Who Is Steve Bannon? 5 Startling Facts You Should Know About Donald Trump's Controversial Top Adviser

Jonathan Vankin

Early in his term, Donald Trump named Stephen K. "Steve" Bannon to be his presidential "chief strategist", and top White House adviser. Trump hired his longtime friend to run his campaign in August, and the millionaire executive chairman of Breitbart News Network turned the Trump campaign around and guided the former reality TV star to the White House.

Bannon's ruthless and uncompromising style is reflected in Breitbart, an ultra-conservative online media group which has been called "the go-to destination for conservatives who consider Drudge and Fox News a little too restrained and statesmanlike."

— Bill Madden (@activist360) August 17, 2016

So who is Steve Bannon, and what would he bring to the Trump campaign? Below is a CNN video in which former Breitbart News reporter Ben Shapiro discusses his former boss, whom Shapiro has called "a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies," and "a smarter version of Trump,"

Below the video are five facts that voters should know about the man with Donald Trump's ear in the White House.

While at Goldman Sachs during the 1980s, according to a profile by Bloomberg News, Bannon became part of that decade's boom in corporate "hostile takeovers," working mainly in defense of companies which had been targeted by corporate raiders like Michael Milken. That decade also had its own major financial crash, also spurred by the often illegal activities of investment bankers.

But Bannon was also part of several major takeovers himself, including one deal involving a company known as Bain Capital, spearheaded by a rising executive named Mitt Romney.

"Latterly, Breitbart emerged as a nationalist site and done great stuff on immigration in particular," Peter Brimelow, of the white supremacist site VDARE, told The Daily Beast, adding that he met personally with Bannon in July and the two "exchanged pleasantries about each other's work," according to the report.

"Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart," added Richard Spencer, head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute. "In this way, Breitbart has acted as a 'gateway' to Alt Right ideas and writers."

Steve Bannon supposedly took a leave of absence from his post at the head of Breitbart News to run the Donald Trump campaign, but will return to the company the day after the election, according to a statement from the site.

At another school, Bannon, the ex-wife said, asked a school official, "why there were so many Chanukah books in the library." And at a third, she said, Bannon "asked me if it bothered me that the school used to be in a Temple. I said no and asked why he asked...he did not respond."

But the anti-Semitic remarks are not the extent if Bannon's alleged dislike for Jews. His Breitbart News Network — one of the first conservatuve media outlets to openly back Trump's candidacy, "has not only chummed the internet's waters with endless fodder for racists, but has also explicitly worked to normalize a set of white-nationalist and anti-Semitic ideas," according to New York Magazine.

Under Bannon's leadership, the Trump campaign itself veered into anti-Semitic territory, unveiling a TV ad just days before the election that the Anti-Defamation League said exploited "subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages," including the idea that a secret conspiracy of wealthy Jewish people rules "the system."

But the hiring of Bannon appears to signal that Trump believes he can right the ship of his campaign with more attacks on Clinton, not fewer. Bannon is the financial and creative force behind the pseudo-documentary film Clinton Cash, which purports to document how Hillary and Bill Clinton have allegedly traded political favors for money from foreign governments.

Critics have slammed the film as thin on evidence and sourcing, and even the conservative Fox News called one the film's key claims "incredibly misleading."

But with Steve Bannon at the helm, the Donald Trump campaign is expected to ramp up attacks on Clinton based on allegations made in the film.

Gannon also wrote, produced, and directed numerous other, similar documentaries, including a film praising Sarah Palin, and one attacking the Occupy Wall Street movement.

— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) August 17, 2016


Reportedly, the millions Bannon collects in royalty dividends from Seinfeld has not only bolstered his own personal fortune but helped finance many of his conservative media projects, including numerous "documentary" films.

[Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]