During an interview with Breitbart News Saturday, Mike Allen, Politico co-founder and a journalist characterized as one of the most powerful in D.C., offered effusive praise for Breitbart, saying he “admire[s] so much of what’s been built at Breitbart.”
Allen, who quit Politico last year and appeared on Breitbart to promote his new Axios project, said Breitbart readers “benefit” from the “illumination” the outlet provides about “this ‘New World’” and characterized Breitbart’s coverage as “very smart.”
The interview provides a stark example of how Breitbart — an outlet that recently featured a “Black Crime” vertical, published a piece last year equating feminism with cancer, and is currently under fire for running a fake news story about a Muslim mob setting fire to a church in Germany — is becoming normalized in Donald Trump’s America.
In August, Trump tapped former Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon to be his campaign CEO. Bannon presided over a campaign whose closing ad included dog-whistles about “blood suckers” who back international trade, a scheming “global power structure,” and warnings about how Hillary Clinton allegedly “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” — comments that drew a rebuke from the the Anti-Defamation League for featuring “tropes that historically have been used against Jews.” Following Trump’s victory, Trump appointed Bannon to be his “chief strategist and senior counselor.”
Shortly before he started working for Trump, Bannon described Breitbart as “the platform for the alt-right” — a euphemism popularized by Richard Spencer, head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute (NPI), one of the country’s leading contemporary advocates of ideological racism.
During the Breitbart interview, Allen — who was criticized by the Washington Post in 2013 for providing sponsors of his Politico Playbook with fawning coverage — praised Breitbart for being “ahead of the curve” when it comes to understanding “the silent majority” who voted for Trump. (Trump, in fact, lost the national popular vote to Clinton by nearly three million votes.)
Describing how he approached a speaking engagement in front of a Trump-friendly audience in Wyoming shortly after the election, Allen said he decided to “shut up” so he could “listen to you about what you liked about Trump, how you came to your decision, what your inputs were.”
“A lot of it is also psychic and sociological and social. The anti-PC thing I think is a huge part of it,” he said, before going on to recount a conversation he had with a Trump-supporting friend on a train shortly after the election.
“People in America [were] just living their lives as they always have, and things were just changing too fast. ‘I’m living my life the way I always have and all of the sudden I’m the bigot, I’m a bad guy,’ and I think that was a huge part of this red wave.”
Surveys conducted shortly before the election found that 38 percent of Trump supporters think minorities have too much influence in American society, and 21 percent think white people don’t have enough (only 9 percent of U.S. senators and 22 percent of representatives are non-white, compared with 38 percent of the U.S. population.) Other polls found 65 percent of Trump supporters believe Obama is a Muslim.
During an off-record confab with journalists at Mar-a-Lago last month, Allen shared photos showing that attendees were treated to cold cuts, potato chips, and Trump-branded champagne. He used his access to promote his new outlet.
— Mike Allen (@mikeallen) December 19, 2016
Axios’ first morning newsletter, authored by Allen and published on Monday, contains lots of praise for Trump, who he describes as having “done more than any POTUS-elect ever.”
“So the early betting among Republicans on the Hill is he will be wildly unpredictable, episodically reckless and perhaps MORE successful in terms of legislative wins than Bush or Obama were with full party control of Washington,” Allen writes, neglecting to mention that Trump’s accomplishments during the transition period include using his Twitter account to bully a labor leader, misrepresenting corporate giveaways as victories for workers, and nominating a cabinet full of white men who have a history of working against people of color, leading companies that foreclosed on vulnerable homeowners in ways that may have been illegal, and who seek to dismantle the very agencies they’re now nominated with leading.
The Mar-a-Lago gathering occurred days after Trump canceled a news conference where he was supposed to address his conflict of interest problems — problems he still hasn’t addressed.
Trump hasn’t held a press conference since last July 27, when he took questions from reporters in Miami and brazenly encouraged Russian hackers to “find” tens of thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, adding that media coverage would result in the hackers being “rewarded mightily by our press.”