Below is an archived edition of Ctrl Alt Right Delete, a weekly email newsletter. This edition was published on 1/07/2018. Members of Factual Democracy Project have access to past editions. Subscribe to Ctrl Alt Right Delete.
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you were able to enjoy a holiday break of some kind and that it gave you the chance to recharge. I spent a week in Kentucky with my family and I loved checking in online only once or twice a day. Generally, I don’t feel a need for social media breaks but as 2017 drew to a close, I was burned out. It felt really good to take a couple of full weeks and not think about Trump or the Frogs who love him
But I’m back and 2018 has already been a roller coaster. Let’s do this.
Steve Bannon’s agenda is to break things. At his CPAC keynote last year, Bannon declared his his goal was no less than the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” He planned to primary Republican electeds rather than attempt to hold the majority. It’s helpful to remember his love of chaos when trying to parse Bannon’s actions, and his relationship with Trump.
Bannon was never a Trump loyalist. But Trump had the adoring crowds. Trump had no real policy positions, but his racist views and white nationalist campaign was the perfect vehicle for Bannon’s agenda. For a while they made a formidable team, uniting the mobs offline and on. But early on there were signs it couldn’t last. Within four months of taking office, Trump — supposedly angered by Bannon’s profile — downplayed Bannon’s role in Trump’s victory, telling reporters “I’m my own strategist.” Trump fired Bannon in August and Bannon declared the Trump presidency “over.”
Breitbart has changed their coverage of the White House since Bannon’s return. On the surface, they’ve continued their support for Trump’s agenda but they’ve also taken a lot of potshots at the administration, particularly with Javanka (Bannon’s preferred nickname for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner). Breitbart also refers to Jared as “Mr. Perfect,” and takes particular delight in his various failures. If you believe Fire and Fury Bannon spent most of his energy while at the White House fighting with Jared and Ivanka. Given how much of Breitbart’s coverage was tinged with Javanka insults, Fire and Fury’s version of events seems mostly believable.
Given all of this, Trump and Bannon’s new feud comes as no surprise. I’m also not too surprised that Bannon took the first shot. Their tension was obvious during the Alabama Senate race, and when Doug Jones won the seat over Bannon’s preferred candidate, Roy Moore, Republicans in DC were more than happy to put the blame squarely on Steve Bannon.
But as first shots go, Bannon picked a doozy! Here’s a quick refresher:
Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.
Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
Bannon didn’t deny the quote (Apparently he tried but didn’t move fast enough.) Breitbart even wrote a news article about the Guardian piece. It was fascinating to watch Trump’s Army try and figure out what was going on and what the message was. The_Donald posted a sticky thread urging supporters not to believe anything from the media and to have faith in Steve Bannon.
Once President Trump made his feelings known, his army followed suit:
- The_Donald edited their sticky thread to call Bannon their “new enemy” and started another with Bannon’s picture and the word “war.”
- Alt-right celebrities and online communities denounced Bannon just as swiftly.
- Breitbart published more news stories including Trump’s statement, but the comments section was clearly on Team Trump.
- Junior kept the base fired up on Twitter, and the ghost of Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted that he’d been right about Bannon all along.
- GOP candidates Bannon had endorsed quickly distanced themselves from him.
- Matt Drudge, who openly hates Bannon, delighted in his rival’s downfall.
- Rebekah Mercer, Bannon’s billionaire benefactor, made it known that she would no longer supportBannon’s ventures.
- Rumor has it that Bannon might soon lose his job at Breitbart.
I’ve long thought that taking down Frog Squad influencers one by one was a solid strategy for damaging Trump. But these guys are so good at owning themselves perhaps we don’t need to bother. Steve Bannon is done. Trump lives to fight another day, but with one less powerful voice organizing others on his behalf. Trump’s ego won’t allow him to see that as a loss but it is.
Meanwhile “drain the swamp” has become “protect the incumbents.” In a press briefing at Camp David, with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan standing right behind him, Trump promised to protect incumbents rather than risk another debacle like Alabama’s Senate race. Steve Bannon is gone and I took Trump’s remarks as assurance that his strategies are as well. It will be interesting to see how well that sits with the Frog Squad over the long term, especially if Trump’s rhetoric loses Bannon’s nationalist flair. My suspicion is that the American frogs are now a cult of Trump before any other ideology but I’ve been wrong before. Stay tuned.
Here are three important investigation-related happenings you might have missed:
- The origin of the FBI’s investigation into Russian collusion is wild: George “Coffee Boy” Papadopoulos, bragging to an Australian diplomat, at a bar in London. Papadopoulos met the diplomat randomly via a woman he was seeing romantically.
- The founders of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier, penned a scathing op-ed for the New York Times. They’re tired of right wing conspiracies, disgusted by Republicans in Congress for refusing to investigate what’s right in front of them, and basically called the sitting president a money launderer.
- Senator Dianne Feinstein says that White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino might have corresponded with Russian nationals. Given how much time Scavino spends working with pro-Trump online communities and how much effort Russia puts into influencing these same communities, this news doesn’t surprise me.
- A conspiracy theorist who believes in the “Pizzagate” hoax came at Chrissy Teigen and she had none of it(Buzzfeed)
- With the rise of the alt-right, Latino white supremacy may not be a contradiction in terms (Mic)
- LOL something matters (Slate)
- The hidden face of hate groups online: A former’s perspective (VoxPol)
- Is America prepared for meme warfare? (Vice)
- I’ve studied the Trump-Fox feedback loop for months. It’s crazier than you think. (Politico)
What do you want to see more of from me in 2018? Reply to this email with your ideas and suggestions.There are some big changes afoot and I’d love to get your feedback as I start to make them.
That’s all for now. Thank you always to the wonderful Nicole Belle for copy editing this newsletter every week. And thank you for reading.