Breaking Down Today’s Story About How Steve Bannon Called Jared Kushner A Cuck

It’s not been the best day for news, what with the G.O.P. invoking the “nuclear option” to do away with filibusters for Supreme Court nominees. But amongst all the doom and gloom, The Daily Beast published an absolutely delightful article that is chock-full of juicy, juicy gossip: 

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Oh hell yes. Let’s dive right in, line-by-line.

Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon has called the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” during a time of high tension between the two top aides, several Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast.

Let me just preface this whole piece with the caveat that this story is too damn good to be true, and is coming from anonymous individuals within the Trump administration. I can’t say anything definitive about its veracity, but I can’t help but be reminded of those oh-no-I’m-definitely-real-and-a-regular-face-to-face-eyewitness-of-the-President’s-dealings “anonymous White House staffer” Twitter accounts:

Let’s assume that it’s true, because if it is, then holy shit. On to the stuff that wasn’t just already in the headline.

The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face,” according to senior officials.

One official said Bannon has lately complained about Kushner trying to “shiv him and push him out the door” and likened him to a fifth column in the White House.

For reference, “fifth column” does not appear to refer to anything within the architecture or typical power structure of the White House. Rather, per Wikipedia, it is “any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation”. It originated in Spain in the 1930s and made its way to America shortly thereafter, as evidenced by the World War II-era poster below. Steve Bannon, between his background in media and his interest in studying American and global history, is presumably familiar with the term because of this.


Anyways, I write all that because I’d never heard the term, so presumably some of y’all wouldn’t have either. That’s right—you’re always learning something new at!

“[Steve] recently vented to us about Jared being a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative,’” the administration official told The Daily Beast.


Oh, God. The man wields an enormous amount of power. Christ.

“Cuckservative,” a portmanteau of “cuckold” and “conservative,” has become a favorite slur on the right, used like a sexually and racially charged version of “RINO,” a Republican In Name Only. “Globalist” is a term typically used by nationalist, pro-Trump right-wingers against political opponents; however, the term has also come under fire for at times carrying anti-Semitic tones. (Kushner is Jewish.)

I noted this the last time I wrote one of these: news institutions seem strangely unwilling to report on Bannon’s white nationalism and antiSemitism, even when it’s relevant to the story—such as, to give a totally hypothetical example, a case where Bannon is using these loaded terms against a political rival who is also a Modern Orthodox Jew.

Bannon is a self-described “nationalist” and long-time Republican, while Kushner was, until his father-in-law ran for president, a lifelong liberal and a Democratic donor.

“There’s a big fight [going on],” one senior official said. “It’s all about policy. There’s tension [between them] on trade, health care, immigration, taxes, [terrorism]—you name it.”

Hooray! Bannon’s ugly, racist worldview is acknowledge through the briefest and vaguest of hints and then never mentioned again, in an article about how he uses the words “cuck” and “globalist”, both of which are go-to insults used by the ugly, racist ideologues of the self-proclaimed alt-right against those deemed not to fit their worldview. Progress!

As for Kushner—well, it’s hard to figure out what his underlying ideology is. There aren’t any sources detailing his political leanings before 2015, and nobody really seems to know what he wants to do given that, as the husband of Trump’s favorite child, he is quite possibly the man the President respects the most and is most willing to lend an ear. Most pieces reflect the tone of this one in Vanity Fair, which just asks, “What Does Jared Kushner Really Want?”

The White House and Bannon did not respond to emails seeking comment.

I am shocked! This is so unlike them!

One senior Trump aide said that Bannon was also frustrated with Kushner “continuing to bring in Zeke Emanuel to discuss health care options,” for instance. The aide said Emanuel has had three White House meetings, including one with Trump.

In 2009, conservatives called Emanuel “Dr. Death” for advocating for end-of-life consultations during the crafting of the Affordable Care Act. (He is also the brother of Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.)

“Steve thinks Jared is worse than a Democrat, basically,” another official close to Bannon said. “[Steve] has a very specific vision for what he believes, and what he shares [ideologically] with Trump. And he has for a long time now seen [Jared] as a major obstacle to achieving that.”

I don’t know what to make of this. My instinct is to paint Kushner as a neoliberal dilettante—excited by a sudden and unforeseen opportunity to be close to and wield power, past successes born of a wealthy and nepotistic upbringing leaving him drastically overconfident and believing he can make a difference in about six thousand different fields at once despite having no experience in any of them, he plunges in, abandoning in his unchecked and misguided haste any semblance of past beliefs and values to instead gallivant around the world for a series of silly photo-ops, perhaps believing that such cellophane-thin actions actually represent him Doing Something, and if not, knowing that the circles he and Ivanka move in back in Manhattan won’t know the difference. But it does seem as if he is, at the very least, interested in—and perhaps capable of—halting some of the nastier and more regressive policies of ghouls like Bannon and Stephen Miller. And hey, I’ll take what I can get right now. It’s like they say: In the kingdom of the blind, some random guy who donated to some Democrats back in the day is useful as an ideological counterweight.

Bannon was removed from his post on the National Security Council on Wednesday. One senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast on Wednesday morning that Bannon was “only on [NSC] to babysit [Michael] Flynn” because Trump “was losing faith” in Flynn, and that Bannon “never went to meetings.”

The official also said that the removal had been planned for a while and that it was “in the works from the day” Bannon met National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Another senior aide told the Beast that “that’s [all] spin and CYA, but fine,” but mentioned that Bannon still has security clearance.

Well, if Bannon was only on the NSC to keep an eye on Michael Flynn, and was ready to be removed from the day he met H.R. McMaster, then this whole affair is a model of the Trump administration’s speed and efficiency, enhanced using all the latest Modern Business Tecnhiques™ to be the envy of all administrations before it. Flynn resigned on February 13th, and Trump named McMaster as his successor on February 20th. Bannon was removed from the NSC on April 5th—barely a month and a half later!

This seems like a good place for a reminder that, apparently, Trump was not fully briefed on the executive order that placed Bannon on the NSC in the first place. Make of that what you will.

Furthermore, two big efforts spearheaded by Bannon in the Trump administration recently failed. Trump’s “Muslim ban” executive orders, crafted in large part by Bannon, are at best indefinitely tied up in court, and his pugilistic push on Trumpcare — which included Bannon urging Trump to “keep a shit list” of Republicans who opposed him — didn’t get the job done.

For more on Bannon’s role in the Trumpcare fiasco, check out my riveting, original screenplay, RyanErr: The Story of the G.O.P.’s Failed Obamacare Repeal, based on real accounts of the G.O.P.’s hilarious self-debasement as they attempted to pass the AHCA: Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 5.33.48 PM

On Wednesday, Politico and The New York Times reported that things had gotten so heated and tense that Bannon was even considering tendering his resignation. Bannon told Politico this was “total nonsense.”

Bannon is such an Alpha, High-T, not-at-all-a-cuck-and-that’s-why-he-calls-other-people-that-because-he-knows-what-a-cuck-is-not-because-he-isn’t-one übermensch that he reportedly had to be convinced not to resign—from the single best opportunity he will ever have to impose his twisted worldview upon America—by Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer.

But hey! At least we still have our ultra-masculine, fearless president! He won’t be cowed by anything! Well, except stairs.

However, it’s clear that Kushner has been expanding his reach and level of influence in Trump’s core circle of advisers, and that the two men are essentially working against one another as they attempt to keep the president’s ear and affections.

“I love a gunfight,” Bannon told his associates and allies since Wednesday, according to Axios.

Blah, blah, blah. Boring intra-administration conflicts that should give some hope, however slight, to those of us vehemently opposed to this administration, who cares. The real juicy stuff is in the next few paragraphs.

The Times also reported that “Bannon’s Svengali-style reputation has chafed on a president who sees himself as the West Wing’s only leading man,” and that “several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda—and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the ‘President Bannon’ puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter.”

Of course Donald Trump resents one of his henchmen for taking his spotlight. Honestly, that’s probably the only reason why he’s wanted to remove anybody from his White House. Michael Flynn? Sally Yates? Forget the former’s involvement with Russia and the latter’s being an Obama Administration holdout who intervened to halt an unconstitutional executive order. Those actions got them into the news ahead of Donald. That’s why they had to go.


A Republican source close to Trump told The Daily Beast confirmed this level of insecurity over Bannon’s reputation coming from the president, and mentioned that the president was “irked” after catching a glimpse of a recent cold-open on Saturday Night Live.

Bannon was depicted as a Grim Reaper character who manipulates Alec Baldwin’s President Trump into sowing global chaos and diplomatic breakdown. At the end of the scene, “Bannon” tells Trump to give him his Oval Office desk back. Baldwin’s Trump calls the Reaper “Mr. President,” and then proceeds to go sit at his own much smaller, shorter desk, where the president plays with a kid’s toy instead of governing. 

“Did you see this crap?” Trump asked the confidante, referring to the SNL sketch.

This proves it. Stuff like this is why Bannon’s on his way out. Not his unsuccessful executive orders or his noxious beliefs. Trump doesn’t care about that—but he does care about Bannon stealing his thunder.

Also, is it just me or has Trump gone a few weeks now without tweeting about SNL? Presumably he’s finally stopped watching it. Either he finally realized that the show was never going to show him in a positive light, or, more likely, his aides finally found a way to keep him away from the TV remote on Saturday nights.

For the time being, both Bannon and Kushner, and their respective allies in the White House, are digging in for a cold, if not increasingly hotter, war. For instance, Bannon’s far-right media allies are ready to wage a sustained war on their new enemy, Kushner.

A right-wing media war against Jared Kushner? This is going to be awesome. I can’t wait to see the crazy portmanteaus they make out of his name. I wonder if they’ll spell it “Cuckner” or “Kuckner”?

“Jared Kushner, perhaps the one presidential aide who cannot be fired, is now in regular text message communications with Joe Scarborough,” Roger Stone, a former longtime political adviser to Trump, claimed on Alex Jones’s show. “Many of the anti-Steve Bannon stories that you see, the themes that you see on [MSNBC’s] Morning Joe, are being dictated by Kushner. And while Mr. Kushner’s plate is very full with Middle Eastern peace and the China visit, and so on, in this case I think he is disserving the president.”

That’s… remarkably evenly spoken. I mean, it wouldn’t necessarily be remarkable coming from most people, but in this case it comes from Roger Stone. In case you’re unfamiliar with Stone, his Twitter feed, a truer reflection of his id, contains a trove of truly vile racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, some of which which is collected here if you really want to read it.

Though he’s talking about Jared Kushner, a white-skinned straight male, and that seems to be the only combination that doesn’t push Stone’s “say something staggeringly hideous” button.

“Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell: the three big-government liberals tightening their hold on the White House,” influential right-wing radio host Mark Levin warned on Twitter on Wednesday night.

Header image: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons