“Brilliant! Its lack of evidence makes it all the more compelling, and some of the mistakes were corrected in a Kindle edition!” —Doug Henwood
To state the obvious, here was never any chance than Bannon was going to get Republicans to raise taxes on the rich or pass a real infrastructure bill (as opposed to a bill of tax breaks labelled “infrastructure.”) But that doesn’t mean he’s irrelevant to Trump’s raise. As Chait says, his crucial role was helping to create a media environment in which Hillary Clinton was portrayed as the corrupt and dishonest candidate in a race in which her opponent shattered any previous standard of corruption and dishonesty:
As Green explains, Bannon came out of a wing of the conservative movement that was professionally dedicated to discrediting Bill and Hillary Clinton. The anti-Clinton industry had existed since the early 1990s as both a partisan messaging tool and a reliable source of income. Bannon’s key insight was that the anti-Clinton campaign of the 1990s failed. The conservative media ecosystem recirculated lurid fantasies that the Clintons were murderers, connected to a drug cartel, and so on. They whipped their base into a failed crusade for impeachment while destroying their credibility with the mainstream media.
Rather than dismiss the mainstream media as hopelessly biased, as most conservatives did, Bannon grasped both its importance and potential utility. He believed sufficiently credible research could be injected into news organs that potential Clinton voters would read. He helped fund and direct research, such as “Clinton Cash,” which depicted Hillary Clinton as greedy and criminal.
Bannon’s work in the anti-Clinton complex turned out to shape the battlefield for the campaign in precisely the way he predicted. The news media relentlessly cast the Democratic front-runner as secretive and corrupt, to the point where she was almost no longer the front-runner at all. Her favorable ratings were bound to fall when she returned from a non-political role as secretary of State to candidate taking live bullets. But the scope of the fall was shocking…
The unconscionable decision of the New York Times to partner with Breitbart to publish anti-Clinton propaganda was the beginning of the endless pursuit of inane snipe hunts that would ultimately put Trump into the White House. And the alt-right faction of the FBI was apparently a big fan of Clinton Cash, too. Bannon’s legacy will not be changing the direction of the Republican Party. Rather, his legacy will be playing a major role in electing Trump, which allowed for the advancement of orthodox Republican priorities like the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the gutting of the EPA, etc. (And as I said about Assange, Bannon’s cleverness as a propagandist hardly lets the journalists who eagerly went along off the hook. They made choices.)