Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani’s bogus October surprise smearing Democratic nominee Joe Biden has fallen flat on its face. In an act of sheer desperation, Bannon is now openly courting the QAnon cult.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory centered around bizarre claims that President Donald Trump is preparing to round up and execute his political enemies, members of the so-called “deep state,” who are running secret global pedophile rings. It has been repeatedly amplified and embraced by Trump, as well as the larger Republican Party and Fox News, and it has spread widely on social media platforms.
QAnon followers have been linked to a slew of threats and acts of violence -- including multiple kidnappings and murders -- and the conspiracy theory has been identified as a potential domestic terrorist threat by the FBI.
On the October 21 edition of his podcast War Room: Pandemic, Bannon suggested that state and federal law enforcement officials protected Biden politically by covering up Giuliani’s smear story and said QAnon “at least appears directionally to be correct,” repeatedly calling the conspiracy theory “the elephant in the room.”
On the same episode, Bannon said QAnon has “got to be addressed,” adding, “This stuff is real, this stuff is dangerous” in reference to the alleged coverup of Giuliani’s failed smear effort.
It would be irresponsible to discuss Bannon's dalliance with QAnon without talking about Roy Moore.
When Sen. Doug Jones won the special election for then-attorney general Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat in Alabama over Moore, Simon Maloy examined Bannon's role.
When the Washington Post broke the news that multiple women were accusing Moore of sexual misconduct -- including one woman who said Moore assaulted her when she was 14 -- Bannon was faced with a decision: abandon his candidate and risk ceding the seat to the Democrats, or stand alongside Moore as he faced credible reports of sexual assault. Bannon opted to stick doggedly with Moore and began concocting fanciful allegations of a conspiracy (stretching all the way to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) to discredit his candidate. Breitbart.com took up the cause with laughable attempts to undermine the Post’s reporting and construct a separate reality in which the reports about Moore had been debunked.
Bannon poured everything he had into trying to keep Moore viable and gave little worry to the obvious signs that his candidacy was falling apart. Moore’s campaign shifted its focus to attacking the media while the candidate himself vanished from the trail, emerging only to spin elaborate, conspiratorial attacks on the many left-wing phantoms he claimed were aligning to damage his candidacy. Moore’s surrogates gave a series of shambolic and absurd interviews to cable news channels as they ineptly sought to defend their candidate’s extreme record. Bannon spoke at Moore’s final rally on Monday night -- a rally that also featured Moore’s wife address charges of anti-semitism by proudly declaring that “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Bannon coasts on a reputation as a master political strategist and presents himself to the world as a sort of frumpy modern-day Machiavelli. But throughout the entire Moore campaign, he’s demonstrated little in the way of political intelligence. Aligning with Moore was liable to backfire from the get-go -- he was a weak and vulnerable candidate even before reports surfaced that he was a serial sexual abuser. The only messages Moore had to offer voters were relentless grievance, vacant flag-waving nationalism, and whacked-out conspiracy theories.
The same was true for Bannon, whose campaign speeches for Moore digressed into lengthy harangues aimed at Mitt Romney and the “opposition party” media. His best effort at knocking down the sexual misconduct reports against Moore involved asserting the existence of an anti-Moore plot and just assuming partisanship and anti-media sentiment would overcome his lack of evidence. “The whole thing was a setup. This whole thing was weaponized right?” he said at a December 5 rally. “You know that. Folks down here in Alabama know that.”
Well, it turns out they didn’t know that.
Since Trump's victory in 2016, Steve Bannon got fired from the White House after volunteering an interview to the liberal American Prospect in which he trashed the administration's China policy, lost a Senate election in Alabama after throwing his support behind someone credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women, got pushed out of Breitbart after attacking Trump's son to Michael Wolff, got indicted for allegedly stealing money from an effort to build the wall via crowdfunding (eventually being arrested by Postal Service agents aboard his patron's yacht), failed to land a last-minute attack on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and now he's turned to QAnon.
If there is anyone in politics who could find ways to fall even further, it's Steve Bannon.