MSNBC's All In Discusses The Dark Money Billionaires Who Funded Trump's Campaign Propaganda Machine And Breitbart
Bannon Said The Mercers, "More Than Any Other Donors, Launched The Trump Revolution"
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From the March 29 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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CHRIS HAYES (HOST): The “Making America Great” PAC, run by influential Trump donor Rebekah Mercer, is up with that ad in 10 states that Donald Trump won, part of a million-dollar ad buy to goose the president’s historically low ratings just over two months into his presidency.
Where is this coming from, why are they doing this now?
JOSHUA GREEN: There was a lot of frustration among Trump donors that during the whole health care fight you had hospital groups, nurses, doctors, all coming out publicly against Trump’s health care bill, and he really didn’t have a lot of outside supporters. The Mercers, who had been among Trump’s larger donors and supporters during the campaign, had put together this group -- it was a little bit slow getting off the mark, but now with that bill having failed and Trump’s approval ratings historically low, I think that they’re trying to rally the support, both of Trump voters in these 10 states where the ad is running, and also to put a little bit of pressure on Democrats in these states who are going to be up for re-election next year.
HAYES: I thought that was interesting because I think right now the political calculus shows they’re not sweating that at all, and the ads that attempt to do that. Jane, for folks that are unfamiliar with who the Mercers are, who are these individuals?
JANE MAYER: Well Rebekah Mercer, who you just talked about, is an heiress. She’s the daughter of Bob Mercer, who's a hedge fund gazillionaire, and they are both very, very far-right and they came in and supported Trump starting about last August, and they are credited with helping pull him over the finish line. Rebekah Mercer sat on the transition team, she has been calling some shots on who Trump has hired, and now they're running this outside support group. Kind of a private propaganda machine run by a couple multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires.
HAYES: And the father Mercer, he, as relayed in your article, has some pretty extreme, eccentric views.
MAYER: This was one of the things that fascinated me was there have been stories about the Mercers but it’s been very hard to know what do they really believe? Who are they, what do they want? So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what they really believe and I finally found people who worked with Bob Mercer, who said that he barely speaks, he’d rather talk to cats than humans, he doesn’t give interviews, but he has very odd views of things like nuclear war. He thinks, for instance, that it was good for the Japanese health after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- in the area outside the blast zone he thinks that low-level radiation is good for people. He certainly is against global warming, doesn’t believe it really exists. He thinks the Clintons are murderers, literally. He thinks that the civil rights bill was a -- act was a tremendous mistake, and that there is no such thing in America as race -- white racism. He thinks the only racism that exists is black racism against whites. So he’s got weird views. People might not care, and it would be just another eccentric, except that he’s put so much money into politics, getting his way.
HAYES: And Josh, there’s this nexus with Breitbart too, because it’s not just this campaign and it's not just the Super PAC. This is from Jane’s piece: “A year before Bannon joined Trump’s campaign staff, he described himself in email as Trump’s de facto ‘campaign manager’ because of the positive coverage Breitbart was giving Trump. That coverage had largely been underwritten by the Mercers.” There’s a Mercer-Bannon connection that’s very tight as well, right, Josh?
GREEN: Very tight and very wide. I mean, the Mercers are, or were, Bannon’s key financial backers, not only at Breitbart but also the Government Accountability Institute, which is a Florida nonprofit that produced the Clinton Cash book back in 2015 that was so damaging to Clinton just as her candidacy was taking off. So the Mercers were really the money not only behind these ads and behind Trump, but behind the effort to smear and tear down Hillary Clinton.
MAYER: That’s absolutely true; because Bannon was basically their political advisor before he became Trump’s political advisor, their spending became very strategic once they joined forces with Steve Bannon, and that was about late 2011 or 2012. And at that point they built up really, and Bannon himself told me, he said that they more than any other donors launched the Trump revolution, as he put it. And what he’s talking about is they built these various organizations up that helped pull Trump towards the White House.
HAYES: Josh, we live in the sort of brave new Citizens United dark money world, but Trump didn’t have a ton of money in terms of matching dollar for dollar. Do you think they’ll open the spigots? Do you think if those approval ratings stay where they are we're going to see more money pouring in?
GREEN: I think it depends. One of the things with these groups is the giving is essentially unlimited, so you don't need to have a huge, broad group of donors. What you need to have, and what Trump as in this group, is a handful of billionaires who are willing to write million-dollar-plus checks to fund these kinds of PR campaigns that we’re seeing launched today.