Bannon Blinks

The publication of Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury” has been a publicity windfall for Donald Trump and his (former?) friend Steve Bannon. Both men are seriously – and probably dangerously – addicted to whatever press they can get. They really don’t care much whether it is good or bad, as long as they can dominate the news cycle.

Unfortunately, in this case they were on opposite sides of the story. The book caught Bannon shooting his mouth off about Trump and his family. Naturally, Trump shot back – not at the book but at Bannon, in effect acknowledging that the book’s quotes sounded like Bannon and were probably accurate but the product of someone who ‘lost his mind’.

Both men love a good fight, but this was a lose-lose. The longer they kept insulting each other in the press, the more ammo the onetime and possibly future allies provided to the opposition.

Bannon blinked first. He apologized to Trump and tried to walk back his statements. He really had no choice. Trump sees every issue as a zero sum game and has to win every point. If Bannon did not show contrition Trump would never stop. Even so, Bannon kind of admitted saying many of the nasty things, and Trump will remember that.

Will it make a difference? Both men need each other. Trump needs Bannon and his media organ Breitbart to keep the hard core base fired up with stuff that is too unfair and unbalanced for FOX. Bannon has a president whose political outlook is as close as he is ever going to find to his own.

They are a natural pair. They will find a way to get back together. On Trump’s terms.

Et Tu, Star Wars?

Somewhere, somehow, America’s unions lost their cachet. Even into the 1970s, Hollywood made heroic union movies like Joe Hill and Norma Rae that succeeded at the box office.

How the tables have turned. Star Wars, The Last Jedi, is an example. In one of the biggest films of the year, the heros put in a call for help to their friend Maz Kanata. It is a quick scene and when Maz, the proprietor of a popular bar appears, we find her in the thick of battle, dodging bullets and so on.

“Are you OK, Maz?”  “Yes, it’s just a little union dispute.”

Most of the people that worked on the movie were union members yet they had no problems slipping in a joke dissing unions. It is a testimony to how poorly unions are regarded that the union-disparaging joke enters the canon of one of the most popular film series ever.

The union’s PR situation will continue to deteriorate until they get some leadership that understands how the public forms its perceptions in the age of social media (and Trump). Maybe they can interest Steve Bannon in the job – he may be unemployed soon.