Last week, the former president had dinner with the troubled antisemitic rapper Kanye ‘Ye’ West, who brought his new pal Fuentes along for the ride. Bannon is among a number of right-wing figures to criticize Trump for allowing the recent meeting, claiming it was a plot to “put Trump in his place.”
“Did the staff think that this was a good idea?” Bannon asked on an episode of his War Room podcast over the weekend, describing it as a tactic to “insult Trump.”
Fuentes is a noted Holocaust denier and avowed white supremacist who attended the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and boasts a large online following who call themselves “Groypers.”
“These people like to talk about the great replacement theory and I think Steve Bannon is a little mad that he’s been replaced in this case,” Levy says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, Trump, he’s found a new white supremacist to hang out with.’ And then there’s Steve Bannon, who’s sort of like his ex, a white supremacist just going, ‘Really? This guy? Really, really? That’s what you dumped me for?’
Bannon’s criticism is right, however—with Levy noting that not long ago, Mar-a-Lago was stashed with classified documents that could have potentially been read by Trump’s less-than-savory guests.
“You would think maybe security should be a little better about who they let in. And of course it’s not, and this is one of the reasons why you don’t want ex-presidents just taking documents with them and putting them in their little home office,” Levy says.
Podcast co-host Danielle Moodie also can’t believe she’s agreeing with Bannon: “Do these people not do any type of Google search on who the fuck is coming into Mar-a-Lago? Is there no background check?
Also on the podcast, Jared Holt, senior research manager on U.S. Hate and Extremism for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, who has a newsletter and podcast called Posting Through It, explains Trump’s intentions for not condemning Fuentes after the meeting.
“It’s the same thing that he did with David Duke, the famous KKK leader. It’s just this reflex Trump has to not isolate a single supporter. No matter how heinous.”
Holt says this is probably the biggest spotlight Fuentes “has ever had on himself” and that Trump’s condemnation “or some clearer statement could have been really useful.”
Holt explained that in addition to the white nationalism, most people know Fuentes “as just a very aggressive antisemite.” Considering Ye’s recent antisemitic comments, it’s not surprising that he found common cause with Fuentes, he said.
“It’s just really despicable stuff, man. He’s almost like a cartoon character. It’s like if you were going to come up with like Nazi youth and just make this cartoonish Twitch streamer version of that, that’s Nick Fuentes.”
Then, Sarah Kendzior, author of They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent and co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation, says Elon Musk’s motives for changing Twitter are part of a bigger strategy: control and “possibly destruction of the public sphere.”
“And that’s deliberate,” Kendzior says. “You know, this is not incompetence, this is not bumbling around and it’s not that hard to do. You know, a lot of times when I suggest this, people say, ‘Oh, that’s such a wild conspiracy theory. How could he have done something so complex?’ It’s not hard at all. You fire the people who work there, you stop paying them, you lock the doors, you release the trolls.”
Kendzior said it’s important to uphold Twitter as a social platform because “all these revolutionary movements… the records of them are on Twitter, and if Twitter goes down, then we lose all of that history.”