Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Family Research Council defends Steve Bannon by omitting details of his history at Breitbart

In spite of the firestorm caused by President-elect Donald Trump making white nationalist provocateur Steve Bannon his chief White House strategist, the religious right group, the Family Research Council continues to defend the action. That is, even if the group  deliberately ignores the central part of the controversy behind Trump's selection of Bannon:

For the far-Left, the depression over Donald Trump's come-from-behind win is only part of the story. The rest is unfolding now, as the incoming administration starts filling key posts. Reince Priebus's appointment as chief of staff was one, but liberals are having a tough time accepting Trump's other top strategist: Steve Bannon. As executive director of Breitbart News, Bannon's appointment sent shudders through the liberal camp.

Calling him a symbol of the "ugly direction" Trump intends to take this country, radical groups from the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to George Soros's People for the American Way are calling on the president-elect to rescind the job offer. "It is a disaster," bemoaned Mark Potok of SPLC, one of the many extremists wringing their hands over the thought of Bannon on the White House staff. The coalition of detractors is a who's who of the liberal fringe, including everyone from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to the Anti-Defamation League. Anyone who draws the ire of those organizations must be a true conservative!

Either way, the Trump transition team couldn't care less about the accusations. "[Bannon]'s got a Harvard business degree. He's a Naval officer. He has success in entertainment. I don't know if you're aware of that. And he certainly was a Goldman Sachs managing partner," Kellyanne Conway said to the false accusations that Bannon is prejudiced or racist. "I'm personally offended that you think I would manage a campaign where that would be one of the going philosophies," Conway fired back to critics. "It was not." In the meantime, if congressional Democrats or liberal bullies thought they could scare Trump off of his choices, they apparently don't know Donald!

In its defense FRC seems to have deliberately omitted the details about Bannon's tenure as head of Breitbart News Network. According to a link I cited before from the Huffington Post:

At Breitbart, Bannon helped make the hardline populist website a go-to resource for white nationalists and the alt-right, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

 . . . Breitbart has propagated conspiracy theories, like Planned Parenthood having Nazi ties or Clinton aide Huma Abedin being a spy for Saudi Arabia. The website traffics in misogynist and racist stories; it frames women who push back against harassment or gender bias as weak and incompetent and portrays people of color and immigrants as inherently criminal.

Rather than addressing these legitimate concerns, FRC instead chose to  denigrate who spoke out against Trump's choice of Bannon. I wonder how long will it take the group to smear Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who, on Tuesday, took to the Senate floor to give a stern denunciation of Bannon.

In addition, the Huffington Post listed a number of Breitbart's most, shall we say, provocative headlines. By being deliberately ignoring Bannon's entire history at Breitbart, one could say that FRC is giving tacit approval of these headlines and the stories they represented:

As to why FRC has chosen to defend Bannon, another post written by the group gives a good reason. FRC is merely protecting its perceived "investment" in changing the Supreme Court to its liking:

Donald Trump wasn't the only winner last Tuesday -- so was every American that cares about the Constitution! By the final days of the race, it was clear to everyone -- including pollsters -- that the election of the GOP nominee wasn't just about who would be working out of the White House but who would be filling the bench of the Supreme Court too. The voters who ranked SCOTUS as the number one priority in this election (and there were a lot of them) can breathe a collective sigh of relief next year when Donald Trump has a chance to fulfill one of his biggest promises to America: filling Antonin Scalia's seat with a bonafide originalist.

As the first GOP nominee in history to say that he would only appoint pro-life justices to the bench, Trump won over plenty of skeptics by releasing his list of solid and impartial jurists in advance of the election. During the last debate, he was clear:
"I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint -- and I've named 20 of them... will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they're people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that's very, very important. I don't think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It's all about the... Constitution the way it was meant to be."
Now that he's the president-elect, Trump hasn't wavered from that pledge. Over the weekend, he reiterated to "60 Minutes's" Leslie Stahl, "I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life." What happens to women if Roe v. Wade is overturned, she went on? "They'll perhaps have to go... to another state," Trump replied matter-of-factly. House and Senate Republicans, who were also vindicated for leaving Scalia's seat open for the new president, know how crucial the next confirmation will be. "It was a central election issue," said analyst Shannen Coffin. "If [Trump] were to turn on that, it'd be a huge betrayal of the expectations he set."
The Family Research Council's actions doesn't strike me as just Machiavellian. They are sad as well. One would think that a group which claims to be defenders of morality, values, and Christian beliefs would be one of the first entities to speak out against those who traffic racism, homophobia, and misogyny. Instead, FRC has chosen to pretend that the incidents of racism, homophobia, and misogyny never occurred at Breitbart under Bannon's leadership

Obviously the Family Research Council views speaking out against racism, homophobia, and misogyny as less important than its attempt to reshape SCOTUS to its liking.

1 comment:

Damien said...

An excellent and terrifying piece.