Steve Bannon: 'I'm not a white nationalist... I'm an economic nationalist'

Gabrielle Levy


Steve Bannon has been under relentless fire from critics on the left since he was named chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump.

Before joining Trump's campaign as his CEO, Bannon was the executive director of Breitbart News, an outlet he described in July as a "platform of the alt-right." His selection as one of Trump's top advisers prompted harsh rebukes from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as top Democrats, who called Bannon an unacceptable choice.

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But in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bannon seems unbothered by the response to his selection.

"Darkness is good," Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Wolff. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. They're blind to who we are and what we're doing."

Bannon predicted Trump's victory over the summer, outlining to Wolff a prescient path through Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Then, and now, Bannon noted that many people had completely missed the driving forces that ultimately propelled Trump to victory.

"The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country," Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no [expletive] idea what's going on. ... It's a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information – and her confidence. That was our opening."

It wasn't just the mainstream media and the liberal elite. Right-leaning Fox News also misunderstood Trump's appeal to voters.

"They got it more wrong than anybody," he says. "Rupert [Murdoch] is a globalist and never understood Trump. To him, Trump is a radical. Now they'll go centrist and build the network around Megyn Kelly."

Now, Bannon predicts Trump will ride his coalition of traditional Republicans and white working-class former Democrats to a permanent electoral powerhouse – perhaps without the small government conservatives who had steered the party for the past eight years.

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"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution – conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."

"If we deliver we'll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we'll govern for 50 years," he said. "That's what the Democrats missed, they were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It's not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about."

Despite Breitbart News' embrace of the so-called alt-right, a loosely organized movement associated with white nationalism that developed in response to mainstream conservatism, Bannon pushed back against aspersions on his own character.

"I'm not a white nationalist, I'm a nationalist. I'm an economic nationalist," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get [expletive] over."

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report