U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono called on President-elect Donald Trump to rescind his job offer to Stephen Bannon, saying the recent Breitbart News chief had “demeaned women, advocated for white supremacy and promoted anti-Semitism.”
Trump announced on Sunday that he had tapped Bannon to be his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House, setting off a furor among Democrats and organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League concerned about the content on the Breitbart News website and its following among those associated with the “alt right” movement, including white nationalists.
Hirono’s remarks came during a Tuesday press conference in Washington D.C. with Democratic colleagues, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen of Maryland that included a sign that read: “Fire Bannon.”
“I represent the state of Hawaii, one of the most racially and culturally diverse states in the entire country, and since the election I have said that we should judge the president-elect by his actions and decisions,” Hirono told reporters, according to a video of her remarks. “Presidents send clear messages about their intentions by who they appoint to senior positions and the appointment of Steve Bannon is a pretty clear message to us. What Steve Bannon believes is not a mystery — he has demeaned women, advocated for white supremacy and promoted anti-Semitism.”
Bannon has come under fire for public comments he has made over the years, but the content on the Breitbart News website has sparked the most concern. Bannon was executive chairman of Breitbart News before joining the Trump campaign in August. The news site published stories under his leadership with headlines such as “Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Over Religious Beliefs” and “Clinton VP Pick Tim Kaine’s Islamist Ties.” A story earlier this month was headlined, “Tim Kaine Cheers End of White Majority in Spanish Address.”
The site has also published inflammatory stories about immigrants spreading diseases such as leprosy and bubonic plague and argued that immigrants should face a religious test to enter the United States. Hirono, an immigrant herself, pointed to such content as particularly offensive.
“Quite frankly, it is sad that we are having a debate about whether a white supremacist should serve as a senior counselor to the president elect,” said Hirono.
Trump’s allies have come to Bannon’s defense in national news outlets, noting that Bannon didn’t write the articles on the website and arguing that he isn’t anti-Semitic or a white supremacist.