Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn are taking the lead holding together ex–President Donald Trump’s extremist base as it hunkers down following the failed Capitol insurrection.
Bannon and Flynn had been urging insurrection in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. in speeches and over social media.
“It’s all converging, and now we’re on the point of attack tomorrow. It’s going to kick off, it’s going to be very dramatic,” he announced the day before the riot.
It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in. You have made this happen and tomorrow it’s game day.,” he boasted.
Bannon’s message was clear: Protesters could disrupt Joe Biden’s certification as President and pressure Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the vote by storming the Capitol building where the vote was underway.
Today, Bannon is sounding the same themes over Apple’s podcast app, which is installed by default on every iPhone, according to an eye-opening report by ProPublica, a non-profit organization that tracks abuses of government power.
Bannon is part of a coterie of Trump sycophants who are trying to keep the embers of the hard-right movement hot. Others include disgraced Trump official Flynn, Trump strategist Sebastian Gorka and Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton.
Trump’s embrace of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin during his administration dovetailed chillingly with the views of white supremacists promoted by Bannon during his time at Brietbart News.
Domestic white supremacists see the world divided in racial terms making mostly white “Christian” Russia a natural ally of the United States and all other races potential enemies.
Bannon describes the political situation in nothing less than apocalyptic terms.
“It’s the children of light and the children of darkness,” he said on Jan. 3, after interviewing the right-wing Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a disgraced papal ambassador. “One side’s going to win and one side’s going to lose. Everything that the Judeo-Christian West represents is at stake. That’s what this battle is about. That’s what Wednesday is about,” he said.
Not surprisingly, domestic white supremacists see the world divided in racial terms making mostly white “Christian” Russia a natural ally of the United States and all other races potential enemies.
Richard Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank has called Russia the “sole white power in the world.”
He urged the United States to abandon globalism, a policy the nation has followed since World War II, urged pulling out of NATO and resetting the nation’s relationship with Russia. Trump echoed all three positions, according to Time magazine.
Flynn, a former Army general, served as Trump’s national security advisor. He was fired a month into the administration and later convicted for lying to the FBI
Trump pardoned him shortly before leaving for office, and Flynn has since become a leading voice of the hard right and one of Trump’s leading advocates.
During Trump’s 77-day push to overturn the election, Flynn urged the president to declare martial law and order the military to oversee new elections in the six swing states he lost.
Now, he’s being called a “MAGA martyr” by The New York Times, “positioning himself as a voice of a far right that, in the wake of the Capitol riot, appears newly, and violently, emboldened.”
Early on Flynn was an early proponent of white supremacist views on Putin and fostered racist views of Islam. Now, his focus is on QAnon adherents and the radical fringe that attacked the Capitol.
In the days since the Capitol insurrection, they have been trying to keep from splintering the conspiracy mongers, evangelical Christians and hard right militants who make up the core of Trump’s most ardent supporters.
Many of Trump’s followers have become disillusioned in the wake of the riot because their belief that Trump would be inaugurated for a second term failed to happen.
Instead, the Biden administration is in office and Democrats control both houses of Congress.
Nonetheless, Flynn, Bannon and other Trump acolytes continue to push false claims the “deep-state” stole the election in some kind of alliance with China or Iran.
Oddly, social media companies and corporations have stepped up to curb their inflammatory rhetoric.
Bannon has been banned from YouTube and Twitter. Lawsuits filed by two voting machine companies, appear to have tempered his remarks.
The companies, Dominion and/or Smartmatic, have filed multi-billion dollar suits against Fox News and some of its talking heads for promoting falsehoods about their alleged role in throwing the election.
Apple, however, has yet to take any action, despite terms of service that prohibit “content that is illegal or promotes illegal activity, self-harm, violence, or illegal drugs. “
Bannon has toned down his comments about election conspiracies and emphasizes “peaceful protests” in his commentaries. He’s shifted blame for the riot to “liberal agents provocateurs,” according to ProPublica.
But Julia DeCook, an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s school of communications, notes that well-known commentators like Bannon are “dangerous” because they still feed the false-news narrative.
“It’s not like they hit you with the crazy stuff all at once. It’s the little things that sow distrust and skepticism,” DeCook told ProPublica.
“Steve Bannon goes right up to the line of what is acceptable and what is hate speech,” she says.
Bannon worked as Trump’s chief strategist during the 2016 campaign and into the first year of his administration.
The two had a falling out and Trump fired him eight months after taking office, although Bannon and then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said the parting was mutual.
Bannon largely remained outside looking in until Trump’s last day in office. He pardoned Bannon of federal charges he’d debunked a build-the-wall charity out of $1 million.
Bannon has strongly denied harboring anti-Semitic views, even while Breitbart, under his direction, promoted misogynistic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and thinly disguised racism on the site.
Flynn has taken the lead in the alt-right movement through a QAnon-like website called Digital Soldiers, according to The Times.
Flynn is piloting the site with UncoverDC, another website that has pushed QAnon and conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic and President Biden.
Central to Digital Soldier is the QAnon conspiracy theory that “Trump, secretly aided by the military, was elected to smash a cabal of Democrats, international financiers and deep-state bureaucrats who worship Satan and abuse children.”
The site represents Flynn’s fullest embrace of the movement to date.
“They really take his word as gospel,” Travis View, a close observer of the movement told The Times.
“In the mythology, they often say that he knows where the bodies are buried, and that’s why they tried to railroad him over Russia.”