On Wednesday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily, SiriusXM host Alex Marlow introduced a unique surprise guest: Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the founding host of Breitbart News Daily, currently on leave from Breitbart to serve as chief executive officer of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“This is officially not an interview. This is our birthday,” Bannon declared, referring to the one-year anniversary of Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM.
Bannon said his vision for Breitbart News Daily was inspired by the comments section at Breitbart.com, which was part of the effort to make the site “as reader-driven as possible.”
He recalled testing the waters for a radio program with the same structure with the Breitbart weekend radio shows, and was pleased to discover “the callers were so engaged, it’s kind of that crowdsourcing, you know the algorithms of crowdsourcing, how much great information you can get if you just open up the floodgates.”
“It just turned out that people got into it, so it was a concept really driven off the site that we provide the news, you provide the commentary,” Bannon said. “Because you know at Breitbart, on the site itself, we don’t try to have a lot of opinion pieces. We really went to news. And the comments were so – of course they exploded. A small article would get 3,000 comments. I figured you could transfer that to radio, and it turned out after we initially started, it really exploded, so I think we’re on to something.”
Marlow said this approach demonstrates that “our populism is not for show. It’s not a business model thing, it’s genuine. It’s the real deal.”
Bannon agreed, remembering how Andrew Breitbart would say “hey, one day I hope the comments section is as smart and funny as I remember Ace of Spades had that great comment section, and you would just be laughing out loud at what the comments said.”
“I think it is a true thing of populism, that if you really turn it over to the people – and if they engage, which they clearly [have],” Bannon said. “People keep saying, ‘Oh, you know, the Tea Party people or the people that go to Sarah Palin events, the people that go to these grassroots events, are now the people that back Trump, right? They’re morons, they’re idiots, they don’t know anything.’ If you really listen to them, they know a lot. They’re very funny and incredibly insightful, so I thought it was a bet we should take, and it turned out to be bigger than our expectations.”
Of course, Marlow could not resist the temptation to ask Bannon about his current preoccupation, the 2016 presidential race, and if he had any inside scoops from the Trump campaign to offer.
“If you think about it, a year ago when we started the broadcast, who would have ever thought we’d have gone through the year, collectively, together, both at the site and on the radio show, that we’ve gone through? I would just tell people, I think you’re in a very historic moment, and I think that the next six days are going to be as action-packed and probably thrilling as has the last year, because the thing is totally unpredictable, and it’s just truly something to live through,” Bannon said.
“I would tell everybody, obviously to vote, but to remember that this is a very historic moment, and I think you’ll be talking about this one for a long time, in the future, for a long time to come,” he emphasized. “It just seems like there’s something very important going on in this. And as you can tell, it’s almost every day there’s other twists and turns. Not only is it quite engaging, from the point of people who love politics, or love history, or just love current events, but it’s also something that’s quite thrilling.”
Marlow asked Bannon, as a history buff, if there was any precedent for a “sea change in the electorate” comparable to the movement from Clinton to Trump over the past few days.
“Clearly there’s a lot of parallels, I think, to Andrew Jackson, to what happened during the rise of Andrew Jackson’s populism,” Bannon replied, also finding similarities to the fall of the Whigs and William Jennings Bryan’s Populist movement.
“But no, I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this in a long time,” he continued. “And what really amazes me still is how many pundits, and how many people that follow this day in and day out, don’t really understand the kind of historic nature of what’s going on, and how this has really been a sea change. You know, they don’t have the honor that we have, Alex, not just to work at Breitbart and to see what’s going on with the support that Breitbart’s getting from the people, but really to listen to SiriusXM, the Patriot Channel and Breitbart News on the weekends and daily.”
“I don’t say that as a promotional tool,” he added. “I still, on the [SiriusXM] On Demand, try to catch as much of the show as possible – and not to skip to the guests, but to listen to the callers. You know, if you think about it, Alex, before I stepped away temporarily to take the job over at Trump, very much what has been implemented, or very much what was followed is really what the callers have said. If you’ve really listened to the callers over the last, what is it, 90 days, much of the insight or savvy, however you want to say it, really the callers speak to this every day – whether it’s the debates or other things that are happening.”
“I still think that most of the people in the Establishment don’t realize how deep this movement is and how powerful it is,” Bannon said. “The best thing about going over and working with Mr. Trump on the campaign is actually getting out to the rallies every day, and seeing it now for the last 90 days, you really see that the passion of the people – whether it’s in Maine, or Arizona, or Nevada, or last night in Wisconsin, or today in Florida – you really see how engaged people are in this entire process.”
Bannon thought this heightened level of engagement signaled a profound change in politics, no matter the outcome of next week’s election, although he remained confident that Trump would win.
“I read some of these articles about this big civil war that’s coming in the Republican Party, and it’s pretty stunning to me people haven’t seen this. It’s been at this now for what, six years, really since 2010 with the Tea Party revolt,” he observed.
“I think it’s the level of engagement. I think you can see it in the show. When people call up, they know what they’re talking about. They’re engaged, they know the details,” Bannon said.
He told the story of how Nigel Farage, formerly leader of the U.K. Independence Party, came to a Trump rally in Mississippi at the invitation of the governor, and came on stage with Trump and some other guests.
“The next day I was catching ‘Morning Joe,’ and they had the correspondent, I think it was Nicholas Corasaniti from the New York Times,” Bannon recalled. “And he was sitting there, just kind of smug, smirking on ‘Morning Joe,’ and they were all laughing about how this thing was so bizarre. Why would they have a guy that nobody knew, and the guy actually said, I’ll bet you 99% of the people – and there was like 15,000 people in this arena – that 99% of the people would not know who this guy was. And if you were there, and you saw it, 120% of the people knew who Nigel Farage was, right? Because people that are part of this movement, not only do they go to Breitbart and other sites – I mean, Nigel Farage is kind of a cult hero in this global populist movement.”
“That probably explains the gulf between the mainstream media, and the arrogance of the elites in this country, versus what’s truly going on,” he said. “Here you’ve got this arena, and not only do they have Nigel Farage, these people could give you a better understanding of Brexit, and knew about Brexit – following Breitbart and listening to Breitbart when you, and [SiriusXM producer Caroline Magyarits], and [Breitbart London Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam] did the show for a week from London, besides all the London office stuff we had – that people knew the details of Brexit and knew more about Brexit. The night of Brexit, when they won, you saw CNN and others had no earthly idea what was even going on, couldn’t even pronounce the people’s names, didn’t know the issues.”
“And yet, the little guys, the men and women in Mississippi, knew who Nigel Farage was and could give you quite a level of detail of UKIP and Brexit and the issues facing Europe,” he continued. “The elites, who really didn’t understand it, didn’t understand the issues, sitting there mocking them – this is another example of what idiots the Trump guys are, that they have somebody that clearly these rubes down in Mississippi don’t know. I think that encapsulates still the dismissive attitude towards a lot that’s going on, but it’s quite powerful, and clearly we’ve got six days to go before this election, but I think regardless of the outcome there’s been a sea change in American politics. This movement, as I keep saying, it’s just at the top of the first inning.”
Bannon also stressed that the movement is global, contrary to media attempts to portray it as entirely provincial – a natural mistake for elites who deliberately confuse border security and constructive nationalism with close-minded xenophobia.
“People want more control of their country, and they’re very proud of their countries. They want borders, they want sovereignty. It’s not just a thing that’s happening in any one geographic space. You can see it happening in Asia, you can see it happening in Europe, you can see it happening in the Middle East, and you’re seeing it happen in the United States,” he told Marlow.
“People understand the issues, and they understand the interconnectivity to it. Like you said, Brexit, you go in there and it’s amazing. You go, whether you’re in Wisconsin or Maine or Mississippi, people know the details of it, and they know what drove that vote.”
Bannon addressed the topic of polling and the “hidden vote” – the idea that Donald Trump will draw support on Election Day from people who are essentially invisible to pollsters because they’ve been checked out of the political process for several previous election cycles. Some have suggested Trump will benefit from a “Brexit movement,” similar to the unexpectedly strong support for the U.K. exiting from the European Union.
“I think it’s one thing to have to poll a referendum. It’s different than having to poll an election between people,” he pointed out. “So I’m not sure they’re exactly analogous, when you look at the polling aspect of it. But I think that the passion and the determination to make something happen is the same.”
Bannon noted that his “term of duty here ends on the evening of [November] the Eighth, so I look forward to getting back and being part of” Breitbart News Daily.
“It’s our first anniversary, and hopefully our second anniversary of the show will be even bigger and have a bigger impact than it’s had in its first year,” he said. “It’s been a great run, and we owe SiriusXM and Dave Gorab and Liz [Aiello], and all the [SiriusXM] executives that helped pull this together, and of course Caroline Magyarits, and Miss Barrett, and all the production staff have just done such a great job, along with [Breitbart Senior West Coast Editor] Rebecca Mansour and all the Breitbart people.”
“It takes a lot to put the show on, particularly seven days a week, but you and Raheem and [Breitbart Washington Political Editor] Matt Boyle have done an extraordinary job,” he told Marlow. “I look forward to being a part of it again. It’s really something I miss a lot. It’s so much fun to start the day with an engaged citizenry that we do every day on Breitbart News. It’s just a ton of fun, and I look forward to getting back.”
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Listen to the complete audio of Bannon’s interview above.