Steve Bannon’s past could haunt America’s future

Photo courtesy of Michael Vadon

Robert Beiler

Associate Opinion Editor

 

Steve Bannon, the 63-year-old Chief Strategist for President Donald Trump’s White House and previous executive chair to Breitbart News, is not to be trusted.

There’s no other way to say it. Bannon’s statements and his previous work go beyond the typical left/right divide that we have seen in the past. I would go so far to say Trump’s views might at least be moldable with influence of more moderate advisers. This is what Elon Musk suggested to defend his own position on the president’s business advisory council. Bannon, meanwhile, appears to be a hardliner, a true believer, as Time Magazine referred to him.

Meanwhile, Bannon’s influence in the White House will continue to push the administration toward the views of the so-called alt-right (the fancy new name for Neo-Nazis and white nationalists). This is merely an extension of the kind of plans and ideas that were pushed by Brietbart News under Bannon’s leadership.

Rolling Stone collected a fraction of these stories in an article titled the “10 Most Despicable Stories Breitbart Published Under Bannon”. These included many stories that line up with the narrative the Trump campaign and some that somehow go beyond that. Stories like “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture”, stoking the flames of anti-Muslim sentiments.

Another article titled “Donald Trump’s Criticisms of Mass Mexican Immigration Barely Scratch The Surface”, was just a sample of an utterly partisan piece from the site that didn’t label itself as an opinion piece at all and in no uncertain terms expressed support for the candidate. Oddly enough, this story ran just a month and a half before Bannon took temporary leave to run the Trump campaign.  This is passing over some of the more outlandish claims such the one by Brietbart author Milo Yianoppolous: “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It’s Time To Get Back In The Closet”. Even with Bannon not writing these stories or having direct oversight on the editing, this shows a distressing lack of transparency and frankly unhinged viewpoints from the organization he helmed.

I’m not here to argue that President Trump doesn’t have the right to appoint people to positions. The letter of the law says that the “Chief Strategist” position Bannon has been given without any direct elected counterbalance is in fact doable. It is also worrisome at best to have Bannon’s advice and council to be continually close to the ear of the most powerful man in the world. In their article on him, Time Magazine asked if Bannon was the second most powerful man in the world. The evidence

We are also talking about a sitting U.S. president who in his first two weeks has seen multiple widespread protests in response to his policy actions and executive decisions. This is not someone who needs an extremist whispering in his ear.

Bannon truly is a master manipulator. In the way that John F. Kennedy was favored in TV debates over Nixon, Bannon knows how to use the news machine against itself for the gain of his candidate. It’s a fascinating and horrifying look at what propaganda sprinkled with just enough facts and emotional phrases can do to change the course of United States politics. To pull it toward a more divisive standing, all in the name of “Americans first”.

I can’t predict the future. Maybe the Trump administration would be just as terrible without Bannon involved at all. But even among the many people involved that I disagree with such as Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, and the newly confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, Steve Bannon is the one that has given me the most pause. I’m not the only one. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green claimed in a headline in October 2015 that Banon “is the most dangerous political operative in America”.

The fox is in the hen house and for all intents and purposes wants to light it on fire.