WASHINGTON, DC — House majority leader Kevin McCarthy says people are too negative today and should not pre-judge Steve Bannon, the head of the far-right website Breitbart News who was recently named a top advisor to President-elect Donald Trump. Bannon served as CEO to Trump's campaign.
At a meeting on Capitol Hill Monday, reporters listed off a string of stories that have appeared on Breitbart, including headlines calling shooting victim and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a human shield, calling Republican Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew," and said birth control makes women "unattractive and crazy."
McCarthy said he did not know Steve Bannon, but briefly spoke to him Sunday evening. McCarthy said that mutual friends, including incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, assured him that Bannon does not fit his public reputation.
"I've always believed in giving someone a chance," said McCarthy.
McCarthy clashed with Public Radio International Reporter Todd Zwillich, who tried to get him to acknowledge Breitbart's controversies.
"Your colleague got shot in the face and he called her a human shield," said Zwillich.
Breitbart ran a story headlined Gabby Giffords: "The Gun Control Movement's Human Shield," though it was not written by Bannon.
McCarthy did condemn that description but questioned whether Bannon should be held responsible for them.
"Is everything that appeared in Breitbart on him? Is everything that appears in your paper on you?" he said to one reporter.
McCarthy also said to many people are stoking fears and rushing to pre-judge others.
“In this job, too long we want to tear people down. I’ve seen things said about me that I fundamentally know are not true, but it’s on the internet so it must be true," he said.
"I just, I’m tired of that. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.”