Steve Bannon, formerly advisor to Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, is someone whose viewpoint is well known. He’s from the convocation of the irredeemably batshit otherwise known as Breitbart. He’s an avowed white supremacist. He’s hot on demonising “globalists”, which is code for “Jews”. He’s on the right of the political spectrum, even for those at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
And anyone who might have forgotten just where Bannon stood will have had their memory more than refreshed by his appearance last weekend before a conference of the French far-right Front National, whom he told “history is on our side and will bring us victory”, thus forgetting what happened to the far right in World War 2.
He went on to tell those gathered “You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal”.
It was OK to be racist. Worse, FN leader Marine le Pen’s unrepentantly racist father Jean-Marie approved wholeheartedly of Bannon’s message: “I think Bannon’s OK … but it’s not exactly the definition of de-demonising [the party] and it’s a bit of a paradox given that Steve Bannon was supposed to be Trump’s most radical adviser, But who knows. She [Marine] may end up coming round to my way of thinking” [my emphasis].
That message is loud and clear: the French FN is far right; Bannon is so far right that he’s where the FN wants to pretend it has left behind. So it was perfectly understandable that many were concerned to see the very same Steve Bannon appearing later this month under the banner of an organisation which might have been thought not to want to go near his kind of politics, or in fact not go near him, period.
The FT is that organisation, and on 22 March in New York it will host a Future of News event: “Where does the news industry go next? In this curated one-day event, the Financial Times will consider the future of news with top executives, editors, academics and business leaders, looking ahead to opportunities and threats, and the implications for advertisers, audiences and investors”. And who features in the “Keynote Interviews”.
Well, apart from Dean Baquet of the New York Times, and Jeff Zucker of CNN, the FT’s triumvirate of interviewees is completed by … Steve Bannon. Small wonder that Andrew Stroehlein of Human Rights Watch asked “Why on earth is the FT promoting extremism by having white nationalist Steve Bannon as a keynote speaker at their event?”.
And no prizes for asking why Stroehlein put the obvious question: “So @FT @ftlive @FTPressOffice @FTCare - any comment on this? Why does the FT want to damage its excellent reputation by helping to normalise white nationalist politics?” Quite.
The FT may well take the view that the views of those like Bannon are there to be debated and forthrightly challenged, but in the meantime, one should not be surprised to see subscriptions being cancelled. We know enough about Bannon already, thanks.