How Seinfeld ruined America

This Bloomberg profile of Steve Bannon is from last month, but it just crossed by electronic transom today.  So fascinating.  Highly, highly recommended.  The scary thing, is that Bannon is pretty much an evil genius who has figured out how to hack the mainstream media.  Here’s a key bit:

To this end, Hall peppers his colleagues with slogans so familiar around the office that they’re known by their abbreviations. “ABBN — always be breaking news,” he says. Another slogan is “depth beats speed.” Time-strapped reporters squeezed for copy will gratefully accept original, fact-based research because most of what they’re inundated with is garbage. “The modern economics of the newsroom don’t support big investigative reporting staffs,” says Bannon. “You wouldn’t get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. We’re working as a support function.”

The reason GAI does this is because it’s the secret to how conservatives can hack the mainstream media. Hall has distilled this, too, into a slogan: “Anchor left, pivot right.” It means that “weaponizing” a story onto the front page of the New York Times(“the Left”) is infinitely more valuable than publishing it on Breitbart.com. “We don’t look at the mainstream media as enemies because we don’t want our work to be trapped in the conservative ecosystem,” says Hall. “We live and die by the media. Every time we’re launching a book, I’ll build a battle map that literally breaks down by category every headline we’re going to place, every op-ed Peter’s going to publish. Some of it is a wish list. But it usually gets done.”

Once that work has permeated the mainstream—once it’s found “a host body,” in David Brock’s phrase—then comes the “pivot.” Heroes and villains emerge and become grist for a juicy Breitbart News narrative. “With Clinton Cash, we never really broke a story,” says Bannon, “but you go [to Breitbart.com] and we’ve got 20 things, we’re linking to everybody else’s stuff, we’re aggregating, we’ll pull stuff from the Left. It’s a rolling phenomenon. Huge traffic. Everybody’s invested.”

Insidious.  So, what does this have to do with my favorite TV show ever.  In one of his many former lives (truly, a fascinating individual), Bannon bought the rights to Seinfeld syndication royalties when it was only in it’s third season.  Safe to say that paid off handsomely and Bannon has been using the proceeds to fund his right-wing muckraking.  So, in the end, you can blame Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David for President Trump🙂.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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