Trump sat on the edge of his chair, while the gold extravagance of his private residence in Trump Tower framed him. The 60 Minutes interview was his first major interview as President-Elect, and millions of people were watching, holding their breath.
Lesley Stahl, who conducted the interview, pressed the Donald on the uptick in hate crimes since his election, saying “They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims—”
“I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it— if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it,” Trump cut in.
Though Trump had led a derogatory and divisive campaign, some of his bombastic and controversial moments could be taken as rhetoric. A politician, which Trump now is, will do anything to win. Many Americans held an anti-immigrant, anti-left sentiment in this election cycle. And Trump’s “tell it like it is” style is what ultimately won him the election, as it attracted working class whites who were nearly ignored by Democrats.
Trump’s style, however, did bring the alternative right (alt-right) into his ranks. Is it disappointing that these true deplorables, who slyly advocate for racism and sexism, joined the Trump movement? Yes. But they surely wouldn’t be part of a Trump presidency. They were a fringe group who would never get any real power in a sensible government.
That’s what we thought.
Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as Senior Counselor to the President is a rallying cry to those on the fringes of the extreme right. Steve Bannon is a figurehead in their twisted ideology, and he now has the ear of the president.
Breitbart News, founded by Andrew Breitbart as a Conservative, pro-Israel news source, was taken over by Bannon in 2012. Under his leadership, the “outlet has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ben Shapiro, a former editor-at-large, wrote that, under Bannon’s reign, “Breitbart has [been]… pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacists.”
Headlines on Bannon’s Breitbart have included: “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “World Health Organization Report: Trannies 49 Xs Higher HIV Rate,” and “Roger Stone: Huma Abedin ‘Most Likely a Saudi Spy’ With ‘Deep, Inarguable Connections’ to ‘Global Terrorist Entity.’”
But those aren’t Bannon’s words… His words are just as bad. When talking about Conservative women rising to prominence he stated that, “they wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane, and that’s why they hate these women.” In a 2014 email to another Breitbart editor, he wrote “Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty.” And in his first interview after being tapped for a White House job, he said, “Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”
It seems like Steve Bannon takes glee in being the bad guy, in being a despicable human being. And, indeed, he is. In 1996, he faced domestic violence charges against his first wife Mary Louise Piccard. The charges were later dropped when his now ex-wife did not come to court.
In a sane presidential administration, any of these points would have immediately disqualified Bannon for a top executive position. Trump said a lot of controversial things on the campaign trail, but now we know for sure that he simply does not care if a person ran a virulently alt-right organization, loves all things evil, and has domestic violence charges on his record. Donald Trump’s appointment of Bannon is unpresidential. In ascending to the highest office in the world, Trump needs to realize that every move has consequences. By appointing Steve Bannon as Senior Counselor to the President, he has energized the alt-right, giving them a voice to spread their divisive and backwards views.
If Trump truly wants to bring this country together, saying “Stop it” won’t cut it.