Steve Bannon declares he’s 'not backing off one inch' on support for Brazilian rioters
The parallels between Brazil’s presidential election of 2022 and the United States’ presidential election of 2020 are not hard to miss. In both countries, the far-right candidate who lost (Donald Trump in the U.S., Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil) falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. In both countries, supporters of the losing candidate violently attacked government institutions. And the false claims of both Trump and Bolsonaro have been aggressively promoted by Steve Bannon, host of the “War Room” podcast and former White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration.
On Sunday, January 8 in Brasília (Brazil’s capitol city), angry mobs of Bolsonaro supporters invaded three government buildings: the Presidential Palace, the Congressional Building and the Brazilian Supreme Court Building. Countless reporters and political figures have compared the attacks to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, but one difference between the MAGA insurrection in the U.S. and the pro-Bolsonaro rioting in Brazil is the fact that now-President Joe Biden was 14 days away from being inaugurated when the U.S. Capitol was invaded — whereas Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated a week before the attacks in Brasília.
Another difference: Bolsonaro was out of the country (Florida, to be exact) on January 8, whereas Trump was in Washington, D.C. during the U.S. Capitol insurrection. But both insurrections have been applauded by Bannon, who has spent months falsely claiming that Brazil’s election was stolen from Bolsonaro. And on “War Room,” he was quick to praise the insurrectionists in Brasília as “freedom fighters.” Now, Bannon is doubling down on his praise of violent mobs that are unwilling to accept democratic election results.
READ MORE:'Should not be given refuge': Lawmakers demand Jair Bolsonaro be sent back to Brazil
“I’m not backing off one inch on this thing,” Bannon told Politico.
Journalist Meridith McGraw, reporting for Politico on January 9, explains, “Bannon’s support of the protesters, whom he called ‘freedom fighters,’ has prompted renewed criticism of both him and the larger MAGA movement that has spread election denialism at home and abroad…. For months, Bannon and other far-right commentators have been following the unrest in Brazil and have encouraged the protesters to continue to challenge the results. Bannon said he has remained close to Eduardo Bolsonaro, Jair Bolsonaro’s son. And conservative political institutions in the U.S. have allied themselves with former President Bolsonaro as well.”
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has drawn criticism from liberals and progressives as well as from Never Trump conservatives for featuring far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at its Texas event in 2022. And CPAC has supported Bolsonaro as well. From Hungary to Brazil, CPAC hasn’t been shy about supporting authoritarians in other countries.
“The influential conservative group CPAC has held conferences in Brazil in recent years at which Bolsonaro and his allies have appeared,” McGraw notes. “And in mid-November, Eduardo Bolsonaro attended the America First Policy Institute’s gala. The Trump-inspired think tank held the event at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago club, where the younger Bolsonaro later joined a table on the patio with Trump and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, AFPI Chair Linda McMahon, and Trump aides Sergio Gor and Boris Epshteyn.”
READ MORE: Steve Bannon and MAGA allies promoted fake 'stolen election' claims ahead of Brazil riots
Bannon views the violence in Brazil as part of a global movement. The far-right “War Room” host told Politico, “The people down there — they’re not watching ‘Bannon War Room.’ Millions are going through the streets. It’s a self-organizing protest.… This is beyond Bolsonaro.”
Media Matters’ John Knefel has a totally different view, arguing that Brazilian voters rejected authoritarianism in 2022 just as U.S. voters rejected authoritarianism in 2020.
“Just as in the January 6 insurrection,” Knefel wrote, “the anti-Democratic forces in Brazil were unsuccessful in changing the results of an election they lost. For Bannon, it’s yet another recent failure.”
READ MORE: Watch: Supporters of defeated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro demand a military coup
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