Joshua Green ’94 gives campus talk about the rise of Trump and the future of nationalism
Political journalist Joshua Green ’94 delivered a lecture on campus this week about his new book, Devils Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, which examines Bannon’s role in the largest political upset in American history and traces the evolution of a new populist movement within the Republican Party.
Green, who met Bannon in 2011 before he became a household name, described a powerful grassroots movement that the mainstream press largely failed to see, but that was steadily gaining traction with the leadership of people like Bannon, who ran the right-wing website Breitbart News in the years leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The hard-right populist ideas that Bannon was promoting from his perch at Breitbart News in 2013 or 2014 really stoked grassroots anger toward the establishment, and began to roil the Republican Party,” Green explained. “What was fascinating about this conservative movement is that the energy was focused primarily inward at Republicans.”
Asked by a member of the audience what he thought of the current state of political journalism, and why he believed the media underestimated the effectiveness of Bannon’s and Trump’s message to so many voters, Green suggested that reporters were too quick to focus on every daily distraction.
“The problem with a lot of the coverage of Trump during the campaign was that it focused heavily on the constant outrages and spectacles the candidate offered as fodder for cable news chatter,” Green said. “But that didn’t allow for the idea that many Trump supporters might have legitimate economic concerns that he was tapping into.”
Moving forward, Green said he’s optimistic about the direction political reporting is taking, and believes Trump’s upset victory was a wakeup call for the industry.
“Trump is such a different president; I think the press has responded by covering the White House differently, and a lot of the investigative journalism has been very strong in the past nine months,” Green said.
Before Green took to the podium in Evans Hall in the Cummings Arts Center, President Katherine Bergeron introduced him to a packed audience of students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.
“Joshua Green is arguably one of the most influential long-form political journalists in America today,” Bergeron said. “In an era of speed-writing, Josh is known for taking his time. He not only digs deep to find the heart of a story, but he also takes a real interest in people, and his thoughtful and fair-minded approach to his subjects has given him unusual access and insight. I really can think of no one who embodies Connecticut College’s mission of ‘putting the liberal arts into action’ more than this leading voice of American politics.”
Sponsored by the Sound Lab Foundation, along with the Friends of the Connecticut College Library, the lecture was part of a series that has brought national figures to campus each fall for the last 20 years to discuss social, cultural, political and scientific topics.
To learn more about Green and his book, check out the latest issue of CC Magazine.