Why pro-Trump media need to pretend racist flim-flam man Sebastian Gorka resigned

If Gorka was fired as an unqualified incompetent, it's Trump's fault he was there in the first place

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

President Donald Trump’s White House finally kicked Sebastian Gorka to the curb on Friday. The self-proclaimed national security and terrorism expert tried to get out ahead of the news with a “resignation letter” leaked to The Federalist, in which the now-former deputy assistant to the president claimed he had to leave because Trump’s “ascendant” aides “do not support the MAGA promise.” But the White House promptly quashed his attempt at damage control, issuing an official statement to reporters denying that he had resigned, sending out aides to tell reporters that he had been forced out, and even leaking the Secret Service’s instructions not to admit him to the White House. The writing's on the wall: Gorka was canned. He’s since slunk back to Breitbart.com, rejoining his primary patron, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who returned to the far-right website earlier this month after losing the president’s favor.

For a certain segment of the right-wing media -- the part that breathlessly cheers every Trump move as brilliant and blames his intractable foes for the administration’s self-inflicted defeats -- there’s an interest in buttressing Gorka’s flimsy story, lauding his MAGA heroism, and blaming his removal on the rising power of the White House’s “globalist” faction.

Breitbart, which is focused on destroying Bannon’s former White House rivals, spent the weekend attacking both Gorka’s “globalist” foes and the “low level White House staffer” who “inaccurately claimed” he did not resign. And this morning, Trump’s favorite morning news program, Fox & Friends, helped Gorka try to rehabilitate his image. After a battery of questions about North Korea’s recent missile test (in which Gorka appeared to suggest the U.S. was using covert measures to cause the country’s missiles to fail), the hosts turned to Gorka’s recent job change.

“Dr. Gorka, as you know, you made news last week by resigning from the White House,” said co-host Brian Kilmeade. “They have a different take on how you left.” For the remainder of the interview, as Gorka repeatedly claimed that he resigned, the hosts offered no details about that “different take.” Instead, they gave him a platform to detail what co-host Pete Hegseth called Gorka’s concerns that the president is “surrounded by people who don't share his agenda.”

For the pro-Trump media, the alternative -- that Gorka was useless and unqualified -- raises questions about Trump’s own competence for hiring him for the position in the first place. Indeed, the White House has the same problem -- while aides seem eager to get credit for pushing Gorka out instead of him leaving on his own accord, there’s been little explanation of why, precisely, he had to go.

There is certainly no shortage of reasons why Gorka should never have been installed in the White House. He’s a flim-flam artist, a snake oil salesman, a virulent anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who portrayed himself as a terrorism expert despite little real expertise in the field. Fox and Breitbart call him “Doctor Gorka,” but his doctorate in political science was based on a slapdash thesis. He was denied a security clearance by the Hungarian government when he failed the background check, he has ties to a far-right nationalist group in that country that has links to the Nazis, his claims to have worked for the British intelligence agency MI6 were apparently false, and he was fired last year by the FBI, which was paying him to give lectures on counterterrorism issues, due to “his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric.” But that rhetoric won Gorka the support first of Bannon and then of Trump.

It’s clear Gorka had no business working in the White House. But what was his actual job there? “Other than as a talking head on TV, Gorka was fairly inconsequential,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. Indeed, Gorka has been without a formal portfolio for months; his job was apparently to go on TV on behalf of the president and lie a lot.

In taking Gorka’s side, intimating that he rightfully resigned as the “globalists” gained power in the White House, Fox & Friends is laying down a marker -- like Breitbart, it’s pivoting to claim that Trumpism is being betrayed from within the White House. Trump himself is a regular viewer of the program, and he will certainly appreciate a message that his administration’s failures aren’t his fault. But it’s unclear how he might react if his Fox friends start telling him that his aides are undermining him.

Other than a return to Breitbart, what will Gorka do after the White House? Kilmeade’s closing comments may provide a hint: “Hope to see you in the lunchroom soon, Dr. Gorka.” It’s become de rigeur for prominent White House and campaign aides to nab cushy cable news contributor gigs, and there’s always room for another Trump sycophant at Fox News.