Former Trump adviser and former Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon does not radiate “pinnacle of health.” The portly, cigar-smoking, possibly former alcoholic is not known for his workout ethic. But like many a far-right media figure, including Trump himself (once upon a time), Bannon is now hawking vitamins as a “Wellness Warrior.”
People have called Bannon a lot of things over the years. Wellness Warrior is not one of them. Yet Bannon now appears in ads on his website for “The War Room Defense Pack,” a collection of zinc and Vitamin D3, with the slogan, “You can’t fight if you’re sick!” Anyone ordering a free sample is treated to a complimentary “War Room Viral Defense Guide,” which doesn’t come right out and say it’s offering a COVID cure, lest Bannon run into trouble with the FDA. But the savvy consumer will be able to read through the lines. Despite a lack of any scientific evidence, lots of conspiracy theorists, and fanatical promoters of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure and prophylactic, believe zinc and Vitamin D can cure or prevent COVID. Bannon is clearly tapping into that demographic.
This being a slow news day, I decided to go down the rabbit hole and sign up for the free sample. After all, who could resist getting health advice from the likes of Steve Bannon? As you might expect, the free sample turned out not to be free, exactly. Shipping cost me $9.99. But I did get multiple opportunities to subscribe to monthly miracle immunity boosters, sent direct to my home—because “Taking zinc and D3 for just one month is NOT the answer.” In fact, the website told me, unless I’m eating oysters and red meat for every meal, and spend hours outside in the sun, “You are probably zinc & D3 deficient.” I could cure my deficiency by simply signing up for the low, low price of $44 a month—plus free shipping!
I declined to take this a year-long experiment. Instead, I looked forward to getting the War Room “guide” to better health, and keenly anticipated Bannon divulging the secret behind his distinctive greyish-pink pallor with the select few willing to risk putting credit card numbers into his website. Warily, I typed in my card number and hit submit. I immediately got a phishing email. Or maybe that was just a happy coincidence. But I did get the download link for the viral defense guide and was immediately disappointed.
It was hardly worth the shipping. Somehow, I’d imagined it would suggest a hot toddy, a cigar, and a dose of anti-malaria drugs for a case of COVID. Instead, the guide ran a paltry two paragraphs, barely a few bullet points. For those seeking to prevent a virus, it recommends using a nebulizer two or three times a day, with a mix of saline and hydrogen peroxide; eating 1/3 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt; throwing back massive doses of zinc, Vitamin D and probiotics; and imbibing a gallon of water per day. If you’ve got symptoms, it recommends even bigger doses of D and Zinc, plus as much Vitamin C as your bowels can handle (really!) and some extra nebulizing.
The guide was such a lackluster effort that I felt like Bannon really didn’t have his heart in this one, as if he knew he was the most improbable Wellness Warrior ever to grace right-wing media, or get de-platformed from YouTube. Even Trump gussied up his overpriced vitamins with more hoopla back in the day.