"Mob guys": Rachel Maddow compares Steve Bannon's threats to "Sopranos" gangster

The MSNBC host delved into MAGA's propensity for political violence and displays of "gross force"

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published June 18, 2024 12:11PM (EDT)

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks on stage during "Turning Points: The People's Convention" on June 15, 2024 at Huntington Place Convention Center in Detroit, Michigan. (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks on stage during "Turning Points: The People's Convention" on June 15, 2024 at Huntington Place Convention Center in Detroit, Michigan. (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday raises alarm about the the romanticized "revolutionary" political era the United States is currently experiencing because of former President Donald Trump and his allies. 

Maddow began the segment by noting the nation's film fascination with mobster tropes and people's tendency to romanticize the notion of revolutions. 

"Violence is something that we are very good at in this country," she said. "And we all know all the tropes right? You know, making business people pay protection to the mob, and if they don't pay their protection money then the mob guys beat them up and trash their business and maybe even kill them."

"The mob guys running the card games and the other gambling rackets, where sure the odds are against you while you're playing, but the odds are you're going to get yourself killed if you actually get in debt to them," Maddow added. "And extortion and stealing and prostitution and drug dealing and armed robbery — we've all seen it in a million shows and you can create all sorts of romance and drama around it.

"And we absolutely do as a country."

"But what we are contending with in our politics right now is a movement that is not doing normal politics and it's not competing in normal political terms," the host continued. "They're trying to end the American system of government. They're trying to bring about a revolution against the American system of government and against the United States of America."

Maddow continued by noting that while "being revolutionary" and "being gangster" both evoke a sense of intrigue in the abstract, the specifics of what they're actually offering are "boring because it's just gross force."

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She then showed footage of former Trump adviser and staunch MAGA devotee Steve Bannon threatening to target his perceived political enemies and making inflammatory statements about President Joe Biden. "Go ahead. Go to the ends of the earth — we will hunt you down and bring you back," Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, said in one clip. In another, Bannon spoke said that Biden and his "crime family" are "nothing but trash."

"It's a family of feral dogs," Bannon exclaimed in another clip. "We're gonna have to fumigate the lies of Joe Biden, the treason of Joe Biden, and how enfeebled he is." He then went on to say how he and other loyal MAGAs would go after Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and members of the Justice Department who prosecuted Trump for his efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election, including special counsel Jack Smith.

"You're the vanguard of this revolution," Bannon added. "We're gonna do what the Romans did to Carthage ... it's gonna be a new day. And MAGA will run things. They're gonna know that MAGA is not only ascendant — MAGA is in charge. It's very simple: victory or death."

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"This isn't red meat for the base," Maddow argued. She followed by claiming that the version of retribution put forth by Bannon and other staunchly alt-right figures is punitive "as much as Tony Soprano's dad was providing protection for the local butcher."

Rather than providing a traditionally conservative version of politics, Maddow said, this is merely a distorted definition of power underpinned by violence. She argued that fervent Trump supporters are not attempting to win a political contest in the 2024 election, but rather, are trying to dismantle the process of democratic political contests altogether. 

"They are not trying very hard in normal campaign terms," Maddow alleged. "They're not trying very hard to compete on normal political appeals. What they are trying to do instead is take power by menacing and chasing out of the country anyone who opposed their leader."

The Rachel Maddow Show airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Rachel Maddow Steve Bannon