Steve Bannon: 6 Things to Know About President Trump's Chief Strategist Who Was Ousted from the White House
Steve Bannon once got top billing within Donald Trump‘s administration and served at the embattled president’s side during the early days of his leadership. Now, Bannon is saying goodbye to the White House.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement on Friday. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
The news came as a shock to some considering the former Breitbart News executive chairman had served as the White House Chief Strategist and Trump’s senior counselor. However, Bannon’s initial appointment on Nov. 13 (just days after the 2016 presidential election) was met with immediate criticism amid accusations that Bannon is anti-Semitic, racist and sexist.
Many were concerned that Bannon’s ties to the white nationalist movement would be harmful in the White House. The ousting comes just days after celebrities and politicians used the #FireBannon hashtag, calling for Trump to axe Bannon in the wake of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
Learn more about Bannon below.
1. Bannon was the head of Breitbart.com, a conservative news site
Bannon is a controversial figure in part due to his close association with the so-called “alt-right” movement, which openly reject immigrants, feminism and multiculturalism. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart embraced anti-Semitic and nationalist views as well as faced regular criticism for its pro-Trump slant.
Even some of his own former employees have spoken out against him. Ben Shapiro, who served as editor-at-large of Breitbart News for four years, wrote a piece for The Daily Wire calling out his former boss.
Shapiro wrote, “I quit Breitbart News when it became clear to me that they had decided that loyalty to Donald Trump outweighed loyalty to their own employees, helping Trump smear one of their own reporters, Michelle Fields, by essentially calling her a liar for saying that she had been grabbed by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.”
Among some of the most controversial past headlines from Breitbart.com are:
- Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy
- The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off
- There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech; They Just Suck At Interviews
2. He was first tapped to be Trump’s campaign CEO
Bannon was with Breitbart until August 2016, when he was tapped by Trump to become his campaign CEO with just 82 days left in the election.
Bannon, selected to help “bolster the business-like approach” of Trump’s campaign, was “once recognized by Bloomberg Politics as the ‘most dangerous political operative in America,’ ” the announcement said. He “will oversee the campaign staff and operations, in addition to strategic oversight of major campaign initiatives.”
3. The millionaire took a staff salary — and declared war on the media
Several of the wealthy staff members on Trump’s team did not take salaries for their positions. However, a list of White House staff salaries released in June revealed that Bannon had a salary of $179,700 a year with the administration.
Bannon disclosed assets between $13 million and $56 million, including his political consultancy, Bannon Strategic Advisors Inc., worth as much as $25 million, Fortune reported in April.
More headline-making than his salary, though, were his comments he made about the media in January, calling news organizations “the opposition party” of the Trump administration.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon told The New York Times.
“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.”
4. Bannon is battling claims he is anti-Semitic
Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard said he made anti-Semitic remarks when the two battled over sending their daughters to the Archer School for Girls, an elite private school in Los Angeles, nearly a decade ago, according to court papers obtained by New York Daily News.
“He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews,” Piccard wrote in a 2007 declaration during their divorce.
“I told him that there are children who are Jewish at (a competing school), and he asked me what the percentage was. I told him that I didn’t know because it wasn’t an issue for me as I am not raising the girls to be either anti-Semitic or prejudiced against anyone.”
A spokesperson for Bannon denied the remarks, noting that his daughters did attend the school.
5. His appointment to chief strategist was immediately met with objection
Many political strategists took to social media to share their disapproval for Trump’s pick in November.
John Weaver, a top strategist for Ohio Governor John Kasich, took to Twitter with a warning to the nation.
“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office,” he wrote. “Be very vigilant America.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, also shared its objection in a statement at the time, calling Bannon’s appointment “a sad day.”
Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen also released a statement expressing disapproval over the decision.
“In his victory speech, Trump pledged to be the president for ‘all Americans’ and to ‘bind the wounds of division’ in our country,” he wrote. “Appointing someone like Bannon, who will have the president-elect’s ear every single day, makes a mockery of that pledge.”
6. He invested in Seinfeld and finances movies about Republican leaders
Bannon’s business endeavors – he was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and founded his own firm – landed him a role as a stakeholder in the television series Seinfeld after he negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner.
In addition, Bannon has financed multiple movies about Republican leaders. In 2004, he made a Ronald Reagan documentary, In the Face of Evil, and reportedly put up $1 million dollars to finance The Undefeated, a 2011 film about Sarah Palin’s political journey.