Media, Politics

Journalism in the Age of the Populist Right

Yesterday, Steve Bannon was dropped from a headliner at the New Yorker’s yearly ideas festival after a backlash from readers, potential audience members and other speakers who were also slated to attend.

Bannon was headlining the festival, with Jim Carrey, Haruki Murakami, Zadie Smith and Jimmy Fallon also on the bill. In explaining Bannon’s inclusion on the line-up, the New Yorker’s editor David Remnick told the New York Times that: “I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation.”

But the opportunity for a combative conversation did not come to pass. After a backlash online, with several celebrities declaring that they would no longer attend the festival, Remnick reversed his decision. In his announcement he wrote “I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff member to think that I’ve ignored their concerns”.

Bannon is still slated to appear at The Economist’s yearly festival and was recently interviewed by Australia’s national broadcaster, which aired on Monday night.

In the past, Bannon has expressed opposition to immigration to the United States, contradicting a long-held consensus amongst the American political class. He views secularism and Islam as twin existential threats against declining Judeo-Christian values, believing the West to be in a civilizational struggle against these forces. Many on the right and left are likely to fundamentally disagree with his project of agitating for a populist revolution based on economic nationalism. However, regardless of what we might think of this type of worldview, he has also expressed views that might have broader appeal and offer insight into the present moment.

In a 2014 speech to a conference at Vatican, Bannon spoke about the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis, arguing that the wealth created in the intervening period had gone to corporate elites in the upper classes at the expense of workers. He also railed against the corporate bailouts, and what he sees as an unholy alliance between big government and big business:

The bailouts were absolutely outrageous, and here’s why: It bailed out a group of shareholders and executives who were specifically accountable… these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists… They’re what we call corporatist.

What struck me about this characterization of the events since the GFC was not that they were obviously right wing, but that they could just as easily have been uttered by Naomi Klein or Noam Chomsky, or even Bernie Sanders. Surely such an alignment between the political poles on this particular issue might be worthy of discussion at the New Yorker Festival, insofar as it might have provided insight into where we might collectively diverge in our current political debate.

Bannon’s deplatforming has reignited the debate about the responsibilities that mainstream event organisers and media broadcasters have when giving a platform to far-right views, and what limits we should place on public discourse.

There seems to be two lines of thinking that play out in this debate, and more broadly about the theoretical models of how society should respond to those who hold extremist views.

The first narrative, adopted overwhelmingly by those on the left, is that merely putting Bannon on stage is both a step toward, and a product of, the normalisation of white supremacy and neo-Nazi ideas. Under this assumption, Bannon could only come out ahead – irrespective of how well or badly he performs in any interview. It’s thought that any platform is a good platform, as it gives these types of figures mainstream exposure of their otherwise unsavoury ideas.

We might call this a ‘normalisation’ model of societal response, where a normal distribution of political views in the population is thought to shift rightward simply by virtue of them being legitimised by speaking engagements. Right wing ideas are thought to exert a kind of gravitational force on us, pulling the Overton Window closer toward racism and prejudice simply by being expressed. Therefore, the normalisation model demands that unsavoury views are never entertained by mainstream media platforms, because they are a mechanism through which society will come to embrace those ideas.

Another, competing narrative is based on what we might call an ‘immunisation’ model of societal response, which sees mild exposure to a threatening phenomenon as having the potential to help build resistance to it. It allows us to refine our arguments against those we disagree with – in Bannon’s case the populist right – and to remind us of where we stand as a liberal democratic society.

Those subscribing to the normalisation model tend to be concerned with questionable ideas being expressed when those ideas are associated with the political right. But if the model is to hold in a politically unbiased way, they should be equally concerned about the mainstream platforming of extreme ideas from other political origins as well. This doesn’t tend to be the case.

What’s lost in the discussion is the acknowledgement that it is the role of the media and the journalist, in particular, to dig deeper into the ideas, attitudes and motivations of influential people.  It’s the duty of the journalist to highlight incriminating evidence against people who would prefer that it remain obscured. It’s the duty of the journalist to ensure the viewer has clarity about a person’s views, lest they hide behind ambiguity. It’s the duty of the journalist to draw attention to the distinctions between what they say to their followers, and what they are saying during an interview.

An example of these duties being fulfilled can be seen in Christopher Hitchens’ 1991 CNBC interview with John Metzger, a leading member a white separatist movement that celebrates the birth of Hitler, believes in a Zionist occupied Government (ZOG), and believes in the inherent superiority of white-skinned European descendants. In the course of the discussion Metzger fails the most elementary of tests that we might use to take him seriously, by repeatedly failing to acknowledge the historicity of the Holocaust. Hitchens also calls him on the discrepancy between the pro-Hitler material found in his organizations newsletters and the way he attempts to present a more ‘watered down’ version of his politics in the interview.

It’s difficult to see how this interview would have normalised neo-Nazi ideas, but that outcome is almost entirely due to Hitchens performance as a journalist. Metzger was forced to defend his views on Hitchens’ terms, and ours. As a result his conspiratorial, race-obsessed, historically denialist views were laid bare for all to see, without being smoothed over for public relations purposes. In my view, this platforming episode serves as an example of immunisation against far-right ideas, rather than a normalisation of them. Anyone tempted to stroll down the trail toward the far right were shown precisely where it led.

A counterpoint could be made that we can still discuss controversial political views without having to interview people who actually hold them at festivals or on broadcast television. This seems unlikely, since those figures can always claim they are being misrepresented if they’re never given the opportunity to speak for themselves, further entrenching their victimhood status amongst their followers. It’s more difficult to claim that you’re being misrepresented when you’re the one answering the questions.

In our current age of social media there’s no shortage of people producing content with views that, if widely adopted, would undermine our liberal democratic society. We can’t stop people from producing this content, and if we’re at all interested in free speech, we shouldn’t be interested in doing so either. However, most of the time they produce this content on their own terms, outside the mainstream media space. By occasionally providing a window into the mind of those who wish to orchestrate a populist revolution through critical but honest discussion and debate, mainstream news organisations can serve the public good without normalising otherwise extreme views.

This isn’t to say broadcast television or event organizers should make a regular habit of interviewing extremists from any aspect of the political spectrum. Insofar as these types of appearances might incentivise the pursuit of controversy, views, and revenue, we should be wary of any organisation that seeks to monetise the outrage economy. But the importance of hearing ideas from the horse’s mouth, and providing vigorous pushback where necessary, should not be understated. Done properly, it can equip people with the conceptual tools to build immunity to political radicalisation.


Andrew Glover is a sociologist who tweets at @theandrewglover.

If you liked this article please consider becoming a patron of Quillette

51 Comments

  1. Farris says

    “It’s more difficult to claim that you’re being misrepresented when you’re the one answering the questions.”
    But not impossible. There have been many instances where people have been invited to speak, only to have their remarks edited to the point they become incoherent.

    Excellent article. Though I would add the admonition, “Beware of creating forbidden fruit.” Banning or limiting expression can serve to make its content more desirable. It is best to allow liars and charlatans to expose themselves. Barring speech leaves one open to the charge that they fear its content because that content may prove them wrong or make the censor appear as if he lacks the courage of his convictions.

    • Farris says

      In my previous post when I wrote…” It is best to allow liars and charlatans to expose themselves.”
      I was not alluding to Steve Bannon. I meant generally if you believe anyone is a liar or charlatan you should encourage them to speak, just as police do when interrogating a suspect.
      However since Steve Bannon is the subject of the article and leftist are never deplatformed, I can see where one might think my “liar and charlatan” reference referred to Mr. Bannon.

  2. Here are Steve Bannon’s positions on some issues:

    (1) He wants to stop illegal immigration.

    (2) He wants to raise taxes on the very wealthy, and cut taxes on everybody else, especially the working and middle classes.

    (3) He is against huge corporate mergers and “crony capitalism.”

    (4) He is generally skeptical of foreign military intervention.

    (5) He is pro-Israel.

    (6) He thinks the US has been screwed on trade deals.

    Does this sound “far-right” to you? Does it sound “extremist”? Of course not, these are all fairly mainstream views in the United States. Most Americans probably hold them. I know that I do -– and I’m located in about as dead center of the US political spectrum as anyone can get. (I’ve never taken one of those online “political orientation” tests that doesn’t position me almost exactly in the absolute center of the spectrum).

    Why is Bannon such a lightning rod? That’s easy. He is absolutely clear in his fury at the treatment by the US government and corporate capitalism of the native-born American working class (especially that “white” part which lives in the most forgotten sections of flyover country) -– a group that is invisible to (if not deplored by) the decision-makers and opinion-shapers in the bi-coastal bubbles and college towns -– and he is absolutely unapologetic about pointing his finger at the ten or so million wage-depressing illegal (mostly Mexican) immigrants in America and the scores of abjectly masochistic trade deals the US has entered into over the last few decades with countries like China as the main culprits.

    It’s that part about the illegal immigrants, though, that gets all the barely-literate Hollywood actors and trust fund SJWs all worked up. They were OK, barely listening, until they heard a firm and unmitigated rejection of illegal immigration from an old fat white guy –- until they bore witness to some old fat white guy saying something not platitudinous about the effect that millions of brown-skinned people living illegally in the country were having on tens of millions of citizens. That was simply more than they — or any right-thinking person! — could bear. A thick and super-obvious line had been crossed, and now it was abundantly clear to them that the old fat white guy was a “racist” and a “white nationalist.” And of course it didn’t matter that, when asked, that old fat white guy calls white nationalists “losers”, “a collection of clowns,” and “goobers.”

    I’m writing all this even though I didn’t vote for Trump and think Bannon is probably a jerk in his personal life.

    I’ll leave with words tweeted by Malcolm Gladwell after he heard of the New Yorker cancellation of Bannon’s appearance: “Call me old-fashioned. But I would have thought that the point of a festival of ideas was to expose the audience to ideas. If you only invite your friends over, it’s called a dinner party.”

    • Modern liberalism has two dogmas that can’t be questioned:

      1) That it is morally wrong to value the well being of any human being more then any other (example: value a fellow citizens well being more then a foreigner).

      2) That all races are the same and therefore any disrepency in behavior and outcomes is the fault of racism.

      #1 is a moral claim that while expressed throughout history isn’t what you would call the norm by any means. The norm is something more like “concentric circles of morality” where your positive and negative moral obligations are highest to those closest to you and gradually lessen as you get further away.

      Since this is a moral claim it can’t be disproven, but it’s very odd given human nature and not something we had a vote on as a nation.

      The second relates to immigration in that it’s assumed that low IQ brown immigrants will eventually assimilate culturally and politicially and add to US GDP just like Germans who immigrated in the 1800s. Thus the practical objections of immigration restrictionist, while scientifically true, are denied.

      Bannon must be resisted because he attacks a fundamental moral blank of progressivism and a fundamental factual blank that is often used to uphold the first.

      If either of these two points are conceded thennprogressivisk as an ideology unravels. Thus it must be resisted in the same way the church would resist someone questioning the trinity.

      • “That all races are the same and therefore any disrepency in behavior and outcomes is the fault of racism.”

        I would contest this somewhat. #Varifiedhate has shown us that many on the left (particularly blue check journos) think white people are especially evil.

        It could be that since Bannon is white and doesnt consider white people completly evil, he is, by his very nature, far right. The bar for what is far right is pretty low these days.

        • The belief that whites are especially evil comes from the fact that once you eliminate genetics as an explanation for continued poor outcomes amongst minorities you need to substitute “something” to explain it. The only thing left is white racism.

          It can be overt or covert. Conscious or unconscious. Malicious or negligent unwoke bias. No matter what though there must be “some” explanation for the state of the world. The longer these disparities exist, the more deeply broken white people must be.

          This was all laid out in The Bell Curve when Charles Murray pointed out that elite whites would inevitably blame regular whites (deploables) for states of affairs they can’t explain if genetics are taken off the table. He figured this out in the 1990s.

          • Just Me says

            Anne Arbour –

            “The majority of scientists working in the field believe 60 percent or more of intelligence is genetic, and the trend is moving quickly toward around 80 percent..”

            That still leaves quite a bit to the environment, and while differences in IQ between people in a developed country with universal education may be attributed more to genetics, I don’t see how that would apply as well to peasants from very unequal third world countries that have not had the opportunity for education or the other advantages of developed countries.

            The peasants of Europe and Asia turned out to have quite a range of IQs when democracy and universal education gave them a chance. I suspect the same will be true of the peasants of Latin America.

            As for race, Latin Americans are of many different races and a mixture of many, Spaniards and Native Indians and Mestizos mostly.

            As for ideology, there are plenty of high IQ young people from third world countries who have adopted the identity politics of the educational elites, while the less educated can be much more oblivious to ideology, they just want to make a living and adopt the mores of the mainstream society.

        • Just Me says

          ASDF – I was fine with your comment until “it’s assumed that low IQ brown immigrants will eventually assimilate…”

          Not sure what to make of this sentence. What evidence do you have that brown immigrants are low IQ? Do you mean illegal ones from Latin America, or legal ones too?

          I see no reason to assume even illegal peasants from L.A. are low IQ. Evidence?

          BTW, I also see no reason why IQ is relevant to successful assimilation. There are high IQ immigrants who will never assimilate, and low IQ ones who will.

          • Anne Arbour says

            Just Me – The statistical evidence for differences in average IQ among races is not controversial. It is one of the most consistently replicable of all findings in the social sciences. There have also been large-scale studies of differences in average IQ among nations. The average IQ in Mexico has a range (depending on the study) between 86 and 90. The US average is 98, but that figure is depressed by African Americans (whose average IQ is in the mid-eighties) and other lower-IQ groups. (Intermarriage with whites and Asians, though, does have the effect of raising the IQ of Mexican-Americans.)

            IQ is incredibly relevant to assimilation. True assimilation won’t occur if population groups have complaints about their socio-economic position relative to whites and Asians. Because they are indoctrinated by the left to attribute their poor performance to racism, not lower innate capabilities, immigrants from lower IQ population groups, like those from Mexico, will be more likely to separate themselves from the dominant “racist” culture.

            The subject, of course, is taboo in society, but won’t be for long. Rapid advances in genomics research (which include identification of genes associated with intelligence) is making it more and more difficult for the left to continue to keep its head in the sand and absurdly argue that intelligence is fully a product of the environment. The majority of scientists working in the field believe 60 percent or more of intelligence is genetic, and the trend is moving quickly toward around 80 percent..

      • ga gamba says

        Yeah, it seems that way. Presumably Mr Remnick and others spent many hours planning the event. I’m almost certain someone in his capacity would understand what baggage Bannon brings as well as the no platform movements in the Anglosphere, the caustic nature of Twitter, and the proclivity of some to demonstrate their woke virtue publicly. That he caved in an instant, making no defence of his and his staff’s work or even a general plea to open debate suggests strongly to me this was a ruse.

    • @ A New Radical Centrism (@a_centrism)

      Here are the bits you “forgot” to mention:

      1. White Identitarian. He wants end to virtually all immigration.

      2. Islam and Muslim.

      3. Women.

      4. Christianity Vs Secularism.

    • Perusing the twitter feeds of the blue checkmarks involved in Bannon’s defenstration is quite enlightening, the extreme histrionics (Bannon wants to “exterminate” me and therefore must be de-platformed!) of these people lead me to belive that at least some of them may be mentally ill. Either that or Trump derangement syndrome is a real thing because it seems that there’s a section of the left/centre left who seriously belive that nazis are behind every blade of grass.

  3. Nick Ender says

    The real problem is that any left wing view, no matter how far left, is acceptable to express publicly, while even the most moderate of right wing ideas must be endlessly qualified, and still treated with suspicion. This hypocrisy is unbearable.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Nick Ender
      You are correct. It is odd when you consider that being right wing is the default position of the vast majority of people. The fact is that all those middle class liberals are all lving conservative lives using conservative morals. They don’t take drugs, drink too havily, have children out of wedlock before they have finished their education, commit crimes or adultery in great numbers. I’m sure too that they have reasonably good manners and understand that the roles of the sexes are different.
      Yet like sheep they will fall in line behind leftists who laud the lifestyles of tiny, sterile minorities as normal and deny the conservative reality.
      The fact is that people want to be ”cool” and ”bohemian”. SO even if they live conservative lives they can pretend they are hip by saying that they support leftist ideas.

      • @ Peter from Oz

        ” It is odd when you consider that being right wing is the default position of the vast majority of people.”

        This is what I don’t like about you. When you make things like this up, you know you are lying. It is a nasty habit.

      • It’s one thing that drives me nuts about Bill Maher since I enjoyed his Politically Incorrect days. He still occasionally says that which must not be spoken about Muslim terrorists, but he won’t touch any of the many other leftist sacred cows. He didn’t challenge Jim Carrey about Socialism…oh…Canada! Even when Carrey narrowly said socialized medicine of Canada while in the next breath saying the DNC should accept Socialism.

        What made me chuckle is that the hero Trudeau is now taking policy positions matching Bannon, so he’s now a white, nationalist too. Just like all the American leftists decrying Bannon who are “say no to evil Walmart, they bring in cheap stuff from China” which sounds awfully nationalist from those white democrats!

  4. A succinct, focussed article from a sociologist? I hope other contributors to Quillette follow your example.

    I watched the ABC Bannon interview with interest. I gained a better picture of him, and was surprised that the ABC did a reasonable job of it.

    I’m not sure whether you were suggesting that Bannon is an extremist. He can only be seen as extreme from the perspective of the authoritarian left in the universities and MSM. It shouldn’t surprise anybody not Ctrl-Left that a large portion of the population is fed up with their verbal bullying.

    They are busily telling each other not to engage in debate and virtue signalling that they’re doing so, partly because their views aren’t based on anything rational, or that they’d want to admit publicly. It’s also being led by third rate academics who are rubbish at trying to string a coherent thought together, as the Lindsay Shepherd interrogation demonstrated. They trip over their own neologisms.

    Nationalism is a heavily loaded word, but the nationalism he’s talking about isn’t the jingoistic style that leads into authoritarianism and socialism in hard times. It is, partly, as you say, a reaction to the economic impact of trade liberalisation. We are nowhere near the economic disaster that Germany experienced post WWII and made it vulnerable to extreme demagoguery. We need to work towards minimising and sharing the inevitable impacts of trade liberalisation.

    Australia has been buffered by resources trade with a booming China, but that won’t last forever. We need competent fiscal management that doesn’t increase debt to buy votes. Young Australians need to recognise that they’re the ones who are being saddled with it.

  5. I don’t like Steve Bannon. But I take serious issue with the general idea that he is some extremist. He led the current President of the United States to victory, and served as Chief Strategist in the White House for the current administration. Steve Bannon is mainstream – that ship has already sailed.

    And part of the reason he’s so irritatingly successful is because people don’t listen to him or take him seriously. It’s his superpower – he pulled the strings on the first 2 years of Trump’s political career, and people STILL think they can “deplatform” him. He can literally call up the President of the United States tomorrow and feed him ideas on how to shape public policy!

    Ultimately, the way to defeat Bannon is to debate him, understand where he’s coming from, and counterpunch. Instead, Democrats plug their ears and go “NANANANA” and/or hide in the corner so they don’t get triggered. And they think that this behavior somehow hurts Steve Bannon.

    • Ernest T. - Ferguson, MO says

      For every Steve Bannon on the right, there is one just like him on the Left…but the Media doesn’t decry their political beliefs as extreme.

      That’s how extreme we’ve become.

      We’re now in that phase of our society like the frog in a pot of water where the flame has been turned to medium high and things are about 10 degrees short of boiling.

  6. 11411181 says

    Interview journalism is a mere parody of the expose that it attempts to be on unknown or overshadowed viewpoints.

    Tucker Carlson is probably the best of the lot, and he’s pretty explicit and transparent in how he maneuvers people with pointed direct questioning to say something stupid and then let them hang themselves. Fox News bias aside, a more charitable version of that interview style like that is sorely missing from public display.
    And before people jump in with their “but what about x person???”, nobody is as effective as he is at that.

    There’s a reason people make meme compilations of his show.

  7. Hans Dampf says

    I’m not the biggest fan of Bnnon but it’s a bit off-putting that he’s put into the same basket as Tom Metzger. After all, Bannon is far closer to Hitchens especially in terms of his stance on freedom of speech.

    My hunch is that Hitchens would be de-plattformed the same way as Bannon these days. Or could anyone imagine Hitchens being in favor of Merkels open border politics and generally the globalist agenda?

  8. Erica from The West Village says

    Where I come from, guys like David Remnick of the New Yorker were easy pickings for kids to steal lunch money from.

    They never fought back or even ran…they just coughed it up every single time someone looked at them weird…then they’d go home and tell mommy…but didn’t have the nads to tell Dad…because Dad would have told him to man up and fight for what’s right.

    Therein lies the problem today. Toxic Femininity.

    Glad to see guys like this can grow up and hold real jobs.

    • We would have called a guy like David Remnick a pussy in my day no disrespect meant to woman or the sexual organ both which I love.

    • @ Erica from The West Village

      Gosh! You are a nasty one aren’t you. I suppose you are the bully who used to steal lunch money from kids.

  9. Why do we (well we do but not the parties in question in this article) )never question the limits of the value of far left thinking on political discourse? Its all over the damn place.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Kevin Herman: take it one step further. Why don’t we question the value of political discourse and politics itself? If we take a look at the political process from the perspective of the tangible benefits we gain from our involvement , it’s a negative return on investment.

  10. Jenny says

    It pains me to say it… because I think Bannon is despicable and dangerous; but de-platforming him is wrong. Particularly when there is an opportunity to have him in an environment that he would actually be challenged in his views.

    Now it just continues to feed into the narrative of the far Right extremists, and lends credence to that narrative to those who are on the margins, as they see more and more ‘proof’ of the claims of conspiracy, etc.

    We have really lost the thread and continue to spiral further and further away from what we stand for as a nation. Please keep in mind the PRINCIPLE that is being corroded here and what that means when applied across the board – who gets to decide where and how that principle is applied?? You think it will always be YOU and YOUR SIDE.. but it won’t. I guarantee you that it won’t work that way. History backs me up on this.

    • And would the view you would be challenging be his criticism of corporate bailouts? Seriously. This is part of the problem – the attitude so many take that if you don’t like part of what someone says then everything they say must be wrong. People who think like that have a juvenile view of the world where everything is black or white, right or wrong, good or evil.

  11. We celebrate “bipartisanship” around John McCain, who stands for endless war and economic cronyism, but then destroy any opportunity that it might arise around Steve Bannon, who threatens to upend the corporatist status quo.

    • ga gamba says

      Thanks for posting. You ought to try to view internet videos more often though. They’re far better than the brief clips on legacy media edited to sensationalise the topic and mischaracterise the target. The long-form interview format is where it’s at.

  12. yandoodan says

    Inoculation: I still remember William F. Buckley’s extended interview with Louisiana extremist segregationist Leander Perez. At the end of the show is was impossible to think of Perez as anything other than a fool.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leander_Perez for the curious.

  13. I find all the nattering about far right extremists inane and silly until I remember JFK’s democrat party was far far to the right of today’s Republican party, hence reminding myself how very far the pendulum has swung to the left.

    • Thanks for providing the video of Bannon. I watched it and then read more of his opinions. He’s basically a 21st century Christopher Lashe, who was a well known cultural critic on the center left in the 20th century (USA). Everything Bannon believes sounds exactly, to the tee, like what Lashe wrote in the Revolt of the Elites in the early 90’s. If Lashe’s views are considered far right in 2018 then we have indeed gone straight off the cliff. The Overton Window has been blown to smithereens!

      • @ KDM

        Christopher Lasch was neo-Marxist for a start and where he was critical of Progressives, he was also critical of Libertarians. And he wasn’t attached to his “white” identity to Bannon’s extent. And whilst he would presumably have been critical of Islam, but not of Muslim immigrants.

        Are Lasch’s views far right? No.

  14. Innominata says

    Ladies, Gentelmen, Non-binaries: We will DEPLATFORM STEVE BANNON!

    The strategy?

    Disinvite him from our exclusive soiree and have it publicized in every newspaper and politics journal on three continents.

    He will be forced to appear on many embarrassing, highly visible TV news interviews to explain his ostracization from the company of momentous intellectuals (and icon of New Masculinity) David Hogg, Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt, and Roxanne Gay.

    Bannon will be known the world over as someone whom fashionable New York intellectuals don’t want anybody to know about, and it will BREAK him.

    #POWNED ✊

  15. D Bruce says

    This is simple – the left currently does not have any good arguments, that’s why it won’t debate.

    • D Bruce It is worse than that. The left not only has no good arguments but it constantly contradicts its own arguments.

      • ga gamba says

        And it escapes the quandary it put itself in by creating new definitions of words

        It’s like the most inept magic trick ever performed. Wave the magic wand above the rabbit. “Voilà! I declare the bunny is gone.” The audience erupts in manic applause.”Amazing! Bravo, oh great one!” The bunny is still there, centre stage.

  16. Circuses and Bread says

    This was a well written article, but I would challenge the author to think about his underlying premise: that good and beneficial ends can come from political journalism and indeed politics itself.

    For all the efforts toward better political reporting, for all the billions of dollars and millions of manhours spent on elections, let’s remember that in the end it always boils down to colossal nonchoices. Such Trump vs Clinton or May vs Corbyn.

  17. X. Citoyen says

    Who gets excluded and why is only half of what’s debasing public discourse. The other half is who’s included. Jim Carrey, who appears to have instigated Bannon’s dis-invitation, is a celebrity who got famous for making funny faces and humiliating himself in cheesy comedies. So what used to be a highbrow periodical excludes a successful alternative media baron and former aide and ideas man to the current president but invites a professional clown and amateur Twitter cartoonist to share his “ideas.” I’m not sure which is worse.

  18. sorethumb says

    Kim Hill – Radio New Zealand

    Not many tears shed for Steve Bannon generally speaking around the world because he seemed to be quite frank, a particularly unpleasant person, what do you think?

    Correspondent Harry Horten
    “Well he certainly held anti-globalist, nationalist views, populist views, he was driving the populist agenda that is at the heart  of Donald Trumps administration. And I think a lot of people in the white house would be happy to see the back of him as well.
    ……..
    Quite the rap sheet?

    In 23 Things They Don’t Tell  You about Capitalism, HA-JOON CHANG , (Thing Three) writes ” the living standards of the huge majority of people in rich countries critically depend on the existence of the most draconian control over their labour markets – immigration control.”

    • ga gamba says

      Ironically, Prof Chang of Cambridge University, England is from South Korea, a country with many of the world’s most onerous immigration requirements that nonetheless enjoys a high quality of life, low unemployment, very good wages, a decent welfare state, very little crime, and amazing social stability.

      About the worst thing that happens there is when a student scores an 89 on a test.

  19. Louis Belzil says

    Jim Carrey’s tweet is a perfect encapsulation and projection of the bizarre narcissicism that defines Hollywood. Carrey thinks he is seen as a serious commentator, and how dare they place him beside the lowly Bannon? Does no one see the irony here? Carrey made his name – and I mean this literally – by talking through his butt. Bannon made his name by challenging the bland consensus with uncomfortable facts. It is Bannon who should have declined to appear beside a court jester.

    I read the New Yorker in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was a fine moderate left magazine then, but by the 1990’s had become unreadable tripe. Twenty five years later, it is headling a discussion panel with a clown. People: wake up.

  20. codadmin says

    ‘Journalism in the age of the fascist left’ would have been a more descriptive title.

  21. Martti_S says

    I got interested in Bannon after the hysteria of certain people who call themselves ‘progressives’.
    The key to understand Steve Bannon is to listen what he says. He is very clear in his ideas and expressions. His problem with the media is that he is not pretty. In fact, he looks like he could be the big brother of Frank Gallagher of the Shameless. He is openly called an alcoholic though he hasn’t touched a drop since twenty years. An alcoholic could never pull out the stunt of touring internationally and having his way in interviews with hostile hosts.

    So what is his crime?
    First, he gave Breitbart a facelift and made it into a relevant player in the media field.
    Second, he steered Trump’s campaign to the land of Deplorables and managed to make him into their ‘White Hope’.
    Third, he talks about the elites and the blue collars, the class difference that is real and physical and makes the progressives’ identity unicorns look like what they are, excuses to bad conscience.
    His point about ‘economical nationalism’ that has nothing to do with sex, color or ethnicity but only citizenship jumps into the face of the Left who have made illegal immigrants their heroes.
    What he says about the 2008 government bailout of the casino bankers, how they pocketed the money and went on business as usual might be the reason why he had to get out of the White House.
    “He might be a jerk in his private life” remains a worthy argument. Some people say that he is very loyal with his friends. He himself says he does not care. He is not there to flirt with the media, he has a job to do. “Dark is good”, it gives him street credibility.

    Today his job is to secure the elections for Trump. That’s why he is under a shit storm right now.

  22. The author raises good points but leaves out the critical one: Who is to decide which “extreme” views belong outside the Overton window?

    As things stand now, the mere labeling of someone “Far Right,” means an automatic boot out of the Overton Window. “Far Left” does not. Furthermore, the labeling doesn’t have to be fact-based. All that’s required is to find one or two quotes, or even an association, whether in context or not,, that *appears* racist. The comment could be vile or it could be innocent or it could be in between. Doesn’t matter. Bannon is far less extreme than Farrakhan. Yet which one get gets disinvited, which one is a racist?

    The label is the same as slapping a scarlet A on them–They are wearing the A therefore they are guilty of a sin therefore they must be banished. To question whether they should be wearing the A or whether, wearing one, they should be banished, is never discussed; the mere raising of this question marks you as a fellow infidel.

    This is a wonderful weapon the Dems use openly and with increasing frequency and impunity.

    The problem is, once someone with the scarlet A actually *speaks* they lose their Otherness and become human.

    The Left’s proposal that the mere act of listening to someone ‘normalizes’ them is a lie. It is not why they don’t want to give a “right winger” a platform–They have no problem giving Linda Sarsour a platform–more than a platform, and she has openly said all manner of vile things. The real reason is a) they don’t have strong arguments and must therefore censor any opposing side and b) the cornerstones of even the mainstream Dems is fear mongering and mud slinging and making the other side “Other.” But that only works when you don’t listen to the Other; the second you listen to the Other they become human.

    And that is why they want to disinvite Bannon but would have no problem with any number of extreme Leftists. And that is why the Overton Window is pretense.

Comments are closed.