President-elect Donald Trump announced Sunday that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon would serve as his chief of staff, and chief strategist and senior counselor, respectively. Since then, much analysis has predicted Priebus and Bannon serving as “equal partners” in the White House as a “yin and yang.”
CNN wrote following the announcement: “It’s an unusual arrangement that could create two power centers in the new White House, one around the Republican establishment and one connected to the far right and more controversial wing of conservatism.”
The Daily Caller’s own article about the announcement also focused on the fact that Bannon has made it known he doesn’t like House Speaker Paul Ryan, while Ryan and Priebus are friends.
Additionally, a lot of coverage has depicted Bannon as a a bigot. The Huffington Post called Bannon both a “white nationalist” and an “anti-Semite.” Bannon is not on the record as having said any anti-Semitic or racist statements. Phil Anderson, a longtime Washington GOP lobbyist, told TheDC, “I never saw/heard of any racist or prejudice comments in any way.”
Anderson and Bannon both graduated from Virginia Tech and Anderson has known him since 2003. Bannon and him also launched Americans for Peace Through Strength, which in 2004 launched an attack ad against then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Bannon’s first dive into the political world was through a movie Anderson helped promote in Washington called, “In the Face of Evil.” He would go on to produce several conservative films and become executive chairman of Breitbart. Bannon’s media experience is not specific to conservative causes. To actor Rob Reiner’s disgust, Bannon is still making royalties from “Seinfeld” and has previous experience in investment banking and was a former Naval officer.
Anderson described Bannon to TheDC as “a fusion operative – able to combine policy chops, politics, and media-savvy all in one player.” He added, “As White House Senior Advisor/Counselor he will be the latest version of combo players in the White House, joining a line of operatives that includes Mike Deaver, Lee Atwater (my old boss), James Carville, Karl Rove and David Axelrod.”
Another longtime Republican operative, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, has nothing but praise for Bannon. He said that Bannon is an “innovatory and along those lines when you are that kind of person you don’t worry very much about whether are you building a list of friends you can leverage.”
Schlapp, who previously worked as former President George W. Bush’s political director and served the Trump campaign as a surrogate, said Bannon hasn’t spent time focusing on making friends in the Republican establishment. “I guess there are consequences to that,” Schlapp added.
A longtime GOP lobbyist, speaking on background, said that Bannon does not like “casualness” and that he feels an “urgency” about his beliefs.
Bannon was not able to reached for an interview for this article. The media executive did his first interview since the announcement that he would serve in Trump’s White House with The Hollywood Reporter. In it he shot down claims he is a racist and said, “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist.”
“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” Bannon added. The Trump advisor also seemed to relish the hate is getting from liberals. He said, “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”