Steve Bannon, from college to controversy

Just hours after Stephen K. Bannon was named as the new White House chief strategist and senior counselor by President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 13, critics pointed to his controversial statements, while supporters defended his record.

Trump announced his selection of Bannon, 62, alongside his pick for chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman since 2011.

Bannon, formerly the head of the ultra-conservative Breitbart News, served as the Trump campaign’s chief executive. Here are a few things to know about Bannon.

Bannon did his undergraduate work in his native state at Virginia Tech before receiving a master's degree from Georgetown and an MBA from Harvard.

(Credit: Getty Images for SiriusXM / Paul Marotta)

Bannon became the chief executive of Breitbart News following the death of founder Andrew Breitbart on March 1, 2012.

The ultra-right wing site has been at the center of the 2016 presidential campaign, beyond its pro-Trump coverage. (Sample headline, from July 2015: "Donald Trump would be the real first black president.") In March, Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields alleged she was grabbed by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after a news conference; Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery but not prosecuted.

(Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan)

Before joining the Trump campaign in August, Bannon had no prior experience as a political operative. He has plenty of other jobs on his resume, however, including seven years as a Navy officer. Later, under President Ronald Reagan, he was at the Pentagon, serving the chief of naval operations. Bannon later worked as an investment banker -- at Goldman Sachs, then at Bannon & Co., which specialized in media. He even, for a time, helped helm Biosphere 2, the ecosystem experiment outside of Tucson, Arizona.

(Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer)



In 1990, Bannon and his company helped negotiate the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner, and kept a stake in five shows, including partial royalties for hit "Seinfeld," as part of his adviser's fee.

(Credit: Getty Images for SiriusXM / Ben Jackson)

Bannon financed 2011's "The Undefeated," contributing $1 million to the film chronicling the former Alaska governor's political tenure, he told RealClearPolitics. The film has an audience score of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes -- critics gave it flat 0% -- and grossed about $101,000 in box office sales. Among those interviewed in the film is Andrew Breitbart.

Bannon also directed this year's "Torchbearer," starring Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame.

(Credit: TNS / Tina Fultz)

During Bannon's tenure at Breitbart, he openly embraced the site as "the platform for the alt-right," according to an interview with Mother Jones. But Bannon denies that the alt right is inherently racist, saying that it's more of a nationalist-ideology than a racial one.

"Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe," he told Mother Jones. "Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that's just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements."

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines Bannon and his impact on the Breitbart agenda in stronger terms, tweeting on Nov. 13 that "Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill." (Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan)

In a Nov. 13 statement praising Trump for his appointment of Reince Prebus as chief of staff, the Anti-Defamation League said that it "strongly opposes" Bannon's new role.

"It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists -- is slated to be a senior staff member in the 'people's house,'" ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said.

Conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin tweeted the day of the announcement, wondering "Will any national level elected GOP leaders condemn @realDonaldTrump's appointment of anti-Semite Steve Bannon to senior White House role?"

In 2007, during a contentious divorce battle, Bannon's ex-wife made a sworn declaration in a court filing that included her recollection of anti-Semitic comments she said Bannon made as the two checked out private schools for their daughters. Discussing Archer School for Girls, NBC News reported, his ex-wife alleged that "the biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend." Their daughters ultimately did attend Archer.

(Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan)


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