First it was Preibus, then Kushner and now General H.R. McMaster. Breitbart has seemingly waged war on many of President Trump’s closest advisors over the past several months but it seems that the only person they’re actually hurting is their former Executive Chair, Steve Bannon. As Politico notes this morning, whether true or not, every time Breitbart drops a negative article on the White House, all eyes turn to Bannon.
“Fair or not, common sense would dictate that Steve Bannon has reach and influence and communication with these alt-right platforms whose editorial bent more often than not, aligns with Steve’s agenda,” said Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesperson. “I think [the stories] gave ammunition to his detractors internally, to either ID him or his people as part of the problem.”
“The guy is desperately trying to lay low and keep his fights from spilling out into the public,” said one White House official. “Because he knows that he gets blamed.”
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Bannon declined to comment.
A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week also accused Bannon of using Breitbart and other conservative media outlets to go after his ideological foes, questioning his loyalty to the president and placing blame for White House dysfunction squarely on his shoulders.
Meanwhile, the attacks on McMaster have put Bannon in an especially awkward position with his new boss, retired Marine general John Kelly, who has been increasingly defensive of McMaster, a longtime friend and fellow general. According to Politco, McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the National Security Council principals’ committee, hasn’t spoken to Bannon in weeks.
But it’s not just McMaster, whether true or not, a similar blame game played out when Breitbart targeted Jared Kushner earlier this year.
The same dynamic played out with Breitbart’s coverage of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, which remained negative even after Kushner and Bannon came to a truce at Mar-a-Lago in April. The site has routinely published updates on his role in the Russia probe and been critical of his efforts to craft foreign policy or drive government innovation.
“Do you think Steve wanted Breitbart putting bad stuff out there about Jared? No, because he knows he’s going to have to pay for it,” said a White House staffer.
Of course, it’s not just Breitbart stories that Bannon takes the blame for at the White House as responsibility for any and all conservative media also falls on his shoulders.
When he joined the administration, Bannon filed an ethics waiver so that he could continue to communicate with Breitbart. But it’s not just Breitbart stories that Bannon gets blamed for. When gotnews.com and blogger Mike Cernovich’s call deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn “globalists,” all eyes were on Bannon, who privately coined the term.
“Bannon is being portrayed as the puppeteer behind right-wing media picking and choosing between who they like and don’t like,” said the White House official.
In the first two months of the administration, Bannon’s early disagreements with Priebus were a regular Breitbart storyline, often painting both men in a negative light.
In February, Bannon publicly called a Breitbart piece attacking Priebus “totally absurd,” telling the Daily Beast in February that he was furious with Washington political editor Matt Boyle over it. But anti-Priebus stories remained a regular feature on Breitbart until his dismissal last month. Breitbart defenders said these stories were a sign of their independence from Bannon.
So, what say you? Is Steve Bannon’s time in the White House drawing to a close or is this just one more inaccurate, premature prediction of his demise by a mainstream media that so eagerly desires that outcome?
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