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.”…
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Shape of earth, views differ

Fuck the New York Times:

Democrats vividly recall Mr. Trump on the campaign trail vowing to prosecute Mrs. Clinton if he won. “It was alarming enough to chant ‘lock her up’ at a campaign rally,” said Brian Fallon, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spokesman. “It is another thing entirely to try to weaponize the Justice Department in order to actually carry it out.”

But conservatives said Mrs. Clinton should not be immune from scrutiny as a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, investigates Russia’s interference in last year’s election and any connections to Mr. Trump’s campaign. They argued, for example, that Mrs. Clinton was the one doing Russia’s bidding in the form of a uranium deal approved when she was secretary of state.



Shep Smith Explains Uranium One

And he does a good job of it. For your rightwing relatives who want to “Lock Her Up.”

And the New York Times.



Two Smart Pieces About Two Dumb Things

Dumb thing #1: “we must understand and convince hard core Trump voters”. The latest example of this is a Politico piece that found some of the dumbest and saddest Trump voters in Appalachia.:

[…]polling continues to show that—in spite of unprecedented unpopularity—nearly all people who voted for Trump would do it again. But as I compared this year’s answers to last year’s responses it seemed clear that the basis of people’s support had morphed. Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.

This reality ought to get the attention of anyone who thinks they will win in 2018 or 2020 by running against Trump’s record. His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments.

Ezra Klein has the right take on this:

Here’s the thing: No one will win in 2018 or 2020 by trying to convert the most hardcore of Trump supporters. That isn’t how elections are won. It never has been: Herbert Hoover, in the depths of the Great Depression, held about 80 percent of his vote from the previous election. You can imagine stories going deep into Hoover country quoting diehard Hooverites explaining away their president’s failures. But Hoover still lost his reelection bid in a landslide.

Or take Tuesday’s elections in Virginia. The massive Democratic victory was driven, among other things, by a surge in turnout from suburban districts that leaned Democratic in 2016, but swung harder blue in 2017. The northern Virginia suburbs delivered 64 percent of their vote to Hillary Clinton last year and 68 percent to Ralph Northam this year. A 4 percentage point swing toward the Democratic candidate in 2020 wouldn’t require converting any hardcore Trump enthusiasts, but it would bury his reelection campaign.

The second dumb thing is the Times’ social media policy, and how their general over-reaction to criticism leads to susceptibility to trolling. Jay Rosen has a long piece on this, here’s a taste:

But when it comes to social media, Dean Baquet has inexplicably chosen a different path. His view: The newsroom should be disciplined and guided, not by what’s true or verifiable as fact, not by what Times journalists believe in their bones, but by the things hostile critics might say upon discovery of a voicey tweet. This decision is a disaster, not because the right to commit snark is vital to preserve (it isn’t…) but because the Times, to be great, has to be great on all platforms, and there is no way that will happen if social media policy is grounded in impression management and conflict avoidance, rather than truthtelling, leveling with readers, and the flicker of magic in the human voice.

The New York Times and the Washington Post are known to keep a close watch on each other. Dean Baquet should be asking himself: why isn’t the Post choking and wheezing on its social media policy? Why is he spending entire days trying to discipline his troops? Is Marty Baron investing his time that way? I doubt it. Baron and the Post exude confidence— in their reporting and the voices that bring it to life on other platforms.

Meanwhile, the Times seems more concerned that Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman will lose access to… well, that’s the problem. Access to what? If it’s this kind of journalism — and stenography would be a fair and accurate term for this text — then something is very wrong in the hierarchy of the New York Times. And that again returns to Baquet, who is being outplayed by his rival, Marty Baron at the Post.



Late Night Cartoon Villains Open Thread: “Media Mogul” Jared

Kushner told Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg that CNN should fire the employees because they were so wrong in their analysis of how the election would turn out, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A White House official said Kushner didn’t intend for the comment to be taken seriously and was only trying to make a point, according to the Journal, which reported that the remark “wasn’t taken lightly” inside Time Warner…

CNN and its parent company Time Warner were in the spotlight this week over reports that the Trump administration wanted CNN sold as a condition of a merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

Justice Department sources told The Hill and other outlets earlier this week that AT&T had offered to sell CNN from the combined company to get the merger approved by regulators. Other outlets reported that the Trump administration had demanded the sale.

Speculation among Wall Street insiders and people within the companies has risen over whether the administration’s feelings about CNN could be influencing the decision, the Journal reported…



The Follow on Effects of the Weinstein Sexual Assault Allegations

As I’ve written in comments a couple of times over the last few days, I think from early indications from reporting coming out of some state capitols, that you’re going to see allegations of sexual improprieties wash through elected and appointed officials in the states and at the Federal level. This is going to get real ugly real fast once momentum picks up. What I think we’re going to see is three different types of allegations. There will be allegations dealing with sexual predation – harassment, assault, rape. There will also be allegations dealing with infidelity leading to calls of hypocrisy, with some of the infidelity involving lobbyists leading to accusations of sex for favors. Finally, there will be allegations of officials, elites, and/or notables who are closeted LGBTQ Americans. Some will be outed for hypocrisy. Some will also be accused of engaging in predation a la Speaker Hastert or Congressman Foley or Kevin Spacey. This last type will also include just plain old infidelities just like their heterosexual colleagues. Their will also, unfortunately, be some who are likely to just get outed as it all finally comes out even though they weren’t ready to come out. Essentially they’ll be collateral damage.

There are also going to be other effects. The first is that as the floodgates get forced open this is going to spread. It won’t be contained to the entertainment industry or to elected and/or appointed officials – it is going to spread from industry to industry and a long overdue reckoning will hopefully take place. Including changes in business practices, as well as new laws, rules, regulations, and eventually prosecutions for crimes where that is still a possibility.

At the same time there will likely be attempts to weaponize allegations against one’s political or business rivals. False allegations will eventually be created to ruin business or political rivals. If this happens, and I think it’s likely, it will also be used to undercut the legitimacy of the real accusers and undermine their allegations. If this does happen it will provide the opening for pushback from the forces of reaction that never want any progress to be made on any important issue because it makes them uncomfortable or challenges their authority or their privilege. And this will likely muddy the waters enough to allow for the beginning of what will be the inevitable push back. There has never been a period of progress, especially fast progress that resulted from long suppressed calls for justice, that wasn’t immediately followed by a fast and concerted push back. Including attempts to roll back all the gains and reestablish some imagined and idealized golden age before all the unfortunate and unnecessary change was pushed through. The forces of reaction are strong and they are always waiting for a chance to try to go back to get to a better future.

One of the things we all have to be prepared to do is to specifically support those we know who decide to come forward as we are generally supportive of those who come forward that we do not know. We have to set the conditions for those women and men, and in some really terrible instances girls and boys, to feel safe and supported enough to make this stand and fight this fight. And we have to be prepared to be supportive of those who wind up as collateral damage – and there will be collateral damage here. Finally, we have to hold the line for them when the inevitable pushback begins.



Twitler Triggered

Looks like Demented Fox News Grandpa got all hopped up on a TiVO’d episode of the “Judge Jeanine” program and went on a Twitter rampage this morning:

Manservant and football-wrestler J. Kelly should have scheduled that tee time for first light. It’s not a good look for a president to babble hysterically right before grand jury indictments are unsealed.

The all-caps “DO SOMETHING” is interesting, coming from arguably the most powerful man (-baby) in the world. Is that a message for Sessions? Deputy AG Rosenstein?

I think so — my guess is Trump binged on Judge Jeannine’s “lock her up” rant on Fox News, then vomited the talking points all over Twitter. (Gross!)

Here’s a clip for those of y’all who are blissfully unaware of Jeanine Pirro’s existence, but first, a warning — listening to Pirro is like being exposed to the braying of the most annoying wingnut barfly in the most disreputable dive in the tri-state area:

Luckily, videos have controls. Otherwise, you’d just have to find another bar.

Now, I have no idea what Mueller’s investigation will uncover. As I’ve mentioned, I have more faith in KFC and McDonald’s putting an end to Trump’s reign of absurdity.

But I’m pretty sure it won’t be Hillary Clinton doing the perp walk tomorrow. Yet, thanks to Fox News, that’s the only acceptable denouement, not only for addled old farts wallowing in duct-taped recliners nationwide but to the demented Fox News Grandpa in the White House. And that’s a dangerous state of affairs.

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau said this on Twitter the other day:

So true. It would have been a far better use of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s money than whatever sum he’s poured down The Intercept rat hole.