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Here's why some people aren't happy about one of Trump's top advisors

Stephen Bannon ran the right-wing Breitbart News.

Bannon looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally two weeks ago.
Bannon looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally two weeks ago.
Image: Evan Vucci

WHEN DONALD TRUMP announced Reince Priebus would be his Chief of Staff, no eyebrows were raised too highly.

However, one of Trump’s appointments has some people surprised and, in some cases, furious.

The President-elect of the US has appointed Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counsellor.

Bannon, who was campaign chairman in the final months of the Trump campaign, is CEO of the right-wing, conspiracy-laden Breitbart News website known for withering attacks on the Republican elite, immigrants and liberals.

Priebus has hailed Bannon as a hard worker and sober decision maker in the last couple of months.

But Bannon has been accused of both violence against his ex-wife (charges were dropped due to a lack of witness availability) and of anti-Semitism.

In a 2007 court declaration his ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard said Bannon objected to their daughters attending an exclusive Los Angeles school because of the number of Jewish students. His lawyer maintains the estranged couple have a “great relationship”.

“The bottom line is he has a great relationship with the twins, he has a great relationship with the ex-wife, he still supports them,” Alexandra Preate told Politico.


But what about Breitbart is so vexing to some?

Here is a sample of some headlines:









It is the home to liberal lightning-rod Milo Yiannopoulos and writers like Curt Schilling, who has compared Muslims to Nazis.

Beyond that, it is unashamedly anti-feminist, but bristles at the idea it is misogynistic. In 2014, the site produced an image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head photoshopped on Miley Cyrus’ body as part of an ad campaign.

A New York Times article published today quotes a former Breitbart spokesperson saying the site will effectively be a state mouthpiece.

“It will be as close as we are ever going to have — hopefully — to a state-run media enterprise,” said Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesman who quit the site this year, saying it had turned into a de facto “super PAC” for Mr. Trump.

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The site led the charge in spreading rumours about Hillary Clinton’s health during the election campaign and focuses on emotive headlines and stories designed to be shared on social media.

Campaign 2016 Source: AP/Press Association Images

With over four in ten Americans getting most of their news from Facebook, the site has seen its influence explode. It has 2.7 million Facebook fans and 37 million monthly readers – half as many as the New York Times.

It has accused Obama of “importing more Muslims”, called the number of abortions carried out by Planned Parenthood “half a Holocaust” and called Muslims in the west a “ticking time bomb”.

It is that kind of “viral news” that has seen the fact-checking website Snopes add a Breitbart subsection to their site.

Many of these, including one that attributes a quote about domestic violence to Bannon, are found to be false.


The idea that Bannon now not only has access to, but will work yards from the Oval Office has horrified some in both parties in the US.

John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign, tweeted, “The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant, America.”

Bannon, who became campaign CEO in August, pushed Trump to adopt more populist rhetoric and paint rival Clinton as part of a global conspiracy made up of the political, financial and media elite, bankers bent on oppressing the country’s working people — a message that carried Trump to the White House but to some, carried anti-Semitic undertones.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre accused Bannon of being “the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill” in a series of tweets.

With AP and AFP reporting.

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