Daniel Dale for CNN:
Steve Bannon’s aggressive campaign to undermine American democracy didn’t stop on January 6.Bannon, a bellicose right-wing nationalist who served as White House chief strategist under President Donald Trump in 2017, is fighting a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The Justice Department is contemplating whether to act on the House’s vote to hold Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress.At the same time, Bannon continues to host a popular podcast that is one of the country’s most important promoters of the very stolen-election lies that incited the January 6 mob.
The podcast, called “War Room,” is a six-days-a-week alternate reality that is kind of like Trump’s banned Twitter account revived in audio form. In the fantasyland of Bannon and friends, Trump won the 2020 election “in a landslide” (he lost), Trump’s victory (which didn’t occur) was ripped from his hands by a sprawling list of cheaters (pure fiction), and President Joe Biden’s win can still be decertified (nope).
As Bannon proudly noted on one October episode, “War Room” gives its listeners election-related “information” that even Fox News avoids.
On episode after episode, Bannon’s podcast goes into elaborate, incorrect detail about how the election was supposedly stolen. One of his regular guests is Mike Lindell, the pillow businessman who makes conspiratorial election claims so ludicrous that Fox has refused to air ads that have invoked them. Lindell — whose pillow company has been a repeat advertiser on “War Room” — appeared three times last week alone.
Bannon has also provided a friendly platform for the debunked election claims of people like former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former Trump White House official Peter Navarro, wildly inaccurate so-called “data analyst” Seth Keshel, and an assortment of swing-state Republican candidates who are running on election lies….
The podcast’s relentless barrage of election deception would be damaging enough to American democracy if it were just talk. Bannon spoke approvingly in October about how his efforts have reduced Americans’ faith in “the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s regime.”But Bannon has also urged “War Room” listeners to take long-term action. He has made frequent pleas for supporters to reshape the Republican party by signing up to serve as “precinct committeemen.”
Those are low-level local positions. As Bannon has emphasized, though, they matter. People in precinct posts can be influential in choosing representatives to serve on local elections boards and to fill key offices within each state’s party apparatus. They also frequently serve as local elections workers.
“It is hard to overstate how dangerous Bannon’s words and actions are,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science and co-director of the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center at the University of California, Irvine. “He’s creating an army of duped people who will go into positions helping to run elections with the false understanding that the 2020 election was stolen. Who knows what such people are capable of doing when in charge of running polling places or counting votes.”