Steve Bannon, in his first interviews since Donald Trump named him a top White House aide, denied being anti-Semitic or a white nationalist, but continued to advance a theory of “globalist” conspiracy that echoes centuries-old anti-Semitic libels.
“Breitbart is the most pro-Israel site in the United States of America,” Bannon told the Wall Street Journal in an interview posted Friday, speaking of the conservative news site where he was CEO until this summer when he joined President-elect Trump’s campaign.
He dismissed as “a joke” claims that he was peddling anti-Semitism, noting his Jewish colleagues and hires.
Expressions of alarm by an array of Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement, have not denied the pro-Israel posture of Breitbart and Bannon, but have focused on echoes of anti-Semitic theory and cant found elsewhere on the site and in Bannon’s messaging for the Trump campaign.
Some critics have called out Bannon for at least two recent uses in Breitbart of “Jews” or “Jewish” that some saw as pejorative, and for claims by his ex-wife that he was hostile to Jews. Bannon has vigorously denied his wife’s claims, and the writers of the articles denounced as anti-Jewish have noted they are Jewish and say their use of the terms was misconstrued.
Bannon has also, more substantively, been criticised for advancing, through Breitbart and in the Trump campaign’s final weeks, conspiracy theories that involve international bankers, secret meetings and a servile media – all elements of classic anti-Semitic propaganda.
In the campaign’s final days, a Trump campaign TV ad ran excerpts of a Trump speech advancing theories of a secretive conspiracy seeking global control and accompanied the excerpts with images of three prominent Jews.
Neither Bannon nor the campaign have explicitly blamed Jews as a class.