Give me a roll of duct tape and five minutes alone in a room with Steve Bannon and I swear to the Barefoot Messiah he will come away with a profoundly new respect for journalists and devotees of the First Amendment.
Okay, well it might take me 10 minutes, but no more than that.
Perhaps you’ve been living in the Stoned Age since Jan. 20th and are totally clueless about who Steve Bannon is or why it is he needs a lesson in the First Amendment. Bannon, a known promoter of white nationalism, is chief strategist for El Trumpo. He’s a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he apparently took classes in the art of pissing people off, and Harvard, where he apparently slept through all his classes. He is a gruff man who can’t keep a wife or a girlfriend. His several marriages failed, completely understandable since Bannon is a proud bully who likes to fancy himself a Renaissance man, but only in that Machiavellian sort of way.
An independent woman would not like Bannon. She would not like him here or there. She would not like him anywhere. She would not like him in her house. She would not like him in her bed – unless it was burning, high and hot.
Bannon, who looks like Russell Crowe after a month-long binge, has a spotty work history. He was in the Navy, where presumably he spent a lot of time alone cultivating dark thoughts. He worked under a glass dome in Biosphere II, then headed off to Hollywood where he worked on some hit and miss projects and started his own propaganda company which he likes to refer to as a film company. A Tea Party enthusiast, Bannon found his footing making some B-grade films that pander to the far-right extremist white nationalist base: Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman and Occupy Unmasked.
Bannon, who nurses a grudge toward independent feminist-minded women, is likely using this venue as a way to strike back at his ex-wives. At least one, Mary Piccard, filed a domestic abuse report following a pretty violent altercation. The incident took place on New Year’s Day in 1996, when Santa Monica 911 received a call that went dead. The officer who was dispatched reported that a woman answered the door, was visibly upset and that her eyes were red and that it looked as though she had been crying. She was surprised to see him there. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “How did you know to come?”
“As I started to tell her about the 911 hang up, she started to cry and it took 3-4 minutes for her to calm down, so she could tell me what happened,” the officer stated in his report. “She said they were married on 4/15/95 and her twins were born on 4/18/95. Her husband and father of her twins is Stephen Bannon. Mrs. Bannon said she had been seeing her husband for approximately 6 1/2 years. In the beginning of their relationship, Mrs. Bannon said they had 3 or 4 arguments that became physical. And they have been going to counseling. There has not been any physical abuse in their relationship for about 4 years. Mrs. Bannon said they had been arguing alot but there was no violence. On 12/31/95, Mr. Bannon slept on the couch in the living room. On 1/1/96, early in the morning, she got up to feed their twins and Mr. Bannon got upset with her for making some noise. At 8:15 a.m., Mr. Bannon started to leave and she asked him for the American Express card , so she could go grocery shopping. He said she did not need it, just for her to use a check. He went out to the car and she followed. She asked him why he was playing these games with the money, and he said it was his money. She told him that maybe he should find another place to live, that she wanted a divorce. She said he laughed at her and said he would never move out. She said she spit on him, and he reached up at her, from the driver’s seat of the car, and grabbed her left wrist. He pulled her down, as if he were trying to pull her into the car, over the door. She said he grabbed at her neck, also pulling her into the car. She said she started to fight back, striking at his face so he would let go of her. After a short period of time she was able to get away from him. She ran into the house with him following her. She told him she was calling 911. When she got to the twins, Mr. Bannon jumped over her and the twins to grab the phone from her. Once he got that phone, he threw it across the room. After this, Mr. Bannon left the house. She found the phone in several pieces and could not use it. She complained of soreness in her neck. I saw red marks on her left wrist and the right side of her neck. These were photographed by the ID Tech. She declined an emergency protective order.”
The twins were 8-months old at the time. The couple were divorced in 1997.
Bannon’s ideal woman is Ann Coulter and Michelle Bachmann. Women who reject the notion that there is patriarchy that suppresses women. Bannon blames the feminist for a welfare/entitlement agenda. What are we talking about, working moms here? Like the mother of his twins?
So what you have here is a white man who has battered at least one woman on more than one occasion, who didn’t marry the mother of his babies until a few days before they were born, and who had at least one ex-wife at the time, making films that spout the values of the far-right. A strong woman in Bannon’s assessment is one who has no other agenda than to be a wife and mother and who lets her husband control all the money because, well, that’s how God ordered it, right?
Is it any wonder he can’t stay married?
Failing to find a woman he could control, Bannon apparently turned to find a man.
He found the perfect puppet in El Trumpo.
On a press junket for his film Fire from the Heartland, Bannon said he was sure that 30-40 percent of the country supported his values and that he suspected that number was more likely 70-80 percent of the country. One is left to imagine which value it is he refers to – that of battering a wife, or controlling all the money, or putting his own needs above that of hungry babies.
What really turned Bannon on in the Tea Party movement was how women espousing his values were taking an “intellectual role by blogging, by commentating.” Something, Bannon insists had never happened in American politics before. (Apparently he missed that entire suffragette movement. Or maybe, as was recently reported, Bannon really does believe that only landowners should have the right to vote).
At any rate, Bannon, who bills himself as counselor to El Trumpo, turned his wickedly abusive tongue on the media in a recent article in the New York Times. Seems that a week into the presidency, these hotheads – Bannon and his buddies – feel like they aren’t getting a fair shake in the press. Truth be told, Bannon is a big proponent of propaganda and not such a big fan of truth. Hard to be a Machiavellian when you are unable to put a stop to critical thinking. And as I always say to my students: He who controls what you read, controls what you think.
Or if you think at all.
Bannon, it seems, prefers that he do all your thinking for you.
“I want you to quote this,” Bannon told the Times reporter. “The media here is the opposition party.”
If there is anything this administration has made perfectly clear it is that they intend to gut the First Amendment through persistent and unwarranted attacks on the Free Press.
In order to demolish a democratic governing system and establish an authoritarian one, the first order of business is to discredit the Free Press.
Anyone familiar with domestic abuse recognizes the pattern: Make the woman seem crazy, discredit her, intimidate her and you can continue the abuse with abandon.
So what’s a journalist to do, given who they are dealing with?
Media has got to stop letting this administration bully them. In order to save this country, the White House Press corps and every other journalist have to stop giving the abuser a soapbox from which to abuse the nation.
When Ted Bundy went around the Northwest killing women, reporters didn’t offer Bundy a microphone from which to spew his warped worldview. Yet, they still managed to cover all the highlights of the murders and the investigations. Media should take the same approach with this administration. Cover the highlights and all the in-depth stuff without actually handing a mic over to Steve Bannon or Kellyanne Conway or Sean Spicer. This is not your normal administration. It’s an abusive administration. Treat it as such.
Speaking to the New York Times, Bannon said the media should be humiliated over its lack of power in this country. Abusers always seek to shame those they abuse. Intimidation is one of the primary tools an abuser employs.
Steve Bannon was right about one thing, though, the Free Press is the opposition to this administration, because the Free Press is and always has been the voice of the people. Trump won this election through the collusion of James Comey, the GOP and the Russians. Still only 1/4 of the nation voted for him. The Free Press represent the 75 percent that didn’t vote for him.
In a Republic dedicated to democracy that’s the majority any way you look at it.
The only way to stop an abusive administration is for the Free Press and the People it represents to speak out.
Even if your voice quivers. Speak out.
Shout back if necessary.
Silence will only lead to shame.
And, ultimately, submission to the abuser.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of After the Flag has been Folded (William Morrow).