Please Stop talking about Steve Bannon
Does he really need another platform?
by Ryan Mculloch
Steve Bannon, former chairman of Breitbart News and former White House Chief Strategist to Donald Trump, was disinvited from headlining The New Yorker Festival. The announcement of his presence came as a surprise to those also attending the festival. Several of them voiced their disapproval and a few—including Judd Apatow and Jim Carrey— withdrew from the festival entirely. This outrage was foreseeable: Steve Bannon is an alt-right leader and The New Yorker’s average reader is a young liberal.
So the fallout was predictable: the right wing media is up in arms over the supposed suppression of conservative voices, and Steve Bannon is relevant for another news cycle. It should be noted that Bannon left the White House over a year ago and mainstream conservatives have mostly abandoned Bannon’s platforms following NAACP’s public request that he be removed from the White House. After his resignation he claimed that he always intended to work only as part of the transition team. Although private accounts suggest otherwise.
What do we lose from not interviewing Steve Bannon? Surely it would be worth it to hear him out, expose his views to the cold light of day and trust that people can identify racism when they see it? Well, they can’t. Their tactics are not tactics in the conventional sense of a finely-tuned political strategy that seeks to change minds, but a set of media tricks that can fool almost anyone into thinking that Bannon and his ilk are on their side.
It is the duty of the media to provide hard hitting coverage, critiquing every political perceptive and showing the nuance of every issue. But there is no nuance in white supremacy. There is no reason for us to discuss this; we should all be able to acknowledge how repulsive this world view is. There is no value in interrogating these belief systems because there’s nothing worthy of interrogation. It is mere performance theatre.
You might not be convinced by that argument. That’s fair. I’m indifferent to it. The real reason that Steve Bannon shouldn’t be given a soap box is a little simpler: not only are the views he has espoused unbearable, but he just isn’t relevant anymore. His mainstream backing is gone; his relationship with the President fraught if it exists at all; he provide no new insight into the White house anymore and Breitbart News out of his control. In fact these days, Bannon’s efforts seem concentrated on shipping his brand of nationalism over to Europe.
Appearances for Bannon in the news empower Bannon far more than they enlighten the public. He draws in a lot of controversy, and therefore ratings. Disinviting Bannon from the New Yorker Festival achieved nothing. It inflamed Bannon’s hyper-enthusiastic base, and grieved progressives for the decision to invite him at all. It was never a matter of whether Bannon would be removed from the line-up, but when. The disinvitation of Steve Bannon was a mistake, but a trivial one compared to inviting him in the first place.