It was co-produced by the America First nonprofit Citizens of the American Republic (COAR), which Bannon founded. If any established news anchors thought they were getting some serious competition from the far right, they can relax.
Imagine watching a radio show without commercial interruptions for 240 minutes. With bad lighting. And embarrassing technical glitches. Get the picture?
The livestream was heavily promoted on The Gateway Pundit, a popular far-right website, with 2.6 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore. (It ranked as the 11thmost-visited conservative website in September, according to my website TheRighting, which aggregates headlines from the right every day.)
The Gateway Pundit not only hosted the livestream, along with other sites, like Trump@War and Citizens of the American Republic, but it was a co-sponsor, as well.
Like most election night coverage, it featured a small parade of talking heads. Give COAR and Bannon some credit for featuring an ethnically diverse group of pundits. They all tilted far to the right.
The COAR talking heads sat around a makeshift desk with a COAR banner draped over it. We’re not talking high production values. There were few graphics, so it was hard to tell who was talking or their affiliation.
The livestream opened with Bannon and three other guests seated around the table. Bannon was not in the middle, where you might expect the most prominent person on the show to be positioned. Instead, for viewers watching from home, he was positioned, on the right. The far right.
He was joined by former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg, far-right conspiracy theorist Noel Fritsch, and former editor-in-chief of Breitbart London Raheem Kassam. The livestream essentially consisted of the guests closely examining their computer screens and commenting on what they were reviewing, presumably election results, coming in from mainstream sources.
At least twice, they cited numbers they attributed to The New York Times and AP. That’s right. Mainstream media.
There were no commercial breaks that I saw. Bannon and guests drank from clearly visible paper coffee cups from Dean & DeLuca, the upscale supermarket with outposts in these hotbeds of elitism: SoHo, Madison Avenue, Georgetown and even The New York Times headquarters. Was this product placement? Methinks not!
Bannon would occasionally ask questions.
He came across as knowledgeable, articulate and level-headed. There’s no denying his chops as a television guest. But as a television news anchor on Tuesday night, he lacked the charm to seamlessly engage his guests, provide compelling commentary, and offer an interesting narrative framework for the unfolding drama of the important election results.
Frequently, after Bannon asked guests questions, he would look down at his smartphone. Even worse, he would often type in his smartphone during the response. Doesn’t the TV anchor handbook have rules against this behavior?
Nunberg expressed himself frequently and with authority, although the gum chewing did him no favors. Fritsch seemed to spend a lot of his time just looking into his computer screen and frowning. Hassam added a perplexing dash of old-world sophistication by sporting an ascot, surely a first in the history of U.S. televised election night coverage. He peered often into Nunberg’s computer.
Bannon is never going to be GQ cover candy, but his choice of clothes did little to advance his case for TV news stardom. He wore what appeared to be a weatherproof Barbour waxed jacket with corduroy collar. He looked like he was going quail hunting after the show. Or maybe chasing down Central American migrants on the Texas border.
Other guests included alt-right personality Mike Cernovich, GOP political consultant Raynard Jackson, right-wing social media star Jack Posobiec, writer Alicia Powe and The Gateway Pundit’s editor-in-chief Jim Hoft calling in from somewhere other than the set. I wasn’t sure. But it might well have been the international space station, because there was an embarrassing multi-second lag between him moving his lips and his words.
It looked like a “Saturday Night Live” parody of a badly produced right-wing livestream.
By 10:30 p.m., after more than three hours of streaming, Bannon appeared exhausted by the ordeal and looked like he wanted nothing more than to kick back on his couch with a cup of hot tea and a six-pack of Crispy Cremes. Nunberg unleashed a monster yawn so wide I feared he might swallow Fritsch to his right. And they had another hour to go.
It was that kind of night.