The knives are out for Steve Bannon. The national media is doing everything in its power to remove one of the major anchors of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSeven key players for Trump on immigration Spicer: Media coverage of Trump has not been fair Kasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 MORE’s political revolution. In many ways, Bannon is the glue that holds together the ideological and practical sides of the Trump administration. Losing him would be an enormous blow to the original goals of so many supporters.
Reports that Trump is distancing himself from Bannon has prompted an almost audible cheer from the press corps. It’s a “Biblical fall,” says New York Magazine, showing him with a crown of thorns. Vanity Fair ushered in the phrase “civil war” as quickly as it could. CNBC pushed the pop culture angle and called in a “Game of Thrones.” Newsweek beat the Russia horse well past death (bonus points for their hyperbolic hyperlink). The Atlantic thinks that “Trumpism” will outlive Bannon’s tenure in the White House.
Bannon is not the finger on the pulse of the Trump political movement — he embodies it. Trump needs Bannon, the nerve center of his ideological brain trust.
There are pragmatists in the White House advising President Trump, such as Reince Priebus and Jared Kushner. Both are measured men but they are not fire-breathing pit fighters. Frankly, if Trump’s campaign had been staffed solely by the Kushners and the Priebuses of the world, he wouldn’t have come anywhere near the GOP nomination, not to mention the White House. The Republican base, independents, and blue-collar Democrats had enough of pragmatic line-walkers who read well-crafted scripts during campaign stops. They wanted an authentic doer who could bring real change to Washington, D.C.
Bannon, in many ways, is Andrew Breitbart’s ideological heir. Bannon rebuilt Breitbart.com after its founder’s tragic and untimely death in 2012. The new Breitbart was a zeitgeist for the political threads which would become the populist-right movement.
Bannon is not a neo-Confederate or a white nationalist — he is an American nationalist and a populist. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The future White House chief strategist fought his way for everything he had, growing up in a working class family and serving in the military before becoming an investment banker. Such a path taught Bannon nearly every stage that the average American lives through.
Put simply, Bannon is Trump’s tie to his base. The former Breitbart Executive Chairman became involved in Trump’s campaign at one of its lowest points; at the time, Priebus was advising him to get out of the race.
But Bannon, with the help of Kellyanne Conway, helped Trump focus his message and speak about solutions to the issues that Americans care about most: immigration, healthcare, and the job market. By focusing on these critical issues in a bold and unapologetic manner, Trump’s other “scandals” didn’t matter — no matter how much the media reported on them. In fact, it seemed like the more the media tried to take Trump down, the more it blew up in their faces.
Bannon’s experience at Breitbart, which has a massive and loyal right-wing audience, gave him a unique understanding of both the traditional and new media. This insight allowed the Trump campaign to run circles around the major outlets that were bent on taking him down. Take, for example, when the campaign told reporters that they were invited to film Trump’s final “debate prep” before the second presidential debate. Journalists streamed into the room, the doors shut behind them… and in paraded three women who claim they are victims of unwanted sexual advances or rape by Bill ClintonBill ClintonBuzzFeed toasts free press at alternative WHCA party Why Trump sitting out the correspondents' dinner is a huuuge mistake Larry Summers: Mnuchin squandering his credibility with Trump tax proposal MORE.
The Trump campaign, with Bannon’s direction, had effectively tricked the media into covering Clinton’s alleged sex crimes. It was a beautiful moment for Trump supporters, who had become fed up with the flagrantly bias coverage of the campaign.
Perhaps most importantly, Bannon understands that Trump’s unique qualities — like his bold, brash, and politically incorrect communication style — are what make him appealing to so many Americans. Trump is most effective when he’s allowed to be, well, Trump. The traditional GOP mandarins, including Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, never understood that. They wanted a more polished Mitt Romney with Trump’s face.
Now that the election’s over, Bannon’s not a spent cartridge — he’s just getting started. Many of the White House’s past and future moves are reliant on the one person foresighted enough with the fortitude to see them through.
The media wants Bannon gone. President Trump would do well not to do them any favors.
Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30." Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.
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