Election 2016

In Major Shake-Up, Trump Hires Breitbart Exec and Citizens United Propagandist Bannon to Lead Campaign

Stephen K. Bannon is best known as the writer/director of horrifically violent films.

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In what is being billed as a major campaign shake-up, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has hired Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon as his campaign's chief executive, according to the New York Times. 

The writer/director of a number of films produced by Citizens United, Bannon is a curious choice to lead a campaign in turmoil. His expertise is as a propagandist, not a politico. Citizens United is best known as the plaintiff in the lawsuit that yielded the Supreme Court decision that allowed for the flooding of U.S. political campaigns with cash from unnamed donors. At issue in the suit was the airing of an anti-Clinton film, Hillary: The Movie, on broadcast television during the 2008 election cycle. (Bannon neither wrote nor directed that particular film.)

Bannon's most recent films include Torchbearer, which he describes as "a Christian war film." It features Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson narrating a bizarre, selective history of horrors designed to strike fear into the hearts of right-wing Christians in the face of current global conflicts, all in the cause of electing an authoritarian, right-wing American president. Screened in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, Torchbearer was reviewed by Right Wing Watch's Peter Montgomery, who summed up the compendium of violent and offensive footage contained in the film:

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[I]t visually and emotionally assaults the viewer by lingering on gruesome images of violence and death, using reenactments and animation as well as the most graphic historical footage from Auschwitz and more recent images of victims of ISIL and Boko Haram being beaten, shot and burned to death. I would call the movie’s infliction of trauma gratuitous, but it seems a very purposeful act meant to provoke and inflame and generate a rage to war.

Another of Bannon's recent credits is as co-writer of the production Clinton Cash, based on a book described by Media Matters as "error-filled." He is also the writer/director of  2011's The Undefeated, a film about Sarah Palin.

The move to cast Bannon in a leading role in the Trump campaign is seen as a demotion for Paul Manafort, the former business partner of Trump-whisperer and dirty trickster Roger Stone, who earlier replaced the pugilistic Corey Lewandowski as Trump's campaign manager. Manafort has lately been stealing media attention from Trump with news of his questionable business dealings in Ukraine while working for that country's now-deposed, pro-Putin president, Victor Yanukovych. 

Read more from AlterNet on Steven K. Bannon and his recent movie, Torchbearer.

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Adele M. Stan is a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.