The ‘alt-right’ will be firmly ensconced in the West Wing next January, as former head of Breitbart News Steve Bannon takes up the role of chief strategist for President-elect Donald Trump. But don’t call him an anti-Semite, Newt Gingrich said. After all, he’s worked on Wall Street and in Hollywood.
“He was a managing partner of Goldman Sachs. He was a Hollywood movie producer. You know, the idea that somehow he represents ― I had never heard of the alt-right until the nutcakes started writing about it,” the former Speaker of the House and potential Secretary of State under Trump said, talking on Sunday to John Dickerson of CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
By his own admission, Bannon turned Breitbart — a website founded by a Jew to defend Israel — into the “platform of the alt-right.” The self-styled hipster faction of the right wing, the “alt-right” is a loose, web-based affiliation of white nationalists looking to build an “ethno-state,” meme-happy trolls and provocateurs who in what they call “political correctness” a deathly enemy. Jew haters count themselves among the “alt-right” but do not dominate it.
Despite Bannon’s courting of this audience for the website he ran, Gingrich doubled down on his remarks on Nov. 14, telling “Fox and Friends” that Bannon should not be held accountable for what the site published while he was in charge.
“They now want to come back and say that anything that anybody ever published in Breitbart is Steve Bannon. That’s baloney,” Gingrich fumed.
With Bannon at the helm, the site called neoconservative Bill Kristol “a renegade Jew” for opposing Trump’s candidacy, published an article that dismissed the existence of anti-Semitism and defended caricatures that had stereotypically Jewish features.
Breitbart has acquired a reputation for racist, sexist and otherwise bigoted headlines. They include “Would You Rather Your Child Had Cancer or Feminism?,” “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count Under Cecile Richards Is Up to Half a Holocaust,” “Hillary Clinton’s Muslim Brotherhood Problem” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
While Gingrich has come to Bannon’s aid on anti-Semitism, Jewish groups have blasted the appointment.
“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’… is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,” the statement read. “We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.