Following the recently announced (and exceedingly controversial) appointment of Steve Bannon as President-elect Donald Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, a closer look into the history of Trump's relationship with Bannon, as well as Bannon's political trajectory, is warranted. This is particularly important considering the powerful nature of the chief strategist position, which Trump has placed on equal footing with the position of Chief of Staff.
Bannon's professional history is quite varied and did not necessarily foretell a high-ranking position in Donald Trump's White House. Bannon's early career started out in the business world, first working as an investor for Goldman Sachs and then starting his own investment firm. Using his investment knowledge, Bannon began to invest heavily in media outlets, and eventually acquired several media assets as well as became an executive producer on multiple Hollywood films.
Over time, Bannon's media involvement became more political. He began producing anti-establishment conservative documentaries, and also eventually became an executive at Breitbart News, the alt-right online media outlet that put Bannon on the path towards becoming heavily engaged with the Trump presidential campaign.
Bannon and Trump seemingly first became well acquainted during Trump's early days on the campaign trail, when he was still one of several candidates vying to become the Republican presidential nominee. While other news media seemingly did not consider Trump a serious contender for the nomination, Bannon, via his SiriusXM radio show called Breitbart News Daily, was an ardent supporter of Trump, advocating on Trump's behalf and insisting that Trump was a force to be reckoned with. Bannon was also intent on giving Trump a media platform; from November 2015 through June 2016, Bannon interviewed Trump a total of nine times on his radio show.
According to The Washington Post, these radio interviews are very illustrative of the type of relationship Bannon has with Trump, with Bannon often subtly and skillfully getting Trump to agree to his (often far right) viewpoint. According to the Post:
In those [radio show] exchanges, a dynamic emerged, with Bannon often coaxing Trump to agree to his viewpoint, whether on climate change, foreign policy or the need to take on Republican leaders in Congress.
At times, Bannon seemed to coach Trump to soften the harder edges of his message, to make it more palatable to a broader audience, while in other cases he pushed Trump to take tougher positions. He flattered Trump, praising his negotiating skills and the size of his campaign crowds.
Bannon's early support for Trump, as well as his media know-how, likely helped inspire Trump's decision to appoint Bannon as his campaign's CEO back in August, a position which Bannon held through the rest of Trump's campaign. Now, as chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Trump, Bannon's role in the forthcoming administration is causing significant concern. Trump's rapport with Bannon, in which Bannon has historically used flattery to help convince Trump of his positions on issues, coupled with Bannon's history of extreme right-wing views, present a possibly highly damaging combination that could result in potentially very detrimental policies coming out of the White House.
Overall, the history of Bannon's relationship with Trump as well as the shrewdness with which he has ascended the business, media, and now political ranks constitute exactly the reason why there is so much concern over Bannon's appointment, and why it is incredibly important to be hyper vigilant of Bannon's actions and activities.