“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile.”
That’s what Stephen Bannon, one of Donald Trump’s top strategists, had to say about the testy relationship between the new US administration and the mainstream media. Bannon lashed out at news organizations in an interview with the New York Times (paywall), where he stated the media was out of touch with the rest of the nation.
“You’re the opposition party,” Bannon told the newspaper. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”
He noted that many news organizations underestimated Trump’s support during his election bid and that “the mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign.” He added: ”They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
It’s ironic that Bannon should come out so harshly against the media when, not too long ago, he was part of the media. The mogul, who made much of his fortune on Seinfeld re-runs, served as the executive chairman of alt-right news outlet Breitbart News until August 2016, when he left to join the Trump campaign.
His comments come as Trump continues to war with the media. Last weekend, he reportedly called journalists “the most dishonest human beings on earth.” White House press secretary Sean Spicer clashed with reporters over estimates of crowd size at the presidential inauguration during his first press conference. And Trump has repeatedly dressed down news outlets and reporters in tweets and public statements.
The dynamics between the Trump administration and the media have gotten so volatile that BuzzFeed—which Trump called a “failing piece of garbage” after it published an un-vetted intelligence document about the US president—hired a reporter to cover the relationship full-time.
Shortly after Bannon’s comments were published, the American Civil Liberties Union came out in support of the free press: