On MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian Reports, Angelo Carusone explains why Steve Bannon was 2021's “Misinformer of the Year”

Bannon uses “enormous reach and influence” to “operationaliz[e] extremism” and undermine democracy

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Citation From the January 1, 2022, edition of MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian Reports

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN (HOST): Alright, the nonprofit media watchdog group Media Matters has selected its choice as the biggest misinformer of 2021, and this year's honor goes to former President Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Media Matters points to his daily podcast as the main reason he was selected. It is full of nonstop misinformation and conspiracy theories. Here's an example from earlier this week.


STEVE BANNON: They got pass — they got to get H.R.1, because they’re not gonna be damn — unless they federalize these elections, they're going to lose a hundred seats. They’re smart — internally, they got it. They understand. They can't show economic — they can't show economics. The country's being invaded on the southern border. It's a complete catastrophe — about to shut down the whole country because they weren't prepared for omicron, and lied about it. The only thing they got is they got to grab the apparatus at a federal level and steal the elections. I understand what they're doing. If I was those guys, a hundred percent, that's how I'd be working on it because you’ve got no other shot. All of your other policies are destroying the nation.


VOSSOUGHIAN: OK, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, joining us now. I think we know why he got the top spot as Misinformer of the Year, Angelo, but let's walk through it. And with that, I want to name the last five Misinformers of the Year. Steve Bannon this year, Fox News (2020), John Solomon (2019), Lachlan Murdoch (2018), Mark Zuckerberg (2017). But you say Steve Bannon is unlike any other because his message, his misinformation, it's more dangerous.

ANGELO CARUSONE: It's much more dangerous. You know, one of the things that we've seen with Bannon that's unique, is that he's operationalizing extremism in a way that previous misinformers had not. And he's doing it deliberately, and it's calculated. And that's really the biggest distinction here. There is real-world impact, and a whole infrastructure being built right underneath all of us, as a result of the misinformation that he's pumping out there 17 hours a week.

VOSSOUGHIAN: He's been banned from media platforms; Twitter, Spotify, kicked him off back in 2021 after he called [for] Dr. Fauci and CIA Director Wray to be beheaded. YouTube banned him. Even right-wing platforms have banned him. That being said, it seems, Bannon still has this massive reach, Angelo.

CARUSONE: Yeah, and I think that's a really important point that you draw there, which is that there has been instances where his platform has been eroded. Things would actually be, I think, significantly worse if he still had access to places like YouTube, in particular, which was his biggest audience driver right before the 2020 election.

I mean, you know, you've seen examples where there have been 8,500 new extremists from his campaign joining local GOP precincts across the country, all in the guise of “saving” the next election. Some of which have actually said they're bringing baseball bats, they're ready for violence.

But to your point, it does demonstrate the fact that there's a lot of durability and high demand for what he has been able to construct. So, I think it's good that there has been a little bit of a ceiling there, but I think part of the reason we wanted to give this designation isn't just a consequence of how much damage he's caused, but to remind everybody that just because he doesn't have access to these big platforms, he actually still has enormous reach and influence that may be under the radar.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yeah, and it doesn’t mean he’s not being heard. Angelo Carusone, thank you. We really appreciate it. Happy New Years to you.

CARUSONE: Thank you.