Washington D.C. (MR) From his Wall Street roots and apocalyptic film career to his cultivation of alt-right bigots at Breitbart News, Abby Martin exposes Bannon’s true character in this explosive documentary.
A familiar name to some and a new one to others, Steve Bannon is a right wing ideologue who should not be ignored. With some calling him “the intellectual force behind” Trump’s agenda and others directly referring to him as President, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News has his hands in some of the most controversial executive orders and foreign policy decisions in this administration.
Bannon’s political development began during his time in the US Navy from 1976-1983. During this time he never served in war himself, but his time spent as an officer on ship created a lifelong thirst for military supremacy and war, still bubbling to the surface today.
After leaving the Navy, Bannon found himself at Goldman Sachs for 6 years before founding his own investment firm, Bannon & Company. Two short years later, he sold his firm to a media giant, funding his next endeavor – making apocalyptic films laden with right-wing propaganda, stoking the fears and insecurities of a growing and increasingly agitated audience. His films range in subject from demonizing the Occupy movement to praising Sarah Palin in a potential attempt to ride her coattails to fame, to dangerous propaganda about the perceived dangers of immigration.
Many of Bannon’s business dealings and relationships have been laden with controversy. In 2004 he began working with Internet Gaming Entertainment, exploiting online games such as World Of Warcraft. Utilizing his experience and connections, “Bannon managed to convince Goldman Sachs to plow $60 million into a company that sold imaginary goods in an imaginary world.” All three heads of IGE were sued for sexual abuse of underage boys, including the founder and CEO, Pierce Brock, and investor Marc Collins-Rector, a fugitive on the run for child rape and human trafficking.
In addition to controversy in his business life, Bannon’s personal relationships have been tumultuous. In 1995 Bannon embarked on his second of three marriages, only three days before his new wife, Mary Louise Piccard, gave birth to their twins, stating that he would not marry Piccard until he had proof that the babies were “normal.” After multiple bouts of physical and verbal abuse, Piccard filed a restraining order and divorced Bannon. Unsurprisingly Bannon was never convicted after Piccard was a no show in court, later claiming to have been threatened by Bannon. He retained visitation rights but was later caught hitting one of the twins when they were only 17 months old.
In the early 2000s, Bannon forged a relationship with Andrew Breitbart with Breitbart affectionately referring to Bannon as the “Leni Riefenshtahl of the Tea Party movement.” At the time, Breitbart was a protege of Matt Drudge, creator of The Drudge Report. The Drudge Report successfully brought the power of right wing talk radio to the internet. Breitbart expanded on The Drudge Report’s model by manipulating headlines to demonize progressives, women, immigrants, and more. Soon Alex Jones and his following were brought into the fold. As Breitbart News began to go under, Bannon was hard at work sourcing funds from right-wing investors in an attempt to reanimate it, when Andrew Breitbart unexpectedly dropped dead. Bannon quickly stepped in as CEO.
Soon Bannon created the Government Accountability Institute, an official sounding ring-wing think tank, bankrolled by an investment from Robert Mercer. Mercer had recently financed anti-Muslim adds in opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque” resulting in an increase in xenophobic panic. Other notable GAI investors included the power hungry billionaires, the Koch Brothers. GAI also served as a money laundering scheme for Breitbart in which wealthy donors could donate to the non-profit with their donations quickly forwarded on to Breitbart’s reporters.
With the rise of Trump came a rise in Breitbart News reader loyalty, including an instant increase in monthly readers – from 8 million to 18 million. Trump and Bannon both found something attractive and desired in the other – Trump being a powerful and accessible mouthpiece and Bannon being a household name with a large, loyal, and extremely passionate following.
Bannon preys on society’s problems and falsely directs the blame where he wants it – on immigrants, globalism, progressives, millennials, and more. Bannon’s misdirected desires to halt Muslim immigration, his strategy to rally the white working class against their poor neighbors and his seemingly unquenchable thirst for war are bleeding their way through Trump and into the world.
“The real Resistance will come from what Bannon seems to fear most—a United, multicultural progressive movement in the streets.”
This post originally ran on Media Roots.
Also published on Medium.