19:38 GMT04 July 2020
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    Donald Trump has taken much heat from both liberals and conservatives over his administration, but not a single member of his team appears to have been as polarizing as Stephen Bannon, the former executive chair of right-wing website Breitbart News who currently serves as White House chief strategist and senior counselor to the US president.

    A Washington outsider like Donald Trump, Steve Bannon is no stranger to controversy. On January 26, for instance, he referred to mainstream media in the US as the "opposition party," saying that it "should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while."

    Under Bannon's guidance, "Washington's official statements with regard to Muslim countries, migrants and terrorism have become increasingly aggressive," political analyst Ilya Plekhanov asserted. "Perhaps, this is due to the fact that Bannon sees the current geopolitical situation in the world as the final, existential and epic battle between the West and 'jihadist fascism'? This is close to how Islamists themselves describe what is happening. In this respect, antagonists share the same worldview. This cannot but leave laymen concerned." 

    Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the US House of Representatives described him as "a white supremacist." Vox referred to Bannon as "a leading light of America's white nationalist movement," while Vanity Fair described him and Breitbart News as "Trump before Trump." He has also been called the "puppet master" of the Trump administration, the "most dangerous man" in the White House and "one of the world's most powerful people."

    Bannon, one of the key figures in the Trump administration, was born into a working class Irish Catholic family of pro-union Democrats in 1953. He hails from Norfolk, Virginia, home to the largest naval base in the world. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in urban planning, he enlisted, serving seven years in the US Navy.

    Bannon, who has been granted a seat at meetings of the National Security Council, served as a navigator in the north Arabian Sea during the Iranian hostage crisis and was extremely critical of the Carter administration's handling of it. The crisis ultimately cost Jimmy Carter the presidency, with Ronald Reagan securing a landslide victory in 1980. Bannon, a self-described "huge Reagan admirer," made a documentary about the 40th President of the United States, titled In the Face of Evil.

    Bannon holds a master's degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School. He worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, as well as an executive producer in Hollywood.

    Bannon also served as executive chair and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, a non-profit, which helped publish "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich," a 2015 New York Times bestseller by Peter Schweizer.

    In 2005, Bannon met Andrew Breitbart, a conservative commentator and a media entrepreneur who owned Breitbart News Network. This partnership transformed Breitbart from a news aggregator into a leading voice for the alt-right, catering to anti-establishment and populist sentiments. Critics have accused the outlet of promoting a racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic agenda.

    In August 2016, Bannon was named as CEO of Trump's presidential election campaign.

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