Why Trump's Appointment of Steve Bannon Has Raised So Many Alarms

Bannon is President-Elect Trump's senior counselor.

ByABC News
November 15, 2016, 5:27 PM

— -- Critics of Steve Bannon -- Donald Trump’s campaign CEO, who is now senior counselor to the president-elect -- have accused him of peddling or being complicit in white supremacy, anti-Semitism and sexism in the articles published on the alt-right website he oversaw, Breitbart, as well as in interviews.

Breitbart has lauded the Confederate flag and taken aim at Jewish people and women and Bannon himself has made controversial statements about women and homosexuals.

Even though defenders, such as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., argue that Bannon shouldn't be held accountable for everything published on the site, critics say that putting Bannon in such a prominent position sets a dangerous precedent.

"There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump Administration,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. in a statement Monday. Added Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. today, "Elevating Steve Bannon... to one of the highest positions in the White House installs a man with fringe and dangerous ideologies just steps from the Oval Office."

Here is a list of some of Steve Bannon’s statements and Breitbart articles that have raised eyebrows:

“A Bunch of Dykes”

During a 2011 radio interview in which he spoke in support of conservative women, Bannon employed a derogatory term for homosexual women while explaining, in his view, why liberals reacted so strongly against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann.

“The women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children,” said Bannon. “They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.”

Breitbart Headlines

While Bannon has contributed to Breitbart News as a writer, having penned at least 20 articles, he oversaw the website after founder Andrew Breitbart died in 2012. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has published articles that have received flak due in part to headlines like:

  • “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew”
  • “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy”
  • “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews”
  • “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?”
  • “The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off”
  • "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage"
  • "Donald Trump Would Be the Real First Black President"

Bannon also acknowledged that the alt-right movement, which Breitbart champions, has appeal to white supremacists and anti-Semites, according to an interview he gave to liberal magazine Mother Jones at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

"Are there anti-Semitic people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely,” Bannon said. “Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. But I don't believe that the movement overall is anti-Semitic."

“Bitch Slap the Republican Party

Bannon, speaking in support of the Tea Party, said in a 2010 interview on Political Vindication Radio that what supporters “need to do is bitch slap the Republican party.”

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon reportedly told a Daily Beast journalist at a book party in 2014, referring to the revolutionary Russian communist leader. “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.”

When the Daily Beast reporter emailed Bannon in August 2016, Bannon replied: “I don’t remember meeting you and don’t remember the conversation. And as u [sic] can tell from the past few days I am not doing media.”

“The Fight Club”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who would later become a target of scrutiny by Trump supporters due to his lukewarm support for the nominee, bore the brunt of Bannon’s criticism of the establishment in January when he told the Washington Post that he and others at Breitbart “say Paul Ryan was grown in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” referring to the mainstream conservative think tank.

“We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” said Bannon in the Washington Post story. “We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-’ the permanent political class.”

Chorus of Critics...and Defenders

Trump's choice of Bannon was slammed by politicians and advocates alike, including the Anti-Defamation League.

"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,' said the group's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt. "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."

Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, called the move "alarming."

And outgoing, longtime Nevada Sen. Harry Reid expressed his ire over the decision.

“So far rather than healing these wrongs, Trump’s actions have deepened them," he said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "In his first official act he appointed a man supported as a champion of white supremacy as his chief strategist in the White House.

“If Trump is serious about unity, the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon. Rescind it. Don' t do it. Think about this. Don't do it.”

But many have come to Bannon's defense.

"I see where the outrage is and that doesn't surprise me. Same people who are trying to get past the election results," Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said in Washington, DC today. "Steve Bannon is a Georgetown Harvard MBA grad, a former naval officer, a former Goldman Sachs vice president and really the general, the field general in our successful campaign effort -- a brilliant tactician and serves president elect Donald Trump very well."

Trump's Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, called Bannon a "very, very smart person."

"I don't know where they're coming from," he said of the critics, on ABC's "Good Morning America." "That's not the Steve Bannon that I know."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story referred to Steve Bannon as the executive chairman of Breitbart. He is the former executive chairman.

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