Donald Trump named Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff yesterday, and yet the big news story was the fact that he didn’t pick a guy named Steve Bannon – and then did tab Bannon for the lesser post of Chief Strategist. Bannon’s new gig has folks on both side of the aisle pretty upset. So who is Steve Bannon?
Who is Steve Bannon, Trump’s New Chief Strategist?
The short answer is that Bannon is a figure closely linked to the so-called “alt right” – the Republican subgroup known for being soft on some traditional Republican values (like free trade, for instance) while emphasizing racial anxieties. If that sounds a bit like Donald Trump, it’s not a coincidence – Trump rode the rise of the alt right to the Republican nomination last year.
Few people (and virtually no politicians) choose to self-identify as alt-righters, but Bannon’s alt-right credentials are pretty hard to miss. He ran the famous conservative news site Breitbart from 2012 until this year, and it was under his guidance that the site took on its current alt-right character. Under Bannon, Breitbart ran headlines like this:
- Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy
- Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?
- The Solution to Online “Harassment” is Simple: Women Should Log Off
- Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage
Bannon’s fiercest critics call him a white nationalist and an anti-semite. Bannon’s ex-wife has accused him of making anti-Semitic comments. Many critics consider Breitbart itself to be anti-Semitic, sexist, and racist – which, well, take a look at those headlines again.
Bannon’s detractors include conservatives as well as liberals. Top John Kasich advisor and veteran Trump-hater John Weaver, who is no stranger to talking shit, tweeted this:
The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) November 13, 2016
Conservative 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin did not mince words, either:
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) November 14, 2016
Bannon is expected to work as an “equal partner” with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, so any relief that Bannon himself was not named Chief of Staff has been pretty short-lived.