Ron Radosh’s Faulty Memory and Questionable Attacks on Steve Bannon

By Austin Ruse Published on February 8, 2017

Historian Ron Radosh may dine out for the next several years on a chance conversation he says he had with Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon.

Radosh is the sole source for a claim you’ve heard maybe dozens of times, that Bannon described himself as a “Leninist” who “wants to bring down the state.” It comes from a column Radosh published last August in the Daily Beast, a column Radosh is thrilled “has now gone viral.”

But is it accurate? 

Conflicting Reports From the Source

In that column Radosh says he attended a book party Breitbart News threw in its Capitol Hill townhouse for a new book by David Horowitz, and where Bannon “proudly proclaimed” to Radosh, “I’m a Leninist.” Radosh says he asked Bannon what he meant and that Bannon responded, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

The implication is that Bannon told Radosh that he is a violent revolutionary who wants to destroy the government of the United States. That’s quite an accusation.

Radosh is certain all this took place exactly as he says. And that Bannon said exactly that. When you scroll to the bottom of the column as it appears today, however, you see that a correction has been made, “Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect when the party took place …”

Radosh had to change all sorts of details in the story to make it consistent with his original claim, suggesting that he had patched together elements from different dates into one mistaken memory.

Turns out Radosh got the dates wrong. In the original column, he said the party took place during the week of February 19th, 2014. In fact, it took place three months earlier on November 12th, 2013. We know this because writer Diana West, who herself has come under similar Radosh attacks, caught the mistake and published it in a column a few days later. Radosh had to be watching because he made a correction right away. In fact, he had to change all sorts of details in the story to make it consistent with his original claim, suggesting that he had patched together elements from different dates into one mistaken memory.

Diana West considered this error important because it fits with a similar experience she had with Radosh when she published her book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character in 2013. Radosh went after West, tried to besmirch her reputation, and he also made conflicting claims about what other historians had said about key facts.*

What’s more, Radosh got the date wrong not once but twice because he went on Glenn Beck’s radio show and said it happened in October 2014. In the same radio interview Radosh said he wished he had asked Bannon what he meant by the claim that he was a “Leninist,” even though in his August column he said he had done just that.

A Grinding Axe Makes for a Bad Memory

Given the many changes and inconsistencies in Radosh’s story, one can be forgiven for doubting it altogether — particularly coupled as it is with his obvious hatred of Bannon. Note that when Radosh was attacking Diana West’s book, the outlet that most defended her, indeed gave her a platform for her to defend herself, was Breitbart.

Only a few days ago Radosh double-dipped on his Bannon attacks with a new column at The Daily Beast that he calls “Steve Bannon’s Shout Out to Left-Wing Group.”

Radosh found a YouTube speech Bannon gave to a Tea Party event in New York in 2010 in which criticized the financial collapse of 2008. Radosh reports that Bannon attacks the “world financial system,” that he blames the financial collapse on “the financial elites and the American political class,” and that he refers to the New York Times as the paper “for the liberal elite.” But what really gets Radosh is that Bannon quotes Bob Dylan! Bannon, we learn, finishes his speech with this flourish: “It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way the wind blows, and the wind blows off the high plains of this country, through the prairie and lights a fire that will burn all the way to Washington in November.”

“Although his audience may not have gotten the reference, he was saying that he and the Tea Party are revolutionaries who want to bring down the system,” writes Radosh. You see, the word “weatherman” was taken by an offshoot of the hard-left Students for a Democratic Society that went on to set off hundreds of bombs around the country in the late 1960s.

Also, “prairie fire” was the name given to collected works of the Weather Underground leadership including bombers Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

You got that? Bannon gave a shout-out to far-left violent revolutionaries who were friends of Radosh back in the day and Bannon wants to be like them! Does this make any sense?

Nothing New from Radosh

Radosh has a history of these kinds of attacks and smears.

He went after Diana West for her book about Soviet penetration of the FDR administration, even though her book was praised by a raft of noted conservatives. Radosh attacked Ann Coulter for her book on Joseph McCarthy. Radosh attacked the great M. Stanton Evans for his book about McCarthy, even accusing Evans, amazingly, of plagiarism.

Radosh was a Red Diaper Baby, a card-carrying communist who was raised by card-carrying communists who is said to have broken with the Communist Party USA over the mass-murderer Khrushchev’s revelation about the crimes of Stalin. What did Radosh do? He joined the hard-left Students for a Democratic Society, almost certainly a communist-influenced group of students that became the violent Weatherman and he became a “father of the New Left.” His lefty friends eventually walked away from him when he concluded the Rosenberg’s were guilty of espionage.

Radosh’s barely-concealed animus toward Steve Bannon may have fogged his memory, but he seems to have remembered perfectly the tactics he learned from his communist masters when he was young and he has unleashed these tactics against fellow conservatives.



*The weeds are fairly deep here, but Radosh claimed that an Air Force historian relied upon by West had backed off his claims that the FDR aid Harry Hopkins was a working Soviet agent known as “19” in the Venona cables. Though Radosh made this claim, in a subsequent email to West he made it clear the Naval historian had probably not backed off the claim. This seems unimportant but to the debate about West’s book, it was of immense importance and speaks to Radosh’s reliability as a witness.

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