Donald Trump, in a sit-down with executives and staffers of the New York Times, spent considerable breath defending his appointment of former Breitbart chief Stephen Bannon to the White House as chief strategist, according to the transcript of the meeting, released Wednesday by the newspaper.
It’s almost as if the newspaper didn’t get the message from the scores in the Jewish community who’ve come out in recent days to say: Hey, Bannon’s far from the anti-Semite you make him out to be.
But such is the nature of the members of the mainstream media – it’s rare they’ll give up a narrative that fits their perceptions, no matter what facts might pop and prevail.
The question-answer session went like this, beginning with Julie Davis, one of the newspaper’s White House correspondents:
“Davis: You hired Steve Bannon to be the chief strategist for you in the White House. He is a hero of the alt-right. He’s been described by some as racist and anti-Semitic. I wonder what message you think you have sent by elevating him to that position and what you would say to those who feel like that indicates something about the kind of country you prefer and the government you’ll run.
“Trump: Um, I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him. First of all. I’m the one that makes the decision, not Steve Bannon or anybody else. And Kellyanne [Conway] will tell you that.
“Kellyanne Conway: 100 percent.
“Trump: And if he said something to me that, in terms of his views, or that I thought were inappropriate or bad, number one I wouldn’t do anything and number two, he would have to be gone. But I know many people that know him and in fact, he’s actually getting some very good press from a lot of the people that know him, and people that are on the left. But Steve went to Harvard, he was a, you know, he was very successful. He was a Navy officer, he’s, I think he’s very, very, you know, sadly, really, I think it’s very hard on him. I think he’s having a hard time with it. Because it’s not him. It’s not him. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a very, very smart guy. I think he was with Goldman Sachs on top of everything else.”
“Unknown: What do you make of the website he ran, Breitbart? …
“Trump: Well, Breitbart’s different. Breitbart covers things, I mean like The New York Times covers things. I mean, I could say that Arthur [Sulzberger Jr., publisher] is alt-right because they covered an alt-right story. …
“Trump: The New York Times covers a lot of stories that are, you know, rought stories. And you know, they have covered some of these things, but the New York Times covers a lot of these things, also. It’s just a newspaper, essentially. It’s a newspaper. I know the guy, he’s a decent guy, he’s a very smart guy. He’s done a good job. He hasn’t been with me that long. You know he really came in after the primaries. I had already won the primaries. And if I thought that his views were in that category, I would immediately let him go. And I’ll tell you wahy. In many respects I think his views are actually on the other side of what a lot of people might think.
“Davis: But you are aware, sir, with all due respect, that African-Americans and Jews and many folks who disagree with the coverage of Breitbart and the slant that Breitbart brings to the news view him that way, aren’t you?
“Trump: Yeah, well Breitbart, first of all, is just a publication. And you know, they cover stories like you cover stories. Now, they are certainly a much more conservative paper, to put it mildly, that the New York Times. But Breitbart really is a news organziation that’s become quite successful and it’s got readers and it does cover subjects that are on the right, but it covers subjects on the left also. I mean it’s pretty big, it’s a pretty big thing. And he helped build it into a pretty successful news organization.
“Trump: Now I’ll tell you what, I know him very well. I will say this and I will say this, if I thought that strongly, if I thought that he was doing anything, or had any ideas that were different than the ideas that you would think, I would ask him very politely to leave. But in the meantime, I think he’s been treated very unfairly.”
The full transcript’s a fascinating read, particularly because it shows just how unfocused on the larger picture the mainstream media can get when confronted with an individual who doesn’t fit its narrative.
The media narrative about Trump is he’s a misogynist, racist, bigot and so forth. The media narrative about Breitbart and other conservative publications is that they’re right-wing and radical, filled with racists, bigots and misogynists who want to use their platforms to advance biased causes.
And on Bannon, this narrative has played out for days and days, since Trump announced him for a White House role. Specifically, Bannon’s been slammed as an anti-Semite; the Breitbart outlet he once led has been labeled a home for bigoted views.
At the same time, many in the Jewish community have come forward to say they personally know Bannon and he’s far from an anti-Semite. But does the mainstream media accept this?
No. Even now, even after all the media coverage of all the truer representations of Bannon’s views, experiences and statements, the mainstream media, like the New York Times, just won’t let its self-interested narrative go – won’t admit its journalists, fact-checkers and editors may have jumped the gun on Bannon and assumed the worst, without bothering to conduct due diligence.