U.S.

Steve Bannon Wrote a Column for The Washington Post and Readers Are Not Happy: ‘Giving Him a Platform Is Beneath You’

The Washington Post has come under fire after publishing an opinion piece by far-right provocateur Steve Bannon, who previously served as President Donald Trump's chief adviser and co-founded right-wing outlet Breitbart News.

In his opinion piece, titled, "We're in an Economic War With China. It's Futile to Compromise," Bannon, who served as Trump's chief strategist from January 2017 to August 2017, calls on the president to "follow his instincts and not soften his stance" against China and its ruling party, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"The United States’ fight is not with the Chinese people but with the CCP," Bannon writes. "The Chinese people are the first and continuous victims of this barbarous regime," he says, calling on Trump to stand firm against "the greatest existential threat ever faced by the United States."

Almost immediately after publishing Bannon's piece online, The Washington Post faced backlash from readers, with many taking to social media to question why the newspaper would give the far-right campaigner a platform, while others vowed to unsubscribe from the publication.

"Bye, WaPo," one social media user wrote. "Unfollowing and unsubscribing. Giving a Bannon a platform was a bridge too far."

"Same," another user agreed. "I'm out." 

"Why would anyone give this maniac a platform?" one social media user questioned. "Seriously, WaPo? Don’t make me cancel my subscription."

"Giving him a platform is beneath you," another wrote to the publication.

Since being cast out of the White House in the summer of 2017, Bannon has turned his attention to Europe, where he has helped stoke the flames of a growing far-right movement, meeting with a string of right-wing politicians across the continent, including Hungary's Viktor Orbán and former U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage.

The far-right ideologue also set up a "club" called The Movement, that sought to support right-wing populist groups in Europe. However, the initiative has yet to see the widespread growth Bannon had predicted when he and his partner in the venture, Mischaël Modrikamen, a Belgian lawyer, formally launched the bid earlier this year. 

Responding to the Post's decision to publish Bannon's thoughts under its banner, one retired journalist, Michael Dresser, a former State House correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, asked the Post to "please explain the difference" between running a column by Bannon and running one by white supremacist and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. 

"I'm confused and can't see the distinction," Dresser said. 

The retired journalist then took aim at Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Post, writing, "Let me venture an answer: Because Fred Hiatt, while he pretends to be a decent and moderate person, is actually in thrall to the ruling class to the point he excuses all they do. Please correct me if I'm wrong, Fred."

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Hiatt said “The Washington Post is committed to offering readers a range of views in op-eds that make news, stir debate and provoke thought."

"I certainly don’t agree with everything we publish," Hiatt said. However, the editorial page editor said: "I think we are all better off if we remain open to competing points of view than if we take to our opinion silos and read only what we know in advance we will agree with.”

It is unclear whether Bannon, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek, initially approached the Post about writing an opinion piece or whether it was the other way around. However, the publication does allow anyone to submit an opinion article online for consideration.  

On its website, the Post says that it welcomes submissions of opinion articles on any topic for publication in print and online. 

"Countless factors affect whether an opinion article is suitable for publication in the newspaper or online, including space constraints, timeliness and relevance," the Post's guidelines say. Writers, it says, "need not possess any special expertise" to have their article considered for publication.

GettyImages-1138247428 (2) Steve Bannon talks to media during a debate on sovereignty versus Europeanism, in Rome, on March 25. The Washington Post has come under fire for publishing an opinion piece by Bannon. Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty

This article has been updated with a statement from Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of The Washington Post. 

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