Steven K. Bannon, the chief executive officer of Breitbart News who recently stepped aside from that job when he was named CEO of the Donald Trump campaign, allegedly battered his ex-wife and faced charges of domestic violence in 1996.
While the news is unlikely to persuade readers of Breitbart.com or listeners of Bannon’s podcast to stop consuming his warped spin and bigotry, it adds a dark new chapter to his biography.
According to POLITICO, on the morning of January 1st, police responded to an interrupted 911 call from Bannon’s Santa Monica home and found his then-wife appearing “very upset” when she answered the door.
After taking a few minutes to calm down, she told them an argument had started over the couple’s finances when she asked to use a credit card for some shopping. The altercation turned violent in the driveway as Bannon grabbed his wife’s wrist and neck from inside his car as if to pull her over the door and into the front seat.
The couple’s seven-month old twin girls were inside the house at the time. Announcing her intentions to call the police, Bannon’s wife re-entered their home only to have him rush inside and break the phone.
She was dialing the number when, the report states, Bannon “jumped over her and the twins to grab the phone from her. Once he got the phone, he threw it across the room,” and then left the house.
“[REDACTED] found the phone in several pieces and could not use it. She complained of soreness to her neck. I saw red marks on her left wrist and the right side of her neck. These were photographed,” the police report states, adding that the ex-wife declined an emergency protective order.
For that act, Bannon was charged with trying to “prevent or dissuade another person who has been the victim of a crime or who is witness to a crime” from reporting it to law enforcement. In addition to simple battery, the marks on his wife’s neck and wrist resulted in a charge of “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” to a spouse.
But the case was never tried. Even though Bannon’s wife divorced him in January 1997, just over a year after the incident, she never showed up for either of two scheduled trial dates in the meantime. A judge ordered the charges dismissed in August of 1996.
At the time, Bannon ran a media investment company in Beverly Hills, winning a stake in the syndicated TV show Seinfeld, among other successes. Selling off his firm in 1998, he ventured into film production, eventually backing a series of strange right wing films.
The Undefeated, a 2011 hagiography of Sarah Palin’s incomplete single term as Alaska’s governor, earned the scorn of critics and the public for its amateur directing and slow pacing. The absurd film Occupy Unmasked was an aimless, paranoid mess that somehow failed to establish any interesting new facts about the Occupy movement.
As a producer, Bannon formed a close relationship to David Bossie of Citizens United, the organization whose namesake Supreme Court case opened the floodgates of ‘dark money’ political spending.
After Andrew Breitbart’s unexpected death, Bannon became Breitbart News CEO through his friendship with hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who had invested millions in the website a few months before. Now a Donald Trump backer, Mercer’s influence has resulted in Bannon and Kellyanne Conway being put in charge of the Trump campaign.
As Breitbart CEO, Bannon has welcomed the Alt-Right onto his platform, pandering to white nationalists and misogynists with his headlines. One reads: “The Solution To Online Harassment Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”
When Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was manhandled by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in March, Bannon closed ranks and allowed staff to attack her reputation rather than risk a reported payola arrangement with the reality show star-turned-Republican presidential nominee.
Editor Ben Shapiro, who quit the site over that incident, has called Bannon “legitimately sinister” and “a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies.”
The new revelation that he was charged with battering the mother of his children twenty years ago lends some credence to that assessment.
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