Predictably, multiple outlets are following the WaPo in serving as Steve Bannon’s chumps. The Guardian, CNN, and NYT reported Bannon’s false claims that the reason he blew off the January 6 Committee subpoena last year was because of Executive Privilege as if they were true.
So I’d like to point out another way in which these outlets have been manipulated by Bannon.
Back on June 29 (less than two weeks ago), Bannon moved to delay his trial until October, claiming — as many other accused January 6 criminals have — that publicity associated with the January 6 Committee makes it impossible to get a fair trial. It was a reasonable claim for the Proud Boys to make. But thus far, Bannon has no more figured in the hearings than other passing faces in the mob.
Indeed, DOJ mocked Bannon’s claim, noting that he had been mentioned just twice in more than fourteen hours of hearings, one of which was just a description that he had blown off the Committee subpoena.
To date, the Committee has held seven hearings, spanning more than 14 hours in total.1 The Defendant was not mentioned at all during five of them, and was featured only in passing in the Committee’s June 9 and June 21, 2022, hearings—for a combined total of less than 30 seconds. These are the two instances that the Defendant cites in his brief, couching them in the language of “for instance,” and “[a]nother example,” ECF No. 88 at 11, to suggest that they are just two of many more such instances, when in fact they are the only ones.
But a closer look even at these two brief mentions of the Defendant by the Committee demonstrate that they do not call prejudicial attention toward the Defendant with respect to his criminal trial, and are nothing like the dramatic cases that the Defendant attempts to marshal in support of his motion. First, in its June 9, 2022, hearing, the Committee’s ranking minority member, Rep. Liz Cheney, mentioned the Defendant’s podcast as part of her opening statement. In particular, Rep. Cheney said, “And on the evening of January 5th, the President’s close advisor, Steve Bannon, said this on his podcast.” The Committee then played a clip of the Defendant speaking three sentences on his own media program—“All Hell is going to break lose tomorrow. Just understand this. All Hell is going to break loose tomorrow”—without further commentary. See June 9, 2022, Hearing, at 51:42-52:01.2 Rep. Cheney’s neutral introduction to the Defendant’s own statement and the Defendant’s statement include no reference to the crimes for which the Defendant has been charged or commentary on the Defendant’s commission of the charged offense. And at the Committee’s hearing on June 21, 2022, as part of her concluding comments during a hearing that spanned nearly three hours on topics wholly unrelated to the Defendant, Rep. Cheney said, “Others, like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, simply refused to comply with lawful subpoenas. And they have been indicted.” June 21, 2022, Hearing at 2:44:30-2:44:37.3 The Defendant makes no argument about how this factual statement regarding his non-compliance and his subsequent indictment will result in the potential jury being “so aroused against” him that he will not receive a fair trial. Haldeman, 559 F.2d at 62.
In fourteen hours of hearings, Bannon merited no more than thirty seconds of attention.
Presciently, DOJ noted that no one but Steve Bannon and his lawyers are talking about Steve Bannon.
Further, while the Defendant’s motion describes media coverage of the Committee’s hearings overall, the Defendant does not cite a single media article covering the Committee’s hearing that mention the Defendant. That is because there are none. In fact, the Defendant and his attorneys have caused far more pretrial publicity about this case than the Committee hearings have by holding press conferences at the courthouse and speaking with reporters.
Bannon responded on July 6, just four days ago, presenting entirely irrelevant data that counted how many times his name has shown up in the press, then attributing all of that to the Committee, and not his own big mouth.
Then he opened his own big mouth and caused what he claims he’s trying hard to avoid: a press torrent of mostly inaccurate reporting.
Two weeks ago, Steve Bannon needed to be something more than a thirty second man in hopes of delaying his trial. And multiple outlets jumped to do his bidding.