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Breitbart: The GOP’s canary in the coal mine



The proverbial “canary in the coal mine” refers to caged canaries that miners would carry down into the mine shafts and tunnels, in the theory that the canaries would drop dead from unseen poisonous gasses before the miners, giving the latter time to escape. Until comparatively recently, this was standard practice in Great Britain, dating back to at least 1911.

But the phrase also is used in a larger sense: as a metaphor indicating Something or someone who, due to sensitivity to his, her, or its surroundings, acts as an indicator and early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger.” If you think of the Republican Party as the coal miner, and the dangers posed to it by the Mueller probe as the “adverse conditions” it wishes to be warned about before they turn fatal, there’s no better place to look than Breitbart “News,” which, of course, isn’t “news” at all, but  propaganda.

On any given day, by going to Breitbart, you can take the temperature of the GOP’s fear level and see what distractions they’re stirring up to keep their white readers’ fury stoked. Yesterday was a good example. Here, in order, were Breitbart’s top stories, with my analysis of why the website’s editors were pushing them.

  1. The Iranian nuclear deal. We all know that nearly every country in the world, including the entire Security Council and our allies in Europe as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency that oversees it, stands by the deal as the best way to persuade Teheran to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons. We also know that Trump doesn’t like it, and whatever Trump doesn’t like, his under-educated followers also don’t like. I’m sure that not one out of a hundred could tell you anything about the deal, but that doesn’t stop Steven Bannon from bashing it whenever the news about the Mueller investigation starts getting bad for Trump. Iran-bashing (which is really a form of Muslim-bashing, which is another form of Trumpian xenophobia) is guaranteed to get the white supremacists all in a tizzy of outrage, which is the sole reason for Breitbart’s existence.
  2. Mexico bashing. Every day, Breitbart’s researchers scour the Internet looking for reports of people of color committing crimes. Often, they find their scapegoats in Mexico, which they did yesterday, in their story about “111 mayors” being murdered in that country. In Bannon’s estimation, this is proof that Mexicans are all the “drug dealers, criminals and rapists” and “bad hombres” Trump called them in the campaign.
  3. Comey bashing. Yes, the slurs and insults of the Special Counsel that Trump, Fox “News” and Breitbart started last year continue in 2018. Now, they’re making fun of his tweet in which he expressed hope for “more ethical leadership.” Who could be against that? Breitbart, naturally, because if they were in favor of “ethical leadership” they would have to denounce the most unethical person ever to occupy the White House, Donald J. Trump.
  4. NFL bashing. You thought the Kaepernick controversy has died down? Think again. It won’t go away because it works for the right: Their working-class, Red State neo-nazis are glad to hate on “NFL millionaire” football players who take a knee. Why? It’s not because they’re rich; Trump is rich too, and they love him. No, it’s because most of the players are black.
  5. The Wall. It will never be built. You know that, I know that, Congress knows that, Trump knows that, Bannon knows that, the Republic of Mexico knows that. The only group that doesn’t know that—because they don’t think straight—are the extreme rightwing haters that read Breitbart. Trump promised them a wall; he said their lives would get better as soon as it goes up. Breitbart’s hold on power is their ability to stoke resentment in their base, and the wall—and “Democratic-media” resistance to it—is a good way to keep their legions pissed off.
  6. “Trump gets 2018 off to an amazing start.” Yes, you read that right: It’s Breitbart’s #6 headline from yesterday. It’s important, you see, for them to constantly convince themselves that the Trump presidency is the greatest ever. True, 2018 is only 24 hours old, but the “start” of it for Trump was the news that Papadopolous bragged to that Australian diplomat about the Russian proffer on Hillary’s emails, a very serious setback for Trump defenders because it proves this was no rogue F.B.I. setting out to bring Trump down, but the nation’s leading law-enforcement agency doing its sworn job.

Anyway, you get the idea: the canary in the Republican coal mine is Breitbart “News.” Anytime you’re curious about what Fox “News” is going to be pushing tomorrow, look at Breitbart today. Bannon, a neo-nazi white supremacist, anti-semitic gay basher, is in charge of scripting the daily Republican playbook. We’re told that he and Trump talk on the phone “every two to three days.”

 Wouldn’t it be fun to have a recording of those conversations? Maybe we will.


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