Who Is Top Trump Adviser Steve Bannon?


02 February, 2017

President Donald Trump's chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, has received much media attention since starting his job at the White House.

Last week, Trump reorganized his National Security Council to give Bannon a seat on its "principals committee." Lawmakers and former administration officials criticized the move. They said Bannon should focus on his role as political adviser instead of attending meetings with national security and military officials.

Bannon also recently spoke out against the U.S. news media in an interview with the New York Times. He said, "the media here is the opposition party. He added that he believes that news organizations had been "humiliated" by the 2016 presidential election result.

"They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States," Bannon said.

Steve Bannon, appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017, for the presidential Inauguration of Trump.
Steve Bannon, appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017, for the presidential Inauguration of Trump.

He was not immediately available for an interview with VOA.

Bannon was born in November 1953 to working-class parents in Norfolk, Virginia. He once described growing up in "a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats."

His father, a telephone worker, was badly affected by the 2008 economic crisis. Bannon himself has criticized bankers and traders who were not punished for their role in starting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Bannon studied urban affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. According to the Boston Globe newspaper, Bannon returned home to Richmond, Virginia, during the summer to work in a local junkyard. He went on to earn a graduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and later a master's in Business Administration from Harvard University.

Bannon served for seven years in the U.S. Navy aboard ships. He also served on a guided missile destroyer in the Persian Gulf. Later, he was a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon.

After his military service, Bannon went to work for investment bank Goldman Sachs. He later started his own investment company. He also produced films in Hollywood.

Bannon produced more than a dozen movies during the 1990s. During that time, he made a deal that gave him a piece of ownership of several television shows. One of them was the hit show "Seinfeld," which ended up making him millions of dollars.

Before joining Trump's campaign, Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative news site. He took over the site after founder Andrew Breitbart died in 2012.

Bannon has described the news site as a "platform" for what has been called the Alternative Right, or "alt-right." The alt-right is a far-right movement that publicizes – largely on the Internet – extreme conservative ideas.

Under Bannon's leadership, the website published stories supporting nationalist, anti-establishment positions. It also published many stories in support of Trump and others critical of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.

Breitbart News has been criticized for publishing stories with racist and sexist ideas. One headline asked, "Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?"

Bannon left Breitbart News in 2016 to work as a senior member of Trump's presidential campaign. He said he has had nothing to do with Breitbart since then.

I'm Anne Ball.

Cecily Hilleary wrote this story for VOANews. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

strategist n. person good at making plan

humiliatev. make someone feel ashamed of foolish

blue-collar adj. relating to jobs that require physical work

junkyardn. place where old or useless things are taken

dozenn. twelve, or a group of twelve

hitn. something recognized as a success

headlinen. title of a newspaper or website story

feminism – n. belief that women should have the same equal rights and opportunities as men