Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon made a special guest appearance on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow to discuss the importance of the Breitbart News audience to the 2016 election, and to the ongoing political debate in America.
Bannon recalled launching Breitbart News Daily as the original host two years ago.
“You and I and the rest of the team sat down and tried to conceive what the show was going to be,” he said to Marlow. “I think we took our lead from the weekend shows. One thing we found is that it’s caller-based, it’s audience-based. I think what’s the biggest thing that came out of this was that the audience really drives the show. It gave us all the ideas for our final drive to get President Trump elected. It came out of this show, and it came out of the comments section of Breitbart.”
“So it’s caller-based, it’s listener-based. It’s active radio, it’s not passive. I couldn’t be prouder of you and the team. I do look forward into getting back and doing most hosting after this crazy schedule I’ve got kind of calms down a bit. The show is my first love, and I love, as you know, nothing more than sitting in the chair and taking calls from folks throughout the country,” said Bannon.
“Just call in, just listen in to Breitbart News Daily any day and you’ll hear populism,” he said. “You’ll hear this kind of great common sense, this crowdsourced common sense and decency and grit of the American people. We see it across the country, whether it’s guys calling in from Oregon, or Alabama, or Florida, or Maine, Wisconsin – it’s just across the country. I think it’s the backbone of the nation.”
Bannon recalled Andrew Breitbart’s desire to make Breitbart News “not just user-friendly, but actively engaged.” He hailed Breitbart as a “giant in understanding new media” and “understanding how media interacts with people’s lives,” with a core insight that the Internet was an entirely new medium, not merely an upgrade to legacy media delivery systems like television and newspapers.
Of the legacy media systems, Bannon said he much preferred radio to television, having fielded many questions about whether Breitbart News would branch out into TV. “Radio is a theater of the mind,” he explained. “It has a way to have a personal relationship with people. It’s one of the reasons that we love being part of the SiriusXM family, particularly on 125, the Patriot Channel. It’s just a great lineup for us to fit into. We hope to do a lot more with SiriusXM in the future.”
“I’d see this going around the country,” he said. “Going to different rallies, going to different conferences, where we could have the radio setup in the back and be interviewing different people, and cut right to the speeches, and get the crowd response. Now you see every time we do it, there’s a huge crowd. I was able to drop into Value Voters with Raheem and the guys doing the show, it was like 200 people jammed around the radio booth, just kind of seeing who’s checking in, just kind of building the community.”
“One of the things radio can really do is build a community,” he reflected. “I think it’s one of the things we’ve done in the two years we’ve had the show up. I want to thank Dave Gorub, and Liz, and Scott Greenstein, and all of Sirius that allowed us to – it was really experimental at the time – to really do something that was not host-driven.”
“When I left, I did the Friday broadcast on August 12th, and on the 13th I talked to Trump about taking over the campaign, and really committed on Sunday the 14th. I never even called you guys. It was just amazing you stepped right into the show on Monday,” Bannon reminisced to Marlow with a chuckle. “I was very proud of it, because we built the show around plug-and-play, that other people could come in here and do it. You just had to understand how to both juggle both newsmakers and audience calls.”
He proudly recalled one of the former heads of National Public Radio working on a profile of Breitbart for Vanity Fair shortly before Bannon’s departure to work on the Trump campaign: “I told him if you want to understand Breitbart, you’ve got to understand the comments section, and you’ve got to understand Breitbart News Radio. He sat in, and he was totally blown away. I said the callers, actually, people confuse them sometimes with guests because they’re so knowledgeable.”
Bannon observed that SiriusXM’s audience has a greater sense of investment in the programming than terrestrial radio audiences.
“They’ve really put their time and money into this,” he said. “They want to be actively engaged, and obviously Sirius has a tremendous platform for sports and entertainment and everything like that. What we really love about it is that they’re totally committed to really reaching out to people across the political spectrum. They’ve got great progressive channels and great news channels with POTUS. What we love about Patriot is that you’ve really got a place where you get the Mark Levins, the Sean Hannitys, but you also get the Breitbart.”
“We take a very different take on things in the fact that, just like the site, we like to present the news and let people come to their own opinions,” he continued. “We’ll provide the means, you provide the opinion. You can see the engagement of the audience. They feel like there’s something in here. What I really love about the show is I came back, I just dropped in to guest host – I think it was a week ago – and to see a number of the callers, I could pick up folks right away that I remembered their voices, I remembered who they are from a couple of years ago.”
Bannon said he was consistently impressed with the level of detailed knowledge displayed by Breitbart News Radio callers.
“Here in Washington, DC and New York City, when I sit in these conference rooms and go around with these experts and we’re talking about projects, we’re talking about issues, we’re cutting deals, something like that, the audience at Breitbart News Daily and all the weekend shows are up to speed just as much as the experts,” he said. “So this thing about expertise and everything like that – the folks out there are really coached up, and really understand the issues of the day.”
Bannon said this extended to the international audience for Breitbart News bureaus like London and Jerusalem as well.
“We were mocked and ridiculed,” he said of the initial response to Breitbart News creating these bureaus and giving them airtime on the radio program. “Americans don’t care about that, they don’t care about international news or something. And to see the engagement, and to go around to places like Alabama and Arizona, places where I spend a lot of time now, and to see guys like Nigel Farage come onstage, and to see that audience that know Brexit and know what’s going on – you sit there and it makes you feel so great to say, ‘Hey, these experts were dead wrong. The American people get it. They’re hungry for this type of news. They understand it. They’re engaged in it.’”
“To see Nigel Farage stand up on stage and start talking about the current negotiations on Brexit, and to see the audience of blue-collar workers and middle-class Americans understand even the nuances of it, and what the British people are going through to kind of exit out of the E.U. – you sit there and go, ‘Wow, the experts were dead wrong,’” he said.
Marlow quoted from comments the previous day by former President Barack Obama: “Bannon and Breitbart did something pretty interesting. Now, they didn’t create a whole new platform, but they did shift the entire media narrative in a different direction, in a powerful direction.”
“As people know, you go to Breitbart, you listen to the radio show, we disagree with President Obama on his policies, but I’ve always admired him as a politician,” Bannon responded, observing that Obama ran his 2008 presidential primary as a populist.
“His lack of experience was an asset. He had this kind of empowered and engaged grassroots effort that really drove him to beat the Clinton machine and then win the presidency,” he said of Obama’s first run. “I think President Obama, as a political figure and as a politician, gets it. I talk to a lot of guys on the left. They understand the power of Breitbart.”
“I continue to heckle these guys all the time and say hey, the Republican Party is going through a regeneration right now, really an internal revolution to correct itself and turn the power back over to the working-class people and the middle-class people in the country that are emblematic of what the audience is at SiriusXM on the Breitbart News Daily show. That revolution has a platform. It has a massive radio platform, it has a massive news platform at Breitbart. They don’t have that on the left. The left doesn’t have a Breitbart,” he said.
“What I mean by that is, we had this kind of theory early on that throwing punches at Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama were one thing, but you were never going to have fundamental change unless you took care of your own house,” he elaborated. “The Republican establishment was so corrupt, and so incompetent, and so out of touch with Republican voters. There was just this huge disconnect in that you had to take care of that first, and once you realigned that, then you could really go on and drive change. I think history has proven that out correctly. It’s one of the reasons we control the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and not enough is getting done.”
“I think the guys on the left understand that. I think President Obama, that’s the real signal he was sending yesterday. He was sending that to the Democratic Party and people on the left, that you need something like a Breitbart. If they ever want to wrench control from the Wall Street crowd that controls the Democratic Party, they’re going to have to have a platform like a Breitbart that does that,” Bannon contended.
“I’ve said that for a long time. I continue to say the stuff on the left, their fights among themselves, are pillow fights,” he continued. “It’s the reason that Bernie Sanders had all the information – guess what? – provided by Government Accountability, Peter Schweizer, the Breitbart platform, and Breitbart News Radio.”
As support for this contention, Bannon cited comments made by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to the effect that Breitbart News is driving the investigation into the Clintons’ dealing with Russia over uranium exports.
“Schiff comes out on MSNBC, I think it was, and says last night, came out of the committee hearings: ‘Oh, this is all driven by Bannon and Breitbart, the Uranium One thing.’ Well, I don’t know if it’s ‘driven’ by us, but it was certainly with Peter Schweizer and the team at GAI given a platform at Breitbart and other places to drive that kind of news – yeah, it was presented to the American people. Bernie Sanders had all that information and never could deliver it. One of the reasons is they didn’t have a Breitbart on the left,” said Bannon.
“So I couldn’t be prouder of where we are right now as a news platform, particularly this kind of inextricably-linked nature between the news platform and radio,” he said. “That’s why, when people say ‘why don’t you do TV?’ – you know, TV is TV, and TV is great. I’m glad Laura Ingraham – we love Laura, we love Sean Hannity, we think the shows are amazing. But radio is very different. It’s inextricably linked with the platform. Regardless of what you think of him personally, and regardless of what you think of him as a politician or a political leader, President Obama really understood how to connect with a big segment of the American people. I think the shout-out he gave Breitbart yesterday was very powerful.”
Marlow pointed out another remarkable feature of Obama’s comments is that “he said Trump’s voters aren’t prejudiced, they’re realistic,” marking “the first time I’ve heard a major Democrat not attack the Trump voters.”
“It was amazing because they understand that what the Trump campaign and what President Trump was able to do in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin is quite powerful, and they’ve got to get those voters back,” Bannon agreed.
“I keep telling people, if we continue to drive this agenda and connect with working-class and middle-class people in those states, it’s a realignment like 1932. You can govern for 50 years,” he said.
“By the way, they understand that. That’s why they came out the other day with the ‘Better Deal,’ you know, Phase Two, where they’re talking about additional economic programs – although they kind of missed the mark in talking about public sector unions,” he said of the Democrats.
“Everybody understands what the game is here. Everybody understands the voters they’re going after. I’m speaking next week up in Michigan, on the first anniversary of the victory. I decided to go there, I got invited from all over the country to talk, and I wanted to go there because it’s kind of the traditional home of the Reagan Democrats, and to really lay out the case of why President Trump won, and why it’s important to continue to execute on this program,” said Bannon.
“But Biden and these guys get it. I mean, Biden is running in 2020, obviously. So they definitely get it. They’re trying to reach the audience that listens here every day, and all we do, folks, is just listen to you,” he stressed, explaining that much of President Trump’s winning strategy in 2016 was taken directly from the comments and feedback of the Breitbart News audience.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern.