The Devil in Steve Bannon

Here is a revealing interview of Errol Morris by Frank Bruni for The New York Times. To read the complete interview and check out other resources, please click here.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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A celebrated filmmaker, Errol Morris has a new documentary — and candid remarks — about Donald Trump’s dyspeptic strategist.

Ejected from the White House, Steve Bannon won’t fade away. Not just yet.

He’s in France, finding uncommon cause with Marine Le Pen. He’s in Italy, cheering for an amateurish, fraudulent strain of populism there. He’s in Hungary, whispering sweet nothings to Viktor Orban.

And he’s in a Quonset hut in Boston, holding forth to the Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris.

Morris’s new movie, American Dharma, is essentially one long, transfixing interview with Bannon, a key force in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and an intellectual godfather of Trumpism. The Quonset hut is a set constructed in homage to one of Bannon’s favorite movies, Twelve O’Clock High, about the efforts of American pilots against the Nazis toward the start of the United States’ involvement in World War II.

Bannon has made his own documentaries — for example, In the Face of Evil, a tribute to Ronald Reagan, and The Undefeated, lionizing Sarah Palin — and was drawn to Morris partly out of admiration for his work. American Dharma uses Bannon’s commentary about movies as a framing device. He mentions that he first saw Twelve O’Clock High in business school at Harvard, that cradle of Davos-bound elites.

American Dharma will have its debut in a few weeks at the Venice Film Festival and should be more broadly available later in the year. Morris gave me a sneak peek of it, after which we talked. These are edited excerpts from our telephone conversation on the morning after Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.

How many hours did you spend with Bannon?

The interview itself was roughly 16 hours. But, of course, I spent other time with him shooting visuals.

And was he utterly available and happy to cooperate?

Yes.

Did he try to feel you out at all about what political perspective you’d be coming from or have any fears about that?

I don’t think that he had fears about that. He’s a honey badger.

Sorry?

Honey badgers don’t care.

I also had the feeling, watching him in the movie, and I’ve had this feeling watching him elsewhere, that he’s a creature of extraordinary vanity, and you were giving him a microphone. Is that fair?

I think that is more than fair.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article/interview.

Frank Bruni, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times since June 2011, joined the newspaper in 1995 and has ranged broadly across its pages. He has been both a White House correspondent and the chief restaurant critic. As a staff writer for The Times Magazine, he profiled J. J. Abrams and a health-obsessed billionaire who planned to live to 125; as the Rome bureau chief, he kept tabs on both Pope John Paul II and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

To learn more about him and his work, please click here.

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