With Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House, there are some signals that Breitbart News — the website Bannon ran that has relentlessly boosted Trump — might be about to turn on the administration.
Without Bannon, "it's now a Democrat White House," one anonymous source close to the former chief strategist reportedly told New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman. Sherman reported that Bannon is expected to return to Breitbart — the far-right media network he raised to a national platform under President Donald Trump.
Some of Bannon’s former colleagues at Breitbart, like senior editor at large Joel Pollak, have been declaring war much more literally.
Pollak wrote that the decision to part ways with Bannon “may turn out to be the beginning of the end for the Trump administration” in a Breitbart article with the headline “With Steve Bannon Gone, Donald Trump risks becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger 2.0”:
Bannon was not just Trump’s master strategist, the man who turned a failing campaign around in August 2016 and led one of the most remarkable come-from-behind victories in political history. He was also the conservative spine of the administration. His infamous whiteboard in the West Wing listed the promises Trump had made to the voters, and he was determined to check as many of them off as possible. Steve Bannon personified the Trump agenda.
With Bannon gone, there is no guarantee that Trump will stick to the plan. That is why — too late, in retrospect — conservative leaders wrote to the president Friday to advise him that Bannon and campaign manager-turned-counselor Kellyanne Conway were too valuable to lose.
Breitbart London’s editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam posted a mock-up of a “Bannon 2020” campaign banner.
The White House confirmed Bannon’s departure Friday, after months of rumors that the strategist was on shaky ground. Trump signaled in April that he was unhappy with Bannon’s growing media profile. Internal divisions within the White House have only escalated since.
Even so, Bannon, and his Breitbart media world, is deeply intertwined with Trumpism. It won’t be an easy divorce, and going against Trump could prove to be an extraordinarily risky move for Breitbart, which has grown in national name recognition largely because of Trump’s base.
War would be as much a test of Breitbart’s brand as it is Trump’s — and it’s unlikely that it would end in Breitbart’s favor.
There is an alternative route for Breitbart, which the Washington Post’s Robert Costa pointed out. Bannon has always been careful not to wage war against Trump specifically, but rather find foils in his inner circle — specifically advisers like Gary Cohn and Jared Kushner, whom Bannon sees as corporate “globalists.” In this scenario, the war wouldn’t be against Trump, but against those that are leading him astray.