Ever since the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal broke last week, with damning reports in the New York Times and the New Yorker, Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, the conservative news source that was once famously described by Bannon as “the platform for the AltRight,” has been hammering Democratic politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as members of what Breitbart likes to refer to as the “Hollywood liberal elites,” over the “hypocrisy” they have shown in criticizing Donald Trump for his moral failings on a regular basis, while not speaking out about Harvey Weinstein until after he had already been exposed. They have reserved their harshest criticism for Clinton, Obama, and other Democratic politicians for the past gifts of campaign cash they have accepted from Weinstein. Breitbart, which Newsweek has referred to as “Donald Trump’s Pravda,” has been attacking the Weinstein story with vigor and gusto, sometimes posting as many as 10 stories a day, exposing the hypocrisy of Hollywood and the Democrats. There is only one small problem with the news organization positioning themselves as the new champions of women’s rights. Steve Bannon, Breitbart‘s current executive chairman, has his own history of sexual harassment charges.
Bannon, as you may know, left Breitbart News last August to take a senior position in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign before becoming one of the lead policy advisers for the president. Bannon served in that capacity until August of this year, when he was fired (the rumors were he was fired for leaking information to the press), and returned to his position at Breitbart. His news organization has become very fond of posting articles such as “Visitor Records: Harvey Weinstein Visited Obama White House 13 Times” and “After Five Days, Ben Affleck Condemns Harvey Weinstein (Without Naming Him!)” but a little-known episode from Bannon’s past paints a picture of a man who could be less than sparkling clean when it comes to treating women with respect.
To tell the story of the sexual harassment charges that were brought against Bannon, we have to go back to the early to mid-1990s and his brief tenure as CEO of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 project. According to an article about it in Motherboard, Biosphere 2 was a social and environmental experiment, where eight scientists agreed to segregate themselves into one of a series of biomes, or “closed systems.” The goal was to see if human beings could survive in such a system, with no supplies coming in or out. Bannon was given his position in 1993 and tasked with bringing the spiraling cost of the project under control.
Bannon’s tenure at Biosphere 2 was tumultuous, to say the least. The Chicago Tribune reported at the time that two of the eight researchers quit the program and then returned to sabotage it, breaking glass and opening doors to destroy the closed nature of the experiment. One of the scientists, Abigail Alling, claimed that it was not, in fact, sabotage, but a necessary act to save the project from Bannon. Here is an article from the local Tucson Citizen from 1994 that also discusses the problems with the project.
The most damning allegations came from scientist Margret Augustine, who claimed that Bannon and the project’s financial backer, Texas billionaire Edward Bass, had made lewd and sexually suggestive remarks to her and that the men had talked insultingly and derogatorily towards female employees of the project, according to a report in Buzzfeed News. Bannon and Bass denied all the charges, which included that they had “made sexually suggestive remarks” and “discussed females they had known in a lewd and derogatory fashion.” Augustine also claimed that Bannon liked to talk about the size of women’s breasts, referring to them as “t**ties.” Augustine’s most damning allegation about Bannon, however, came in reference to a company party where she had danced with him.
“He held my wrist tightly and told me that once I’d done it with him I’d never want to do it with anyone else.”
Augustine later settled the case out of court, but this incident certainly shines an interesting light on Bannon and Breitbart News, fond of publishing articles like “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism Or Cancer?” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy,” as they take full advantage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal to vilify liberals and attempt to position themselves as the born-again protectors of women’s virtue.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]