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


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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White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

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Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

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Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

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Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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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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Donald Trump's transition team takes over Washington D.C.
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Trump campaign "Make America Great Again" hats wait for U.S. House Republicans on their seats as they arrive to a caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) smiles as he arrives for a caucus meeting the fellow House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Republicans depart with Trump campaign "Make America Great Again" hats they were given at their caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Vice president-elect Mike Pence arrives at Donald Trump's Trump Tower in New York, NY, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Newly-elected freshman U.S. House members depart the steps of the U.S. Capitol after holding a class photo in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rudy Giuliani, vice chairman of the Trump Presidential Transition Team, speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People watch Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager and senior advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, speak on a monitor at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (C Right) and incoming Democratic Senators speak to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A White House staff member makes a list of questions asked of U.S. President Barack Obama during a news conference in the White House press briefing room in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference in the White House press briefing room in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Barack Obama drinks some water between questions at a news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Congressional staffers set up U.S. flags during the 115th Congress Organizing Conference and Leadership Election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Representative-elect Anthony Brown (D-MD) (R) departs after a group picture with his fellow incoming freshman representatives on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Representative John Mica (R-FL) (C) and Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) (R) speak with reporters as they depart with Trump campaign "Make America Great Again" hats distributed at a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Republicans arrive to hold party leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY) speaks with reporters as he departs with Trump campaign "Make America Great Again" hats distributed at a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. House Republicans stand for the Pledge of Allegiance before holding closed-door party leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican staffers watch SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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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


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