Steve Bannon speaks on revived FTV talk show: I am a big believer in party primaries

Steve Bannon was recently interviewed on a resurrected and rebranded canceled Formosa TV talk show on YouTube and spoke of the tension between the press and the government, as well as party primaries, in the U.S.

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The recently canceled Formosa TV talk show "Jeng Chin on FTV53" (政經看民視) went on air on YouTube on Wednesday (May 1), under the brand new show name of "True Voice of Taiwan."

In the first episode of the show, the former White House Chief Strategist and American media executive Steve Bannon was interviewed on air, speaking of the party primary elections in the United States and believing that they will help a party to select the most suitable candidate with the right ideology and values to win an election.

"Donald Trump would not have been the President of the United States and would not have won the election in front of Hillary Clinton unless he had been through a tough primary," he said.

"In the (2016) primary, Trump had 16 major candidates, and he beat the entire GOP field," he added. "It could probably be the strongest field the Republican Party ever faced."

Bannon asserted that the primary performs a very good function. "It makes candidates defend their records and forces candidates to have to be tough, have to be decisive, and have to make a strong argument. So I am a big believer in the primary."

Asked by talk show host Dennis Peng (彭文正) if there had been personal attacks in recent Republican primaries, Bannon said there are always attacks, but he thought it was inevitable in a democracy. He said the process to elect a leader can be messy or contentious, particularly in Taiwan, where people are passionate about politics.

"There are always attacks in the primary, but in the end, if people have common core beliefs, they will come together to fight the other side after the party selects a candidate through the primary process," he commented.

Peng told Bannon that the sitting President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has tried every effort before the primary election, openly and privately, to press on her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) primary rival, former Premier William Lai (賴清德) to be her running partner instead of the competitor. Bannon thinks that the stakes are very high in Taiwan, so it is not just about what the parties stand for but how they prepare to fight for those who can articulate for them. In that regard, the primary is a good thing.

As to Peng's claim that his previous comment on the show about Taiwan's leadership might partially contribute to the suspension, the former White House strategist said that he would hope it was not the case. He is hoping that Tsai wouldn't take too much umbrage at his comment, and that the show can get back on the air soon.

Bannon also added Trump has never pulled a television program off the air or called the television executives to the White House for a secret meeting whenever severe or false attacks against Trump occur, though those ideas might go through Trump's mind, he laughed. Facing a lot of the unfair and negative media coverage, Trump is very good at punching them back, and that actually makes him a better president and a stronger leader, he said.

"I would only tell the people of Taiwan that you need diverse opinions and you certainly need those shows on the air that really back freedom, sovereignty, and democracy," Bannon concluded on the show.

The other guests invited to the first episode included DPP Taipei City Councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) and Taiwanese writer Brian Wu (吳祥輝), both spoke of the democracy crisis concerning the DPP primary, and American-Chinese writer Cao Changqing (曹長青), who commented on the contentious primary battle inside the Kuomintang (KMT) and criticized Foxconn Group Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), who announced a run in the KMT primary.

The TV show was abruptly canceled by FTV on April 22 while cameras were still rolling, and show host Peng claimed the sudden suspension of the show was politically motivated. Many viewers left welcoming comments under the new YouTube show and praised the show for being a rare and strong force countering China's influence when pro-Chinese capital flooded Taiwan's media outlets.