TODAY'S PAPER

For Steve Bannon, Trumpland is still a playing field

Steve Bannon, the rumpled "guru" who gave the 2016 Trump campaign its ideological talking points, fell out of the White House last year and got himself unfunded by Long Island's right-wing billionaire Mercer family.

But he's still taking his role seriously enough, by BuzzFeed's account last week, to "reactivate his shadow public relations machine as he attempts to reassert himself...

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Steve Bannon, the rumpled "guru" who gave the 2016 Trump campaign its ideological talking points, fell out of the White House last year and got himself unfunded by Long Island's right-wing billionaire Mercer family.

But he's still taking his role seriously enough, by BuzzFeed's account last week, to "reactivate his shadow public relations machine as he attempts to reassert himself as a key player in President Donald Trump’s network."

Bannon's name keeps kicking around the news media, much at his behest.

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Bannon drew attention last week due to a fiasco surrounding The New Yorker magazine. Liberal notables canceled their appearances at its annual festival when they learned editor David Remnick would share the stage for an interview with Bannon. The appearance was canceled amid uproar.

“Gutless,” Bannon called it. Undoubtedly it would be good buzz for his own publicity purposes.

Last month, Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, created something called Citizens of the American Republic, purportedly devoted to promoting Trump during the congressional midterms. Earlier in the year he worked for the ill-fated campaign of Roy Moore, the scandal-stained Alabama Senate hopeful who lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

“More than any other midterm, this is a referendum on [Trump's] style and on his content, and you cannot run from that; you have to embrace it,” Bannon told The New York Times. 

Bannon's presence has always been controversial but will be more so given the track record he built after the president was inaugurated and political fatwas he issued against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

In January, he was quoted as calling the famous Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russians with Kremlin ties "unpatriotic" and "treasonous."

Weeks earlier, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) was reacting to some of Bannon's higher-profile performances when he said he “does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered onto the political stage.” 

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Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast last week reported on an interview with Bannon and his appearance in a new documentary film. It was conducted, he said, "inside the self-styled man-of-the-people’s luxury suite at Gritti Palace, a five-star hotel on Venice’s Grand Canal where rooms cost a minimum of $1,400 a night."

Populism seems to be in the eye of the beholder.