Steve Bannon: 'Breitbart' founder tried to take his brand — and populist message — global

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

It turns out top Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been trying to take over the world for some time now.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bannon's mission existed well before he became a notorious member of the Trump administration. But until he got his foot in the White House door, Bannon was using Breitbart, the right-wing media organization he led, as his vehicle — a narrative that circulated years before he moved into politics and one that was boosted after Trump won the election.

President Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office with former national security adviser Michael Flynn and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Source: 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Breitbart currently operates in the U.K., with plans — predating the Trump administration — to further penetrate the European market by launching German and French sites. Both countries are caught up in the far-right populist wave taking over large swaths of the West, rooted in the political ideology that fuels the Breitbart media company.

And he's good at what he does. 

"This man is the most dangerous political operative in America," Joshua Greene, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, wrote in October 2015.

In 2016, Bannon laid the groundwork for a presence in France by publicly supporting Marine Le Pen, the controversial leader of the anti-immigrant, far-right National Front party

Courting the French right appeared to work, leading Le Pen to tweet about Bannon to her hundreds of thousands of followers. It was just one example of Bannon's successful strategy to establish himself — and his media empire — in the global alt-right movement. 

The professional propagandist also endeavored to influence Indian politics by setting up shop there, too. 

"[O]n Nov. 17, 2015, I sat opposite Steve Bannon in his NYC office as he asked me if I'd be interested in starting Breitbart India," well-known Indian journalist Amit Varma wrote in India Uncut.

From the outside, India — itself a paragon of far-right nationalism, with its own brand of bigotry and anti-semitism — might seem like an ideal breeding ground for Breitbart's ideology. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for example — leader of the ruling, far-right populist Bharatiya Janata Party — has been accused of human rights violations resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims. 

But according to Varma, there may be limits to Bannon-ism. 

"There is no analog of American conservatism in India," Varma recalled telling the media tycoon in their 2015 meeting. "The Indian right is driven by bigotry and nativism, with no deeper guiding philosophy behind it."

Steve Bannon speaks during a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee.
Source: 
Susan Walsh/AP

Even if Varma is right — and India doesn't have a taste for American far-right media — there is a considerable overlap in the Venn diagram of Modi and Trump supporters. The Indian-born industrialist Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, head of the Republican Hindu Coalition and huge Trump donor, has already entered the Bannon fray, serving as leader of the Trump campaign's Indian American community outreach.

In short, there may still be time for the Bannon brand to thrive, simply with a new face. 

"He has long wanted to work with all of those parties, but that was only in promoting them with Breitbart," a Bannon associate anonymously told the Daily Beast. "Now he has the power of the White House to do it."

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Natasha Noman

Natasha is a News Staff Writer covering global affairs. She previously reported on regional affairs from Pakistan. Natasha is based in New York and can be reached at natasha@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Watchdogs urge White House to stop hiding behind "cowardly" bully pulpit and televise briefings

The nonpartisan group Common Cause says the administration shows contempt for the First Amendment.

Senate Republicans postpone health care vote amid growing opposition

The Senate will no longer vote on the Republican health care plan before the July 4 holiday.

Trump urges people to get tested for HIV as GOP gears up to cut funding to Medicaid, family planning

The Senate health care bill would put people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States at risk, experts say.

This is why the Republican Senate health care bill may not get a vote.

Things are looking grim for the Republican health care proposal in the Senate.

Senate Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill may be flatlining

Republican leadership is scrambling to convert skeptical senators to let the bill move forward to a final vote.

One of Trump's warmest meetings with a world leader yet was Narendra Modi, an accused fascist

Modi hugged Trump during a White House visit on Monday — a far cry from 2002, when he was accused of massacring Muslims in Gujarat.

Watchdogs urge White House to stop hiding behind "cowardly" bully pulpit and televise briefings

The nonpartisan group Common Cause says the administration shows contempt for the First Amendment.

Senate Republicans postpone health care vote amid growing opposition

The Senate will no longer vote on the Republican health care plan before the July 4 holiday.

Trump urges people to get tested for HIV as GOP gears up to cut funding to Medicaid, family planning

The Senate health care bill would put people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States at risk, experts say.

This is why the Republican Senate health care bill may not get a vote.

Things are looking grim for the Republican health care proposal in the Senate.

Senate Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill may be flatlining

Republican leadership is scrambling to convert skeptical senators to let the bill move forward to a final vote.

One of Trump's warmest meetings with a world leader yet was Narendra Modi, an accused fascist

Modi hugged Trump during a White House visit on Monday — a far cry from 2002, when he was accused of massacring Muslims in Gujarat.