Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Douglas Kennedy profiled White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, formerly the chief executive of Breitbart News. In his report, Kennedy reveals Bannon’s years in the U.S. Navy and how that put him on a path to a high-ranking position in the Trump White House.
On Feb. 24, 1981, Ronald Reagan went to the Pentagon to give the Medal of Honor to Vietnam Vet Roy Benavidez. A main theme in the speech, given just a month after Reagan’s inauguration, was to let military personnel know they mattered.
“There’s been no ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice,” Reagan said. “It’s time to show pride in them and thank them.”
In the audience that day was a young Steve Bannon, now special counsel to President Trump, but then a 27-year-old junior lieutenant in Pentagon operations. Bannon’s longtime friend Sonny Masso was standing next to him that day, and says Reagan’s nationalistic military message had a huge impact on both men.
“This speech was a game changer,” Masso recently recalled, noting the difference between how President Carter had seemingly ignored their sacrifices during his time in office. “It was the first time somebody had shown appreciation. It was the first time somebody appreciated the investment of our lives of our time and also gave us an inspiration for the future.”
Bannon would later tell Bloomberg News Service: “I wasn’t political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f—ed things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer.”
Bannon had joined the Navy in 1977, just as Carter took office, and in six months became an officer—an accomplishment he likes to point out he achieved on merit.
“I’m a naval officer— a real naval officer,” he told an audience in 2011 to laughter. “Not a graduate of the Naval Academy.”
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