The New York Times reported today that former White House strategist Steve Bannon will be vacating his position as the executive chairman of Breitbart News, almost certainly in response to a week of public humiliation in which President Trump tweeted that Bannon had “lost his mind” since leaving the White House and the Mercer family cut him off from funding.
Last week, the news broke that Bannon had been quoted in a new book by Michael Wolff insulting much of the Trump family and calling a 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer “treasonous.” Right-wing media figures began disavowing Bannon in droves. Longtime Trump campaign state official John Fredericks said Bannon was “not a strategist” but rather “an opportunist.” Conspiracy theorist shock jock Alex Jones likened Bannon’s statements to mugging and rape.
Today, Breitbart staff mourned the loss of Bannon; one staffer told CNN’s Oliver Darcy that “everyone seems stunned” at the outlet. In a prepared statement, Breitbart CEO Larry Solov said Bannon was “a valued part of our legacy” and that the site would “always be grateful for his contributions.” From the official statement:
Stephen K. Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network, where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012.
Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.
Bannon said, “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”
According to Breitbart CEO Larry Solov, “Steve is a valued part of our legacy, and we will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish.”
Since leaving the White House, Breitbart has served as Bannon’s personal public relations shop, doing everything it could to inflate the perception of his influence over politics. Editor-at-large Rebecca Mansour told Bannon during a broadcast of the outlet’s daily radio program he was the “de facto leader of the Republican Party” and Bannon took personal credit for raging GOP infighting. But Bannon’s best efforts to use Breitbart to burnish his own image couldn’t save him from a series of humiliations over the past several months.
In October, BuzzFeed released a bombshell report detailing how Bannon used Breitbart to bring white nationalists into the mainstream conservative discourse. He went on to botch a campaign to elect alleged child molester Roy Moore to the Senate, losing an Alabama seat that had been held by Republicans for 25 years. And, most recently, Bannon was burned for leveraging Breitbart to support Wisconsin Republican House candidate Paul Nehlen, who was widely condemned after he revealed his explicit white nationalist and anti-Semitic views.