Incoming White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counsellor to the President Stephen K. Bannon gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, in which he addressed the barrage of media smears against himself and Breitbart News.
Bannon was Executive Chairman of Breitbart News from March 2012 until August 2016 when he took a leave of absence after being appointed CEO of the Trump campaign. In his interview, he challenged one-dimensional depictions of the alt-right, which the media has repeatedly sought to tie him (and Breitbart) to.
Bannon also highlighted the diversity of views that were given a platform at Breitbart News, while also making it clear that both he and the site had “zero tolerance” for “racial and anti-Semitic” views.
He acknowledges that the site is “edgy” but insists it is “vibrant.” He offers his own definition of the alt-right movement and explains how he sees it fitting into Breitbart. “Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment.”
But he says Breitbart is also a platform for “libertarians,” Zionists, “the conservative gay community,” “proponents of restrictions on gay marriage,” “economic nationalism” and “populism” and “the anti-establishment.” In other words, the site hosts many views. “We provide an outlet for 10 or 12 or 15 lines of thought—we set it up that way” and the alt-right is “a tiny part of that.” Yes, he concedes, the alt-right has “some racial and anti-Semitic overtones.” He makes clear he has zero tolerance for such views.
All this said, Mr. Bannon explains he’s on sabbatical from Breitbart and has had “nothing to do with the site since August 15,” when he joined the Trump campaign. Now he will take an “extended leave of absence and cut all association with the site while I’m working at the pleasure of the president.” He adds that Breitbart “didn’t get a scoop from the campaign from the minute I took over; they’ve had to scramble like everybody else.”