The Media Today

The media today: Bannon gets the boot from Breitbart

January 10, 2018

Michael Wolff’s blockbuster book about the White House, which arrived with a bang a week ago, appears to have claimed its first victim, and it’s not the president. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was previously ousted from Trump’s inner circle and renounced by the president, on Tuesday was removed from his position as executive chairman of Breitbart News.

According to reports from multiple outlets, Bannon was terminated at the request of Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire who has given significant amounts of money to Trump and to Breitbart News. In a statement posted at the Breitbart site, Breitbart CEO Larry Solov called Bannon “a valued part of our legacy,” and the former chairman said he was “proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”

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The Mercers were said to be furious at some of Bannon’s comments to Wolff, including one where he called Donald Trump Jr. “treasonous and unpatriotic” for meeting with a Russian agent in an attempt to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. After the book came out, Rebekah Mercer gave a rare public statement in which she rebuked Bannon publicly for his remarks and said he didn’t have her support either financially or ideologically.

Bannon’s case wasn’t helped by a report that he had helped shop around an opposition research report during the Republican primaries that was designed to call into question Trump’s ability to act as president. After the Wolff book blew up last week, Bannon tried to mend fences by releasing a grovelling statement to The New York Times saying he was sorry for some of the things he said in Wolff’s book and had nothing but the highest respect for Trump and his administration. But by that point, the writing was clearly on the wall.

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Here’s more on the rise and fall of Steve Bannon:

  • Staffers stunned: One Breitbart employee told CNN that staffers at the site were taken aback by Bannon’s sudden departure. He has been seen by many as the ideological leader of the site since founder Andrew Breitbart died in 2012.
  • The answer is no: Just a few days before Bannon’s ouster from the site, The New York Times wrote a story entitled “Bannon Needs Breitbart. Does Breitbart Need Bannon?”
  • Room to let: Many in Washington are wondering whether Bannon’s falling out with the Mercers means he will have to give up residence in the Washington townhouse/party complex known as “The Breitbart Embassy,” which is also Breitbart’s office.
  • Calling Trotsky: Zero Hedge, a financial blog popular with the alt-right, says Bannon broke with Trump because he “became infected with the Trotskyite virus of ‘permanent revolution’ and turned against his benefactor out of ideological spite.”


Other notable stories:

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists gave Donald Trump an award for “Overall achievement in undermining global press freedom,” saying he has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with other repressive leaders such as Turkish president Reycep Erdoğan.
  • Harper’s magazine is reportedly working on a cover story that will identify the woman who created the “Shitty Media Men” list, an Excel spreadsheet that surfaced late last year listing men who were known for harassing or abusing women. Some have argued that identifying her could put her life in danger.
  • Reporters at a Newseum event discussing sexual harassment in the newsroom talked about how The New York Times continues to employ reporter Glenn Thrush despite multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior towards women. Some argued that the Times has not been transparent enough about the process.
  • The internet and social media may be everyone’s favorite hobby-horse, but there was a time when low-power FM radio stations were a big deal, and apparently they are becoming popular again despite an abundance of digital competition. Dozens of communities and interest groups have filed for licenses.
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interviewed an 11-year-old boy whose newspaper delivery job is disappearing because two of the country’s media chains swapped ownership of dozens of community newspapers and are shutting down more than 30.

RELATED: Trump team declares war on Bannon

Mathew Ingram is CJR’s chief digital writer. Previously, he was a senior writer with Fortune magazine. He has written about the intersection between media and technology since the earliest days of the commercial internet. His writing has been published in the Washington Post and the Financial Times as well as by Reuters and Bloomberg.