Steve Bannon who is and was this a smart move by Donald Trump, dumb or both?

Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen Kevin (“Steve”) Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Counsel has met widespread criticism. But it may also turn out to have been an incredibly savy and smart move. We shall see.

 

Donald Trump the candidate was at times deplorable, nasty and vindictive. His tune changed completely last week and many people had hoped that really the rhetoric was gone and Donald Trump had reconciliation in store. He insisted he would be the president for all the people, saying it was time to for America to bind its wounds.

All the good will he may have earned over the last few days has probably just gone out the window. His appointment of Steve Bannon brings someone into the White House who is the darling of the “alt-right”, a loose collection of far right political groups. Mr. Bannon has earned a reputation not only for his extremist views, but also for brass knuckle, nasty politics, back stabbing, double dealing, dirty tricks that stoke fear and mistrust in Washington. If the President elect somehow feels he needs a person at his side who can threaten political opposition through the use of right wing media channels, he must feel awfully weak and vulnerable.

Delve into the detail. This can be an incredibly smart choice.

As worrisome as the appointment can be, it is possible this is a politically smart, sophisticated and savvy choice. Steve Bannon obviously has the tools at his finger tips to influence opinion among the significant portion of the electorate that voted Mr. Trump into office. Potentially in four years their support will be needed again. Also in just 12 months time mid-term congressional elections will loom on the horizon. The House of Representative and one-third of the Senate run for election every two years.

Yet if Donald Trump wants a successful presidency, and we must believe he does, he must address political and economic realities that may lead him to make very different decisions and adopt very different policies than he promised on the campaign trail. In fact, he might struggle to get much of his agenda through the current Congress and his Supreme Court appointments may have to be more moderate than his supporters would prefer.

Reality might be that Donald Trump needs Steve Bannon not to defend from the left, but to defend from the right. Steve Bannon built a career on his ability to sell ideas to the far right. The counterpart to Steve Bannon on the left is David Brock, founder of Media Matters for America. According to political columnist Joshua Green, Brock’s attitude toward Bannon “isn’t enmity toward an ideological opponent, as I’d expected, but rather a curiosity and professional respect for the tradecraft Bannon demonstrated in advancing the Clinton Cash narrative.”

Who is Steve Bannon?

Since 2012 Mr. Bannon was the Executive Chairman of conservative news and media website Breitbart.com. He was named to that job following the sudden death of Breitbart’s founder Andrew Breitbart.

Mr. Breitbart was an American journalist who was among a generation of writers developing internet based news media websites including The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report. Journalists such as Nick Gillespie and Conor Friedersdorf have credited Breitbart with bringing new voices to debates about politics and culture. Breitbart developed itself as a conservative, sometimes right-wing counterpoint to the mainstream media.

In October of 2015 political columnist Joshua Green posted a commentary on Bloomberg Businessweek calling Stephen Bannon one of the most dangerous political operatives in America. The article focused on Mr. Bannon’s stewardship of Breitbart, Mr. Bannon’s work as founder of the non-profit Government Accountability Institute (GAI), and the tactics Mr. Bannon uses to discredit his political opponents both on the left and on the right.

Ben Shapiro, who left Brietbart in March 2016 after nearly four years as editor-at-large of Breitbart.com, wrote recently in the Daily Wire “Bannon….turned Breitbart into his personal domain, making himself a regularly bylined columnist (certainly rare for a major media company) and installing himself as a radio host on Breitbart Radio on Sirius XM….he used his role as Breitbart CEO to turn the outlet into Trump Pravda, creating a stepping stone to close connection with Trump.”

According to Politico.com writer Hada Gold as CEO of Breitbart, Bannon regularly ordered subordinates to write stories that supported his allies and tore down adversaries.

In various news media accounts former employees accused Breitbart executive chairman Stephen Bannon of having “turned a website founded on anti-authoritarian grounds into a de facto propaganda outlet for Mr. Trump.”

Here are 8 things you should know about Steve Bannon:

1. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 and holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.

2. He was an officer in the United States Navy, serving on the USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964) as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Pacific Fleet.

3. He holds an MBA from Harvard Univeristy, having graduated withhonors (cum laude).

4. He built a career as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and then founded his own boutique M&A firm, Bannon & Co, which specialised in the media and entertainment industry.

Through Bannon & Co., Mr. Bannon negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner. As payment, Bannon & Co. accepted a stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld. Société Générale purchased Bannon & Co. in 1998.

5. He was an executive producer in Hollywood.

He has executive produced several feature films and worked with notable with actors such as Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer and Ed Harris. He’s also written, produced and directed several political documentaries. Notable among them are Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, The Undefeated (account of the career of Sarah Pallin), The Hope & the Change(about Democrats and Independents from across America who supported Obama in 2008 and were ultimately disappointed).

6. He was Chairman and CEO of right-wing conservative web-site Breitbart.com

Under Mr. Bannon’s leadership Breitbart.com flourished and developed following among far-right conservative groups, also known as the “alt-right.” Content and commentary were posted on the site that drew criticism as being white-supremecist, anti-semitic, and bigoted.

According to Ben Shapiro, former editor-at-large of Breitbart.com “I quit Breitbart News when it became clear to me that they had decided that loyalty to Donald Trump outweighed loyalty to their own employees….he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda…Bannon turned Breitbart into his personal domain, making himself a regularly bylined columnist (certainly rare for a major media company) and installing himself as a radio host on Breitbart Radio on Sirius XM. Finally, he used his

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