Donald Trump signing a loyalty pledge in 2015 that stated he promised to pledge support to the Republican presidential nominee. (Michael Vadon / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Stephen Bannon’s months of pledging allegiance to Donald Trump through his website, Breitbart News, got him hired as the Republican candidate’s campaign CEO. After doing such a good job, Bannon earned a spot on the president-elect’s panel of top advisers.
On Sunday, Bannon was named Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. The move drew criticism from various civil rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal advocacy group.
“Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill,” SPLC wrote on Twitter. The organization also tweeted examples of Breitbart articles that show Bannon’s advocacy of racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric.
Breitbart showed unwavering support during Trump’s presidential campaign and has become known as a voice for conservatives and the “alt-right.” “[Breitbart News] went after establishment Republicans and threw its support behind Trump early on in the 2016 primaries, for which it was rewarded with exclusive interviews, access, and shoutouts by the candidate,” Politico reports.
Liberal politicians have vocalized their disapproval of Bannon’s rise to the White House.
“President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House,” said a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., an outspoken Trump critic.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also expressed disappointment. “[This] appointment should get us very nervous,” he said Monday on “The View.” “I will be damned if we’re going to go backward and try dividing up this country again.”
Bannon’s right-hand man at Breitbart applauded his appointment. “So much of the media mocked us, laughed at us, called us all sorts of names,” Breitbart Editor in Chief Alexander Marlow said. “And then for us to be seen as integral to the election of a president, despite all of that hatred, is something that we certainly enjoy, and savor.”
Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, who has been appointed Trump’s White House chief of staff, defended Bannon from criticisms of being an anti-Semite and white nationalist.
“That’s not the Steve Bannon that I know, and I’ve spent a lot of time with him,” Priebus said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” according to USA Today. “And here’s a guy who’s a Harvard Business School, London School of Economics, (and) 10-year Naval officer advising admirals. He was a force for good on the campaign at every level that I saw, all the time. … This is a very, very smart person who’s serving as a senior counsel to the president.”
Under Bannon’s leadership for the past four years, Breitbart News has catered to an “alt-right” audience with content that has been labeled “misogynist, xenophobic and racist.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights organization whose mission is to stop anti-Semitism and “secure justice and fair treatment to all,” rebuked Trump’s appointment of Bannon.
Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s chief executive, said in a statement:
It is a sad day when a 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.” We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that makes our country great.
Ben Shapiro, a former editor-at-large at Breitbart News, says he resigned when it became apparent that “they had decided that loyalty to Donald Trump outweighed loyalty to their own employees, helping Trump smear one of their own reporters.” He wrote a scathing article in August after Bannon was appointed Trump’s campaign CEO. Bannon, he said, used the website and Trump’s favor for personal gain.
Andrew Breitbart despised racism. […] Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [Breitbart editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers. …
If Trump wins, he’s in a position of high power; if Trump loses, Bannon could head up a new media empire with Trump’s support and the involvement of new Trump supporter and ousted former Fox News head Roger Ailes.
Several other former employees have spoken out against Bannon, claiming he often directed inappropriate language at them—which has been documented—and asked writers to publish articles that promoted his allies and vilified his enemies.
Current Breitbart employees, however, describe Bannon as a man who often helps his writers financially and professionally, according to Politico.
“He is a tough boss who has shepherded me to heights I never thought I would see, largely because of that toughness and his loyalty,” said Brandon Darby, managing editor of Breitbart Texas.
Politicians and Breitbart writers alike took to Twitter to react to the news.
Steve Bannon’s appointment should make us very nervous. We’re going to tell him and Trump that we will stand together and not be divided up.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 14, 2016
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 14, 2016
— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) November 14, 2016
I've worked closely w/ Steve Bannon at Breitbart. He's an American patriot who also defends Israel & has deep empathy for the Jewish people.
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) November 13, 2016
It is unclear whether Bannon is still financially invested in Breitbart News. The website will continue to support Trump as long as he “honors the voters who voted him in,” Marlow said.
“Our loyalty is not going to be to Donald Trump. Our loyalty is to our readers and to our values,” said the editor in chief. “That’s regardless of what role Steve has.”
—Posted by KiMi Robinson