It turns out that Saturday Night Live’s caricature of Steve Bannon as the scary, manipulating, white nationalist power behind Donald Trump’s throne might not be far off the mark. As the president’s 2016 campaign executive director, current senior counselor and chief strategist, we have seen the man wield immense influence, even thrusting him, for a time, into what was then called, a permanent seat on the “principal’s committee” of the National Security Council (NSC).
Make no mistake, Steve Bannon is an intelligent, savvy, well-educated and shrewd individual who seems to still have a tight grip on Donald Trump’s ear even despite his demotion on the NSC. Don’t let that disheveled appearance fool you. He helped put our current president in office and still serves as a key link between Trump and his far-right supporters.
But again, who is Steve Bannon? Let’s take a quick look:
- Born November 27, 1953 in Norfolk, VA and raised in Richmond.
- Parents were “blue-collar,” Irish Catholics who were pro-union and pro-Jack Kennedy.
- Earned a BA degree from Virginia Tech, an MA in National Security Studies at Georgetown University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
- Served in the U.S. Navy for seven years as an officer with his final assignment as special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations.
- Worked at Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions for three years.
- Cofounded Bannon & Co., a financial business focusing on the entertainment industry.
- Entered filmmaking in 1998 as the executive producer of the movie, Titus.
- 2004 saw Bannon leap headlong into the creation and production of conservative documentaries.
- In 2012, he cofounded a nonprofit organization called The Government Accountability Institute dedicated to bringing to light bad deeds committed by well-known politicians.
- Also in 2012, Bannon took control of the very conservative, anti-establishment website, Breitbart News Network. He then took that organization into the “alt-right” arena, allowing it to become a platform for white nationalists to vent their anger and frustration.
- Starting in 2015, Bannon hosted radio talk shows through Breitbart, featuring “alt-right” guests. And as part of his overall lineup of people invited on his programs was Donald Trump – many times. And from there the two formed a solid alliance leading to the 2016 election.
Interesting, huh? The guy is no slacker. And so, with that as a given, let’s drill down a bit more in the man’s personal philosophy. The best way to do that is to look more closely at an important part of Steve Bannon’s film making career. To start with, here is a list of those movies without initial comment:
Conservative Political Documentaries
- 2004 In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed (Pro Reagan piece)
- 2010 Generation Zero (Tracing the origins of the 2008 financial crisis – to hippies and Woodstock)
- 2010 Battle for America (Rise of the Tea Party)
- 2010 Fire from the Heartland (The rise of conservative women like Michele Bachmann)
- 2011 Undefeated (Pro Sarah Palin piece)
- 2012: District of Corruption, Occupy Unmasked, The Hope & The Change
(3 films with more of the same as above but focusing increasingly on crony capitalism, Obama and “Professional Protesters”)
- 2016: Torchbearer (Featuring the life and philosophy of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame)
What Does All This Mean?
Now, when you study the content of these films you’ll find that Steve Bannon sees the world only in terms of black and white with no shades of gray.
He decries the fall of Western Civilization, hates the established order, wants to bring everything down, calls himself a “Leninist,” criticizes the worship of science, detests hippies, denounces Planned Parenthood, resents Hollywood, lauds the “forgotten man” in America, abhors the media, bemoans the decline of Christianity and the rise of atheism, condemns the teaching of evolution and believes that a savior needs to take back the country from those “others” who don’t fit his narrow definition of human perfection. And that’s just for starters.
Some of the past saviors Bannon has put his trust in were Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Lou Dobbs, Michele Bachmann and, of course, Sarah Palin. But after all those people didn’t quite make the grade, he met Donald Trump. It was a match made in heaven, or somewhere, and a new savior was born. The rest is current history.
So the next time you listen to Donald Trump, pay close attention to his words and tone. And what you will also hear is Steve Bannon in the background, guiding the rhetoric and pumping up the volume.
Sources for Further Information
Clips from Breitbart Radio Show Reveal Trumps Relationship with Stephen Bannon (Washington Post – 3:46)
SNL Spoof of Bannon & Trump (CNN Entertainment – 1:44)
[Includes links to other SNL Trump spoofs]
Biography # 1 (Biography)
Biography # 2 (Britannica)
Steve Bannon and the Alt-Right: A Primer (CBS News)
Stephen Bannon & Donald Trump Alt-Right Breitbart News (Mother Jones News)
What I Learned Binge-Watching Steve Bannon’s Docs. (Politco.com)