. 89
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Raoul: Not so loud, you’ll blow my cover!

  90. 90
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Lodger: Yep, switched careers and became a Vietnamese politician.//

  91. 91
    patrick II says:

    Even now, with ethical constraints in the rearview mirror, Bannon is unwilling to admit that he calls the Breitbart Embassy home. A source with knowledge of his real-estate holdings told me he lives in Northern Virginia and stays at the Embassy when his schedule demands

    Top personal income tax rate Virginia: 5.75%
    Top personal income tax rate, Washington D.C. : 8.95%
    not the first time he has played that game. He used to claim he lived in Florida.

  92. 92
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Always a reliable stop should one be searching for inamona.

  93. 93
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Better that than starting a university.

    “Remind me, where are you going in the fall?”

    “I’d rather not say, Grandma.”

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The vile corruption of the Village continues. These asshats see nothing wrong with hobnobbing with the people they’re supposed to be covering. They are not journalists; they are gossip columnists, at best.

  95. 95
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Redshift: In fact I went looking for that place first time in Londinium. And found it. And sitting right inside the door was a diner who looked, um, rather lycanthropene, face down in, not chicken chow mein, but a bento box. Missed It by that much

Comments are closed.