White supremacist Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former adviser, enjoyed a public platform handed to him at the BBC’s News Xchange (NX18) broadcasting conference in Edinburgh yesterday (November 14th 2018).
Bannon was delighted to accept the invitation to spew forth his concoction of bile, vileness, racism and bigotry delivered with acute dishonesty, misdirection and obfuscation. “I think as populist nationalists I think it’s important to do mainstream media. I do the BBC.”
BBC’s Sarah Smith, who introduced Bannon on stage at NX18, claimed that he had been invited in order for him to be “scrutinised.” But, she and her BBC colleagues knew that Bannon cannot be scrutinised face-to-face because he is adept at deflection and avoidance. His skills are well-honed. He can relentlessly dodge queries, switch focus and twist blame with ease. His absolute lack of shame and his self-nurtured, highly developed, anti-humanity psyche helps him to have no qualms about constantly avoiding a question or criticism and always finding an unbridled dishonest means of changing the topic. Quacks are not susceptible to reasoned argument or intelligent inquisition. When quizzed they just carry on quacking.
Smith and the BBC knew that Bannon would be able to promote his extreme views without difficulty and without challenge. The BBC even agreed to present his speech as if it were an interview by Smith in order for Bannon to claim he had been questioned rather than allowed to spout his filth exactly as he had wanted.
He had nothing to say at NX18 and he made no attempt to engage in discussion. His purpose was to repeat a few standard deceptive soundbites. For example, he repeatedly deflected criticism by referring to the “working-class” and claimed his “populist nationalism” was defending working-class against an “elite.” He meant white working-class and a subsection thereof.
Tomorrow, Bannon is due to speak at the Oxford Union. Another ‘pillar of the establishment’ offering the nectar of free publicity to a rancid opponent of humanity. His appearance there will be a ‘members only’ event, which is unusual for an Oxford Union talk, and it was announced just three days in advance; clearly, among Bannon’s many disreputable characteristics lurks grubby cowardice. The cowardice was admitted by Oxford Union president Stephen Horvath in a meeting with the Union’s Standing Committee whereat he stated the possibility of “public disruption” was the reason for the secrecy and restricted access to Bannon’s talk.
Invitations to Bannon and his ilk are issued with the knowledge that the intent to scrutinise the invitees’ views is illusory. The broadcasters who give them airtime know they are providing a platform rather than dissecting and denigrating the guests’ views. The ‘Marketplace Of Ideas’ is a simple con.
Nick Spooner for Left Foot Forward