I have written about left of center or centrist organizations writing in a manner which no longer reflects a liberal, progressive, or centrist view. NPR just went out on a limb with its recent conversation with Breitbart Senior Editor at Large Joel Pollak about newly elected Donald Trump’s selection of Steve Bannon as his administration’s Chief Strategist. It is not unusual to have this type of interview on Morning Edition; but, it did take a different direction then what I thought might happen.
NPR’s Steve Inskeep starts off;
“Let’s hear a defense of Steve Bannon.”
Breitbart Senior Editor Joel Pollack glowingly describes Steve Bannon as “a national hero” adding;
“how great it will be to have someone in the White House who can remain so calm under pressure.”
Other evidence points to another Steve Bannon, a Bannon who has been accused of “domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and accused of being a verbally abusive bully who is prone to tirades” by former staffers.
When Steve Inskeep asks about Bannon’s efforts to turn “Breitbart into the Alt-Right program of choice,” Pollak distances the site from the Alt-Right diet of xenophobia, racism, sexism and anti-Semitism upon which Breitbart has been nurtured. He sidesteps the issue of various articles portrayed in Breitbart as being amongst thousands and do not necessarily tie Breitbart as a unifying force of the Alt-Right movement. Pollack also dismisses Steve Bannon’s point late last August of “Breitbart being the platform of the Alt-Right as simple journalism.” In no way does Pollack give credence to an association with the Alt-Right to Breitbart and Steve Bannon. It is here where Inskeep begins to miss the opportunity to strike back and challenge Pollack on these issues and Pollack’s answers.
What is different about the Breibart’s Editor Joel Pollack interview by NPR’s Steve Inskeep is not so much the topic as it is the seemingly lack of forceful challenges to Pollack’s statements. When there is a challenge, they are feeble. For example:
A Breitbart commentary about the Confederate flag “Hoist it High and Proud” is published two weeks after the Charleston massacre of nine black churchgoers. The story line encourages Alt-Right and other readers to proudly wave the Confederate flag as a symbol of the South the same what Dylann Roof is seen doing in countless photos. Here is where Inskeep could step forward and at least challenge the timing. Instead, it passes. Included in the Breitbart article is this passage:
“While your supporters are trashing the monuments and reputations of the forefathers of so many Americans; perhaps, you might want to remind us again which state of the Union, north or south, Barack’s ancestors resided in during the traumatic years 1861-1865? Or did Kenya not have a dog in that fight? The Confederacy was not a callous conspiracy to enforce slavery, but a patriotic and idealistic cause for which 490,000 men were killed, wounded or taken captive.”
Breitbart’s justification for the Confederate flag wave is focused on history and heritage rather than the flag of slaveholders, secessionists, and identificatists the flag has come to represent then and today in many cases. Huh? Where is Pollack taking us and why isn’t NPR’s Inskeep’s on top of this pulling it back to his agenda? Instead we get a feeble but factual rebuttal:
“Alexander Stevens, the vice president of the Confederacy, declared the Confederate cause was slavery.”
Answering the slavery part was a part of that battle, there is still the part of Barack Obama’s inclusion. Obama never had a dog in this fight that we know of today; however, where does President Obama’s heritage have a place in a discussion about Confederate flag waving by a mass murderer and a recommendation to others to take up a similar action of Confederate flag waving? Oh wait a minute, it doesn’t have a place in the dialogue and Inskeep misses an opportunity again to put Pollack and his deflection in its place. Pollack has just started to turn the discussion away from Bannon and Breitbart. At the least, Inskeep stomping on this might have given Pollack pause, kept the focus on the Alt-Right, Bannon, and Breitbart, and gain the NPR segment some credibility besides just a comment on what Confederate VP Steven’s had said.
Pollack does not stop there and proceeds to apply more of the strategy of “obfuscation and flipping” the script of totally justified accusations of bigotry, misogyny and anti-Semitism into reverse racism by the accuser. Take this standard complaint and deflection by the right.
“NPR is taxpayer-funded (boy, this sounds familiar), and has an entire section of its programming and a regular feature called “Code Switch,” which from my perspective is a racist program by calling election results, ‘nostalgia for a whiter America.’” (Angry white America striking back at liberalism, sounds Star Warish as in “The Empire Strikes Back”) Some have called Breitbart’s “the history of the Confederate Flag program”racist, it is not racist and this was one opinion article in a 24-hour news website as compared to NPR’s Code Switch.
“’NPR has racial and racist programming I am required to pay for as a taxpayer (a white listener at that – my emphasis). You can read Breitbart, you can read something else — I don’t think talking about the history of the Confederate flag is racist. There are people who disagree with it as a symbol; but besides that issue, you’re picking on one opinion article to judge Breitbart and it is a 24-hour news website providing coverage from within a conservative worldview.”
It is here I have a major problem with liberals and progressives in general. We have an out right supporter of the Alt-Right who has reversed the tables on us and we can not ever find the words to kick some major butt here in rebuttal and in telling the truth. This is why we lost an election because we could not put two words together to call out Trump and his “rabid” supporters on their beliefs. Not even Bernie touched this hot poker.
Blue collar, middle class, and white America was left with the idea that what Trump has said, what Pollack is saying, what Breitbart has said and stands for is ok, and what Trump rode into the Presidency represents the truth. Guess what, it is not ok and it is not the truth. Our failure to come back at these statements has reaped something no one really likes.
Trump’s Chief of Staff Steve Bannon has worked hard to build Breitbart into an Alt-Right Sky Club for Alties looking for comradery, a glass of beer, and an ideology rest stop. It is “a loose coalition of white nationalists, “identitarians,” neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, racists, and misogynists who were ecstatic over Bannon’s appointment.” The point man for the Alt-Right and Breitbart, Joel Pollack took the NPR segment in a different direction to distance Steve Bannon from Breitbart and ” flipped the script to turn totally justified accusations of bigotry, misogyny and anti-Semitism into ‘reverse racism.”
Truth be told as detailed by Kali Holloway at AlterNet;”Bannon has spent four years ensuring that Breitbart contains all the Sky Club hors deourves and drinks the Alt-Right can feast on, from an entire section tagged ‘black crime’ to frequent contributions from Jason Richwine, whom the Daily Beast notes ‘resigned from the conservative Heritage Foundation when news broke that his Harvard dissertation argued in part that Hispanics have lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites.’ That, Pollak should be told, is actual racism. Textbook.” NPR and Steve Inskeep were just not up to the task of rebutting Joel Pollack or cornering him to keep him on the defensive. As Kali might say and I will say, we missed the chance to pin the tail on this donkey.
And Steve Bannon will be wandering the halls of the Whitehouse as Chief Strategist advising a man who has no experience as a legislator and is a poor leader.
Normalizing the Abnormal: NPR Begins Its Whitewashing of Breitbart’s Racism Kali Holloway, AlterNet, November 16, 2016