Everybody is talking about Steve Bannon, the influential advisor to President* Trump who molded the far-right news organization Breitbart News into the self proclaimed “platform for the alt-right.” Aside from promoting white nationalism, Bannon also deployed Breitbart as a powerful voice for climate change deniers.
Last spring Bannon was almost pushed out of the White House, but apparently Trump liked his views on climate change well enough to keep him on board. Considering the latest controversy, though, it’s not evident that hoaxing on the fate of the planet will save Bannon’s job.
Steve Bannon and Climate Change Denial
Steve Bannon was a founding member of the board of directors of Breitbart News. Upon the death of its namesake Andrew Breitbart in 2012, Bannon took over as executive chair of the site’s parent company, Breitbart News LLC.
The Mercer family provided the initial $10 million to help Steve Bannon start up Breitbart News. Since then, the site has become very successful, outdoing the Huffington Post, and ranking as the 29th most popular site in America, The Guardian reported. 
Inside Climate News also has a good take on the Breitbart approach to climate science:
Stephen Bannon has called government support of alternative energy “madness.” His conservative website, Breitbart News, relentlessly pursues the idea that global warming is an invention of activists, university researchers and renewable energy industry profiteers determined to assert global governance for their own gain.
As for the connection between the Mercer family and climate change denial, that’s a little more difficult to decipher. Unlike the notorious Koch brothers, the Mercer family fortune does appear to not lean directly on fossil fuels.
The $10 million that Mercer pumped into Breitbart in 2012 appears to be part and parcel of a broader strategy to support climate change denial with big bucks, as catalogued by DeSmogBlog:
The Mercer Family Foundation, led by Rebekah, has given heavily to climate science denial groups like Heartland.
Their latest $100,000 donation, declared in the Mercer Family Foundation’s 2015 tax form, takes their financial backing of Heartland to more than $5 million since the first $1 million check was written in 2008.
As DeSmog has reported, the Mercers have also donated to several of the Heartland Institute conference sponsors, including the Heritage Foundation and the Media Research Center, which has received more than $13 million from the Mercer Family Foundation.
Aside from any direct financial interest in fossil fuels, climate change denial has the broad effect of undermining mainstream, objective reporting on climate science, so there’s that.
In other words, it’s possible that the whole climate change denial thing is simply a means to an end.
If the long game played by the notoriously reclusive Robert Mercer is to accrue more power to himself, then undermining the power and influence of mainstream media is a critical step along the way.
Steve Bannon Pulls A Mooch
Where were we? Oh right, the latest Steve Bannon controversy.
Bannon’s situation in the White House has been particularly fraught since last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the seeds of his enthusiasm for white nationalism burst into full flower.
The sight of violent Nazi cosplayers running amok in a popular tourist destination with fatal consequences was apparently too much even for Trump supporters to stomach. Even Trump’s allies in the business world have been fleeing for the exits.
Rather than laying low, on Tuesday Bannon apparently thought it would be a good idea to reach out to American Prospect reporter Robert Kuttner to discuss Trump’s China policy.
Perhaps Bannon thought he was calling the American Spectator? Who knows?
Earlier this month the newly minted White House Communications Director Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci found himself unminted after speaking freely to a random reporter, but apparently Bannon’s attention was elsewhere.
Kuttner accepted Bannon’s phone call as an on-the-record conversation and now Bannon’s numerous in-house adversaries have another weapon to deploy against him.
Do read Kuttner’s full piece for some insight into Bannon’s perspective on the white nationalists whose trust and favor he has so assiduously courted. Toward the end, Kuttner asks Bannon straight up about “the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it:”
He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
If you ever wondered what Steve Bannon thinks about all those folks who put their trust in Breitbart for solid reporting on climate change, you can probably start with “clowns” and work your way out.
Perhaps that includes you, President* Trump.
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Photo: by Gage Skidmore via flickr.com, creative commons license.
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