IMPACT: As the head of Breitbart, Steve Bannon provided a platform for stereotypes and falsified information about Muslims. Bannon’s appointment to chief strategist in the Trump administration resulted in the promotion of anti-Muslim policies, most notably the Muslim Ban.
Steve Bannon is the former Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for President Donald Trump and the former executive chairman of Breitbart. Bannon had a key role in writing the Executive Order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries that many have called a “Muslim Ban.”
Breitbart is described as a “far-right” media establishment that provides a platform for the “alt-right.” A 2016 Time article found that the site “pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right.” Bannon served as it’s executive chairman from 2012 until August 2016, when he joined the Trump campaign. He went on to join the Trump administration as Chief Strategist. This appointment was celebrated by the American Nazi Party and the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).
Numerous religious and civil rights groups, along with elected officials, criticized Bannon’s appointment in the administration because of his role at Breitbart, which provided a platform for views they consider racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic.
As USA Today reported, Bannon “has entertained claims that a ‘fifth column’ of Islamist sympathizers had infiltrated the US government and news media.” Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart published falsified claims about Muslims — like the debunked myth of “no-go zones.” It also gave voice to the unfounded accusation that American Muslim organizations and Democratic politicians are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. Under Bannon, Breitbart amplified the voices of those who want the government to label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The Trump administration is reportedly considering an executive order on this matter.
Bannon believes Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Frank Gaffney to be experts on Islam, and has given voice to their perspectives in Breitbart forums since at least 2013. In 2016, Bannon called Robert Spencer “probably the most renowned, or among the most renowned, of folks that are on the watch tower to make sure that we’re fully aware of this threat, this existential war — with the Frank Gaffneys and Pamela Gellers.” He considers Spencer’s website, Jihad Watch, a “go-to site.” The Center for American Progress considers these individuals part of the “Islamophobia network,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center considers the organizations and websites run by Geller, Spencer, and Gaffney anti-Muslim hate groups.
In 2007, Bannon drafted an outline of a three-part movie titled, “Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism in America,” tracing “ the culture of intolerance” and the threat posed by “radical Muslims” and their “enablers among us” in America. On-air experts would include Walid Phares and anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer.
In a 2015 interview with Geller, who writes for Breitbart, Bannon observed that Donald Trump’s views on Islam closely resemble Pamela Geller’s. He said, “It looks like [Trump] to some degree [has] been reading your website and been reading all your writings on Breitbart, because a lot of what his logic is today is really some of the logic that you’ve been putting out there for many, many years.” Bannon has also described Geller as “one of the top experts on radical Islam and Sharia law and Islamic supremacism.”
Bannon has described the largest Muslim civil rights and liberties organization in America, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as a “bunch of spin,” and a “bunch of lies.”
In October 2017, Buzzfeed News published an expose outlining the connections and working relationships between Bannon, anti-Muslim speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart, and self-avowed white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
Bannon rejoined the far-right media outlet in August 2017 following his departure from the Trump administration, telling Bloomberg News, “I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents,” and stating “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons.”
In 2016, Bannon referred to Islam as “the most radical” religion. In the same year, when discussing Islam in Europe on his Breitbart radio show, he said that “Islam” today is “something much darker” than Hitler and the Nazis during the 1930s.
In 2015, Bannon said that “if you’re Sharia-compliant…we don’t want you here.” In a USA Today piece on Bannon, Susan Hennessey, a lawyer, notes that he “seems to use the term ‘sharia-compliant’ as shorthand for observant Muslim” and thus implies that observant Muslims “don’t belong in the US.” Bannon has also accused major American newspapers of being “Sharia-compliant.”
In 2015, Bannon referred to the father of Ahmed Mohamed, a then-14-year-old boy who was arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb, as “his radical Islamic dad.”’ He has also spoken of the refugee crisis as a “Muslim invasion,” using exaggerated or unverified figures.
Bannon sees an “existential war” between the West and “radical Islam.” In 2014, Bannon gave a talk at a Catholic think tank in Rome, saying “…we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.” There he also said, “I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam,” and praised how “our forefathers” kept Islam “out” of the “Judeo-Christian West.”
Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given voice to the unfounded accusation that American Muslim organizations and Democratic politicians are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, which anti-Muslim voices like Gaffney, Spencer, and Geller consider a terrorist group. For years, Breitbart under Bannon has amplified the voices of those who would like the government to label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, something Trump advisor Walid Phares said the President is considering.
Bannon has stated he is a “Leninist,” intent on destroying all of today’s establishment. Right-wing political pundit Glenn Beck previously compared Bannon to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. According to Beck, Bannon is “quite possibly the most dangerous guy in all of American politics.”
In January 2018, Bannon officially resigned from Breitbart following the publication of excerpts from Michael Wolff’s book, Fire & Fury. In the excerpts, Bannon was critical of Trump and his family. In response to these revelations, the Mercer family, Bannon’s longtime political and financial backers, publicly severed ties with him following his departure, The Washington Post published a piece stating, “it leaves him [Bannon] with no evident platform to promote his views and no major financial backer for his preferred candidates.”
Last updated: February 16, 2018