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Steve Bannon, the chief strategist and senior counselor to President Trump, said the press should be ashamed at how out of touch it is with the United States and just “listen for a while.”
Bannon, who used to edit the far-right website Breitbart before heading Trump’s presidential campaign, delivered the contemptuous indictment of the news media during a phone interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon said.
Trump generated controversy by bringing Bannon — who is associated with the so-called alt-right movement — into his inner circle. Some critics describe the alt-right as just a rebranding of white nationalism.
During the phone interview, Bannon requested to be quoted upbraiding the media as an “opposition party” to the current administration.
“They don’t understand this country,” Bannon said. “They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
Bannon said the “mainstream,” “elite” media have been “100 percent dead wrong” and called out the Times and the Washington Post by name.
The conversation comes at a particularly contentious moment between the press and the Trump administration. White House press secretary Sean Spicer was roundly criticized on Jan. 21 for telling the press that Trump’s inauguration audience the day before was the largest in U.S. history despite clear photographic evidence otherwise. When asked to account for this falsehood the following day, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confusingly said that Spicer was using “alternative facts.”
This antagonism is nothing new. During the presidential campaigns, the editorial boards for newspapers overwhelmingly endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton, and even right-leaning newspapers that traditionally endorse Republican candidates gravitated toward Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson.
A month before the presidential election, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Trump as an unprecedented threat to press freedom, claiming that he’d demonstrated regular contempt for the press in any role that didn’t involve promoting his business endeavors.
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