Steve Bannon has gone from battling libs at Breitbart to being a national political figure and a major influence for Pres. Donald Trump. Conservative journalist Keith Koffler delved deep into Bannon’s background for his book Bannon: Always the Rebel, uncovering much about the man behind our President. Learn more in our interview with Koffler below!
The book is an attempt to delve beneath the caricatures of Steve Bannon and understand who he is, the populist/nationalist philosophy that guides him, and the origins of his thinking. As I did research about him before agreeing to do the book, I recognized that I concurred with a lot of his opinions and wanted to explain them to the public.
Steve Bannon burst on the national political scene in 2016, but he had been heavily involved in politics and journalism before then. Can you give us a background about his pre-Trump professional career?
Steve Bannon’s first career move out of college was to become an officer with the Navy, serving aboard a battleship for three years and spending another three years in Washington. He then went to Harvard Business School in the mid-1980s and afterward joined Goldman Sachs, which sent him out to Hollywood to drum up business. There he soon formed his own boutique firm and became a multimillionaire.
While in California, he started to make his own documentaries exploring conservative and populist themes. After the screening of one of his films, he met Andrew Breitbart. The two became friends, and Bannon helped him with his website, Breitbart.com. After Breitbart suddenly died in 2012, Bannon took over as editor and expanded the site’s readership. Steve Bannon had known Trump since 2010, and during the 2016 primaries, Bannon and Breitbart.com eventually got strongly behind Trump and the relationship between the two men solidified, leading Trump to tap Bannon as his campaign manager.
What are two or three things people don’t know about Steve Bannon?
How do you think history will judge Steve Bannon and his influence with the Trump presidential campaign and first year in office?
Steve Bannon was critical to Trump’s 2016 victory because he kept Trump focused on the populist/nationalist message that carried him to victory in critical swing states with large working class populations.
Steve Bannon will be viewed as a major influence on early Trump presidential achievements such as his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the renegotiation of NAFTA, the sharp decrease in illegal immigration during Trump’s first year, and the withdrawal from the Paris climate change accords.
What specifically does Steve Bannon want to do to transform the Republican Party?
Bannon wants to change the Republican party from one that he sees as too captured by corporate interests and their Washington lobbyists into a party of the working class. In particular, he wants to limit excessive immigration and multilateral trade deals, both of which he believes take jobs from America’s working and middle class and threaten the nation’s culture and sovereignty.
He believes that the party already has been largely transformed into a populist movement among average Republican voters, who chose Trump over a variety of reputable establishment candidates. His mission now is to alter the power structure in Washington so that it reflects the will of the GOP base, beginning with changing the Republican leadership of the Senate and replacing establishment GOP senators.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your professional background!
I have been a reporter for 22 years, include 20 years covering the White House. I initially covered the White House for National Journal and its parent company, Atlantic Media, and then for Roll Call. In 2010 I left the mainstream media and struck out on my own with the conservative website White House Dossier, which provides White House news and analysis leavened with a bit of humor.
I have continued to the website even through stints as an senior editor for conservative publications – most recently the Washington Examiner – and while writing two books, “The Obama Scandals” and “Bannon: Always the Rebel.”
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