Following their embarrassing defeat on November 9th, the Democrats and their loyal devotees have engaged in a scorched-earth policy of dramatic opposition. The most recent victim caught in their hysterical retreat? Stephen K Bannon.
Loyalty: the theme of the election season which bewildered specialists and spectators alike. Has the chapter aptly-titled “Loyalty” concluded with both candidates’ campaigns? Absolutely not.
Stephen Bannon, for all the accusations of bigotry he’s accrued, signed over his life to the United States of America in an episode of selfless service for this country’s Navy. Not many of his detractors can claim that honor, nor can they claim an Honor’s MBA from Harvard, a position at Goldman Sachs, a stake of ownership in Seinfeld, a successful film-making stint, and an executive chairmanship of the Breitbart News Network, all of which populate the long list of Bannon’s accolades.
Given his diverse career path, Bannon knows how to navigate through waters unfamiliar to most. This is precisely the reason why Donald Trump, pinning much of his success on his talent-sourcing acumen, recruited Bannon to be his campaign’s chief executive on Wednesday, August 17th of this year. Immediately after the miraculous victory of the Trump campaign, wild speculation about President-elect Trump’s cabinet choices began to make the rounds as information slowly leaked to the disgraced media. As of November 13th, two definite picks have been made: Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, and Stephen Bannon as Senior Advisor.
The opponents of this choice were livid. With controversies already swirling around a Trump presidency as protests contesting the election results continue for a fifth day in cities across the nation, the slightest idea of Bannon serving a role in Trump’s circle fueled outrage on social media. Evan McMullin, a relatively-unknown political player who ran in the presidential election, tweeted the following on November 13th:
Where do these accusations come from? Well, there’s one instance from February of 1996, when Bannon was charged with Battery, Assault, and attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime. He appeared in court, but his wife — the plaintiff — did not. While she claims she was threatened to not appear in court, this remains unproven. This same ex-Wife claims that Bannon didn’t want their children to attend school with Jews. This, too, remains unproven in any court or record.
Most of the controversy is with Bannon’s news outlet, Breitbart News. Presumably under the tutelage of Bannon, an article was published on May 15th, 2016, titled “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew”, written by David Horowitz, himself Jewish. This prompted a response from many as being anti-Semitic, including the Anti-Defamation League and the National Jewish Democratic Council. Another reads “Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs”, written on August 12, 2014. These titles are sensational, but sensationalism is the sad, disrespectful fact of modern American journalism; Bannon signed off on these headlines knowing full well that, for one’s message to be heard, it sometimes has to be screamed loud in a sea of competing voices.
Perhaps Breitbart learned this from his Leftist media opponents. Maybe simple intuition led him to this strategy. Whatever the reason was, Bannon was successful. And when Donald Trump decided to run for president, Breitbart News became the go-to source of pro-Trump material, much to the chagrin of former colleagues like Ben Shapiro. In a possibly cutthroat exhibition of loyalty, the Breitbart News Network alternatively championed as the Trump News Network.
What is Bannon’s so-called toxic message, though? While Ben Shapiro claims in his personal(ly motivated?) expose that Bannon openly embraces White Nationalism, Joel Pollak, a colleague of Bannon’s from Breitbart News, mentions that the latter “defends Israel and has deep empathy for the Jewish people”. To quote Pollak:
“From my perspective, in terms of what I believe, I’m an Orthodox Jew, I am an immigrant, I’m married to a black woman, and I live in a liberal city. And Steve saved this country by helping Donald Trump win and restoring balance in the Supreme Court and giving Americans an opportunity to take their government back.”
Scott Vorse, a long-time friend of Bannon’s, said in an interview with NBC news:
“I know this guy. He’s not perfect. But is he a racist, a sexist, an anti-Semitic? The answer is no. That’s not the guy I know.”
The moderate followers of Bannon’s work will say something similar. The bulk of his film-work fame comes from Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Women, The Undefeated (a documentary on Sarah Palin), and Occupy Unmasked. None of these films can adequately be blamed for propagating a message of White Nationalism; the first two mentioned cover extensively the role of women in the Conservative movement and Occupy Unmasked covers the now-defunct Occupy Wall Street movement.
Whatever his message, Stephen Bannon will be broadcasting it from the pulpits of the highest office in this country, remaining loyal to his fan base, his ideology, and, most importantly, his employer.
— J.S. Marino