Speaking on the British Radio 4 Today Programme, Breitbart Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak took host Justin Webb to task after he opened the segment by stating, matter-of-factly, “[Stephen K. Bannon] doesn’t like Jews, does he?”
Remarking on the repeated accusations in the mainstream media that Stephen K. Bannon, the Breitbart News long-time executive chairman and now President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior advisor, is anti-Semitic, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme host Justin Webb made the accusation and also repeated claims that Mr. Bannon had made anti-Semitic remarks to his ex-wife.
Responding with surprise at the statements, Mr. Pollak said: “That’s 100 per cent false, absolutely false. I’m surprised you’d repeat a line like that on air.”
Mr. Pollak said it was a “fair assumption” that the accusations made about Mr. Bannon by his ex-wife were down to bitterness surrounding their divorce rather than actual events.
Explaining that he is himself an Orthodox Jew and the son of immigrants to the United States, Mr. Pollak went on to elaborate on how well he got on with Mr. Bannon and how he had never acted in a discriminatory way towards people of other faiths. Being interrupted by host Mr. Webb, Pollak continued: “Hold on a second, you’ve made an inflammatory accusation and I hope you’ll allow me to respond.
“I have worked with Steve Bannon in close quarters for five years. Steve Bannon has not only not said anything against Jews, or any other person, but has in fact been overly sensitive towards concerns affecting Jewish communities around the world.
“Your statement is libellous and defamatory.”
Giving up on that line of inquiry, the host then moved to cite a single line in a Breitbart article from September — published over a month after Bannon went on a leave of absence from Breitbart to run Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign — to prove accusations of anti-Semitism.
Pointing out that an article about Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum had described her as Jewish, Pollak hit back, remarking that the BBC was “cherry-picking” and it had also referred to her as Polish and American — which were also not prejudicial. If the BBC wanted any more insight into that particular article, he said, they might start by asking the “Jewish author” who wrote it, and “the Muslim editor who edited that piece. What’s the implication?”
Questioning the hostile tone of the interview, Mr. Pollak said: “What’s the purpose of lying about somebody on the airwaves in Britain?
“You want to scare British people away from the incoming Trump administration by inventing innuendo and accusation?
“I don’t know if this is the standard of journalism in Britain but I did expect better.”
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: Follow @Oliver_Lane or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org