Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon didn’t care that Saturday Night Live portrayed him as the Grim Reaper and a shadow president in place of Donald Trump.
“I don’t need the affirmation of the mainstream media. I don’t care what they say,” Bannon said on Sunday’s 60 Minutes when asked about the SNL sketches by Charlie Rose. “They can call me an anti-Semite. They can call me racist. They call me nativist. You can call me anything you want. Okay? As long as we’re driving this agenda for the working men and women of this country, I’m happy.”
Bannon left the White House last month, ending a controversial tenure for right-wing media baron (who has since returned to head Breitbart News, the conservative website Bannon started and later called a platform for the so-called “alt-right”). During the 60 Minutes interview, his first since exiting the Trump administration in an official capacity, Bannon slammed his political opponents — from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (“They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented”) to “limousine liberals” to members of the George W. Bush administration. But he remained loyal to President Trump, calling him “very presidential” and claiming the president’s use of Twitter is acceptable.
“I think what he does on Twitter is extraordinary. He disintermediates the media. He goes above their head and talks directly to the American people,” Bannon said. “It’s what he says. No, it’s what he says that the mainstream media, the pearl-clutching mainstream media. The pearl-clutching mainstream media. What they deem is not correct, what they deem is not right.”
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Of the media, Bannon added, “I don’t think he needs the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and CBS News. And I don’t believe he thinks that they’re looking out what’s in his best interest, okay? He’s not going to believe that, I don’t believe that, and you don’t believe that, okay? This is another just standard in judgment that you rain upon him in the effort to destroy Donald Trump. He knows he’s speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it sometimes is not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate.”
After Reince Priebus was fired as Chief of Staff and replaced by General John F. Kelly, many speculated that Trump’s Twitter outbursts would lessen. Bannon said not to expect a change. “General Kelly I have the most tremendous respect for and has put in very tight processes. He’s not going to be able to control it either because it’s Donald Trump,” Bannon said. “It’s Donald Trump talking directly to the American people. And to say something else, you’re going to get some good there. And every now and again you’re going to get some less good, okay? But you’re just going to have to live with it.”
The full Bannon interview airs Sunday on 60 Minutes.