Like many in President Donald Trump's administration, Steve Bannon seems too much a stereotype of sexism and misogyny to be real. Unfortunately, he is very real, and the nonsense he spews is a prime example of toxic masculinity.
According to Bannon, Megyn Kelly is the root of a lot of problems that he and disgraced founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, have faced.
In an interview with Politico, the White House aide and former CEO of Breitbart News described Kelly as "the devil" and "the source of the big rift between Breitbart and Fox."
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, conservative network Fox News and the far right-wing (to put it mildly) site Breitbart pulled Trump in different political directions. Bannon said that there was a "massive falling out" with Ailes after the infamous 2015 debate in which Kelly held Trump accountable for his sexist comments about women.
After the debate, Bannon wrote an article attacking Kelly's journalism and skills as a moderator. Bannon revealed that Ailes called and told him, "You gotta knock this off," but he refused. “I told him then, I said, ‘She’s the devil,'" Bannon told Politico. "And she will turn on you."
Now, there's some muck to wade through there. First of all, Bannon blaming Kelly for Ailes' reaction to a piece that he wrote is straight up insane, but also completely in line with his sexist world view. To move some, if not all, of the responsibility for a tense situation dominated by men onto a woman is Misogyny 101. Think Adam and Eve, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, the list goes on.
Secondly, what Kelly did to Ailes was not an act of betrayal. She did not "turn on" him, but instead came forward about his abuse of his power to sexually harass her. It was Ailes who broke her trust, the trust of his network, and the trust of his viewers with his moral failing.
Whatever issues anyone has with Kelly, we can recognize the incredible vulnerability of the position she was in, and that it took guts for her to say something.
Bannon may have made a career out of getting things horribly twisted, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to live in his warped world. Let's take a second look at the things he and his ilk say and use them to educate ourselves and others about what's really at work.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore