Steve Bannon sells out alt-right "losers" and "clowns" — the ones he elevated to the national stage

In a surprise interview with The American Prospect, Bannon claims he wants to "crush" forces of "ethno-nationalism"

Published August 17, 2017 8:20AM (EDT)

Steve Bannon (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Steve Bannon (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It seems that Steve Bannon doesn't have that high of an opinion of the alt-right movement -- which he played a central role in elevating to the national stage.

"Ethno-nationalism — it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more. These guys are a collection of clowns," Bannon told Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect on Wednesday.

Bannon couldn't help but add a jab at Democrats, however.

"The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats," Bannon said.

As Axios reported, it seems that Bannon did not realize his comments would be interpreted as an on-the-record interview. His latest interview will almost certainly not help his standing in a White House marked by how his relationship with President Donald Trump has noticeably frayed in recent weeks. Indeed, according to some reports, Bannon may be in danger of losing his job altogether.

The chief strategist spent much of the conversation bending Kuttner's ear on the subject of America's bilateral relationship with China. It soon became clear (as Bannon later admitted) that he was hoping to align members of the left with members of the right who share his anti-free trade stances.

Bannon said, "We’re at economic war with China. It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow."

Characteristically, Bannon threw other administration members under the bus who he perceived as opposing his agenda.

"We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying," Bannon told Kuttner.

In contrast to the Trump administration's hardline stance toward North Korea, Bannon acknowledged that it would be impossible to start a war with that country without incurring an unacceptable amount of civilian casualties. Because of this, however, Bannon feels that there is no reason to hold out hope that Chinese influence can be brought to bear on their wayward neighbor.

Bannon said he wants to cite Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act to hold China accountable for coercing technology transfers from American businesses as well as accuse them of dumping steel and aluminum in the global market. He also gloated that policy advisers who want to avoid a trade war are "wetting themselves" at the impending hardline stance against China.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Alt Right China Donald Trump North Korea Steve Bannon White Nationalism White Supremacism