... Donald Trump pivoted to contest the general election on Thursday night, expressing regret for his past failures to “choose the right words” and delivering one of the most comprehensive, on-message rationales for his candidacy to date.And he even threw in a calculated bit of outreach to black voters:
... “Sometimes in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said to laughter and cheers from his supporters.
“And believe it or not I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake is for us to be consumed by these issues, but one thing I can promise you is this. I will always tell you the truth,” said Trump, who did not specify which words he regrets saying.
... the businessman vowed as president to address the poverty and unemployment that has disproportionally affected African-American communities and urged black voters to "give Donald Trump a chance."So hy is Trump doing this? Recently he's been complaining about demands for a pivot. He just sidelined the campaign head who was brought in to civilize him. So why did he agree to do this on the first night of the new regime, under the direction of Breitbart's Steve Bannon?
"The result for them will be amazing," he said. "What do you have to lose by trying something new?"
I go back to Joshua Green's 2015 profile of Bannon from Bloomberg Businessweek. It's well worth a read, despite (or perhaps because of) Green's willingness to retransmit Bannon's myth of himself in undiluted form.
We learn from Green's profile that Bannon sees himself as a guy who learned the secret to success as a right-wing media mogul: Get your product seen and validated by the mainstream. Bannon hasn't actually succeeded at this as head of Breitbart, but he thinks he hit a home run with his other project, the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), which was Peter Schweizer's base when he was writing the book Clinton Cash.
As you'll recall, Schweizer cut deals with The New York Times and other mainstream outlets to share his research for Clinton Cash and report on his conclusions. That's the Bannon model, according to Wynton Hall, who work at the GAI:
... it’s the secret to how conservatives can hack the mainstream media. Hall has distilled this ... into a slogan: “Anchor left, pivot right.” It means that “weaponizing” a story onto the front page of the New York Times (“the Left”) is infinitely more valuable than publishing it on Breitbart.com. “We don’t look at the mainstream media as enemies because we don’t want our work to be trapped in the conservative ecosystem,” says Hall. “We live and die by the media. Every time we’re launching a book, I’ll build a battle map that literally breaks down by category every headline we’re going to place, every op-ed Peter’s going to publish. Some of it is a wish list. But it usually gets done.”And then what?
Once that work has permeated the mainstream ... then comes the “pivot.” Heroes and villains emerge and become grist for a juicy Breitbart News narrative. “With Clinton Cash, we never really broke a story,” says Bannon, “but you go [to Breitbart.com] and we’ve got 20 things, we’re linking to everybody else’s stuff, we’re aggregating, we’ll pull stuff from the Left. It’s a rolling phenomenon. Huge traffic. Everybody’s invested.”It looks to me as if Trump is trying to "anchor left" by impressing the mainstream press with his phony contrition. And I suppose more seemingly substantive teleprompter speeches will follow, in order to gull the MSM rubes.
I'm sure Trump agreed to this only because Bannon told him it would better prepare the ground for vicious attacks on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So more of those attacks are coming. The point of this was to soften the MSM up.
Does this approach work? It might. Yesterday Breitbart quoted gushing praise of Clinton Cash by Mark Halperin and Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe:
[Halperin said,] “‘Clinton Cash’ is, if you did a case study of conservative efforts to get the so-called main stream media to cover the Clinton’s background -- ‘Clinton Cash,’ which Bannon masterminded, is their greatest success story.”One one level, this is nonsense -- we were always talking about the damn emails because congressional Republicans and the press wouldn't drop the subject. Clinton was also being attacked as corrupt, but mostly for being too cozy with Wall Street firms that paid her for speeches. The actual revelations in Clinton Cash didn't actually become a big part of the conversation, as even Bannon admits ("we never really broke a story").
Co-host Joe Scarborough said, “Yeah. It really did change the discussion on the national level for months and, actually, eventually, led into the email discussion. And has made campaigning difficult for Hillary Clinton from day one.”
But Bannon sought and obtained the papal blessing of the Times for Clinton Cash, and that impressed media insiders like Halperin and Scarborough. And so the general subject of Clinton's integrity became what the MSM talked about when it talked about her. If you persuade mainstream media figures that you've got something significant, it will become significant, because they'll treat it as significant.
That, I think, is what Bannon is trying to do with the apology. The next step will be to pivot (back to the) right. By that time, if his plan works, he'll have the Timeses and Halperins and Scarboroughs hooked.