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Steve Bannon

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Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon 2010.jpg
White House Chief Strategist
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Position established
Senior Counselor to the President
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Serving with Kellyanne Conway, Dina Powell
President Donald Trump
Preceded by John Podesta (2015)
Personal details
Born Stephen Kevin Bannon
(1953-11-27) November 27, 1953 (age 64)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cathleen Houff Jordan
Mary Piccard (1995–1997)
Diane Clohesy (divorced 2009)
Children 3
Education Virginia Tech (BA)
Georgetown University (MA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1976–1983
Rank Lieutenant (O-3)[1][lower-alpha 1]

Stephen Kevin "Steve" Bannon (born November 27, 1953) is an American banker, businessman, filmmaker, and politician who is currently chairman of Breitbart News, having served as the assistant to the President and chief strategist in the Donald Trump administration. In this capacity, he was a regular attendee to the Principals Committee of the National Security Council.[2]

Prior to assuming the White House position, Bannon was the chief executive officer of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[3][4]

Before his political career, Bannon served as executive chair of Breitbart News, a far-right[lower-roman 1] news, opinion, and commentary website[14][15] which Bannon described in 2016 as "the platform for the alt-right".[upper-roman 1] Bannon took leave of absence from Breitbart in order to work for the campaign.[23][24] After the election, he announced that he would resign from Breitbart.[23]

Early life, family and education

Stephen Kevin Bannon was born on November 27, 1953, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Doris (née Herr) and Martin Bannon, a telephone lineman.[25][26] His working class, Irish Catholic family were pro-Kennedy, pro-union Democrats.[27][28] He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in urban planning and holds a master's degree in national security studies from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. In 1985,[30] Bannon received a Master of Business Administration degree with honors[31] from Harvard Business School.[32]

Service in U.S. Navy

Bannon was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet and stateside as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.[33] Upon his departure he was ranked as a lieutenant (O-3).[1][lower-alpha 1]

Business career

Investment banking

After his military service, Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department.[35]When he left the company he held the position of vice president.[36][lower-alpha 2] In 1990, Bannon and several colleagues from Goldman Sachs launched Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in media. Through this company, Bannon negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner. As payment, Bannon & Co. accepted a financial stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld. Société Générale purchased Bannon & Co. in 1998.[31]

Environmental sector

In 1993, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon was made acting director of the Earth-science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Under Bannon, the project shifted emphasis from researching space exploration and colonization toward pollution and global warming. He left the project in 1995.[37][38]

Entertainment and media

In the 1990s, Bannon ventured into the entertainment and media industry. He became an executive producer in the Hollywood film and media industry. Bannon produced 18 films[26] from the 1992 Sean Penn drama The Indian Runner to executive producing Julie Taymor's 1999 film Titus. Bannon became a partner with entertainment industry executive Jeff Kwatinetz at The Firm, Inc., a film and television management company.[31]

In 2004, Bannon made a documentary about Ronald Reagan titled In the Face of Evil. Through the making and screening of this film, Bannon was introduced to Peter Schweizer and publisher Andrew Breitbart, who would later describe him as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.[31] He was involved in the financing and production of a number of films, including Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, The Undefeated (on Sarah Palin), and Occupy Unmasked.

Bannon persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest, in 2006, in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment.[39] Following a lawsuit, the company rebranded as Affinity Media and Bannon took over as CEO. From 2007 through 2011, Bannon was the chair and CEO of Affinity Media.[40][41]

In 2007, Bannon wrote an eight-page treatment for a new documentary called Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Facism (sic) in America. The outline describes Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America as "cultural jihadists". Bannon wrote the outline himself, and it labels the Washington Post, the New York Times, NPR, "Universities and the Left", the "American Jewish Community", the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and the White House as "enablers" of a covert mission to establish an Islamic Republic in the United States.[42] In 2011, Bannon spoke at the "Liberty Restoration Foundation" in Orlando, Florida about the Economic Crisis of 2008, the potential impact on Medicare and Medicaid, and his 2010 film Generation Zero.[43]

Bannon was executive chair and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, where he helped orchestrate the publication of the book Clinton Cash,[31][44] from its founding in 2012 until he left in August 2016.[45] For the years 2012 through 2015, he received between $81,000 and $100,000 each year; the organization reported that he worked an average of 30 hours per week for the organization.[45]

In 2015, Bannon was ranked No. 19 on Mediaite's list of the "25 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015".[46]

Bannon also hosted a radio show (Breitbart News Daily) on the SiriusXM Patriot satellite radio channel.[47]

Breitbart News

Main article: Breitbart News

Bannon was a founding member of the board of Breitbart News,[48] a far-right news, opinion and commentary website which, according to Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller of Time, has "pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right".[14]

In March 2012, after founder Andrew Breitbart's death, Bannon became executive chair of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of Breitbart News.[24][49][50] Under his leadership, Breitbart took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach toward its agenda.[51] Bannon declared the website "the platform for the alt-right" in 2016.[16] Bannon identifies as a conservative.[52][53][54] Speaking about his role at Breitbart, Bannon said: "We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly 'anti-' the permanent political class."[55]

Ronald Radosh claimed in The Daily Beast that Bannon had told him, in a book party on November 12, 2013, that he was a Leninist, in that "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment".[56] Snopes considers this claim unproven,[57] although other media like Time Magazine and The Guardian have also reported or discussed it.[58][59]

In a 2014 speech to a Vatican conference, Bannon cited Julius Evola, a twentieth-century, Nazi-linked Italian writer who influenced Mussolini's Italian Fascism and promoted the Traditionalist School, "a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions."[60] In the speech, Bannon cited Evola by name and stated: “We, the Judeo-Christian West, really have to look at what he [ Vladimir Putin, who is influenced by Evola follower Aleksandr Dugin ] is talking about as far as Traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism."[60]

Political career

Donald Trump campaign

On August 17, 2016, Bannon was appointed chief executive of Donald Trump's campaign to become President of the United States.[49][52][61][62] He left Breitbart to take the job.[24]

Bannon watching Trump sign an executive order.

On November 13, 2016, Bannon was appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump.[63] This appointment drew opposition from the Anti-Defamation League, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and some Republican strategists, because of statements in Breitbart News that were alleged to be racist or antisemitic.[3][4][64][65][66]

Ben Shapiro,[66][67][68], David Horowitz[69], Pamela Geller,[70] Bernard Marcus of the Republican Jewish Coalition,[71] Morton Klein[72] and the Zionist Organization of America,[71] and Shmuley Boteach[73] defended Bannon against the allegations of antisemitism. Alan Dershowitz first defended Bannon and said there was no evidence he was antisemitic,[74][75] but in a later piece stated that Bannon and Breitbart had made bigoted statements against Muslims, women, and others.[76] The ADL said "we are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon", while adding "under his stewardship, Breitbart has emerged as the leading source for the extreme views of a vocal minority who peddle bigotry and promote hate."[77] Shapiro, who previously worked for Breitbart, said that he has no evidence of Bannon being racist or an antisemite, but that he was "happy to pander to those people and make common cause with them in order to transform conservatism into European far-right nationalist populism",[78] an assertion supported by other sources and by gestures like his alluding to Front National politician Marion Maréchal-Le Pen as "the new rising star".[79]

On November 15, 2016, U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island released a letter to Trump signed by 169 Democratic House Representatives urging him to rescind his appointment of Bannon. The letter stated that appointing Bannon "sends a disturbing message about what kind of president Donald Trump wants to be",[80][81][82] because his "ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well documented"; it went on to present several examples of Breitbart News' alleged xenophobia.[83] Bannon denied being a white nationalist and claimed, rather, that he is an "economic nationalist."[84]

On November 18, 2016, during his first interview not conducted by Breitbart Media since the 2016 presidential election, Bannon remarked on some criticisms made about him, stating that "Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."[85][86] The quote was published widely in the media.[85][87][88][89] In the same interview, Bannon declared "I'm not a white nationalist. I'm a nationalist. I'm an economic nationalist."[85]

Trump responded to the ongoing controversy over Bannon's appointment in an interview with The New York Times, saying, "I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him."[90]

Trump administration

Several days after Donald Trump′s inauguration, Bannon told an American newspaper, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this: the media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”[91]

At the end of January 2017, in a departure from the previous format of the National Security Council (NSC), the holder of Bannon's position, along with that of the Chief of Staff, were designated by presidential memorandum as regular attendees to the NSC's Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level senior interagency forum for considering national security issues.[2][92][93] The enacted arrangement was criticised by several members of previous administrations and was called "stone cold crazy" by Susan E. Rice, Barack Obama's last national security adviser.[94]

In February 2017, Bannon appeared on the cover of Time, on which he was labeled "the Great Manipulator". The headline used for the associated article was "Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?", alluding to Bannon's perceived influence in the White House.[95]

Bannon, along with Stephen Miller, was involved in the creation of Executive Order 13769, which temporarily restricts U.S. travel and immigration by individuals from six countries, temporarily suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and indefinitely suspends entry of Syrian refugees to the United States.[96][97]

Personal life

Bannon has been married three times, all ending in divorce. He has three adult daughters.

Bannon's first marriage was to Cathleen Suzanne Houff, born 1955.[98] Bannon and Houff had a daughter, Maureen, in 1988.[99][100] They divorced.[64]

Bannon's second marriage was to Mary Louise Piccard, a former investment banker, in April 1995. Their twin daughters were born three days after the wedding. Piccard filed for dissolution of the marriage in 1997, and they are no longer married.[101][102]

Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness in early January 1996, after Piccard accused Bannon of domestic abuse. The charges were later dropped when his now ex-wife did not appear in court.[103] In an article in The New York Times, Piccard stated her absence was due to threats made to her by Bannon and Bannon's lawyer:

Mr. Bannon, she said, told her that "if I went to court he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty" ... Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, she said, "threatened me," telling her that if Mr. Bannon went to jail, she "would have no money and no way to support the children." ... Mr. Bannon’s lawyer ... denied pressuring her not to testify.[104]

Piccard and Bannon divorced in 1997. During the divorce proceedings, Piccard also stated that Bannon had made antisemitic remarks about choice of schools, saying that he did not want to send his children to The Archer School for Girls because there were too many Jews at the school and Jews raise their children to be "whiny brats". Bannon's spokesperson denied the accusation, noting that he had chosen to send both his children to the Archer School.[103][105][106][107][108]

Bannon's third marriage was to Diane Clohesy. That marriage also ended in divorce, in 2009.[109]

Lebanese-American author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, neoreactionary blogger Curtis Yarvin and conservative intellectual Michael Anton have been pointed out as three of the main influences in Steve Bannon's political thinking, alongside the William Strauss and Neil Howe book The Fourth Turning (which directly inspired Bannon's film Generation Zero).[110]


Bannon has been a producer, writer or director on the following films and documentaries:

Year Title Credited as Notes
1991 The Indian Runner[111] executive producer
1999 Titus[112] co-executive producer
2004 In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed[113] director, co-producer, writer based on the 2003 book Reagan's War by Peter Schweizer
2005 Cochise County USA: Cries from the Border executive producer
2006 Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration executive producer
2007 Tradition Never Graduates: A Season Inside Notre Dame Football executive producer
2009 The Chaos Experiment executive producer
2010 Generation Zero[114] director, producer, writer based on the 1997 book The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe[115]
Battle for America[116] director, producer, writer
Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman[116] director, producer, writer
2011 Still Point in a Turning World: Ronald Reagan and His Ranch
The Undefeated[116][117] director, producer, writer
2012 Occupy Unmasked[118] director, writer
The Hope & The Change[119] director, producer, writer
District of Corruption director, producer
2013 Sweetwater[120] executive producer
2014 Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power executive producer
2016 Clinton Cash producer, writer
Torchbearer director, producer, writer


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  1. 1.0 1.1 Bannon was erroneously referred to as a captain, but a correction was given.[34]
  2. Bannon was erroneously referred to as a "managing partner."

Breitbart called far Right

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Political offices
Title last held by
John Podesta
as Counselor to the President
Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist to the President
Served alongside: Kellyanne Conway, Dina Powell