As the staffing of the new administration enfolds, the best we can do is to check on the backgrounds of the individuals taking part in the transition team as they are announced. Many are unknown to us. We offer our comments on what we uncover by way of background.
Trump’s last campaign director (there were two others) was Stephen Bannon, who stepped into the top job from Breitbart News where he was chairman, policy maker and senior editor. His educational background is Virginia Tech, MA in national security studies from Georgetown and a MBA from Harvard Business School.
Breitbart was founded in 2007 by Andrew Breitbart who died in 2012. Here’s how CBS described Bannon’s skippering of that organization:
Then, in 2012, Andrew Breitbart died, and into that vacuum … stepped Steve Bannon, a rich guy-turned-conservative propagandist best known for making a fawning documentary of Sarah Palin.
Slowly but surely, Bannon turned Breitbart into not only the most-read conservative web outlet but also the most incendiary one. It was happy to embrace fringe beliefs like birtherism and play footsie with blatantly racist notions of black criminality. It wasn’t interested in looking even faintly objective, instead inventing easily understood “narratives” of crusading conservative heroes and their many victories against the hated left.
Bannon has made money, movies (In the Face of Evil, Titus, and The Undefeated, a film on Sarah Palin) has had three wives, has children and gives a colleague’s house in Florida as his place of residence on his voter registration form.
Mike Pence was made chairman of the transition team, replacing Gov. Christie. Last night Trump announced Bannon would be senior strategist in the White House equal in status to the chief of staff, Reince Preibus, Republican Party Chairman. Commentators foresaw two power structures, perhaps in competition for the boss’s favor.
When Trump met Bannon he was taken by his rough, off-the-cuff style that mirror’s Trump’s own style.
Here’s a quote from a 7/15/2011 Houston Press interview: "I'm a populist conservative, and I come at things with a very strong point of view, just like Michael Moore does…."
Although Bannon made money as a Goldman Sachs banker, his main influence was a sense of injustice. He self-describes himself as coming from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic background. He wants his own people to have a voice, but not a voice from the sidelines. Breitbart reached 18 million viewers in July. People began to take notice. He was consulted by Trump. He became Trump’s campaign manager. He is now engineering the transition. We can expect him to champion such unlikely talents as Sarah Palin.
Here is an article from the NY Times on Bannon’s background.