NEW YORK — Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is blaming the Republican establishment for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s defeat, saying GOP leaders pushed pedophilia accusations against him.

Bannon says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was too quick to back away from Moore, who faced charges of sexually abusing underage girls.

Moore, whom Bannon supported, lost in December to Doug Jones, giving Democrats a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama for the first time in a generation.

Bannon gave a wide-ranging interview Thursday at the Financial Times’ “Future of News” event.

The conservative provocateur defended his recent admiring comments about Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, saying the fascist was “evil” but “fascinating.”

When asked if the world’s institutions needed to be “blown up,” Bannon responded, “A few of them, certainly.”