Ken Stern profiles Stephen K. Bannon — who has left his position as Executive Chairman of Breitbart News to become CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — for Vanity Fair’s The Hive.
From Vanity Fair:
Breitbart, indeed, is a brand built on anger. And when I first started following the site, it was impossible for me to see anything beyond that anger. In contrast to the modulated tones of NPR, where I worked for years, the pulsating furor of Breitbart, and of its users, was mesmerizing and terrifying, not unlike a horrible roadside crash.
But it would be a mistake to dismiss Breitbart as a mere collection of bomb-throwers. In some sense, the organization is also the first significant American outlet to articulate and represent, in a large-scale way, anew philosophy of nationalism and populism that has found strong purchase in American society, and in many other parts of the globe. The Breitbart philosophy revolves around the core belief that a wildly corrupt ruling class, of both parties, has abandoned American workers in favor of policies that line its own pockets and the pockets of corporate interests. And its white-hot anger stems from how the leading institutions of American life have engineered all sorts of arrangements hostile to American workers: trade deals that favor the interest of large multinational companies over American workers, open-border policies that serve the needs of agro-businesses at the expense of low-wage Americans, and, more generally, a set of globalist policies that support transnational business interests without regard for the deteriorating status and position of middle America.
Bannon is all unchained energy in support of his various causes. And it’s hard not to like him. When I was introduced to him by e-mail, he instantly messaged back with an offer to meet: “Dude! Anytime 24/7/365.” Two days later, we were together at a coffee shop below the SiriusXM studios where Bannon hosts his daily Breitbart radio show.
Informal doesn’t quite capture his appearance. He wears a T-shirt, cargo shirts, and black Nike sneakers, all tumbled below long, stringy hair. It gives him the look of a badly over-the-hill surfer, but it is truly a disguise, masking one of the most consequential figures in American media. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has spread in all different directions, opening up the popular Breitbart London site (which anticipated and helped fuel the populist sentiment behind Brexit) and a variety of other content verticals. The growth of the Web sites has been driven by smart investments in technology and early activations on Facebook and other social-media sites, which have put Breitbart at the front of the social conversation.
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