Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon issued an ominous warning to the staff of MSNBC’s Morning Joe show this week, saying that if Donald Trump is re-elected in 2024, he will make good on his threats to use the power of government to punish his critics in the media.
According to a report by Mediaite on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, Bannon, who hosts the far-right podcast War Room, brought on fellow Trump loyalist Kash Patel as a guest. Patel previously served in the Trump administration in national security roles.
Bannon asked Patel if he was confident that in a second Trump term starting in January 2025, Patel could “deliver the goods” to prosecute and hold accountable Trump’s perceived enemies.
Patel assured Bannon that they already had “the bench” in place, referring to Trump loyalists ready to take positions in government.
While not naming names, Patel vowed to “go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media” and said “we’re going to come after you.”
Bannon then directly addressed the producers of Morning Joe, saying his threats were “not just rhetoric” and that they were “absolutely dead serious.”
Bannon indicated Trump would use the Department of Justice to prosecute members of the media if re-elected.
The threats from Bannon and Patel come amid growing concern over Trump’s increasingly hostile rhetoric toward his political opponents and the media.
At recent rallies, Trump has called the FBI “vermin” and the media “enemies of the state.” He has told supporters he is their “retribution” against the government.
Trump himself has also made chilling threats, saying he will prosecute journalists and political rivals if re-elected. He has repeatedly attacked the constitutional checks on presidential power.
Experts warn that Trump and his allies’ inflammatory rhetoric risks inciting further violence by feeding the most extreme elements of his base. The threats toward the media also create a dangerous climate for journalists just trying to do their jobs.
While Bannon and Patel’s vows of revenge were clearly intended to intimidate Trump’s perceived opponents, some have argued the best response is to continue exercising First Amendment rights of free speech and a free press.
Only by refusing to be cowed, they say, can democracy and the rule of law prevail over authoritarianism.