Reporter Joshua Green’s lively tell-all about Donald Trump’s campaign for president is missing what Democrats are convinced was the crucial factor: Russia.
Green’s book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, tells the story of the 2016 campaign as a daring effort by a hitherto marginal group of conservative activists and media entrepreneurs to create the agenda, and the audience, that fueled Trump’s unlikely rise.
The book picks up where Green’s 2015 profile of Steve Bannon left off. It describes Breitbart News’ influence in the campaign — and is correct in its general themes, though wrong about many particular details. (The James O’Keefe ACORN videos were not “manipulated”; Andrew Breitbart never “misleadingly edited” anything; and the company never had any trackers following Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account, to name a few of the more egregious errors.)
Green delves into the details of the relationships among the players in the Trump campaign, revealing how various personalities rose and fall. Yet what is most striking, given the ongoing hysteria in the media and on the left, is the near-total absence of any mention of Russia. The only reference is to Trump’s joke at a press conference that Russia should try to find Hillary Clinton’s emails. Green follows the rest of the mainstream media in interpreting that joke as Trump “invit[ing] Russia to interfere in the U.S. election,” but does not prove that claim, or elaborate further.
Last Sunday, Green evidently tried to make up for the “Russia gap” in his forthcoming book with an article in the New York Times claiming that Breitbart News had created a “mass hallucination” among Republicans, convincing them that Russia had not influenced the election. But his heavily-researched book gives the game away: there were many interesting and unexpected factors in Trump’s surprise presidential win, but Russia was not one of them.
Instead, what happened was that a movement coalesced around an unlikely hero who was willing to take risks, to depart from the failed Republican messages of previous elections, and to reach out to an audience whose views had been shaped by years of political battles with the hard-left, led by Andrew Breitbart and the company he built.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.