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Stephen Bannon during a meeting at Trump Tower in New York in August. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Stephen Bannon during a meeting at Trump Tower in New York in August. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Globe editorial

Stephen Bannon is not the real problem. Donald Trump is Add to ...

The current focus of the rational world’s discomfort with the election of Donald Trump has been placed on one man in the president-elect’s inner circle: Stephen Bannon, the media executive who ran Mr. Trump’s successful campaign and who will serve as his chief White House strategist.

So who is this Mr. Bannon? He is a self-made millionaire, a former Goldman Sachs banker and the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a reactionary right-wing website based in Los Angeles. Many of Breitbart’s stories are puerile provocations, and they drive people around the bend. More worrisome is the fact that, under Mr. Bannon, the website has become a hangout for extremists.

Mr. Bannon has boasted that the website is “the platform for the alt-right,” a group that the New York Times defines as “mostly young men who believe in white supremacy; oppose immigration, feminism and multiculturalism; and delight in harassing Jews, Muslims and other vulnerable groups by spewing shocking insults on social media.”

Related: Trump stokes uncertainty with Reince, Bannon picks for White House staff

Read more: Who is Stephen Bannon? How he fits in Trump’s unusual inner circle, and why he worries so many

White nationalists have openly and gleefully celebrated Mr. Bannon’s appointment as chief strategist, and so far Mr. Bannon has remained silent on their odious endorsements. There is every reason to be concerned that someone who willingly trades in hatred will be a key part of the next administration.

At the same time, there is no evidence that Mr. Bannon is himself a bigot. The editor of Breitbart is an orthodox Jew and vouches for his character. The likely truth is that Mr. Bannon used Breitbart to rile up the viler parts of the American grassroots to vote against Hillary Clinton. Now that these useful idiots have served their purpose, he will abandon them (while allowing them to continue to play in the sandbox at Breitbart, because there’s money in that).

We don’t support Mr. Bannon’s appointment and join the calls to have him removed. But he may be a proxy for the person we are really worried about, and that is still Mr. Trump. The next president will be an unprincipled bully with an extremely thin skin who, even after his election, continues to tweet in the voice of a petulant know-it-all who doesn’t think his brilliant ideas are taken seriously enough by the rest of the world.

It is doubtful Mr. Bannon or anyone else can control Donald Trump, or will even bother to try. And that’s what America and the world should truly be worried about.

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