Was The Hill Hoaxed Over Its Attack on Steve Bannon?
Did Steve Bannon actually write this "hit piece" himself?
On Thursday, I reported on how The Huffington Post was hoaxed into running a column. It called for white males, worldwide, to be stripped of the right to vote. Then it came out that the piece was actually penned by a white guy as a satire. So of course somebody got fired.
Not the editor who greenlit and defended the piece. The author, whom Huffington editors outed to his employer. The satirist lost his job with a think tank, and The Huffington Post yanked the column, which now it decided was hate speech. Because it didn’t want to yank people’s voting rights based on race. I’ll pause for a moment, to let the reader assimilate all that.
Did Steve Bannon Hoax The Hill?
And now, it appears to me that the online journal The Hill was the victim of a similar hoax. I believe, based on an analysis of internal evidence such as tone, logic, and content, that the April 20 column “America’s biggest enemy isn’t North Korea or Iran — it’s Steve Bannon” with the byline “Mark Feinberg” was written by Bannon himself.
Don’t put it past him. TIME magazine dubbed Bannon “The Master Manipulator.” That’s a cover story which the New York Times’ Frank Bruni believes helped to alienate Donald Trump. Assuming that Trump is the insecure, short-fingered doofus painted by liberal media, Bruni thought the article made Trump so defensive at the perception that Bannon was pulling his strings, that it led Trump to sideline Bannon.
Is it really so surprising that Bannon would craft an attack on himself so over the top and absurd that it discredits mainstream criticism?
That seems to me unlikely. But Bannon is certainly crafty. He catapulted Breitbart to the top of conservative media. Then he went on to take Trump’s stalled presidential campaign and make it a winner. Would you really put it past Steve Bannon to counter the constant media hammering he’s getting by trolling himself in print?
If you believe unsourced media speculation (and who among us doesn’t?), you’re convinced that Bannon and the rest of Trump’s campaign team have deep ties to the Kremlin. And an old standby tactic of Soviet propaganda was “disinformation.” The KGB raised it to a high art in its heyday. A favorite trick: releasing truthful but embarassing information in a crass, discredited source. Then if a real newspaper ever uncovered it, no one would believe it.
Is it really so surprising that Bannon would craft an attack on himself so over the top and absurd that it discredits mainstream criticism? Even better, that he’d get it in a staid, non-partisan venue such as The Hill? (It’s not a left-wing rag. I’ve written there myself.)
So Many Random, Unsupported Charges, the Author’s Clearly Kidding
Okay, so we’ve established plausibility. Bannon might be behind this. But where’s the evidence? The piece is riddled with it.
First of all, the title. “America’s biggest enemy isn’t North Korea or Iran — it’s Steve Bannon.” Could we go a little further over the top? So a mere presidential advisor is more of a threat than a nuclear-armed totalitarian state, and a leading sponsor of international terrorism.
Not just a threat, but an “enemy.” It’s not customary in America to call one’s political opponent an “enemy” of the nation. I don’t think Pat Buchanan ever said that of Bill Clinton, or Trump of Hillary. Even “screaming Howard” Dean didn’t say it about Mitt Romney. (Though Dean claims that Ann Coulter’s “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment. Maybe Coulter is secretly controlling Howard Dean — but that’s a topic for a future investigation.)
No one has ever offered a speck of credible evidence that Bannon is a white nationalist, of course. His Jacksonian nationalism is race-neutral. Trump made as much clear in his first speech to Congress.
The Stream has explored Bannon’s views via his 2014 speech at the Vatican. Bannon does resent globalist influence-peddlers and crony capitalists. But those folks come in all colors. The charge that Bannon is an anti-Semite collapsed from a total lack of evidence. Then it was drowned out by Jewish conservatives rallying to his defense. Just another strand of spaghetti, peeling quickly from the wall.
Neo-Nazis Under the Bed
The op-ed takes the white nationalist charge as proved and quickly moves on. Next it asserts that Bannon is an “enemy of the Constitution.” So by having him as an advisor Trump is violating his Presidential Oath of Office. Read for yourself:
Like every president, Trump vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, and the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency depends on fulfilling that oath. This is why his hiring of Steve Bannon has tainted his presidency from the beginning: Trump vowed to fight enemies of the Constitution, not to hire them.
Even worse, Bannon was able to “transform Trump’s finely honed ability to insult and humiliate opponents into the leading edge of a multi-pronged, strategic propaganda machine.” Dear me. Did the article just say that … Bannon helped Trump campaign more effectively, and win? We can’t have people like that running around the White House, so close to the nuclear button.
So what is the hidden agenda of this “dangerous figure” that makes him an “enemy of the Constitution”? In fact it’s such a threat that he must be fired to save the “legitimacy of Trump’s presidency”? The article exposes the ugly “facts”:
[Bannon] shaped Breitbart into a unifying platform for a spectrum of hate, ranging from Tea Party racists to far-right extremist groups like neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white nationalists. The core shared goal among this spectrum of far-right extremist groups is to build a new muscular America as a white ethnostate.
You might think that those links lead to statements by Bannon that prove the author’s point. Or at least pieces he ran at Breitbart that express such sympathies. That’s the kind of evidence, if it existed, that a sincere critic of Bannon would compile and use to damn him.
But the author of this piece does not seem to be trying to hurt Bannon. So he sends readers off on a wild goose chase. The first link goes to a random piece from Mother Jones that lists crank neo-Nazis who offered Trump unwanted endorsements which Trump ignored. (Just so, Hillary Clinton ignored the endorsement of the head of the Communist Party, USA.)
No, this is a nasty caricature. A right-wing parody of progressive hysteria penned by the very man it pretends to attack.
The next link goes to an article about white race fetishist Richard Spencer, who has never been published at Breitbart. He had not the slightest link either to Trump or Bannon. He’s just a small time hustler trying to hitch his racist wagon to the nearest rising star. Clearly, the piece’s author is trying to frustrate readers and exhaust them.
Bannon Has a Potty-Mouth
For the next piece of “evidence,” the piece cites some emails from Bannon. In them, Bannon spoke with profane contempt about an anti-Trump congressman, Jason Chaffetz. These establish that Bannon has a temper and a potty-mouth. But they have nothing to do with the charges in the previous paragraph. Nor are they linked to anything asserted in the next paragraph. They’re just random information, with no connection to charges of racial or ethnic bias. None. Surely the author knew this. No one is this incompetent.
I could go on and on. Instead let’s finish with this paragraph:
It’s thus predictable that, in the White House, Bannon would be determined to move the hate-right agenda forward regardless of constitutional protections, legal restrictions or democratic norms. Bannon is said to have been the architect of the unconstitutional and doubly cursed Muslim ban; he over-ruled specific legal advice within the administration in doing so; and he has shown a proclivity to use aggressive threats to silence the press and bend members of Congress to his will.
“Doubly-cursed”? Come on. That’s the kind of language used in fatwas coming from Islamist sheiks in Egypt, not academics at colleges in Pennsylvania. Again, nothing the author asserts even tries to establish that Bannon is an “enemy of the Constitution.” He’s just a political figure promoting policies liberals don’t like. Even left-wing professors consumed with hatred for Bannon, Trump, and Trump’s voters aren’t this sloppy and incoherent.
“Mark Feinberg, Ph.D.” Indeed
No, this is a nasty caricature. A right-wing parody of progressive hysteria penned by the very man it pretends to attack. This column has Bannon’s nefarious ink-stained fingerprints all over it.
If “Mark Feinberg, Ph.D.,” really exists, and really is a “research professor of Health and Human Development at Pennsylvania State University,” as The Hill’s byline asserts, then I am really the Queen of Spain.
Good one, Steve. You had some people fooled!