CNN Recalls 'White Supremacist' Attack on Bannon, Scolds GOP Guest Over Liberal Bias

As a panel on Sunday's CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow discussed the announcement that Donald Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon would be appointed as a high-ranking strategist in the White House, conservative CNN political commentator and former GOP Congressman Jack Kingston was outnumbered by liberals four to one as the group repeatedly pushed charges of "racism" against Bannon.

Accusations of "anti-Semitism" and of being a "white supremacist" were recycled, and CNN's Brian Stelter asserted that some find him "frightening" enough to view his presence in the White House as a "national emergency." And at one point, Kingston was even scolded by host Poppy Harlow when he suggested that "journalists" are often equivalent to "Democrats" recalling findings that more than 90 percent of campaign donations given by journalists go to Democrats. Harlow: "That's really -- you know what, Congressman. I take issue with that. That's really unfair."

As Stelter appeared at 5:10 p.m. ET, he intoned: "This is the normalization of extreme Alt-Right rhetoric, unless Americans don't let it become normalized. Breitbart, a website that thrives with white nationalist rhetoric, very, very incendiary kind of commentary."

He then added: 

John Weaver, who ran John McCain's campaign, just said on Twitter: "The racist, fascist, extreme right is represented now footsteps from the Oval Office." Now, Bannon would reject that. In the one conversation I was able to have with him during the campaign, he said this is not a white nationalist movement, this is a populist movement. But, certainly, what many Americans hear this afternoon is that a white nationalist is steps from the Oval Office.

Without identifying the Southern Poverty Law Center's left-wing slant, CNN political commentator Charles Blow then cited the group as bolstering the case against Bannon. Referring to the Alt-Right, Blow warned: "It is racist, and it is anti-immigrant, and it is anti-Muslim, and it is anti-Semitic. And that is coming to the White House, right? And this idea of normalization is a real threat right now for all of America because what Trump is doing now is mixing in kind of conventional conservatism in with the extreme racism of the Alt-Right."

After CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein -- also of The Atlantic -- piled on with a similar analysis, Harlow turned to Kingston for his reaction. After recalling the left-wing bias of the SPLC, Kingston confessed that he had never heard of the term "Alt-Right." Stelter suggested that Kingston was lying as he lectured: "The 'Alt-Right' is a term that has been around for years. I know you've heard it before, Jack. We had all heard it more than two months ago. It had become popularized when Bannon-"

After Kingston responded, "Not me," Stelter condescended:

Well, then, Jack, with all due respect, I don't know where you've been for years because the Alt-Right has been growing, it's been a phenomenon, it has been becoming more significant over the recent years, and, in August, when Bannon came on board the Trump campaign, it did become popularized. And a lot of Americans who had not heard it before did hear it for the first time.

The CNN media analyst then added:

I am trying to keep an open mind here right now, but Steve Bannon is a name and a figure who frightens many Americans. Jake Tapper, our colleague from CNN, just said on Twitter, many are (inaudible) of Bannon in the White House. Why? Let's go back to his ex-wife. Let's talk about his ex-wife who talked about her experience. She alleges anti-Semitic language from him, anti-Semitic comments from him.

It is noteworthy that there were also reports that Hillary Clinton had a history of making anti-Semitic slurs, although the dominant liberal media would never have voluntarily informed their viewers of those reports.

Blow then got in as he became agitated at thinking Kingston was trying to deny the Alt-Right exists. The liberal New York Times columnist fretted: "All of this is just -- look, it's in our face. It's trying to make us believe that what is happening is not happening right in front of our face. This is a problem. There are racists. This guy with a racist -- in front of a racist movement is moving into the White House. That is real."

As the group appeared again later in another segment, Kingston argued that it was not surprising that liberals would be trying to discredit Bannon, leading Harlow to admit journalists are trying to undermine the Republican strategist as well. Harlow: "I would just note that it's not, Congressman, not just Democrats trying to discredit him. I mean, it's journalists straight down the middle like Brian Stelter, who are telling our viewers facts about him."

After Stelter jumped in to recall that John McCain 2008 campaign strategist John Weaver had made negative comments about Bannon, Kingston quipped: "Some people would suggest that the word 'journalists' and 'Democrats' can sometimes be synonymous."

As Harlow bristled at the suggestion of media bias, the two went back and forth:

POPPY HARLOW: That's really -- you know what, Congressman. I take issue with that. That's really unfair.

BRIAN STELTER: Let's pretend like I'm not sitting here. John Weaver ran McCain's campaign. He was a strategist for Kasich.

JACK KINGSTON: When 96 percent of the media's contributions went to Hillary Clinton, there might be a little bit of a bias there.

HARLOW: Okay, so we're not -- we're going to -- you know what, Congressman, Congressman, we're not going to do that on this show because I did not nor did any of my colleagues contribute to any political campaigns. My question to you was: Will Steve Bannon complicate the relationship with Republicans on the Hill?

And in a later segment, Stelter recounted that some find Bannon's appointment "frightening," repeated the charges of anti-Semitism, and relayed that someone had even called him a "white supremacist." Stelter:

Uniquely controversial, and I want to recognize a lot of our viewers at home, this is frightening to them, and I think we should acknowledge that. This may feel to a lot of viewers at home like a national emergency. Why? Because Steve Bannon has been described as someone who has been described as a "white supremacist," as someone who is an anti-Semite.

After Kingston again questioned the reliability of an ex-spouse, Stelter repeated the "white supremacist" charge: "I mean, Ana Navarro is calling him a 'white supremacist Neanderthal,' and she's a conservative."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, November 13, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow:

5:10 p.m. ET
BRIAN STELTER: This is the normalization of extreme Alt-Right rhetoric, unless Americans don't let it become normalized. Breitbart, a website that thrives with white nationalist rhetoric, very, very incendiary kind of commentary.

(...)

STELTER: John Weaver, who ran John McCain's campaign, just said on Twitter: "The racist, fascist, extreme right is represented now footsteps from the Oval Office." Now, Bannon would reject that. In the one conversation I was able to have with him during the campaign, he said this is not a white nationalist movement, this is a populist movement. But, certainly, what many Americans hear this afternoon is that a white nationalist is steps from the Oval Office.

POPPY HARLOW: Charles Blow, your thoughts?

CHARLES BLOW, NYT COLUMNIST/CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's not just up to him to say it's not a racist organization. I mean, the Southern Poverty Law Center, who tracks hate groups, in their April Hate Watch report actually spelled out what the Alt-Right is. And it is racist, and it is anti-immigrant, and it is anti-Muslim, and it is anti-Semitic. And that is coming to the White House, right? And this idea of normalization is a real threat right now for all of America because what Trump is doing now is mixing in kind of conventional conservatism in with the extreme racism of the Alt-Right. And not that it's all -- that it can be completely separated anyway, but now it is mixing all of it together to make it feel like it's normal. And that is a real threat to America and to democracy.

(...)

RON BROWNSTEIN, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR/CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: ...Steve Bannon is something very, very different, and, as both of them have site, this is a website that has exited on the outer fringe of American political discourse, with, you know, kind of, virulent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, at times anti-Semitic articles and attacks for that matter on Paul Ryan. And what Donald Trump is now doing by bringing this in, is signaling to, I think, to the Republican party that there is going to be, you know, turbulent water ahead. ...

(...)

5:15 p.m. ET
POPPY HARLOW: Steve Bannon, as we've been discussing, runs Breitbart News. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, wrote following about Breitbart, the news site that Bannon runs, in April. Quote, "Over the past year however, the" outlet "has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas -- all key tenets making an emerging racist ideology known as the 'Alt-Right.'" What do you make of this choice, Congressman?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, number one, Southern Poverty Law Center is not an objective third part, it's a partisan group. It's a left-wing group, and they're entitled to that opinion. But that's all it it, it's an opinion.

HARLOW: So do you not think that Breitbart represents -- so let's dive into that-

KINGSTON: No, absolutely not. And let me say this: As a lifelong Republican -- I've served eight years in the state legislature, 22 years in Congress -- the first time I'd ever heard the term "Alt-Right" was from Democrats who were against Donald Trump when Steve Bannon came on board.

STELTER: You should have read Breitbart.

KINGSTON: I think if you did a pop quiz to most Republicans two months ago, they would have never heard the term. So it's something that I think the Democrats or the liberal groups have fabricated. Steve Bannon, if you look at the product that he produced-

STELTER: That's ludicrous.

KINGSTON: -since he came on board, he kept Donald Trump on message, he kept him away from Twitter a lot more -- not perfectly, but a lot more than he had been before -- and Steve Bannon did not bring all this division and gloom and doom that everybody said he would bring. Remember, he came on board in early August, and most of the rhetoric that the Democrats and the protesters find so offensive happened prior to Steve Bannon coming on board. This is a Harvard-educated MBA, a Navy officer, a father who had a daughter who went to West Point. This is a very good guy.

HARLOW: But do you -- okay, "This is a very good guy." Brian, you jumped in there. You said part of what the Congressman was saying was "ludicrous." Why?

STELTER: Well, the "Alt-Right" is a term that has been around for years. I know you've heard it before, Jack. We had all heard it more than two months ago. It had become popularized when Bannon-

KINGSTON: Not me. I'm not-

STELTER: Well, then, Jack, with all due respect, I don't know where you've been for years because the Alt-Right-

KINGSTON: Twenty-two years in Congress. I've been involved in Republican-

STELTER: -has been growing, it's been a phenomenon, it has been becoming more significant over the recent years, and, in August, when Bannon came on board the Trump campaign, it did become popularized. And a lot of Americans who had not heard it before did hear it for the first time.

Listen, I'm getting mail from Trump aides right now who say we're being completely unfair to Donald Trump. i am trying to keep an open mind here right now, but Steve Bannon is a name and a figure who frightens many Americans. Jake Tapper, our colleague from CNN, just said on Twitter, many are (inaudible) of Bannon in the White House. Why? Let's go back to his ex-wife. Let's talk about his ex-wife who talked about her experience. She alleges anti-Semitic language from him, anti-Semitic comments from him. He has not-

KINGSTON: Oh, she does? An ex-wife would have something critical to say about her spouse? What a shock. Here's a guy, I mean, again, just take, and I want to say this, you asked me where I've been. I've been involved with conservative political activities for 30 years. Never heard the term "Alt-Right." I don't think any of my friends had. The left always has to label so they can divide. I understand. It's label and divide all over again. But his product since he came on board in August was the best strategy. And there was no rhetoric that came out from that point.

HARLOW: Charles Blow, very quickly, I got to get a break in.

BLOW: I simply can't do it, like, I can't sit here and watch him try to pretend that the Alt-Right does not exist. I can't watch you read a-

KINGSTON: Well, I know more about being a Republican than you guys.

BLOW: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I don't care what you know about. If you don't know about the Alt-Right, then that's a problem, you're pretending it doesn't exist, pretending it's fabricated. Real problem. It is part of the normalization.

KINGSTON: I don't -- I'm not as paranoid as maybe the others are. I don't know. I've just never heard of it.

BLOW: I'm sorry, I'm talking now. The idea that Paul Ryan would praise Reince Priebus but ignore the Bannon announcement. All of this is just -- look, it's in our face. It's trying to make us believe that what is happening is not happening right in front of our face. This is a problem. There are racists. This guy with a racist -- in front of a racist movement is moving into the White House. That is real.

HARLOW: Congressman, it's also -- it's also important to -- and we'll discuss the more -- the context of all of this. This comes in a campaign where, frankly, when Donald Trump was pressed by our Jake Tapper, time and time again, about whether or not he denounced the grand wizard of the KKK's endorsement. He said, "I don't now who you're talking about, I don't know who that is, I don't know what that is." Later, he said, "Of course I denounce." Also, by the way, this week in North Carolina, the KKk is planning a parade to celebrate.

KINGSTON: And it's been denounced.

HARLOW: It has been denounced by the North Carolina Republican Party. It has not been directly denounced by President-elect Donald Trump yet. That is the context that we are talking about this in. And context is very important, sir. Hold that thought. We're going to take a break.

(...)

5:53 p.m. ET
HARLOW: I would just note that it's not, Congressman, not just Democrats trying to discredit him. I mean, it's journalists straight down the middle like Brian Stelter, who are telling our viewers facts about him.

STELTER: John Weaver ran McCain's campaign and ran Kasich's campaign. John Weaver is out with tonight saying it is racist and fascist.

KINGSTON: Some people would suggest that the word "journalists" and "Democrats" can sometimes be synonymous, I mean, just based on-

HARLOW: That's really -- you know what, Congressman. I take issue with that. That's really unfair.

STELTER: Let's pretend like I'm not sitting here. John Weaver ran McCain's campaign. He was a strategist for Kasich.

KINGSTON: When 96 percent of the media's contributions went to Hillary Clinton, there might be a little bit of a bias there.

HARLOW: Okay, so we're not -- we're going to -- you know what, Congressman, Congressman, we're not going to do that on this show because I did not nor did any of my colleagues contribute to any political campaigns. My question to you was: Will Steve Bannon complicate the relationship with Republicans on the Hill?

(...)

6:46 p.m. ET
STELTER: Uniquely controversial, and I want to recognize a lot of our viewers at home, this is frightening to them, and I think we should acknowledge that. This may feel to a lot of viewers at home like a national emergency. Why? Because Steve Bannon has been described as someone who has been described as a "white supremacist," as someone who is an anti-Semite.

Now, he would completely reject that, but these are not random people on Twitter saying it. These are people like Ana Navarro saying these sorts of things. There was a 2007 case between Bannon and his ex-wife where his ex-wife alleged in court documents that Bannon said he did not like Jews. Now, he denied that, completely denied that. And there are friends of his who say they've known him for years and have never heard a racist word or action from his mouth.

All that said, Bannon is uniquely controversial. John Weaver, Kasich strategist, saying on Twitter this evening, the "racist, fascist extreme right is now represented footsteps from the Oval Office."

HARLOW: Congressman Kingston, why do you disagree with those descriptions of Steve Bannon?

KINGSTON: When someone quotes an ex-spouse, I hardly think it's worth responding to. Ex-spouses very rarely say complimentary things. I've worked with Steve Bannon.

HARLOW: But, so even if we were to put that aside, respond to Weaver, Kasich's strategist, who-

STELTER: I mean, Ana Navarro is calling him a "white supremacist Neanderthal," and she's a conservative.

NB Daily 2016 Presidential Trump transition Conservatives & Republicans Race Issues Racism CNN CNN Newsroom Atlantic New York Times Video Steve Bannon Ron Brownstein KKK Poppy Harlow Charles Blow Brian Stelter Donald Trump Jack Kingston


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