Former Breitbart News staffers are slamming the announcement that Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon will serve as the new “chief executive” of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign. Several former staffers are calling out the “pathetic and disgusting” relationship between the outlet and the Trump campaign and are calling for greater scrutiny of Bannon’s leadership at Breitbart News and his relationship with Trump.
Trump Campaign Announces Appointment of Breitbart News’ Bannon As Chief Executive
Trump Campaign Names Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon As Chief Executive. In an August 17 announcement, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign named Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon its new “chief executive.” As CNN.com reported:
Trump has named Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a former investment banker, to the post of chief executive and promoted Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster to his campaign, to the position of campaign manager, Conway confirmed to CNN early Wednesday morning.
The addition of Bannon -- known for his brass-knuckled demeanor and his website's sharp tone -- came hours after reports surfaced that Roger Ailes, the recently ousted head of Fox News, will begin to advise Trump as he prepares for the presidential debates. The influence of both men lays the groundwork for unleashing Trump this fall from the more traditional presidential candidate framework, which Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort's leadership was brought on to create. [CNN.com, 8/17/16]
As Breitbart News Chairman, Bannon Prioritized Trump Over His Own Reporter, Leading To A Staff Exodus. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News repeatedly published questionably pro-Trump headlines and reportedly has the same investor as a pro-Trump super PAC. Bannon also sided with the Trump campaign following a March incident in which then-Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields was forcibly grabbed by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Bannon’s actions to discredit his own reporter and his leadership in shaping a pro-Trump message at Breitbart led to an exodus of staff members. As Media Matters explained:
Bannon also sided with Trump in March when Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields alleged that Trump’s then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, forcibly grabbed her and pulled her towards the ground. Fields subsequently filed charges against Lewandowski, but despite Fields sharing pictures of her bruises as evidence, Trump and Lewandowski denied the incident occurred and claimed it was “made up.”
Rather than defend its reporter, Breitbart and its leadership immediately moved to downplay the assault and discredit Fields. Bannon, according to Politico, “made several disparaging remarks about [Fields] in conference calls with company leadership.” Breitbart’s president, Larry Solov, released a statement casting doubt on Fields’ account of the incident, saying “if” Lewandowski was the person that grabbed Fields then “Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”
Several Breitbart employees resigned in protest of Bannon and Breitbart’s hedging, charging the outlet with prizing its relationship with Trump over its own employee. Former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Badella told CNN that “there seemed to be resistance from Breitbart in supporting Michelle” because “there is a desire to want to believe the Trump campaign, and believe the statement that Corey and Donald Trump have come out [with].” Reporter Ben Shapiro in his resignation statement wrote that Bannon was “a bully, and has sold out [Andrew Breitbart’s] mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump.” [Media Matters, 8/17/16]
Former Breitbart News Employees Slam Bannon’s Trump Campaign Appointment As “Nightmare” Representing “Incestuous Merging” Of Media And Politics
Ben Shapiro On Bannon Ascension: “Every Nightmare For Actual Conservatives Has Come True In This Campaign. Why Not This One, Too?” Ben Shapiro, the former editor-at-large of Breitbart News, explained that Bannon transformed the outlet into a “pathetic and disgusting” “Trump pravda,” and a “drooling Trump mouthpiece” for “his own personal gain.” Shapiro concluded, “Bannon’s ascension is the predictable consummation of a romance he ardently pursued. I joked with friends months ago that by the end of the campaign, Steve Bannon would be running Trump’s campaign from a bunker. That’s now reality.” From the August 17 Daily Wire piece:
Breitbart News never claimed to be objective. But until Trump won the nomination, leadership at Breitbart News maintained that they had not become a loudspeaker for Trumpism. That was obviously a lie, and one Breitbart would hate. HATE. Now, it’s clear that Breitbart News is indeed Bannon.com and Trumpbart News. That’s pathetic and disgusting.
Many former employees of Breitbart News are afraid of Steve Bannon. He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies. Bannon is a smarter version of Trump: he’s an aggressive self-promoter who name-drops to heighten his profile and woo bigger names, and then uses those bigger names as stepping stools to his next destination. Trump may be his final destination. Or it may not. He will attempt to ruin anyone who impedes his unending ambition, and he will use anyone bigger than he is – for example, Donald Trump – to get where he wants to go. Bannon knows that in the game of thrones, you win or die. And he certainly doesn’t intend to die. He’ll kill everyone else before he goes.
Bannon’s ascension is the predictable consummation of a romance he ardently pursued. I joked with friends months ago that by the end of the campaign, Steve Bannon would be running Trump’s campaign from a bunker. That’s now reality. Every nightmare for actual conservatives has come true in this campaign. Why not this one, too? [The Daily Wire, 8/17/16]
Former Breitbart News Editor Larry O’Connor: Bannon Is “Engaged In The Precise Entanglement” Between Media And Politics That Andrew Breitbart “Hated And Worked Hard To Expose.” In a piece published on Hot Air, former Breitbart News editor Larry O’Connor argued that the campaign move is at odds with the late Andrew Breitbart’s legacy of exposing “the incestuous merging of media, journalism, and politics.” O’Connor wrote that Bannon “has been engaged in the precise entanglement that [Andrew Breitbart] hated and worked so hard to expose. Are we not obliged to point this out? I think we are.” From the August 17 piece (emphasis added):
To be sure, Bannon is a controversial figure, and the fact that he has never run a campaign in his life will sound alarm bells for many who were concerned about the lack of experience with Trump and his closest advisers.
But it’s the immediate transition from Bannon’s role as the Executive Chairman of Breitbart, a prominent news and politics website, to the CEO of a presidential campaign which I’d like to address here.
I am not interested in debating the value of the advice Bannon gave Trump on his campaign strategy. I’m more concerned with the revelation that the man running a conservative news and opinion website has been on the other end of the phone with a presidential candidate, giving him advice and helping to steer his campaign.
In fact, so would Breitbart. Just check my byline from the site. The incestuous merging of media, journalism and politics was one of the ongoing themes of my work there. Why? because it was a big part of Andrew Breitbart’s work. Just read his book.
So now it is revealed that the man who was chosen to run his site has been engaged in the precise entanglement that he hated and worked so hard to expose. Are we not obliged to point this out? I think we are.
I am hardly “anti-Trump.” This is not about Mr. Trump. I have already publicly said I will vote for him without hesitation. I truly hope the changes made at the campaign will result in electoral victory on November 8th.
But, I believe that Mr. Bannon’s relationship with the Trump campaign is something that Breitbart News needs to reveal now and thoroughly. And I mean everything. [Hot Air, 8/17/16]
Michelle Fields: Bannon’s Appointment Reveals “Why Ivanka And Jared Checked Out & Are On Vacation During Campaign.” Former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, who was allegedly physically assaulted by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and subsequently left the outlet, wrote on Twitter that the move could signal further tension within the campaign and Republican party leadership:
Former Breitbart Spokesperson Kurt Bardella: Bannon Hiring Is “An Oppo Researchers Dream Come True,” Will Make Trump Campaign’s Relationship With The Media More “Tense And Confrontational.” In a series of tweets, former Breitbart News spokesman Kurt Bardella slammed the Bannon pick and suggested Bannon’s “temperament” will make the Trump campaign’s relationship with the media more “tense and confrontational” than before
Dana Loesch: “Caution On Becoming What [Andrew Breitbart] Fought Against.” Former Breitbart editor Dana Loesch expressed concern that Bannon’s new role with the Trump campaign could signal Breitbart News “becoming what [Andrew Breitbart] fought against “ -- a politics-media “complex”:
On Her Radio Show, Loesch Calls Bannon “One Of The Worst People On God's Green Earth.” Loesch further discussed the Bannon appointment on her radio show, The Dana Show, describing her time working with Bannon as “one of the worst, most hellacious years of my entire life.” She concluded, “all I know is one of the worst people on God's green earth was just instituted as the chairman and CEO of the Trump campaign.” From the August 17 edition of Radio America's The Dana Show:
DANA LOESCH: When I heard the news this morning that Paul Manafort was basically demoted, Kellyanne Conway seems like a very pleasant person, I don't have any experience with her, I think I've met her once or twice. But the campaign CEO that was just installed this morning I do have experience with, and I actually know quite well. And I will say that one of the worst, most hellacious years of my entire life involved this individual. And I have to question whether or not the campaign is sincere about winning a victory against Hillary Clinton by instituting someone like this as the CEO of the campaign. I also have to question what we as conservatives expect from our media. Andrew [Breitbart] was one of my dearest friends. I talked to him an hour before he died. And that his -- everything that he stood for was against an incestuous media.
This is a different story for me. Because I went through a very personal hellacious period in my life brought on by someone's idiocy. So this is has taken a bit of a turn and I'm not quite sure how to approach it, to be honest with you. But all I know is one of the worst people on God's green earth was just instituted as the chairman and CEO of the Trump campaign. And if you are, as I am, not wanting to see Hillary Clinton in the White House, you need to seriously, seriously be concerned about that. [Media Matters, 8/17/16]
This post has been updated with additional examples.