On Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump appointed Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, prompting immediate outrage from Democrats and Establishment Republican supporters. According to a statement from the Trump campaign, Bannon and Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus will “be working as equal partners” in Trump’s administration.
It’s alarming — but not surprising — that Trump should put Bannon in charge of advising the ethos of his policy. During the election, Bannon was behind many of the Trump campaign’s strategic decisions, such as turning Bill Clinton’s alleged history of sexual assault into a major campaign issue. And he’s published articles with headlines that appeal to the more extreme views of Trump voters. Now that he’s cemented his place in the president-elect’s inner circle, it’s time to brush up on some of the views he and the website for which he serves as chairman have expressed over the years.
He helms a website that is openly scornful of the feminist movement. Bannon opened Breitbart’s doors to blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, who wrote such articles as “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?” and, “There’s No Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews.” He also wrote an edict against birth control and said that, in order to avoid being harassed online, women should “log off.” “Given that men built the internet, along with the rest of modern civilisation [sic], I think it’s only fair that they get to keep it,” he wrote. (Bannon, of course, didn’t write these articles, but did operate the website that published them.)
In a 2011 radio interview, Bannon said conservative women complicate the progressive narrative. “That’s why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement,” he said. “That, in fact, the women that would lead this country 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 Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane and that’s why they hate these women.”
And his personal history with women isn’t great. When a female employee challenged his management on a project, he called her a “bimbo” and said he wanted to give her a “reality check,” to “kick her ass,” and to “ram [her accusations] down her fucking throat.” His ex-wife also accused him of domestic violence in 1996. The case was eventually dismissed because the “victim/witness” was “unable to be located”; Bannon’s ex-wife said she decided not to press charges after he threatened her.
He’s spoken out against religious minorities. In a 2007 court declaration, Bannon’s ex-wife said Bannon asked her how many Jewish students attended a school where she was considering sending their children. “He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews,” she wrote. A spokesperson for Bannon denied the allegations. And according to Mother Jones, Bannon frequently stacked his radio show — “Breitbart News Daily” — with guest speakers who decried Islam.
He’s a favorite of the white-nationalist movement. Under Bannon, Yiannopoulos wrote an article that pretty much summed up Breitbart’s stance on diversity politics. “Only rich, well-educated, well-connected heterosexual white males have the required detachment and lack of emotional connection to the issues at hand to make the right calls,” it reads. In his messy breakup with Breitbart News, Ben Shapiro wrote that under Bannon, “Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.” Leaders of the movement are positively gleeful about Bannon’s appointment, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Trump’s choice of Bannon as chief strategist drew criticism from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and commentators on both sides of the aisle. “It is a sad day when the man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,’” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.
Meanwhile, David Duke — the former KKK grand wizard who’s been outspoken about his support for Trump — called Bannon’s appointment “excellent” in an interview with CNN. He went on, “You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who’s basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going. And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government.”