As an investment banker at Goldman Sachs who was sent to Hollywood to set up a boutique investment service for Goldman’s top entertainment clients, Steve Bannon clearly epitomizes the kind of working man, everyday American who surrounds Donald Trump. Joining the Trump campaign as CEO after previous chief Paul Manafort had a little issue with having lost millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs, Bannon brought to the campaign a unique skill set that he honed by years of exploiting Chinese peasants to cheat at an online game.
In 2005, Bannon secured $60 million in funding from Goldman Sachs and other investors for Internet Gaming Entertainment, a Hong Kong-based company. IGE did not make games, but instead employed “low-wage Chinese workers” to play online multiplayer game World of Warcraft and earn in-game gold that could be traded for virtual goods, which in turn could be resold to players of the hugely popular PC game for real money …
Having learned how to raise a troll army that could wreck the economy and a society of a virtual world, Bannon moved on to Breitbart News, where he could hone his skills by adding racist propaganda and advanced conspiracy theories to his formidable tool box. Gannon honed his ability to enrage white males who looked through the bottom of their beer mugs to find Breitbart stories informing them that blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims were responsible for their lack of a job and the 10 cent deposit on their bottle of PBR. Bannon gave them few heroes, lots of enemies, and found that they would work cheaper than his World of Warcraft gold miners.
Well known for wearing sweat-stained T-shirts and rumpled shorts paired with flip-flops, Bannon’s ability to command this fresh troll army turned him into a superstar with Republicans. This was especially true after he threw the welcoming servers of Breitbart around the white nationalist “alt-right,” giving a voice to those who everyone else thought too odious to be taken seriously and turning them into the engine of Trump’s victory.
With Trump installed in the White House, Bannon took a seat next door in his custom-crafter role as “strategic advisor,” but it was clear from the beginning that he was having little fun. After all, it’s hard to keep up the wrinkled-rebel street cred when you’re parked adjacent to the Oval Office. And there was an even bigger factor in Bannon’s downfall—having built a bridge between Trump and the white supremacists, both sides found they could easily cross that bridge without paying a toll to Steve.
With Donald Trump firmly ensconced as the Grand Poobah of the Alt-Reich, the Muslim ban acting as an anti-beacon of freedom, and a daily dose of afternoon outrages to make America forget the morning outrages … what was left for Bannon to do? His “strategy” began and ended with the advice that Trump should put down the dogwhistle, pick up a bullhorn, and make it clear to anyone that there was no level of bigotry too extreme for Donald Trump.
Now Trump has his own troll army. And the last thing any paranoid autocrat wants is a lieutenant standing by who is popular with the soldiers and smarter than the boss.
There was no where else for Bannon to go, but out. That seemed to be understood by everyone. Bannon didn’t accompany the Trump court on its summer tour of golf courses. Instead, he hunkered down in an office at the Eisenhower Building, took out some matches, and looked for bridges to burn.
But even if Steve Bannon did go out the door while dissing Trump’s play on North Korea and demeaning the membership of the army he personally built, there was one last role that Bannon could play—he could provide a distraction.
Look! Over there. Is that a falling star?
Not even close.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.