…I have no particular brief for Bannon, as I’ll explain below, but this seems like an utterly ridiculous controversy.
Bannon, in case you haven’t heard, has been offered and accepted the position of Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President in the upcoming Trump administration. Bannon was the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which managed to find itself in the final three months of the election cycle after floundering under the previous leadership of Paul Manafort. He came to Trump’s campaign from Breitbart News, where he was the executive chairman.
Here’s Bannon’s curriculum vitae, courtesy of Wikileaks…
He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 and holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. In 1983, Bannon received an M.B.A. degree with honors from Harvard Business School.
Bannon was an officer in the United States Navy, 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.
After his military service, Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department. In 1990, Bannon and several colleagues from Goldman Sachs launched Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in media. Through Bannon & Co., 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.
In 1993, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon was made acting director of Earth-science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Under Bannon, the project shifted emphasis from researching space exploration and colonization towards pollution and global warming. He left the project in 1995. After the sale of Bannon & Co., Bannon became an executive producer in Hollywood. He was executive producer for 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. 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.
Bannon is also executive chairman and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, where he helped orchestrate the publication of book Clinton Cash. In 2015, Bannon was ranked No. 19 on Mediaite’s list of the “25 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015.”
Bannon convinced Goldman Sachs to invest in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment. Following a lawsuit, the company rebranded as Affinity Media and Bannon took over as CEO. From 2007 through 2011, Bannon was chairman and CEO of Affinity Media.
Bannon became a member of the board of Breitbart News. In March 2012, after founder Andrew Breitbart’s death, Bannon became executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of Breitbart News. Under his leadership, Breitbart took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach towards its agenda. Bannon declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” in 2016. Bannon identifies as a conservative. Speaking about his role at Breitbart, Bannon said: “We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-‘ the permanent political class.”
So in Bannon you have a military veteran with a business degree and a background in national security, who spent some time in the financial world and then had successful adventures both in entertainment media and news media. He’s a maverick and an iconoclast with disdain for the Washington elite and a desire to upset their applecart. And he’s going to be an advisor to the president on political strategy after chairing a successful campaign that won the White House.
He’s unacceptable, as I understand it, because he took Breitbart News in a direction which is a bit propagandistic in favor of Trump and somewhat more combative than many feel comfortable with. And that he displays at times an intemperate personality, which may have led to his three divorces and some of the uncomplimentary things people who have worked with him, among them Ben Shapiro and Dana Loesch, have put out about him along the way. Bannon appears to be difficult to work with or for, at least for some.
And now Republicans on Capitol Hill are being pigeonholed and asked to denounce Bannon’s appointment, because Bannon is the usual – racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc.
Plus, he’s an anti-semite. Or so we’re told.
The evidence for Bannon’s anti-Semitism is that in the divorce papers of his second marriage, his ex-wife alleged that Bannon didn’t want their two daughters to attend The Archer School For Girls in Los Angeles because Jewish children make up a significant number of the attendees and Bannon voiced concern his daughters would suffer for the experience of having them as classmates and become “whiny brats.”
This was his ex-wife’s allegation in the divorce papers. As we know, accusations as part of a divorce and child custody case tend to be uncorroborated at least, sensationalized and inflammatory, if not imaginary, at worst. The allegation loses a bit of steam given the fact that the girls did, in fact, attend The Archer School.
Beyond that? Rather thin.
There was the publication of an article at Breitbart which characterized The Weekly Standard editor and prominent NeverTrumper Bill Kristol as a “Renegade Jew” for his attempts to present a third-party conservative alternative to Trump as the GOP nominee. That was certainly a highly-charged statement – but with one caveat. It wasn’t Bannon who wrote the piece slamming Kristol, it was David Horowitz, whose contributions to Breitbart News go all the way back to the time of Breitbart himself.
David Horowitz, as you may know, is Jewish.
And when Bannon was described as anti-Semitic, Horowitz was at Breitbart once again to defend him…
I wrote the article when Kristol set out to lead the “Never Trump” movement, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination. I would write it again in a heartbeat. I would write it the same way and with the same headline. Bill Kristol and his friends betrayed the Republican Party, betrayed the American people, and betrayed the Jews when he set out to undermine Trump and elect the criminal Hillary Clinton. Obama and Hillary are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that launched the Arab drive to destroy Israel and push its Jews into the sea (that was their slogan).
If Obama and Hillary had their way, Egypt’s leader al-Sisi would be overthrown, the Brotherhood would be back in power, and Israel would be facing a threat from the biggest military power in the Middle East and almost certainly at war with Islamic terrorists who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.
I have known Steve Bannon for many years. This is a good man. He does not have an Anti-Semitic bone in his body. In his new position as Chief Strategist in the Trump White House, Bannon is the strongest assurance that people who love this country can have in America’s future, the strongest assurance that America is in the hands of people who will give this country a chance to restore itself and defend itself against its enemies at home and abroad.
Horowitz also noted that Bannon, whose film projects include biopics of Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan, also approached him about doing his own biography. That’s an interesting request from an anti-Semite.
But it doesn’t seem to be overly unusual. After all, Bannon is running a company founded by his friend Andrew Breitbart, who was Jewish. Breitbart’s original partner in that venture, which Bannon later came aboard with, was Larry Solov; Solov is now CEO of Breitbart News.
And Solov is Jewish.
Additionally, for several years leading up to his resignation earlier this year over the Michelle Fields controversy, Shapiro served as editor-at-large at Breitbart. Shapiro is Jewish. So is Joel Pollack, currently senior editor at Breitbart. Both have rejected allegations Bannon is an anti-Semite.
What’s more, the big rumor in the event Trump would have lost the presidential election was that his campaign was to morph into a media outfit in which Bannon and ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes would play roles. And Trump TV’s driving force, the stories said, was the candidate’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Who is Jewish.
Which leads one to the conclusion that if Bannon is an anti-Semite he’s one of the most ineffective anti-Semites extant. He does a singularly rotten job of insulating himself against these people he seemingly dislikes, and he also seems to do a poor job of convincing these Jews surrounding him that he harbors them ill will.
Even Shapiro, who is not a fan of Bannon’s, doesn’t list this supposed Jew-hatred among his grievances.
Now, that said, since Bannon took over Breitbart much of the site’s product has become click-bait and schlock. There is still good journalism there, but not to the extent the site produced when its founder was around. And there is a certain element of “alt-right” and Trumpist populism coursing through the veins of Breitbart News, which isn’t the happiest development for someone who hasn’t bought into the full Trump experience. I would suspect that were Breitbart himself here he would disapprove of much of what Bannon has done to his life’s work.
But that’s not a reason to disqualify Bannon from the position Trump is hiring him for. The question of Bannon’s qualification is a simple one – is he effective? Trump clearly thinks he is, and Trump has his own election and Bannon’s role in that to prove that suspicion.
Is Bannon an unpleasant fellow? Is he a jerk? Does he represent the dark forces of the alt-right taking over the halls of power? We’ll certainly find out.
But let’s not kid ourselves here. Bannon is succeeding John Podesta in the job he just accepted. Podesta was Barack Obama’s Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President. Podesta founded the noxious Center For American Progress in 2003, thanks to seed money from George Soros and other left-wing donors, and was also instrumental in founding the propaganda outfit Media Matters in 2004. CAP also publishes ThinkProgress.org, another left-wing propaganda website. Both Media Matters and ThinkProgress daily push out content which could best be described as Democrat Party disinformation were it to be taken seriously – so completely unobjective is the journalistic output of the two.
We also know much about Podesta’s modus operandi thanks to Wikileaks, which dumped his e-mails out onto the internet this fall. The corruption and manipulation of the media and political process uncovered in the Wikileaks releases gave a good indication of just what the Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President is expected to do.
Under that standard, Bannon seems like a fairly good fit. He might not be the perfect guy to sit down and have a beer with, but as to the outrage his appointment has ginned up on the Left and in the media, much of it appears to be a positive. No one who makes those people this angry could possibly be a bad hire.