WATCH: Note to ABC’s 4 Corners… This Is How You Interview Steve Bannon


It should be lost on no-one that comedians are now performing much of the heavy lifting that journalists are supposed to be doing. Over to Real Time host Bill Maher, for a master class in how to interview the alt-right.

The furore earlier this month over Sarah Ferguson’s interview with alt-right icon Steven Bannon – the sacked former chief strategist to Donald Trump and the architect of his successful presidential campaign – may have died down, but that hasn’t dulled the desire of some on the left to demand that people with extreme views should be ‘no platformed’.

That is, anyone who expresses extreme, conservative views should be prevented from airing them in public.

That theory took a hit this weekend, after American comedian turned television host Bill Maher – a controversial figure on the left – demonstrated why listening to your ideological enemies (and challenging them robustly) can be a highly productive exercise.

Before we bring you the clip of Maher and Bannon – which is, admittedly, more debate than interview – it’s worth briefly explaining what was actually wrong with the ABC’s coverage of Bannon.

Alt-right figure and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, is interview by ABC’s Sarah Ferguson in September 2018.

Ferguson wasn’t wrong to do the interview, as many have suggested. Bannon is an extremely powerful figure in US and global politics, and his views should be of great interest to everyone, particularly the left. It’s just that the interview itself was poorly done. There are so many moments where Bannon makes outrageously challengeable points, and Ferguson just nods politely.

The third question in provides a blaring case in point: Ferguson asks Bannon whether or not he can rely on “fear and anger” again to win the upcoming mid-term elections. Bannon’s replies: “I’m not so sure it’s fear and anger as rationality. I think working class people and middle class people in this country, realize something’s wrong, that upon their shoulders rest the entire tax burden….”

Remember the tax cuts that Trump recently delivered? The ones trumpeted by his administration as the greatest achievement so far of the Trump presidency? They overwhelmingly went to the rich, a point Maher makes in stunning fashion in the following lesson in how to interview a sharp, alt-right political pundit. Enjoy.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.