Steve Bannon, US president-elect Donald J. Trump’s newly appointed chief strategist and senior counsel, is a former Goldman Sachs banker and investor in television shows, but it was his influence shaping Breitbart News that first got him involved in Trump’s campaign.
The site is often described as “alt-right,” a euphemism for a male white supremacist point of view. Under Bannon, a self-proclaimed “Leninist” who once said he wants to “destroy the state,” it has published incendiary and sometimes factually incorrect articles and opinion columns targeting women, immigrants, minorities, gays, and overweight people. It contains a section called “Black Crime,” for example, and one of its star writers, Milo Yiannopoulous, was thrown off of Twitter earlier this year after inciting his followers to harass Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones with racist and sexist tweets.
Here’s a sample of Breitbart’s work, with actual headlines followed by excerpts from the articles:
- “Why Equality and Diversity Departments Should Only Hire Rich, Straight White Men: When you allow identity politics to run rampant and you’re too terrified to question someone just because they have a certain skin colour, gender or sexual orientation, you create monsters.”
- “Science Proves It: Fat-Shaming Works: If you are obese, you should hate yourself.”
- “The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off: Women are—and you won’t hear this anywhere else—screwing up the internet for men by invading every space we have online and ruining it.”
- “Donald Trump Would Be the Real First Black President: As president, he wants to boost American manufacturing jobs, bringing factories back from overseas. Black Americans have traditionally flocked to such jobs…”
- “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly? Muscle mass and distribution can shift and hair grows faster and more thickly.”
- “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield: Background checks don’t work, and Giffords’ attacker is living proof of that.”
In recent years Breitbart and another Bannon-backed company, a think tank called the Government Accountability Institute, have specialized in sowing negative stories about the Clintons that eventually get picked up by mainstream media, including the New York Times, as Bannon explained to Bloomberg last year. That strategy has proven even more effective than Brietbart writing such articles on its own, as an analyst noted in the same Bloomberg article. “If you were trying to create doubt and qualms about [Hillary Clinton] among progressives, the Times is the place to do it… the Times is the perfect host body for the virus.”
Outside of what his media company writes, Bannon’s personal conduct has come under the spotlight as he became more prominent in the campaign.
His ex-wife said in an earlier court declaration that Bannon objected to a school their twin girls were attending because of the number of Jewish students there. He “doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and… he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews,” she said. Former employee Ben Shapiro called him “a smarter version of Trump” and a “vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies.”