NEWS

Who Is Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump's New Chief Strategist And Senior Counsellor?

He's been accused of anti-Semitism.

14/11/2016 09:20 | Updated 14 November 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump has named Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counsellor.

The decision has prompted alarm from many who describe the 62-year-old as a “white nationalist” accused of holding anti-Semitic views.

Bannon was Chief Executive of the alt-right Breitbart News before stepping down to serve as CEO of Trump election campaign.

Upon this appointment a guest on former Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke’s radio show, declared: “We’ve taken over [the Republican Party].”

Duke replied: “Well, rank and file but a lot of those boll weevils are still in those cotton balls.”

In a press release announcing his first two appointments, Trump said: “Steve and Reince [Priebus, the new White House Chief of Staff] are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory.

“Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

David Axelrod, who served as senior advisor to President Barack Obama during his first term, said via Twitter Sunday that picking Priebus over Bannon as chief of staff could signal Trump taking a more “conventional” approach, but later said that having Bannon in the White House at all was “deeply troubling.”

Here are five things you need to know about Bannon.

1) Breitbart has been accused of being more alt-right and nationalistic under Bannon’s leadership

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Trump and Bannon at the Confederacy at Gettysburg National Military Park in October

Over the last few years, Breitbart has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories such as Planned Parenthood having Nazi ties or Clinton aide Huma Abedin being a spy for Saudi Arabia.

The website’s editorial strategy focuses on “the collapse of traditional values”, pushing stories that frame immigrants as criminals and has attempted to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ben Shapiro, the former editor-at-large of Breitbart who stepped down in protest in March, has described Bannon as “vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies”.

Shapiro also predicted a plum role for Bannon if Trump won the election. 

“Because Bannon’s ambitions extend to Steve Bannon, he’ll tell Trump he’s doing a fantastic job even if he isn’t,” Shapiro wrote. “That’s how Bannon Svengalis political figures and investors – by investing them in his personal genius, then hollowing them out from the inside.”

And a spokesman for senior Democrat Senator Harry Reid told HuffPost Trump’s choice of Bannon “signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.”

“It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion,” he added.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, Bannon helped make the populist website a go-to resource for white nationalists and the alt-right.

 2) Bannon was an officer in the US Navy before becoming a businessman

Evan Vucci/AP
Bannon leaving Trump Tower in New York last Friday.

Bannon has built a multi-million dollar fortune from a career in banking and media investments, one of which was...

3) Seinfeld. Yes, the comedy show

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his wife Jessica.

Through a boutique investment bank Bannon helped set up during a stint at Goldman Sachs, he accepted a stake in Seinfeld which went on to become one of the most successful comedies of all time and thought to be the source of much of his wealth. 

He is still reported to receive royalties from the show.

4) Bannon is also a Hollywood executive producer

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Bannon on election night.

Bannon has made a number of films and documentaries which give a clear insight into his political leanings.

He once said: “Feature film can have a major role in explaining ideas and describing peoples’ lives and their struggles.”

Fire From the Heartland: the Awakening of the Conservative Woman

This documentary highlights Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter as women who are the “unintended consequence of the liberal feminist movement”.

While promoting the film, Bannon said: “These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative.

“That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement––that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools.”

Occupy Unmasked

This film sought to discredit the Occupy and Anonymous movements whose activists it describes as “sewer rats”.

The Undefeated

A film about Sarah Palin.

‘nuff said.

5) He’s Executive Chairman and co-Founder of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI)

Paul Marotta via Getty Images
Bannon live on air as a radio host at SiriusXM.

The GAI has been instrumental in the publishing of a number of books knocking what it considers “establishment” figures including Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich and Bush Bucks: How Public Service and Corporations Helped Make Jeb Rich.

Is Bannon anti-Semitic? 

Bannon was accused by his second wife of making anti-Semitic remarks when they were choosing a school for their twin daughters.

NBC News
A headline from this an NBC article

He is said to have asked at one “why there were so many Chanukah books in the library” and at another he “asked me if it bothered me that the school used to be in a Temple. I said no and asked why he asked, he did not respond”.

Bannon has always denied the accusations.

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