Steve Bannon frets about looking like a 'deranged incel' and fumes when people call his show a 'podcast'
Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Steve Bannon is more concerned about his physical appearance than might be guessed, and he's touchy about how listeners describe the program he hosts.

The former White House adviser was the subject of a lengthy profile by The Atlantic, whose correspondent Jennifer Senior exchanged a number of texts with Bannon, and she interviewed him and a number of associates, enemies and former colleagues in search of the right-wing gadfly's human side.

"There were times when my text interactions with Bannon felt like one prolonged Turing test," Senior wrote. "There were times when he almost resembled a regular human. He would talk about missing his father, who died in January at 100, and how strange it was to be in his childhood home alone. (Just sat in the family room for hours.) He would fret about his weight and express pleasure when a newspaper used a photo that did not, for once, make him look god-awful, like some deranged incel by way of Maurice Sendak."

But Senior found the surest way to irritate Bannon was to call his "War Room" program a podcast, although he insists it's a TV show with an important visual aspect.

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"He broadcasts from the ground floor of a Washington, D.C., townhouse, and there are cameras, bright lights, a backdrop that devoted viewers know well: a fireplace mantel displaying a gold-framed picture of Jesus and a black-and-white poster saying there are no conspiracies, but there are no coincidences. — stephen k bannon," Senior wrote.

But would-be viewers have been largely out of luck since YouTube yanked his program on Jan. 8, 2021, for spreading election conspiracies -- which even his colleagues don't even think he believes -- and "War Room" has been banished to obscure streaming networks.

"The whole operation has an amusing shoestring quality to it," Senior wrote. "The audio occasionally cuts out or sounds like it’s bubbling through a fish tank; two of Bannon’s phones buzz throughout the show; the segment openers aren’t always ready when he needs them. It’s a bit like Father Coughlin stumbled into Wayne and Garth’s basement."