tv After Words Keith Koffler Bannon CSPAN December 18, 2017 12:01am-1:01am EST
>> next on book tvs afterwards, keith reports on the life and career of steve bannon, and his role in the trump presidency. >> host: hello. i am thrilled to be here today with keith, author of "banning, always the rubble". it's great to have you here. this is a really a book that i thoroughly enjoyed this weekend. i was looking up about you and since most conservative writers in general life end up having a wikipedia page that makes him somewhat crazy, was pleased i
guess to see that you do not have a wikipedia page, most conservatives like me, you can go through the wikipedia page and if you know them well this is a bunch of garbage. so, i'm thrilled to have you. i was can ask about some of the things that made you crazy and wikipedia but it's not there. but, we do want to have you above the rater as you talk about bannon. your work in the white house dossier exposing some of the things going on in the white house, that's continuing to be a passion of yours. >> guest: it is, it is something i started in 2010. i have been a mainstream reporter for many years.
i so good at hiding my political conservatives that very few people knew the. >> host: maybe that's why you don't have a wikipedia page. >> guest: i'm also thankful that i did not have put my age on there. in addition to whatever else. i was so successful in hiding my sympathies is once offered a job in frank --'s office and was yelled at by fleischer that i never would've asked. little did he realize i probably agree with everything he was saying, but i thought it was my duty to hide that. most of us so that's less so in the mainstream media. the idea was to do accountability on president
obama and also have humor, analysis, and news. all through most of the presidency i held him to standards and pointed out things he was doing wrong both things objectively conservative as well. today with president trump sometimes it's a what are you doing here, but also the media may be treating him unfairly in certain respects, so that's the purpose of it today, still something a very passionate about. >> host: and sometimes people do take offense if it seems to be a hostile question when actual one of the most liberal trial lawyers in the democrat i learned so much for him during the three-day seminar 30 years
ago. said you know you're selecting a jury and you get an answer you don't like, you are to jump across and shake his hand. the got his now given you chance to explain him that is troubling people. unfortunately, you've seen it, too many times today people ask questions and their gotcha questions, they're not going to give you a chance to explain. but i felt like you certainly gave steve bannon a fair treatment in the book. i like to get to the book, is start off with the prologue as the rubble, but you go through and you get quotes from the family, who all in the family
did you talk younger. it is a very close-knit family. he goes home to richmond sometimes even with his schedule at the white house and still now, they adore him. interestingly i had no resentment among him for his success. only pride. most startling person i talked to was his dad, i think he was 95 and now he's 96 i just saw him at an event somewhere. >> his dad is on top of things. >> guest: he sharp as a whip. he has an ironic sense of humor.
he can remember vignettes from the 1940s about how he was drafted as a professional baseball player but it did not pay like it place now. >> it was $50, then they opted to 75 trying to get him to come on. the report for 50 the first 75 their hope in me he would. >> they were joking that he was a holdout. back then, the country just came out of the depression and it was a more stable job to get married and so forth to work with the phone company. that's were handed up. a potential illustrious baseball career ended with his dad. >> you get into chapter two chapter one about a born fighter. chapter two really exposed the
guy getting into politics. >> host: tell us how he got going into politics. >> guest: he was at virginia tech to college. he was involved in a few things. and eventually he decided to run for student body president. even then there was an establishment, every organization there's a group and expected succession. he was the rubble. the book is called always the rubble. but his rebellion is always for something.
is a little bit of a rebel by nature but not a rebel without a cause. they're trying to get students more involved. there were a lot of changes going on and he decided he would challenge and represent the average man or average student, one of the things he did was he showed a little bit of his political acumen early on and put a woman on his ticket as vice president. that was done because they had worked together and respected each other enormously. i spoke with her for the book and she speaks glowingly about him. she said back then he was fighting for the same thing he's fighting for now. they work very well together.
the thing was virginia tech just recently had admitted women. there are more and more women at the campus. he then became student body president's senior year. >> it sounds like he have all the vice president and she was quite influential in the things they did. >> susan oliver, contradicted some of the things he said today. she said as a woman she fell i can powered her. he let her do her thing it was not overbearing and had complete confidence in what she could do. it wasn't a time when women were participating in a lot of student government. >> host: i thought it was interesting with both stephen bannon and president trump, they both had unsuccessful marriages.
the president seems to be a very successful marriage now, it was nice to see the president last night. and there melania was amidst all the christmas decorations in a little kid said you look like an angel. but, a lot of people take that with regard to bannon and the president, they must not be good in working with women because they've had failed marriages. it is a bit of a dichotomy there. both stephen and the president seem to work very successfully with women. you've done the research and talk to the women he has worked with, from what you say in the book, you work with him very well overall negative opinion?
i do not hear anybody express that opinion. even at breitbart there were many people working on the staff. i think his key aid in the white house was julia hud, a brilliant conservative woman who worked with him on breitbart. he brought her into the white house i think she still there. i want to say she was the brains behind bannon because he's so smart that's almost impossible, but she helped him a lot and was a key assistant. he still close to his first wife susie, one of the times i spoke with him it was just the two of us, but his first wife had been there with his daughter and had been hanging out.
he still close to her. i did not pick up -- he can be a rough guy. but i don't think it discriminates whether it's male or female. if anything this southern gentleman and him would reframe a little bit from fire in a way a woman. >> i'm not sure about that part. >> host: someone that's driven is a very driven individual, always the rubble. but they seem to be much more forgiving, but they will immediately tell you when they disagree and think they are on the wrong track. if adam be very blunt with me when we disagree.
ten minutes later that's not supposed to be carried on. >> what people told me is that it's not personal so much. it's about the job. he will get very blunt and he does have a temper. but it's because he wants to get whatever job that needs to get accomplished, done. he has very high standards, maybe too high. he works endlessly. one time i start again touch with him and some of said try him at 1:00 a.m. text him the because he's easier to get. he doesn't sleep much. he works hard. and his business is people it's i don't quite have it done or my kid is sick, that's your personal problem, we have to get this done. he can be may be unreasonably tough sometimes, but he is
driven. >> many my communications were at three of four in the morning, i late nights at work, i wondered if perhaps that's something that help guide them close together. they both worked endlessly and are up much of the night. i do that a lot myself. in fact, knowing andrew, he introduced me to bannon that he never said a whole lot when i was around he has plenty of opinions, but it surprised me, i had an army scholarship and i was going going for four years, bannon finished, got his degree have virginia tech.
he has no military commitment and is free and clear. he has great potential offers coming because he did so well in student government. and he goes and joins the navy. what was the purpose of that? >> guest: that's a good question. his friends at virginia tech were surprised. they figured he would go on to something. his family headed offer from phillip morris. it was different then, that was the employer there and a major offer there. they think what happened was that they have been raised with a sense of duty. his parents were fairly liberal. kind of like old-style democrats. >> host: and that's partly the
catholic background. he was the first one to have a great shot at being president. a lot of catholic families were like he's one of us. did you get that feeling from the family? >> that was part of it, the sense of service. it occurs to me and kennedy was in the navy, that but also, his father had wanted to be in the military and was not able to. so there is the sense of fulfilling the mission don't want to sing corny about it but i think it was a large part of the motivation, what his father wanted. you go out on a destroyer which she did and sail around the
world. he was a bring fighter when he was young. they be that sense of adventure in today. it did surprise a lot of people but it did fit with his own character. >> one of the hits on people that worked on goldman sachs was that they cared nothing about anything but money. in 2008 we saw the worst of goldman sachs. honor straightened greed come to the forefront. this seems to be such an mutually exclusive parts of a person, here is the sky that would work for goldman sachs, want the big bucks, and i know for many people that is not them. on the other hand, he walks away
from that and joins the navy. and how long was he in? >> guest: three years at cn three years at washington as an aid. >> host: he apparently enjoyed the time. there are some group he was a part of that was supposed to help in emergencies. >> guest: when he was in washington, senior people -- he -- bannon's attitude is, do it now. he has a bias sense of action. his superiors thought he could get out of line a little bit but he could get things done. one in washington there is a task force of people who would just figure out a way through
the bureaucracy to get things done. and bannon was involved in that. >> perhaps that help job bannon and president trump together. >> they had a similar personality, to it now, sometimes trump may be moves a little too quickly, but there is definitely a similar personali personality. >> chapter six is generation zero. can you explain that? what caused you to name that chapter generation zero? >> guest: generation zero was the name of a movie that bannon did. it talked about the 2000 and crash. the idea was that the future was being robbed.
americans, given all the wealth that was lost in the debt that was being accumulated, the generation that exists now which is really the millennial's in younger people. when you look at the size of the deficit, we will have nothing left. >> where was he working in 2008 when the crash happened? >> guest: when the crash happened he was in california doing his own business. he left goldman sachs a long time ago. he went out to california was first out there to drum up business. then he formed his own for was doing business. but increasingly got into documentaries and into the his
own conservative filmmaking. he made one about reagan in 2000 for the 2008 started making other documentaries. what he wanted to chronicle was how the elite essentially got off scott free in the crash. so the beginning of his political opposition to the establishment. >> host: the former head of goldman sachs left the lehman brothers go because he couldn't stand them. was not fair and balanced. but hank paulson, he was out there and got into the moviemaking business. where does he get the title, generation zero?
>> guest: we been talking about generation x, and generation y. this is the generation that may have nothing left. if the debt continues to build an economy continues to meander along, we are seeing some of the revival. there is a great parallel out there, worth 20 trillion in debt. when you look at entitlement and 70 trillion old the we will bill a pay and maybe it's more than that. that was his idea. the elites in washington in places like goldman sachs and business, they're going to do okay. but the average people will end up suffering. he took that from his dad. what happened is his dad had
invested so consistently work for at&t. >> think i might've been part of at&t. he put his money away for years traditional savings, a regular sort of fellow. he had a bit of money stuck way for retirement. he hoped to one day pass that along. all of a sudden, the over lending that has occurred, the prophet motive. >> host: when you say it profoundly affected him? he saw his dad lose so much that he say for. >> guest: he lost this money and he thought what happens to people like my dad while others go running to hank paulson give
me a break here, meanwhile there's no one to help someone like instead. >> it's ironic to see the comments from those antagonist from bannon that say he's about nothing but money. you reach your book any start tracking his life, his life is not all about money. he talked about a place yet on long island that he had a chair in a calm and he called it sparta. >> guest: it's funny. people see this as an inconsistency. he did go to goldman sachs and made himself a multimillionaire. part of that was growing up where he did in a middle-class family.
and i asked him about that he said what the money did more than anything was give me freedom. he gave me freedom to do the things i wanted. he also wanted to make money and be competitive. but if you look at how he lives, his several houses, but all he does is going to put books on them. if you look at him, he doesn't trust like a wealthy person. if you visit him i interviewed him for about ten hours. it is not a lavish place. this is not some and terribly concerned about material possessions. he did make a lot of money and that freed him to do what he wants.
>> host: another irony, there's many that say not only is he all about money, but he might be a white supremacists. when he dig into his life, that is not it. it seems like you give us a lot of foreshadowing in his college years for things to come. here, he goes out and had a woman to be cold runner in an election, their running mates and running together they be a little foreshadowing for his embrace of sarah palin. because you talk about how he could see such greatness. >> he wanted her to be president. he thought she was the one to go
to washington. unlike you, some of people come to washington saying one thing and believing it and then just forget about it. once they're here they get caught up in the special interest in the money to get reelected. in terms of people who talk to him personally, there is nobody i could find the said that he was racist, anti- somatic, that new him. most of the senior leadership that breitbart was jewish. it becomes difficult. >> host: andrew's closest friend larry, he's deeply catching, but that's larry and breitbart. also on race as well, this actually wasn't someone i interviewed, but a liberal senior executive in hollywood
think that's his name, he said i worked with bannon for years and i have to say even if it hurts me out here in hollywood, the man is not racist. the one charge people put against him is that he allowed the comments section and breitbart toe to many people with white supremacist views and so forth. we give you the was is the comment section. he wasn't going to regulated. they do regulate it now. in terms of the breitbart stories, they themselves do not have racist content to them. there is even a new york times article that said breitbart is not the alt-right in terms of the article.
so on a personal level there's nobody on the felt he was a racist. he grew up as a liberal, his mother was very liberal in richmond, virginia. several people who knew and told them that she was very vocal about african-american rights at a time when people do not want to hear much about that. . . . .
from something called being a team player. we see so much you're going to set everything right but we need you to be a team player and after a couple of years we said we were going to do all these things. stay on the team and then when you finally push back enough that seems more than threats and promises that the team player intimidation nobody wants to be viewed as this but it seems to have disengaged from the things they came here to do and.
that's where it gets into some of his feelings and it seems to affect everybody. skin color doesn't matter when the people are being hurt by an inhumane colony. you have some good quote. i would ask if he would mind reading that. >> it goes from caring about money and a belief he wants to turn the republican party into a working class party who feels
that the democrats are beholden to the politics and he thinks the republicans can gthat repube the working class from where a lot of them traditionally bring them to the republican party. thethey focus not so much on corporate america but to the lobbyists in washington. on protecting the middle-class and working-class making sure that they do not disappear his agenda is to go out and convince average working class people that as republicans who have best policies for them.
so then we will run the country for 50 years. but nevertheless that is his agenda. until we have the black working class and hispanic working-class getting value-added jobs, we failed as a society. to me, citizens first. the minute you say anything about limiting immigration you are a racist and so on and so forth. his view is that you need to support people of all races and colors. he's against a number of people
coming in for the people that are here in the working and middle class whether they are black, hispanic or white and so that is the point that he is getting at. >> host: the candidates got an invitation to him seemed to be right at home. >> it's interesting people say after trump he actually does believe that trump believes things. if you talk to the press are democratordemocrats he's just an opportunist and he actually thinks that he shares a lot of his ideology which is why they are still very much alive. he's someone who's been working in construction and he connects
so well to average people he has been our job constantly. just recently he was speaking at a meeting organization to attract entrepreneurs into the republican party. this is something republicans don't do enough to give speeches and say here's why conservative principles are going to help you beyond identity politics and so on. he believes they want the same thing ultimately they want successful families and jobs and that's where he thinks the message needs to be, to go into the poor neighborhoods and talk to people and say how has the
welfare state done for you, the poverty rate is just about where it was in 1965 when lyndon johnson started. here's an alternative and how he wants to spend the republican party and i think that is understood when people just kind of thrown out of the white supremacist label and call everybody a racist. >> do you have any other quotes for the humane economy? it contradicts something we heard them say constantly. we are a nation of citizens, we are not a nation of immigrants. all policy should be oriented to
making the people in the country and middle class have a better shot at success come in because their way from that. we have a huge global competition for the job and for their schools, so what he's saying is he is not denying that ultimately that it isn't the core. he told me i'm not a multi-culturalist. it should be a melting pot and not a mixing bowl of all over the place. >> justice clarence thomas told people in this country we've lost or given out of many that we've lost a so kind of like you are describing. >> we need to assimilate the
people coming out. >> the tea party came along in 2009. what drew him to that initially? >> he felt there was a washington consensus of the dean beat establishment and the tea party he felt was a vehicle for changing things and actually getting away from some of the policies and actually getting things like reversing obamacare which was a huge part of the tea party was about, reducing taxes. he felt there needed to be that there was a revolution occurring >> has that helped turn the term tea party into a pejorative so
you see these groups and he was in the middle of them many of them are paying taxes and tired of carrying more than their load said he was probably just instantly part of it. >> it wasn't just looking to implement conservative economic principles but also to try to, you know, have a culture to try to -- these were people that had a lot of traditional values that made the country great. they agreed on the notion from the culture that the culture is
what ultimately makes a hard working people of faith end up leaving this economy that is so great and he believes also that the middle class, and this is where he is so focused he thinks unlike the elite of today that the middle class and working class embraced the traditional american ethic. we used to have those like teddy roosevelt, john f. kennedy who lost a son in world war ii she thinks people in new york, los angeles, that has changed. >> host: did he persuade you? >> guest: i think he did.
personally, and i don't know if i've gone through all the statistics and everything like that but my feeling is when you look at people that graduate a lot of these elite institutions, there's not the same attendance at church or synagogue's which is important for the moral foundation is more middle-class and working-class people who do that and i think they lost a lot of that. i tend to agree these are the people who are still embodying a lot of the values that we saw with the founders of the nation, a lot of these traditional values, these are the people who are not just looking at average people's commodities, they want to work a full day and are not just looking for a way to
leverage any amount of money they can make. i tend to believe that it's true. i don't know if i can prove it, but it's my feeling. i've lived in washington for a long time and it's funny, virginia -- the funny thing, my wife was just saying when you go to the old virginia and talk to people who believe in the second amendment and the cost and gone it is an easy conversation in a way because they are on the level and no one is trying one up you necessarily. it would be a moral feeling i would have to read and understand more about it i do tend to agree. but the middle class is the bearer of the culture.
>> host: so much was from the judeo-christian values and traditionally i didn't realize the spiritual depth until i read your book. that is a big part of who he is. >> guest: and i was surprised in my research for the buck i was helping a friend of his and asked what books have influenced steve and he said you might want to start with the bible. the new testament and old testament, maybe more of the new testament with the old testament also. he is tremendously influenced by this. when i talked to him i asked him about that and he discussed how his catholicism -- they grew up in richmond us catholics and not just sunday catholics, but every day catholics and that's what his family and the society was like and it's affected him in a couple of ways, first of all the
concern for the sort of average people and concern for your fellow man and then of course as i revealed in the book he was a drinker at the point in his life. actually i think since high school basically. he went to catholic military high school and even said the irish catholic thing. it's rated by how much you drink so it is starting very early but he didn't say he was quite alcoholic but the way he put it to me was i didn't have a drinking problem but i didn't have a drinking solution either, but it was about the mid-19 '90s he realized it was starting to affect his work too much and starting to affect him too much. he told a story about how he came home to watch his daughter play basketball.
he might have been coaching the team. he'd been working in europe and they drink at lunch. he came back and there was a six pack in the refrigerator and he'd been having bloody mary's and champagne on the plane coming over and saw a sixpack and thought that's great at least i have that in the fridge it's better than a bottle of ketchup or something and he said he drank five of them and then he thought wait a second, and looked at himself in the mirror and said even though i was about 40 pounds lighter than i am now i couldn't believe what i was seeing and that was the last one. he used his catholicism and catholic text written by syndic basis o [inaudible]
as he described to me they filter out other things in your life that are not very meaningful and focus you on what is important and on god and jesus and said basically you pray and he got into a regimen that he says he does to this very day that helps him even with all the criticism that comes at him and so forth. i was a little surprised when i showed up the lookout and somehow thought he would get a beer and we would get together and talk, i got a little 8-ounce can of coke. the second interview he opened up to me about the drinking and the role of catholicism and the higher power which you see in some of the 12 step programs that save ten. >> host: in the chapter
breitbart, he seems the way you describe it. what do you think in the chapter best describes him at breitbart? >> guest: i think he basically got a vehicle to try to -- documentaries will only read so many people. >> host: he got into making movies. >> guest: he made a documentary and actually talking about women he made an entire documentary that women were leaders in the tea party that had breitbart after he tragically died coming takeover antook over and ithink that he s business acumen to his
ideological thinking and turned breitbart into kind of a machine and there he was able to do the news but in a way that others were not doing it in a way that revealed the corruption of the elite and in a way that promotes values that were important to him and really get his message out there. he got a radio show and i think it helped connect him with trump ultimately, so breitbart became a truelove and something he was very passionate about a sort of ground zero of the populist national conservative movement. >> host: and you hope it -- think it helped describe him.
>> guest: yeah. i wrote she was blonde. we are never going to beat the democrats until we beat the real enemy which is the establishment republican. they stand for nothing, all they stand for is money and power and we can take that on, and that's a lot of what breitbart did. >> host: that is so totally opposite of the image that is projected at him desiring money. >> guest: exactly. the political influence that he has never changes anything. he says we have welfare in this country and this also came out in our interview and i think it is in the book is welfare in the country for two people, the very poor and the very rich. the very poor and it's not even the very poor, but a lot of
people have some form of government assistance and basically the wealthy are in washington angling for all kinds of tax breaks and gifts from government and so forth and so that is what upsets him as much or probably more than any money that goes to the lobbyists and the middle-class basically are the ones that don't qualify for stuff. he was definitely trying to fight the elite. >> host: so she ends up in the trump campaign meeting advisers. you have a chapter president strategist. it seems they really made a difference in the direction the camp david could trump campaign took. any insight you got from him for
quotes? >> guest: let me see if there is a quote in here that i might have more. this was on the isolationism i can work into but basically what he did is emphasized during the campaign to stay on message, he said you are a key agent of change. stick to the nationalist populist message. he is an isolationist. what they are more concerned about his international trade deals that possibly subvert the u.s. law could infringe on the
u.s. law and also that end up helping the policies like those of china and harming the middle and working class by exporting the chops on fair trade deals but still he was over in saudi arabia trying to arrange an alliance of the states against iran so there's a lot that he does internationally and he will often say he wants fair trade deals. they misunderstand the ideology, it's not isolationism and it doesn't mean never intervening overseas. it's false to say he's an isolationist. he is anything but an isolationist. what he's not is a globalist.
he's not going to let the power be dissipated out at these international organizations. no one has called an engagement with the community especially trump in a speech in saudi arabia in may of 2017 which is what i was referring to in the included more than 50 muslim majority nations and he told them that they had to take the lead in combating islamist radicalization. >> sweats when they are truly threatened not just anywhere our surprise the tradecraft said it doesn't seem like we got a very good deal.
since we are the biggest economy in the world, anything that helps other countries will eventually help us. i didn't really buy that at the time and then it was very clear that president trump doesn't buy that either and there are bad deals for america where we lose. >> guest: even some of them thinking among mainstream economists on nafta have a lot of the plus and minuses to it. it's ultimately like are you going to have a manufacturing sector. >> host: and those that think it is an evolving process in this economy where it seems he understands the president trump understands if you can't
manufacture what you need in a time of war >> guest: that is a tradition that stretches back to the founders. what he's talking about is something he is very widely read and knowledgeable it's something called the american system. the first protectionist we had was george washington and alexander hamilton and we needed to support manufacturing in the country to oppose the british were the big was a fair duty to -- was a fair country. they were very protective of their industries and prospered before it's because of it and what was known as the american system or hamilton economics needed to be reinstituted. >> host: we've only got a couple minutes left.
you spent a lot of time with steve, you heard his goals and talked about what he wants to do. what odds do you get him for wanting to reach those goals? >> guest: you want me to be utterly honest or helpful? i've come to agree with a lot of what he says. i think there is a decent chance because i think that he believe that thneedsthat the electoratey changed. in the republican primaries, people elected trump in the other establishment candidates jeb bush, marco rubio, several of the others were perfectly legitimate candidates. you could disagree with them that they were solid individuals who could be president.
it wasn't as if he were running against the seven dwarfs all the republicans that were running committees for good candidates and get even in the general election trump was victorious despite obvious flaws, not a perfect person and he would admit to himself and despite a lot of controversy they elected him. i think what he believes is already the longing for populism and nationalism is there. it's already victorious. where it hasn't changed is in washington and in the leadership in some parts of the party including the senate he's going after now. they believe the culture was slipping away and even though he wasn't a perfect candidate was the one as you talk about you
but to washington and it wasn't going to change and i think that it hasn't been a lot of ways. it's tough to encapsulate a man in a matter of a book like this one, excellent job. they don't want to race to the judgment until they get the full story. do you think there's any of there as we conclude? >> i think there is some of that. some of the things he said to me