Bannon pleads ignorance in Cambridge Analytica firestorm

Bannon was speaking to a group of media and tech executives.

Kogan, a Cambridge University researcher, collected information on millions of Americans through a Facebook app he says he originally created for research purposes but ultimately gave the data to Cambridge Analytica.

Bannon, along with GOP mega-donor Robert Mercer, helped expand the data analytics firm. The former Breitbart chief’s role in Cambridge Analytica’s operations came under the microscope after Facebook suspended the data firm for allegedly breaching millions of user profiles.

Deflecting attention away from himself and Cambridge Analytica, Bannon took aim at Facebook, accusing the social media giant of abusing its users’ data for financial gain.

"They take your stuff for free,” Bannon said of Facebook. “They sell it and monetize it for huge margins. That's why the companies trade for such high valuations.”

“The point is, that is Facebook’s business.”

Bannon then directed his ire at a familiar foe, the news media, for ignoring President Barack Obama’s social media targeting in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

“The great opposition party -- the media -- never went after the Obama campaign,” Bannon said, “and in 2013, when I thought a data company might be important, it all of a sudden becomes global news.”

After his appearance on stage, Bannon was asked by CNN whether he was aware that Cambridge Analytica had acquired Facebook user data.

“I don't remember buying it,” Bannon said. “That was the Cambridge guy,” again referring to Kogan.

Facebook declined to comment on Bannon's accusations.