|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
“”[Donald Trump is] a blunt instrument for us. I don’t know whether he really gets it or not.
|—Bannon, in probably one of many statements contributing to his ongoing downfall. |
Stephen Kevin "Steve" Bannon is an American businessman, "documentarian", and the
Warchief of the True Horde former executive chairman of Breitbart.com, an alt-right online tabloid. Bannon is the self-made man Trump pretends to be: from Naval Officer, to Harvard grad, to Goldman Sachs banker, to Hollywood producer, to hobo, to (eccentric) media mogul, and now a White House senior staffer.
According to Ronald Radosh, Bannon sees himself as a "Leninist", stating, "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment." And that includes the Republican Party itself.
As a film director, Bannon modeled himself on Michael Moore (thanks, Mike) and Leni Reifenstahl. He bankrolled his projects with the residuals from Seinfeld, which he had a small hand in producing.
If you look at his love affair with Sarah Palin, it's clear that he has been looking for an empty vessel to enact his policy agenda for some time:
Bannon began receiving conservative media attention for his documentary Generation Zero. And he began elevating his profile by latching onto Michele Bachmann with his documentary Fire From The Heartland. But he truly insinuated himself into the circles of conservative power by making a 2011 documentary about Sarah Palin, The Undefeated. His connection with Palin upped his brand in the movement significantly. He soon began appearing on Fox News with Sean Hannity fairly regularly, became personal friends with Hannity, and met Andrew Breitbart. He insinuated himself into Breitbart’s business by lending him office space [...] he used his role as Breitbart CEO to turn the outlet into Trump Pravda, creating a stepping stone to close connection with Trump. Breitbart publicly burned bridges with everyone to maintain its Trump loyalty. — Ben Shapiro
Interestingly, Bannon directed Occupy Unmasked, a "documentary" about the "sinister" nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement and their connections to Obama.
He was also involved with Biosphere 2, a loony Arizona project to test whether 8 "researchers" could live self-sufficiently (they couldn't), first as a cost overrun investigator, then as CEO. He was accused of harassing women at the project, and it all ended in a lawsuit.
The answer to this cancer
His political views are hard to know. He doesn't give many interviews, doesn't talk about his personal life, and his speeches are all over the map—most likely because he has an agenda that he's not fully disclosing, so some of his stated "beliefs" are a means to an end. The best way to collect information on him would be to listen to every episode of Breitbart News Radio he's hosted. But since we can't do that, here's the facts.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bannon traced the genesis of his economic outlook to his father, Marty, who got burned by Jim Cramer[No, not The Onion] and lost a lot of money in 2008. This shattered his confidence in institutions (though apparently not in pundits). If we were to give Marty the benefit of the doubt at that time, starting at 39.90 a share, it would have dropped to 26.77 on October 31, 2008. This means that Marty would have had 300-400k in AT&T stock alone. Marty had enough money in the market to lose 100k on one company, and he's griping that no one was paying attention to his family during one of the biggest economic crises in history. People were being thrown out of their homes, maybe there were other pressing concerns. And the Trump cabinet is pushing for the fudiciary laws to be killed, which makes no sense in this context.
Over the past couple decades, you've heard from the people at Davos that the age of the "nation-state" is over. Not if Steve Bannon has anything to say about it! In the past, he's criticized the political establishment for funneling wealth from the working class of the United States to create a new middle class in China.
The most cryptic thoughts shared by Bannon refer to the three types of capitalism. During a speech at the Vatican, Bannon criticized both state capitalism and Ayn Rand-cutthroat capitalism. Bannon instead wants to create (or recreate) a form of capitalism based on Christian values. Mixed into the Kool-Aid is a call for proletarian revolution. He calls on Christians everywhere to rise up against "crony capitalists" and Wall Street, and to support "a cap on wealth creation and distribution".
Democrats and Republicans alike support global alliances and trade deals like Bretton Woods, NAFTA, the EU, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN. These are the cornerstones of the liberal world order. When Bannon says he wants to "destroy" the bipartisan "establishment", this is what he wants to destroy. From his point of view, he's saving the United States from the forces that have drained its wealth. By forcing China (and Europe) back into their cage, the hope is that other nations of the world can no longer depend on American largesse and will take responsibility of their own survival and growth.
“”Talk to us about this mosque on the North Pole.
As to the cultural side, Bannon has said he believes a country is more than an economy. This is probably why Breitbart is so opposed to the refugee resettlement program: he sees Muslim immigration as a threat to European culture—his culture.
In the days after the September 11 attacks, the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir condemned the attackers and gave a speech in which he said, "Islam is peace." That statement was repeated by George W. Bush. On his radio program, Bannon said it was "the dumbest" comment that Bush ever made. In subsequent shows, Bannon sarcastically refers to Islam as the "religion of peace".
In various interviews on Breitbart News Daily, Bannon told his listeners that the Western world is engaged in a "global existential war": "I think that most people in the Middle East, at least 50%, believe in being 'sharia-compliant'", by which he means Islam-observant. In interviews with Frank Gaffney and others, he entertained claims of a "fifth column" of Islamist sympathizers that has infiltrated the government and news media.
Playing footsie with Nazis
“”I think in the closing days of the campaign if you listen to what Trump was saying—I mean, it was unhinged—I mean, this stuff about dark conspiracy theories and cabals of global bankers. It struck tones, I think, that were anti-Semitic. I would argue that Trump in the final weeks of the campaign was, you know, mainlining the purest distillation of Bannon's views out there on the stump. And, to my shock and a lot of other peoples', that actually resonated with a much larger segment of the electorate than we had anticipated.
Bannon is most-known for promoting sexist and bigoted views through his website. It's possible that Bannon is an ethno-nationalist as some have said. The rumors come from a conversation Trump and him had where Trump was sympathetic towards Asian immigrants who are needed in the tech sector, and Bannon responded by saying that he thought they have too many of them already, and that they undermined civic society. It's incredibly suspect that he's partnered with people/headed initiatives that push xenophobia. If he does have a white nationalist agenda, that would explain the reticence to be open on any sort of coherent viewpoint.[note 1]
In any case, he is a nationalist. He described himself as an "economic nationalist" in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He has expressed a desire to end not just illegal but legal immigration, so it is more accurate to say he is a cultural nationalist. He clearly doesn't like the manner in which the United States government operates and would rather it be replaced with another form of government. Whites make up 70% of the electorate, though they're in decline; appeal to enough whites, and it becomes easier to enact your agenda.
Great Walls of Fire
While hosting his radio show, Bannon made statements that diverged from 45 years of foreign policy:
We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we? There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.
America hereby declares war on China, and volunteers Steve Bannon to be our lone soldier. His bravery will not be forgotten.
Bannon says a lot of things, but money talks louder: he has an affinity for grassroots parties, especially those with a
"center-right!" far-right or "Judeo-Christian" focus. This includes European populist parties like UKIP and the Front National. Putin gets a pass because he has kompromat on Trump is a strong "traditionalist"/"nationalist".
So what is a traditionalist? Bannon doesn't tell us too much about it, but he does tell us which thinkers promote it. Specifically, he attributes it to two people:
When Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism. A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that.
He doesn't mention the other by name, but he references one of Putin's advisors who is a proponent of "Eurasianism", which narrows things down to Aleksandr Dugin—who has also been profiled by Breitbart. Both of those men are prominent fascist thinkers. So, in other words, Bannon says the U.S. needs to consider adopting the ideology put forward by Evola/Dugin, and that the movement they inspired (and their influence on Putin) is one positive thing happening in Russia right now. That's as much of an admission of sympathy for fascism as you're going to get from a Beltway insider.
Shapiro also name-dropped Robert Mercer, because you can't discuss Planet Breitbart without covering the Mercers. Robert M. is a tech guru with some wingnutty libertarian views who is also Trump's biggest financier. The Mercers backed Ted Cruz until he lost momentum, and then realised Trump was a better vehicle. The difference between the two being, the Mercers only care about power (akin to plutocratic Russia), while Bannon is on some sort of holy crusade. If Trump had lost the nomination, the Mercers would have simply shifted their allegiances, whereas Breitbart would not have been as kind—even during the general election.
The Mercers also founded Cambridge Analytica, a big data company which allowed Trump to overperform in the Rust Belt, and was influential in Brexit's success. Guess who sits on the board of Cambridge? That and Breitbart are among the tools at his disposal to nurture a return to nationalism in a variety of countries. We'll soon learn of Cambridge Analytica's involvement in the current French election.
White House strategist
|—Bannon, forgetting that Cromwell was beheaded for his incompetence.|
“”I can tell you that Karl Rove was never in any meeting in the situation room.
|—Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales|
In 2016, he became the CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. On November 13, he was appointed as the chief counselor to President in the Trump administration. Past Counselors to the President have performed a variety of duties but the position today generally focuses on communications; past office-holders include John Podesta under Obama and Edwin Meese under Ronald Reagan. Bannon holds the position of chief strategist.
In the early days, Trump and Bannon were ticking off the signs of Putinism like it's a to-do list. The war on media and truth was probably the most blatant aspect of this. It wasn't just CNN who were banned from the White House, it was a sizeable chunk of the press pool. (While Breitbart and the Moonie Times got in.) Other signs included:
☑ Histrionics about foreign policy and terrorism (bogus Chechnyan terrorism vs. Quebec shooter misattribution)
☑ Attacking big banking (while simultaneously working closely with hedge funds and lobbyists)
☑ Returning a country in apocalyptic crisis (it isn't) to former invented nostalgic glory
☑ The administration has actually announced its use of "alternate facts"
Meanwhile, a man who wants to tear down the world order of the last 150 years was continuously handed more power in the administration. Trump has been sealed up in a bubble by those he trusts; consider that this is how Cheney and Rumsfeld got Bush on board for the Iraq war.
And in the end, the Trump clan will do what they always do: behead their servants like celebratory bottles of champagne. Trump was annoyed by Bannon and co. pulling a fast one on him, putting Steve on the Security Council via an Executive Order Trump signed without reading. Also, Bannon's at loggerheads with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner is pushing the neoliberal economic policy which Bannon pretends to despise, thus ingratiating him with the Washington crowd to the exclusion of Bannon. The kid literally learned at the knees of Charles Kushner, a guy so ruthless in destroying anyone who opposed him that he once had a prostitute seduce his brother-in-law, got it on tape, and sent the tape to his sister. Yeah, what a shocker that a daydrunk racist got played.
“”It's war. It's war. Every day, we put up: America's at war, America's at war. We're at war. Note to self, beloved commander in chief: We're at war.
- What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read — He's like the Rain Man of nationalism.
- Behold, Steve Bannon’s Hip-Hop Shakespeare Rewrite [No, not The Onion]
- Checkmate, liberals![Still not The Onion]
- Nigel Farage — Like Farage, his attacks on big business are extremely suspect, since Bannon got rich by working in the
Murders and ExecutionsMergers and Acquisitions Department of Goldman Sachs.
- Grover Norquist — Grover is also an admirer of Lenin.
- Dinesh D'Souza — The best piece of Dinesh trivia is how he made sure the KKK uniforms were research-perfect in his janky movie about how Dems are the real party of racism.
- South Korea — You know that scandal with President Park Geun-Hye being secretly led around by the cult leader? That was pretty bad. But instead of a sheisty fake guru, our president is being led around by a hack journalist for a racist tabloid.
- Stern, Ken, "Exclusive: Stephen Bannon, Trump’s New C.E.O., Hints at His Master Plan", Vanity Fair (8/17/16 at 6:00 pm).
- Dibbell, Julian, "The Decline and Fall of an Ultra Rich Online Gaming Empire", Wired (11/24/08 at 12:00 PM).
- Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg, "During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address", WaPo 3.11.17.
- The alt-right Leninist
- Steve Bannon, Trump's Top Guy, Told Me He Was 'A Leninist' Who Wants To ‘Destroy the State’: The Breitbart executive director turned GOP leader boasted at a party about his goal of destroying the conservative establishment by Ronald Radosh (08.21.16 10:00 PM ET) The Daily Beast.
- Gray, Rosie, "The Populist Nationalist on Trump's National Security Council", Atlantic (3/24/17 at 5:00AM).
- Farhi, Paul, "How Breitbart has become a dominant voice in conservative media" WaPo 1.27.16.
- , CNNPolitics.com
- Pearce, Matt, "Stephen Bannon found inspiration in ancient thinkers, Ronald Reagan and Nazi propaganda", L.A. Times (12/9.16 at 1:10 PM).
- Stern, Marlow, "Rob Reiner on Steve Bannon Getting Rich Off ‘Seinfeld’: ‘It Makes Me Sick’", Daily Beast (11.17.16 4:59 AM ET).
- Shapiro, "I Know Trump's New Campaign Chairman, Steve Bannon. Here's What You Need To Know.", The Daily Wire 11.13.16.
- "The Strange History of Steve Bannon and the Biosphere 2 Experiment", Vice.
- "Trump’s Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert", Mother Jones.
- Taibi, "Trump the Destroyer", Rolling Stone 3.22.17.
- Bryan, Bob, "Trump adviser Steve Bannon attributes his worldview to a simple stock-investing mistake his dad made after listening to Jim Cramer", Business Insider (3/15/17 at 10:36 AM).
- Ben Protess and Julie Hirschfield Davis, "Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama-Era Financial Regulations", NYT 2.3.17.
- Wolff, Michael, "Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect's Strategist Plots 'An Entirely New Political Movement'", Hollywood Reporter (11/18/16 at 10:00 AM PST).
- Purdy, Jedediah, "The Anti-Democratic Worldview of Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel", Politico 11.30.16.
- "I'm the patron saint of commoners!", Breitbart News Daily with Jordan Schachtel 1.11.16.
- Levitz, Eric, "Why Steve Bannon Hates Paul Ryan", New York Magazine(11/17/16 at 10:14 a.m).
- Breitbart News Daily with Dr. Thomas D. Williams, 2.25.16.
- Blue, Miranda, "Steve Bannon’s Dystopian View Of Refugees", Right Wing Watch (1/31/17 at 12:59 pm).
- Breitbart News Daily with Dr. Thomas D. Williams, 5.11.16.
- Breitbart News Daily with Rosemary Jenks, 12.8.15. (This is pretty much the logic of ISIS, too.)
- Breitbart News Daily with John Guandolo, 7.15.16.
- Breitbart News Daily, with Frank Gaffney, 7.29.16.
- Al-Qaeda likes Steve Bannon so much, they put him on the cover of their official newspaper by Amanda Erickson (March 3 at 2:35 PM) The Washington Post.
- "Journalist Says Steve Bannon Had A 'Years-Long Plan' To Take Down Hillary Clinton", Fresh Air (11/17/16 at 2:20 PM ET).
- How Donald Trump's New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists: Breitbart News is "the platform for the alt-right," boasts Stephen Bannon by Sarah PosnerRealist_left (Aug. 22, 2016 5:00 AM) Mother Jones.
- Kosoff, Amy, "Steve Bannon’s Racist Comments About Silicon Valley Are Also Wildly Inaccurate", Vanity Fair (11/17/16 at 9:37 am).
- Breitbart News Daily with Lee Edwards, 5.10.16.
- Kaufman, Leslie, "Breitbart News Network Plans Global Expansion", NYT 2.16.14.
- Feder, J. Lester, "This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World", Buzzfeed (updated 11/16/16 at 11:49 a.m.).
- Hope, Christopher. "Exclusive: Donald Trump's new chief strategist Steve Bannon 'will call Nigel Farage before Theresa May'", Telegraph (11/15/16 at 3:07pm).
- Usborne, David, "Plans by far-right news website to launch in France thrills nationalist party of Le Pen", Independent (11/15/16 at 6:32 PM BST).
- Kutner, Max, "Meet Robert Mercer, the Mysterious Billionaire Benefactor of Breitbart", Newsweek (11/21/16 at 9:59 AM).
- Gray, Rosie, "What Does the Billionaire Family Backing Donald Trump Really Want?", Atlantic 1.27.17.
- Swan, Jonathan, "How Breitbart turned on Ted Cruz", The Hill (08/19/16 04:08 PM EDT).
- Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus, "The Data That Turned the World Upside Down", Motherboard via Vice (1/28/17 at 6:15am).
- 'Why even let 'em in?' Understanding Bannon's worldview and the policies that follow by Frances Stead Sellers & David A. Fahrenthold (January 31, 2017) The Washington Post.
- "Former Attorney General Calls Vetting Immigrants A 'Delicate Process'", NPR (1/29/17 at 7:41 PM ET).
- See the Wikipedia article on Counselor to the President.
- Trump Names Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, Steve Bannon as Senior Adviser, ABC News, Nov 13, 2016
- Everett, Burgess, "McCain blasts Bannon placement on National Security Council", Politico (01/29/17 11:52 AM EST).
- Danner, Chas, "Bannon Had to Be Reminded He Wasn’t President", Independent (February 4, 2017 3:26 p.m.).
- Wemple, Erik, "Does Stephen Bannon text Paul Ryan?", WaPo (2/6/17 at 6:12 PM).
- "Donald Trump 'didn't realise he promoted Steve Bannon to National Security Council when he signed order'" by Andrew Buncombe (2/7/17 at 2:22 PM GMT) Independent.
- Bryan, Bob, "Trump reportedly called his national security adviser at 3 a.m. to ask if the US wanted a strong or weak dollar", Business Insider 2.8.17.
- Breitbart News Daily with Brandon Darby & Bob Price, 11.27.15.
- Trump insists he calls the shots
- Suebsaeng, Awsawin, "Steve Bannon Calls Jared Kushner a ‘Cuck’ and ‘Globalist’ Behind His Back", Daily Beast (4/06/17 at 9:44 AM ET).
- Mansernus, Laura, "Major Donor Admits Hiring Prostitute to Smear Witness", NYT 8/19/14.
- Darcy, Oliver, "Breitbart editors tell staffers to stop writing stories critical of Jared Kushner, sources say", Business Insider (4/10/17 at 12:40 PM).
- Blake, Aaron, "Trump just made some very strange comments about Stephen Bannon", WaPo (4/11/17 at 10:13 PM).
- Breitbart News Daily with Katie Gorka, 12.4.15.
- Howe, Neil, "Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book.", WaPo 2.24.17.
- Blumenthal, Paul. Rieger, JM. This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World. Huffington Post. 03/04/2017
- Another Goldman Sachs Alum Joins Donald Trump’s Campaign by Dan Primack (Updated: Aug 17, 2016 5:43 PM PDT) Fortune.