Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 18, 2017
Guest: Kristen Welker, Nicholas Confessore, Olivia Nuzzi, Shelby Holliday, David Corn, Brittney Cooper, Julius Krien, Leah Wright Rigueur, Liz Plank, Wil Hylton, Kurt Bardella
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, infrastructure is our top story tonight. I don`t know how you knew.
TODD: There you go. Do what I can to tee you up, brother.
MELBER: I hope you have a great weekend, Chuck Todd.
TODD: You got it.
MELBER: The news tonight, he`s out. The most controversial staffer in a controversial White House, Steve Bannon ousted today. And right now, new details coming into our newsroom about all of it.
The White House using another Friday afternoon to deal with its bad news. Now, Bannon`s first statement as an ex-White House staffer came in just within the last half an hour after the work day ended.
He`s telling "Bloomberg News" tonight talk of political war today is actually good for Trump and that`s because he wants to go to war with Trump`s enemies.
The departure coming as Bannon was facing intense blowback for cheerleading Trump`s defense of those attendees at the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Now, Bannon could return to Breitbart, which he touted as the platform for the alt-right.
The White House`s official story about all this, a mutual decision, that John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve`s last day. That`s the official statement, noting we`re grateful for his service and wish him the best.
But that cover story already contested by people close to Bannon, claiming that he offered to resign August 7 and also contested by leaks that, no, no, it was Trump who decided to remove him regardless.
Either way Democrats tonight saying, it`s not enough. "It doesn`t disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists" says Nancy Pelosi. And the Democratic congressional candidate ribbing Trump for Bannon`s purported power by tweeting tonight, "Trump fired the president?"
From Republicans, a mixed reaction. Some saying, here`s a clean slate. Others have a different view. Republican Congressman Steve King saying this is a hard blow landed against conservatives.
Today also marks, if you`re counting, just two weeks since Donald Trump tapped John Kelly as chief of staff and this new departure just the latest in a long line of top staff biting the dust.
Among them, in February, Michael Flynn departing as national security advisor. In July, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and, of course, that followed by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus a week later. And now, the biggest and clearly most controversial name of all, the one who supposedly had the flame - the white nationalist flame as some called it in the White House, Steve Bannon also out.
We have a lot to cover here. NBC`s Kristen Welker is just outside of Trump`s New Jersey golf club. I`m also going to joined tonight by Nicholas Confessore, political investigative reporter at "The New York Times", Olivia Nuzzi Washington correspondent for New York Magazine, Shelby Holliday from "The Wall Street Journal", and David Corn Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones.
It is a Brady Bunch level night of coverage and we`ll give you all the boxes we can. But we start, though, with my colleague Kristen. What`s the latest there and what`s the mood?
KRISTEN WELKER, "NBC NEWS" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood is that this is a reset within the administration, perhaps the biggest one since the president first took office.
And in terms of the timeline, you mapped it out, Ari. The fact that White House officials as well as those close to Steve Bannon say that he did offer his resignation on August 7, but he did so under pressure.
The writing was on the wall. John Kelly had started this review of all of the president`s top officials to determine who should stay, who should go and the sense was that, ultimately, this was John Kelly`s decision that he felt as though Steve Bannon was someone who was standing in the way of getting the president`s agenda passed.
MELBER: Does that mean Kristen that - does that mean it`s not the president`s decision?
WELKER: Well, I think it came at the recommendation of General John Kelly, but ultimately it was the president`s decision. President Trump gave the final signoff.
And I refer you back to his comments earlier this week when he was asked about the future of Steve Bannon. President Trump referred to him as Mr. Bannon very informally. He said we`ll have to see about his future.
So, that was the real first indication that he could be in serious trouble. But just to remind people, Ari, this is someone who has been a lightning rod from the very beginning. He`s been at the war with some of President Trump`s other top advisers like Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; H.R. McMaster, his national security advisor.
President Trump tolerated it to some extent, but there was a sense that increasingly it was becoming very toxic to this administration. He offered his resignation two weeks ago, but I think that this is something that a lot of quarters within the Republican Party were pushing for after what we heard from the president in Charlottesville.
MELBER: Kristen Welker with the president. And if you get more news throughout the hour, I know we`ll come back to you. Appreciate it.
David Corn, let me play for you that Bannon quote that Kristen just cited that recent damning by faint praise perhaps. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s a good person and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No more or less unfairly than his boss - his now ex-boss - President Trump there. David, what does it mean in your view as a chronicler of all this to see Steve Bannon, the former campaign chair, who came in at the end when it counted, the man who says he holds the key to the nationalism and the populism at the heartbeat of the Trump movement such as it is. What does it mean that he`s gone tonight?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "MOTHER JONES": Well, Steve Bannon was the heart of darkness of the White House, and that`s not to take anything away from Donald Trump because as we`ve seen in the last week -
MELBER: OK. Well -
DAVID CORN: By saying that there were very fine people walking and working -
MELBER: David, you`re saying you don`t want to take away Trump`s claim to darkness either.
CORN: Either. No, I don`t want to do that either. But this is a fellow who told us at "Mother Jones" last summer that he saw Breitbart, which he was the publisher or the head of, as a platform for the alt-right.
And if you read Breitbart in those days, they said themselves the alt-right was composed, in part, by white nationalists.
So, here you have a guy saying that he wanted to provide a platform to white nationalists. Somehow, he ends up in the White House serving the president of the United States. Shouldn`t have happened in the first place.
I don`t think his departure means a lot in terms of policy because I think he`s lost a lot of policy battles to the globalists and the people who are a little more reasonable than he is.
But what it does mean is, children at home pay attention, that if you are a disruptor who plays footsie with racists and then try to stab in the back a general who is chief of staff, well, maybe your White House tenure won`t work out so well. That`s a good lesson to people in this country to learn.
MELBER: Well, lesson for the children. And, David Corn, your advice to children, obviously, very on point that eight-year-olds around the country who I`m sure watch THE BEAT are thinking about how to tango with four-star generals.
Olivia, you look at this, look at the racial component here which has been the theme of the week, Bannon, about Democrats and race saying give me more, tear down more statues, say the revolution is coming, I can`t get enough of it.
As a chronicler of all of this, how much of this is about this week in your view and how much of it is about everything else?
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": I think it`s about everything else. I think we just reached the tipping point this week.
But, remember, when Donald Trump said what he said on Tuesday about Steve Bannon, he said he`s a nice guy, he is alright, we`ll see where heads. But, basically, he didn`t say specifically whether or not he was going to stay or whether he was going to leave.
When he said that, he already knew that Bannon was at the end of the road based on all the conversations I`ve had today with people in and surrounding the White House.
And I think it really just - it came down to the fact that Donald Trump is unhappy. He doesn`t like that he`s being criticized so toughly. He doesn`t like that his numbers are as bad as they are, but also he has John Kelly now.
And this is - I think what we`re seeing in the last couple of weeks with all of the people moving in and out is basically we have a chief of staff for the first time in the White House.
MELBER: Right. A chief of staff who can make personal decisions.
NUZZI: Yes. Priebus was not given the flexibility to really make personnel decisions early on. John Kelly has been given that.
MELBER: Well, and you mentioned Donald Trump`s standing. He may besmirch polls in the press, but never enough to stop following them. His own ally, Shelby, Newt Gingrich here, weighing in on this and saying, "it`s qualitatively different, it`s bad and Trump is isolated". Take a listen.
Newt Gingrich, let me read it to you. Sometimes it`s more fun (INAUDIBLE).
"He`s in a position right now where he is much more isolated than he realizes," Newt Gingrich says today. "He needs to think - well, let`s play it. Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He`s in a position right now where he is much more isolated than he realizes. He needs to think about what has not worked. And you don`t get down in the 35 percent range of approval and have people in your own party shooting at you and then conclude that everything is going fine."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right. People in your own party, people in your own family, people in the business community which was supposed to be this really close ally of President Trump.
So, this move came - I think it`s a relief to a lot of people, but it came after a tremendous amount of pressure on the president. He is isolated at this point. It`s been a very difficult week.
I think the move shows Kushner`s influence. We know that Kushner and Bannon often feuded. There have been a lot of questions about family first and whether or not any one could rise above the Trump family. And right now, the answer is no.
It also raises a lot of questions, though, about that protectionist agenda. A lot of people saw Bannon as the champion of the America first disruptive agenda. He was very successful in getting Trump to pull out TPP, pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, implement the travel ban. Just last week, Trump moved to make moves on trade with China, NAFTA is being renegotiated, he was very successful in getting Trump.
HOLLIDAY: If you follow politics, you remember that whiteboard that surfaced in some pictures on Twitter.
MELBER: We have the whiteboard. But this is a Bannon night, we`re going through the whiteboard.
We also have breaking news I`m getting into our newsroom here, 6:09 pm on the East Coast. We can report this, put in the context of a siren. Bannon returned to "Breitbart News" as Executive Chairman and, they say, Charles Spiering, their writer, chaired our evening editorial meeting. David Corn, wasting no time. What does that tell you?
DAVID: Well, it`s going to be interesting to see how it helped "Breitbart", which, of course, was a Trump cheerleader, now figures out how to take on the globalists and the enemies within in the White House, while still supporting Trump if indeed they do.
"Breitbart" is perhaps one of the most polemical media outfits out there on the right or the left and it`s more of a media strategy outfit than a journalistic entity.
And so, here is Bannon with his platform, he may even turn to making documentaries again. But by and large, I think the time has passed for a place like "Breitbart" to have that much impact on Trump and his presidency.
MELBER: Do you agree with that?
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL AND INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I`m not sure. Look, the best thing that Bannon ever had success at was a media guy, as a filmmaker, as a producer of books and documentaries, and media content.
In the West Wing, he was not as influential as he wanted to be, but he was the biggest advocate for the things that made Trump a different kind of Republican - for a trade war with China, for infrastructure spending, for a tax hike on the 1 percent.
And those were the things that varied Trump away from traditional Republicanism. And now who is left? You have bankers, Jared and Ivanka, some nominal Democrats and ex-Democrats and a couple of Republicans. So, it`s a very interesting White House now - yes, and generals.
MELBER: And yet, Olivia, the culture war, what some call, the race war this week - is what it felt like - and the cult of personality on Donald Trump would suggest that everything Nick said - and not really a critique of what you`re saying - it`s that what you`re saying applies if you`re keeping score by policy and personnel, which is how we`ve usually done it.
And yet, Olivia, does Donald Trump bet that he can move on without Bannon because if everyone is screaming about statues, his people stay with him.
NUZZI: Look, I think when Donald Trump came out this week, again, I said earlier, he knew already that Bannon was basically gone, but he still defended the white nationalists who were there in Charlottesville, right?
He still came out and said very controversial things on Tuesday. I think you must remember Donald Trump hates to be told what to do - period. He wants to do what he feels like is right at any given moment.
I was talking to somebody close to the president today and they said this idea that he`s playing three-dimensional chess and everyone else is playing checkers is just wrong. This is an act on instincts.
MELBER: No, he`s acting on instincts. And Shelby lands a key point as well to keep in mind, which is, you go against the family right - I mean, Jay Z says in the new album, nobody wins when the family feuds. And it may be if you`re feuding with Jared Kushner, you`re in trouble.
We`re going to fit in a break in our coverage. Nick Confessore and Olivia Nuzzi, thank you as always for your reporting. David Corn and Shelby, please stick around.
We`ve got plans for you, including fallback Friday plans. Now coming up, does Steve Bannon take this so-called war to everyone against Trump and does that include Republicans?
We`re also going to look at that infamous big whiteboard, the to-do list. You can see it there with Rabbi Shmuley, what has been done on it.
And what does it take for an avowed Trump supporter to abandon ship? We have a guest on tonight who had an op-ed that went viral explaining why he`s renouncing his support for Donald Trump.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT.
MELBER: What did Steve Bannon accomplish in his short tenure, 211 days to be exact. We know some of his stated goals from that giant whiteboard in his office listing campaign promises Bannon vowed to keep.
Olivia Nuzzi was just telling me that whiteboard is now in storage at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and Bannon told allies he was the keeper of the flame for the nationalist agenda and Trump`s promises, like ending Obamacare, didn`t happen; pledges on tax reform, nope; build the border wall and eventually make Mexico pay for it, that was on the wall, nothing there yet.
But Bannon also did claim some checks on his list. For example, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions. Well, part of the travel ban remains in effect. And implement new extreme immigration vetting techniques. Also leaving the Paris Climate Accord.
But Bannon was never about just policy. He was also about messaging, like America first, which made its way to the bully pulpit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
A new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it`s going to be only America first. America first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Professor and contributing Salon writer Brittney Cooper joins me and David Corn is back. Brittney, how effective was he in a brief run for a White House advisor?
BRITTNEY COOPER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "SALON": Well, it depends on how we`re evaluating him. So, if we`re evaluating him on the message of white nationalism, on what he likes to call economic nationalism, then he has been really effective at giving legitimacy to the Trump presidency, at giving Trump the kind of confidence to really go into the White House and actually advance this very fringe-level agenda and to try to mainstream it.
In many ways, he`s really taking the Breitbart playbook and he had made the White House successful. What the Breitbart playbook has been really since 2010 with the Shirley Sherrod incident is to muck up the national conversation on race, to obscure how we talk about and think about differences around justice and around how to bring people into the body politic.
So, Bannon had granted a level of legitimacy for Trump with his base and it`s going to be very interesting to see now that Breitbart is saying that they are going to declare war on the White House.
COOPER: It`s interesting to see how it`s going to play with the base now.
MELBER: So, David, to paraphrase Brittney, tough talk, check; actual deliverables for working class people, no check. And I`ll put up on the screen one of them, Bannon would talk this stuff, talk that talk, David. He would say here`s an idea that`s anathema to most Republicans, he told Axios, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for steep middle and working-class tax cuts, also known in the Obama era by Republicans as redistribution, but that didn`t happen, David.
CORN: Well, no. Every time you have sort of a conservative right-wing national populism, it often starts out against the banks, the Wall Street, the people in Washington who are lining their own pockets, and there is a left critique of the establishment that comes along the same lines.
But here what we saw when Trump talked those terms, partly it`s Steve Bannon`s instigation. They didn`t meet those terms. You look at the tax plan. It`s a sop to the rich. There`s nobody else in the White House who wants to raise taxes on the wealthy.
The swamp has not been drained. They`re adding water to it. There are more lobbyists and corporate special interests involved in this administration than the previous one.
So, there was a lot of talk, but sounded good to people out there who wanted to see Washington shook up for the benefit of Main Street, not Wall Street, but that didn`t happen at all. And it was pretty clear throughout the campaign that that wasn`t going to happen.
MELBER: Right. The house always wins.
DAVID: He (INAUDIBLE) fiery bluster to this.
MELBER: Yes. The house and the banks seem to always win. David and Brittney, both stay with me. I want to turn to a special interview here as promised and then get your reaction.
Julius Krein was a big Trump backer on TV and in print until now. He just renounced his support for Trump in an essay that`s gone viral, writing "I can`t stand this disgraceful administration any longer," rejecting Trump`s comments on Charlottesville as morally disgusting and noting Trump`s behavior has only grown more reprehensible.
He notes that he campaigned for Trump in dozens of writings and TV appearances, even started a publication to advocate Trumpism, but he is now recanting and calling on others to join him, writing "it`s now clear my optimism was unfounded, I can`t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer and I would urge anyone who once supported him, as I did, to stop defending the 45th president."
Joining me now is Julius Krein. Thanks for joining me on this busy news night, Julius.
JULIUS KREIN, EDITOR, AMERICAN AFFAIRS: Thank you.
MELBER: Why did you write this and why now?
KREIN: Well, I had been growing increasingly disillusioned with the administration since Inauguration Day. And what happened in Charlottesville and the response to it was, I guess, you`d say the last straw.
And the genesis of it was - I actually - my publication, now I actually talk with a lot of interesting people on the left and I`ve been in an interesting kind of debate with them about Trump`s not that bad and all that. And then I saw what happened this weekend. And you know what? They were right all along? Trump is that bad. And they encouraged me to write something and maybe it would help let other people know and change their minds too.
MELBER: Do you think he gave comfort to white supremacists?
MELBER: And what do you -?
KREIN: How else you can interpret - I don`t know how else you can interpret his equivocation? There is no decent purpose for that.
MELBER: And what do you want to say to other Trump supporters, people that might listen to you if your view is - you did believe in something there, you were hoping for something, what do you want to say to them?
KREIN: Well, I still haven`t changed on certain of the core policies that I thought he at least partially represented. And I think some of them, a better trade policy, infrastructure spending, et cetera, et cetera, are still good policies. And that agenda can go forward and I think even in an emerging consensus, left, right and center can come together around that.
But it needs new leadership. And standing with Trump only tarnishes it. And if we can get those policies passed, great. But they have nothing to do with Trump.
MELBER: Are you sorry that you voted for him?
KREIN: Yes, I think I made that pretty clear.
MELBER: Yes. I want you to stay with me because it`s interesting. And what you`re doing, it`s hard to do in life, let alone on a he public stage, anyone who has to rethink a decision, a big one or a small one and say, as you`ve said, that you think you`re wrong, but you want to do something about it.
I want to bring David and Brittney back. Brittney, your response or anything you want to say to Julius or ask him.
COOPER: I wish that I could feel more generous about this, but the writing was on the wall throughout the entirety of the campaign. And so, while I`m happy that folks are willing to reassess, that Julius is willing to reassess, I`m mad that it took a young woman losing her life during the presidency to cause this reassessment.
So, it didn`t take tear with them against Mexican-Americans and Mexican folks who live here, it didn`t take tear against Muslim folks, it didn`t take threats of a law and order presidency against black folks, but it took the killing of a young white woman, who regrettably lost her life in order to compel this sort of shift, that`s not acceptable.
It`s not acceptable that now that white people are losing folks to this terrible battle that now we want to have a moral shift. People of color have been saying throughout - when we looked at the campaign rallies, this was the Trump campaign rally promises coming home to roost.
MELBER: Well, let me put that to Julius and give you the benefit of response. Brittney, raising the issue, say, on the Muslim ban. This was a candidate running on what many viewed as religious discrimination and the other points she made. Your response?
KREIN: Well, I don`t want to be ungenerous myself, but I think you just see there that - or why even though the left has a lot of better ideas on economics, they don`t win elections. And I think Mark Lilla`s book on this topic is one of the most important out today and that message needs to be remembered.
Now, I totally agree the writing was on the wall. And those of us who failed to see it were wrong. But at the same time, it`s also true that - I don`t think we should use that to diminish or pretend that what happened in Charlottesville wasn`t another level.
And it wasn`t just me that felt that way. All of the major business leaders, the head of the AFL-CIO. It`s kind of interesting no one interviews them about this, but whatever.
So, I think it was a different moment. And in his past stupid things, he would always say he didn`t mean it or apologize. And if you wanted to, at least you could believe that he didn`t mean it, but that changed in this case. So, like I said, I admit my mistake.
MELBER: David, do you have a question for Julius?
CORN: Well, I welcome all converts to reason. And I know how hard it is to admit a mistake, particularly on television.
But to me, the sort of deal killer, if you want to put it, from all this stuff early on was the fact that Donald Trump was a birther. He was pushing a racist conspiracy theory for years. That`s how he became prominent within conservative circles.
And I never quite understood why Mitt Romney, who now today is calling on Trump to apologize, would seek his endorsement and embrace that endorsement in 2012.
And I just - to me, on this network and other places, I talked about it excessively, and so I just wonder why -
MELBER: What`s your question for Julius?
CORN: My question to Julius, with all due respect, would be why did that not show you at the time that this was a fellow who had racist tendencies, if he wasn`t a racist, and prone to irresponsible conspiracy theories and that wasn`t enough to strike him from the list as possible presidents?
KRIEN: I think you answered your own question and I actually I find it very bizarre to see all these Republicans now acting high and mighty about it when they were happy to egg it on and Romney was happy with his endorsement and the entire Republican Party obstructed Obama`s entire agenda the whole time and made difficult to do anything sensible on healthcare and a lot of other things.
And I would just add that a lot of the reason people were so desperate for an alternative and willing to rationalize a lot of things that they shouldn`t is because the consensus of both parties has failed terribly in this country for the last 25 years. And that, more than any anonymous blogging I ever did, is what paved the way to Trump`s election.
MELBER: Right. And I`ve got to say this. I`m just speaking as a person here. You`re speaking out more clearly than a lot of people who have constituents who are public officials and who seem even this week to have it both ways, although I think David and Britney also raise some important questions.
So, I guess, this is one of those panels in the news where I get to say I appreciate everything everyone brought and there`s more than one way to look at it.
Julius, I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT. I appreciate you giving us your perspective. David Corn, peace. I`ll see you another day. And Britney Cooper, I`ll see you later in the show. I think that`s everything. Thank you.
Coming up, does Steve Bannon`s departure spell real change inside the Trump White House and what will Bannon do, now that he is, confirmed tonight, back at "Breitbart".
MELBER: 6:30 p.m. on the East Coast, we have even more brand new developing news on this busy news night with Steve Bannon leaving the White House. He just gave an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard and he says, "The Trump Presidency that we fought for and won is over. We still have a huge movement and will make something of this Trump Presidency but that Presidency is over." Steve Bannon is essentially putting himself as the before and after line in this chaotic first six months.
Now, inside the administration he was the leading voice of what he called economic nationalism and a link between Trump and the base. A man who reportedly cheered Trump`s very controversial comments on Charlottesville, Bannon saying they were not the lowest point in his Presidency but a defining moment where Trump decided to fully abandon globalists inside with "his people." Think about what that means and what that says after a week like this. Who are "his people"? And this is a part of a broader combative style that pitted Bannon`s nationalism against everyone else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST: It`s not only not going to get better. It`s going to get worse every day. And here`s why, by the way, the internal logic makes sense. They`re corporatists, globalists media that are adamantly opposed -- adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Going to get worse. That was how he campaigned in public. Bannon back at Breitbart tonight, chairing an editorial meeting as we reported and arguing that Trump`s decision is an effort to save his Presidency after Charlottesville, that`s one writer put it but that is not universal, a reaction to this week`s race war opposed by Bannon himself. Sources close to him saying he submitted his resignation to the President on August 7th, not in connection with Charlottesville. Bannon out amidst still the most tense racial week of Trump`s Presidency. While we are noting, for you to understand journalistically, this whole time line is in dispute by the different players.
So, are we watching a reaction, would be the question tonight or are we reacting to a side show? As Lauryn Hill sometimes says consequence is no coincidence. And that`s the question. Is this a consequence of this week? Leah Wright Rigueur is a Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Case School of Government and the author of a book on the quote loneliness of black Republicans. I`m curious your view on all of this tonight.
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD CASE SCHOOL PROFESSOR: All of this. I mean, this has been a lot. You know, what`s the saying, winter is coming. I think winter is already here. So, if you think about this a little bit, this is actually not related to Charlottesville. I think there are people who will try to spin it as such but this is something that pre-dates Charlottesville. This is something that is rooted in the relationship between Steve Bannon and the people surrounding Donald Trump that he`s clashed with over the course of the administration. And at the end of the day, Steve Bannon has already had his impact particularly in creating this idea about white identity politics and this kind of cult personality around Donald Trump. So those things have been there in the White House and they will be -- they will remain there after Steve Bannon is gone from the White House.
MELBER: And what do you make of again, this quote coming in just into our news room moments ago. It`s that kind of Friday night and I should mention the White House may have wanted this as a story to go away which is why it`s a Friday news on Steve Bannon, we reporting is at Breitbart News chairing editorial meetings. He`s giving interviews to Joshua Green who wrote the book about Bannon and Trump that reportedly angered Trump. And now he`s telling the Weekly Standards, we have a huge movement. We`ll make something of this Trump Presidency but that Presidency is over. It will be something else. What does that mean he sees himself as, Leah?
RIGUEUR: Right. So Steve Bannon sees himself as chaos, right? He`s chaos kind of personified. This is all who he has been. He`s the same man who has petty politics who goes after all of these people he`s defined as his enemies, who has an apocalyptic vision of vengeance in America and in the world. This is what we`re seeing kind of play out. But what`s interesting is that he has kind of defined himself and is positioning himself as the man who made Donald Trump and helped elect Donald Trump and who hypothetically can take down everything around Donald Trump. What would really happen? I don`t -- I don`t know.
MELBER: And let me get your -- let me get your reaction to what he said famously at the Vatican where he was discussing these far right groups internationally and the baggage they bring. And here, we`re seeing obviously some of the same tensions in our own country. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BANNON: I believe the world and particularly will Judeo-Christian west is in a crisis.
We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and front national and other center right. With all the baggage those groups bring and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage both ethnically and racially, but we think that will be worked through time.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: It was a discussion saying you can work through the fringe elements or the hate elements and still have a conservative movement. How do you think he`s doing on that tonight?
RIGUEUR: Yes. So what Steve Bannon did and what Donald Trump helped him do was essentially pull the mask off of civility of the Republican Party and the fringe elements of Republican Party. He brought it out into the daylight, he brought -- he used a megaphone with it and really broadcast kind of these -- you know, the underbelly of kind of these different groups. I think what`s going on here is this kind of introduction of this idea of white nationalism and mainstreaming white nationalism in a way that kind of repackaging it, making it kind of nice and neat and suggesting that there`s something -- there`s something there to build on. Now Donald Trump has completely taken advantage of that and so he`s still connected to this movement. This is -- this is the movement that made up his base. And so, it`s important to kind of see these connections and see really the movement that has emerged from this really complicated moment.
MELBER: Harvard professor Leah Wright Rigueur, you put this in such an important context. I feel like we will be hearing from you more and more. Thanks for joining tonight.
RIGUEUR: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Straight ahead, will Steve Bannon be more powerful as some of his allies claimed now that he`s outside? What lies ahead for the man working the phones tonight? We have the latest up ahead.
MELBER: Steve Bannon out of the white house today and working over time tonight, Friday, back at Breitbart. President Trump essentially a third party President when you think about the positions he has distinct from the two parties and Steve Bannon apparently positioning himself to now be a fourth party, a party on the other edge of Trumpism itself. The man is reentering his old orbit at Breitbart, he`s more famous than ever, he says he`s more conservative to the base and he says he is the true Trumpian. But he`s also distinct from the President and won`t be afraid to call out people inside the White House.
Axios reporting, Bannon told associates he has a "killing machine in Breitbart News and he`s ready to go to war but for Trump." You can figure out the tensions there. Today some at Breitbart were still hitting at Trump writing with Bannon gone, Donald Trump risks becoming oh no, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a dirty word in Republican politics. And last month, we saw this line, move over President Donald Trump, you`re yesterday`s news. It seems like this is now the Scaramucci show. That was Breitbart pushing back. Well, this story, H.R. McMaster deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump. I wonder who place that and all those kind of headlines here, a bunch of them going after Jared Kushner. So if Bannon is positioning as a fourth party, does that weaken the President and are their other cracks among backers tonight. Billionaire Carl Icahn now cutting ties at the end of this week saying, he will no longer be a presidential advisor.
And we know that other removed advisers like Roger Stone and Corey Lewandowski still staying in contact reportedly with President Trump. So Bannon can choose his world view or his fourth party or a Bannon party or a Bannon media model. He`s just going to have to make sure everyone is straight on what he`s doing. I`m joined now by Liz Plank a Senior Correspondent from Vox, Wil Hylton Contributing Editor for the New York Times Magazine who just profiled Breitbart in a brand new piece Down the Breitbart hole and Kurt Bardella who has worked with Bannon at Breitbart. Kurt, is this a surprise and what will he do next?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR BREITBART NEWS: No, because I think functioning in a lot of ways, Steve never really left Breitbart. If fact he even got a retroactive waiver so that he could stay in contact with Breitbart. But I think what you`re going to see now is Steve be Steve. He`s going to go after the "west wing Democrats" that he believes have hijacked the President that they all knew the audience that Breitbart had voted for. He`s going to say that Gary Cohn and Ivanka Trump and Jared and Donald Junior have hijacked Donald Trump and he`s going to go after every single one of them. And he`s also going to be very, very aggressive by going after people like Speaker -- House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake, the Republicans that he will say are obstructing the President`s agenda, obstructing the populist agenda that they had voted for in the first place.
MELBER: Well, speak to Kurt`s point that maybe he never left Breitbart, that we sort of thought about this as usual perhaps since the old fashion way and how Steve Bannon used media and money to link to Trump. I`m going to play here some of their old interviews during the campaign when they were allies but on different sides of that table.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BANNON: Let me ask you, the GOP smart set which Breitbart identified all these kind of intellectuals or quasi-intellectuals --
TRUMP: I don`t think we should call them the smart set. You know what, they`re wrong so often.
BANNON: We do it to --
TRUMP: I think we belittle ourselves by calling them the smart set. You know, they call them the GOP elite. I don`t think they`re elite. I think we`re the elites. I think we`re really the elites because we`re the ones that are right.
WIL HYLTON, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Steve Bannon came into Breitbart officially when Andrew Breitbart died. And he was put into kind of replace Breitbart as the outsized figure in charge of the company. So he had known Breitbart for a long time but he had no role with the company before Breitbart`s death. And immediately upon arriving at Breitbart, he completely weaponized the place. I mean, he took it from what Andrew Breitbart had envisioned as being principally focused on criticizing the culture, media, and entertainment primarily and he made instead a political machine that was going to back candidates and create these sort of hysterical headlines and outrageous stories often extraordinarily offensive and he just absolutely transformed what Breitbart was.
And he built it into the powerhouse that it is but immediately upon his departure, you started to see a shift at Breitbart back towards the norm, in way. What you started to see was the Editor in Chief Alexander Marlow start to pull back from the extreme positions that Bannon had led it into and tone it down. Now, whether or not that was going to be a good business model is a very important question to think about but what Bannon is going to do back in chair is he`s going to take it right back where it was when he was in charge before.
MELBER: Well, and Liz Plank to that point new in the news room. It sounds like there`s something for every segment and that`s not on purpose. It`s just that Steve Bannon is busy. He`s telling the Weekly Standard now, he`s got his hands back on his weapons.
LIZ PLANK, VOX.COM SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Interesting. I mean, to use a mean girls analogy just because I`m on your show. If Donald Trump is the Regina George of politics, Steve Bannon just became the Lindsay Lohan`s character. He is now away from the squad but he is more powerful that way. And what I see is a true sort of opportunity. You know, I`ve been speaking to a lot of Republican women when I ask them about Ivanka Trump, for example, one of the more progressive, liberal members of the administration. They say I like her. You know, I don`t like her gender gap stuff, I don`t like her stance on the environment, but they`re able to look beyond that. With Breitbart really digging into those rifts between the administration, I think that we can see a true divide happening in Republican Party and in Trump supporters.
MELBER: Well, I think the point you make is very fetched.
MELBER: Wil, where do we go from here? I mean, Steve Bannon is obviously going to enrage Donald Trump if he uses his new-found fame. He`s more famous because of Trump than he ever was in the prior 50 plus years. He`s going to enrage him if this is how he does it.
HYLTON: Yes, I think he probably is going to enrage him. I mean, he may not even intend to. I suspect that Bannon`s perspective right this very minute is that he`s going to save Donald Trump from all these people who are corrupting the Trump agenda. That`s certainly how Steve has positioned himself on these issues. That he and Trump share this vision and it`s all these Wall Street Democrats in the west wing who are standing in the way of it. That`s how it feels and that`s the war he`s going to wage. He`s going to wage a war that he thinks is against all of the people who are opposing Trump`s righteous agenda but what he`s probably going to end up doing is alienating Trump because he`s going to make it hard for Trump to work with the people around him.
MELBER: Wil and Kurt, thank you for your expertize on this topic. Liz, stick around. Coming up, like Trump, Steve Bannon transcend in politics. He was a pop cultural figure and subject for some incredible late night comedy. We have that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t start without Steve Bannon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s walking in right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) fun for tonight. Can I have my desk back?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, Mr. President, I`ll go sit at my desk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve I`m sorry but it`s goodbye. Take him back to hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It happened on SNL before it happened in real life. I`m sure folks are going to miss that part of the Steve Bannon legacy, the comedy. Now my question for you is who needs to fall back on this Friday? Yes, we`re back by popular demand. OK, maybe not really but we are going to do "FALLBACK FRIDAY" again right after this.
MELBER: We`ve been reporting on the latest developments on Steve Bannon leaving the White House. You might stay the controversial adviser had to fall back. And that made us think of our favorite segment here on THE BEAT. Queue the music. Yes. It has been a long week for all of us but "FALLBACK FRIDAY" is here a segment that always goes well except when it doesn`t. Fallback means to chill out, to relax or reassess some of your life choices. And I`m joined by Brittney Cooper, Liz Plank, and Shelby Holliday all here for "FALLBACK FRIDAY." Thank for being here.
PLANK: Thanks, Ari.
HOLLIDAY: Thanks for having us.
MELBER: Liz, who needs fall back?
PLANK: Paris Hilton right, hasn`t been relevant in a while but she is now. She made comments in 2016, the comments have just leaked now. She gave an interview you know, just before the election and basically was asked about Donald Trump`s accusers. Remember that?
PLANK: You remember the good old days when Donald Trump was accused by multiple women of sexual assault and she said that these women were just after money and that they just were after attention.
MELBER: So you want her to fall back.
PLANK: Yes. You know, it`s not -- I`m not a way to make money.
MELBER: I want to -- I want to go to Brittney. We`ll let`s -- do you want to put the music? We`ll put the music on again because I -- we may -- you won`t always have it playing a little bit.
HOLLIDAY: We need a deejay in here Ari. We need -- let`s put him in the corner.
COOPER: Tina Fey needs to fall back. She made some tasteless jokes about a sheet cake movement that essentially -- and were feeling bad about Charlottesville, we should bury our feelings in cake. She just paint the cake in the shape of an American Flag and eats that. It`s not clearly how that points us in --
MELBER: How that`s going to help. I think we have that. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, COMEDIAN: Instead of participating in the screaming matches and potential violence, order a cake with the American flag on it. Like this one and just eat it, Collin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What is that going do? We need real solutions and we need our comics to have good social commentary with humor. That`s the thing that helps us get clear about the problems. But look, you know, clearly I love cake but cake is not the solution to white supremacy.
MELBER: I love cake, too. What was the premise of the joke? Really, I mean, I guess, it`s hard to -- it`s hard to -- I mean, I -- by the way, I love Tina Fey. It`s hard to take a week like this and make a joke. But then (INAUDIBLE) maybe what she says. I mean, maybe it`s too soon that why your saying fall back. Maybe it`s too soon for this jokes.
HOLLIDAY: It was a serious week in comedy too. My fallback is (INAUDIBLE)
MELBER: Wait, did you just do a transition?
HOLLIDAY: Football fan.
HOLLIDAY: I earn my shot. OK. For all the football fans out there, Huge Freeze the former Ole Miss Football coach has been falling back and it`s been an even worse week for him. There are reports about hundreds of phone calls he made. He is under investigation for the alleged recruiting violation but this man stepped down from his post after he used the university planes and a university phone and called escorts on his recruiting. So he`s out. Sorry, Ole Miss.
MELBER: Unequivocal fallback.
HOLLIDAY: But just a -- jut a disgusting story so get out of here.
MELBER: I`ll give you guys -- gals my fallback.
HOLLIDAY: Yes. Who`s --
MELBER: But it`s not as kind of sharp as some of yours. I want Disney to fall back. They are proposing a new streaming service to compete with Netflix. Disney Executives are very excited about the prospect of this. I just feel obviously with the TV show, it`s important to bring up these big issues. I already -- it`s too many different places, I`m looking for video. I can`t figure out what`s on the video. On Netflix, I feel like never the movies I want are on there but then (INAUDIBLE) your buying then and now there`s going to be -- I`m going to have to go to another Disney stream. This was supposed to get easier so that`s why I`m saying straight up Disney fall back. I hope you hear me but, does anyone share this problem?
COOPER: It`s a subscription. So I have subscriptions to everything. Apple music, (INAUDIBLE), Netflix, how many -- so they`re going to nickel and dime us with subscriptions. This is not a way to serve customers well. So I need these folks to stop thinking of more things to do with my money and think of --
HOLLIDAY: So, what if they create awesome content with that money? And maybe we`ll be happy. Well, we have awesome content on THE BEAT so we can just watch that.
MELBER: You write about millennial issues and stuff, right? Don`t you feel there`s too many places?
PLANK: For sure. I think, everyone is trying to become the streaming service, right? Everyone is trying to replace each other so it doesn`t surprise me that this is what they`re doing because there`s a lot of money to make. Disney has a lot of shows on Netflix. But obviously for the consumers, it`s just kind of annoying, you know. There`s -- also too many shows even just on Netflix.
HOLLIDAY: There`s too many passwords.
COOPER: I mean, look, the one thing that these sort of all sites kind of plays some Netflix, even channels like (INAUDIBLE) are doing, if they`re revolutionizing content for people of color. So you get Master of None on Netflix on the way that couldn`t get.
MELBER: You wouldn`t get.
COOPER: That`s right. And you know, that`s one of the best TV shows this year. So that kind of work is important.
MELBER: I love Master of None. I do think that Disney needs to fall back with all the pasta references, all food all the time.
COOPER: I don`t know about his Italian --
PLANK: Like he`s been making it right now and we need them to start on it.
MELBER: You want more. All right, Brittney, Liz, Shelby, a little levity after a long week for "FALLBACK FRIDAY." Thank you all. I appreciate it. You can always find us on Facebook and Twitter @THEBEATWITHARI or us e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. There`s that music, that`s how you know it`s Friday. I`ll see you next week, "HARDBALL" starts now.
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