Steve Bannon Out At Breitbart

Steve Bannon loses his position at Breitbart after his blistering comments about the President and others in the Administration became public.

Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon, who lost his position as President Trump’s chief strategist back in August after what clearly seemed like a purge orchestrated by Chief of Staff John Kelly, lost his position at far-right news outlet Breitbart yesterday in what clearly seems to have been a purge orchestrated by one of the website’s top financial backers in reaction to comments made by Bannon about the President and others in Michael Wolff’s explosive new book Fire and Fury:

WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon stepped down on Tuesday from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, ostracized for now from conservative circles and the Republican Party he brazenly predicted he would remake.

Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was initiated by an estranged financial patron and Breitbart investor, Rebekah Mercer, came as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his son Donald Trump Jr.

Mr. Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth transition, said a statement from the company’s chief executive, Larry Solov. Separately, SiriusXM, which broadcasts a radio show on which Mr. Bannon was a host, said it was also cutting ties with him.

Mr. Bannon’s exit from Breitbart, a platform for hard-edge nationalist ideas, is the latest ignominious turn in a career that was once one of the most prominent and improbable in modern American politics.

Though he was virtually unknown outside his work at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon was named chief executive of the Trump campaign two and a half months before Election Day. And he helped instill the discipline and focus that allowed Mr. Trump to narrowly prevail in the three Midwestern states that gave him victory in the Electoral College.

He accompanied Mr. Trump to the White House and became his chief strategist. With an office in the West Wing and a direct line to the Oval Office — he initially reported to no one but the president — he seemed well positioned to wreak havoc on the political institutions and leaders he railed against as corrupt and self-serving.

But after repeatedly clashing with Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, and Jared Kushner, her husband and Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Mr. Bannon was pushed out after less than eight months with the administration. Five months later, a clash with another Trump — Mr. Bannon called Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians last year at Trump Tower in Manhattan “treasonous” — cost him another job.

No one has been more closely identified with the Breitbart website or had more to do with emboldening its defiant editorial spirit than Mr. Bannon did after its namesake, Andrew Breitbart, died of a heart attack in 2012. In Washington, Mr. Bannon works and lives part time in a townhouse nicknamed the Breitbart Embassy.

In the statement announcing his move, Mr. Bannon said that 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.”

Once outside the administration and free to pursue his political enemies, Mr. Bannon set out on an audacious mission to challenge Republican incumbents he deemed insufficiently loyal to Mr. Trump’s agenda. He vowed to replace Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and started backing far-right candidates, some with questionable backgrounds and losing track records at the polls.

His full-throated, unfailing support of Roy S. Moore in Alabama, even after allegations surfaced that the former judge preyed on girls as young as 14, ended in an embarrassing setback: The state sent a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in a generation.

Several people with knowledge of the dynamics at Breitbart said that Mr. Bannon had lost the confidence of executives and writers who had been fiercely loyal to him as he helped transform the website from a scrappy start-up to one of the biggest and most antagonistic megaphones on the right.

But that confidence faded in recent days and weeks as they came to believe he displayed serious lapses in judgment, according to interviews with half a dozen people close to the situation. Some associates and friends described Mr. Bannon as being detached from reality, unable or unwilling to grasp the severity of his falling out with the White House and its potential effect on Breitbart as a business.

His situation at Breitbart grew untenable, said one person close to the situation, in part because Ms. Mercer, whose family finances conservative causes with their hedge fund wealth, became concerned that she could face legal exposure. She feared that some of the website’s cheerleading coverage of populist conservative campaigns — like the Senate race in Alabama — could be construed as corporate contributions to those candidates, which are barred under federal election law.

Numerous people who have worked with Mr. Bannon over the past few months said that his attitude lately had grown more imperious and aloof than normal. And his outward lack of any emotion about his messy public breach with the president and the Mercer family struck some not as the calloused indifference of a political operative but as nihilistic.

When Mr. Trump first denounced Mr. Bannon last week, saying, “He not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Mr. Bannon insisted to his writers and editors at Breitbart that it would all blow over. When reports began circulating that Ms. Mercer had cut him off, he denied it outright. And when friends started asking him about rumors that his job was in jeopardy, he insisted that everything was fine. “The Mercers haven’t given me money in years,” he told multiple people, playing down their significance in his work and insisting that an initial $10 million investment in the website was all they had provided.

In fact, recent tax filings suggest how difficult it will be for Mr. Bannon to fill the void left by the Mercers. The Mercer Family Foundation has donated more than $100 million over the past decade to mostly conservative nonprofit groups, including nearly $6 million to one that Mr. Bannon helped found, the Government Accountability Institute, which has also sought to distance itself from Mr. Bannon in recent days.

Mr. Bannon refused to admit any missteps or lapses in judgment, people close to him said.

Despite putting his name on a statement in which he expressed regret — but did not apologize — for his comments about Mr. Trump’s son, he resisted uttering any words of contrition until an unusual statement on Sunday morning.


Friends of both Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon have described their rupture like “a bad divorce.” But Ms. Mercer was just one person among a growing list of powerful onetime allies whose backing Mr. Bannon had lost in recent months. In addition to disparaging Mr. Bannon as “Sloppy Steve” and calling into question his relevance during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump blessed moves by the White House to further ostracize Mr. Bannon. And in the words of one associate of the president’s, he wanted “a scorched earth approach.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, took the unusual step last week of suggesting that Breitbart remove Mr. Bannon.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake comments:

What’s particularly remarkable about Bannon’s fall is how entirely Trumpian it was. From his perch in the White House, Bannon apparently felt invincible enough to spout off to Wolff about how that meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Russian lawyer was “treasonous” and about how Ivanka Trump was “dumb as a brick.” (Questions have been raised about some of the claims in Wolff’s book, but Bannon hasn’t disputed these quotes.) How he didn’t realize that saying such things about Trump’s family might cause a problem or two is the biggest mystery.

But it’s also understandable in context, and it speaks to the prevailing chutzpah of the Trump White House. To Trump and those around him, his 2016 win has long served as vindication of their entire approach to politics. They could do no wrong because they won. The media that sought to criticize what Trump did and that said he wouldn’t win was proved wrong, and Trump and Bannon were proving their superiority day in and day out.

But while that kind of ego might be sustainable in a chief executive, Bannon was always expendable to Trump. Republican after Republican has run afoul of Trump, and just about each and every time the GOP base turned on whoever wasn’t on board with the president. For all Trump’s political problems, the base is the one thing he’s got on lock. So when Bannon alienated Trump and Trump bucked, the decision to pick a side wasn’t hard for the Mercers or for Breitbart.

It was just five months ago, of course, that Bannon was forced out of his position at the White House just days after reports that he had become the target of close Trump advisers such as Chief of Staff John Kelly, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. Within hours after that happened, though, Bannon was back at his old position at Breitbart News and within weeks he was back in the political activism business. In the fall, he effectively declared war on the Republican Party’s so-called “establishment,” with particular attention on races at the Senate level. That became most apparent immediately in Alabama, where Bannon became a strong backer of the controversial Judge Roy Moore in the race for the Republican nomination to succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions even while the President and most of the Republican Party in Washington were backing then-incumbent Senator Luther Strange. That support continued even after the allegations against Moore in the final months of the campaign became public and was widely reflected in the coverage that the race received at Breitbart, with many political reporters who were covering the race said that it was difficult at times to determine if the “reporters” from Breitbart were there to cover the news or to advocate and campaign for Moore. Moore, of course, ended up losing that election, leaving Bannon and Breitbart with egg on their faces and backers such as the Mercer family concerned by the legal ramifications of having the site become such a strong advocate for a political candidate.

In the end, though, it was Bannon’s comments as quoted in the new Michael Wolff book that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Within hours after they became public, the White House and the President himself were throwing him under the bus, giving him the nickname “Sloppy Steve,” and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggesting that Breitbart may want to reevaluate its relationship with Bannon. For his part, Wolff made clear that he had recorded his conversations with Bannon and other White House insiders while writing the book, meaning that it would be impossible for Bannon to claim that he had been misquoted or that Wolff’s relationship As the controversy grew, Bannon seemed to realize the position he had put himself in and tried to back away from the remarks. On the Siriux XM radio show he hosted for Breitbart and in other statements, he expressed “regret” for his remarks and attempted at one point to claim that the attacks he was quoted as making in the book regarding the June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and several Trump campaign officials was directed at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort rather than Donald Trump Jr. Those regrets obviously weren’t enough, though, and it is apparent that the latest controversy was all the excuse that Breitbart and the Mercers needed to push Bannon out.

In the wake of Bannon’s dismissal, The Washington Post is reporting that Bannon believes that he and Trump will repair their relationship at some point int the future and even seems to believe that Trump will once again come to seek his political advice in the future. Given what Bannon said about Trump’s mental fitness and Trump’s son, though, that seems unlikely. Bannon is also quoted as saying that he intends to continue his political activism in 2018 and go forward with plans to play a role in the GOP primary process across the nation. Without Breitbart as a vehicle, though, and without financial backing from people like the Mercers, though, it’s difficult to see how he could pull that off. Bannon is independently wealthy on his own, of course, thanks to his previous career in Hollywood, but it’s going to take more than just his own money for Bannon to have the kind of influence he seems to envision for himself. Additionally, it seems as though Bannon’s own reputation among the Trumpidian base of the GOP has likely been seriously damaged by the quotes attributed to him in Wolff’s book, especially to the extent that they are perceived as a direct attack on the President himself. It’s possible, of course, that Bannon will still have some influence over the primary process, but it is likely to be far diminished from what it might have been had he remained affiliated with Breitbart.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    To quote Rick Wilson (whose career Bannon threatened to destroy):


  2. Franklin says:

    This storyline is just so beautiful:

    -Book comes out with all sorts of mean quotes from Bannon about Donald and his family.
    -Bannon is just about ready to put out a press release attacking the book, and denying the quotes or changing their context, but …
    -The Donald attacks him, so he doesn’t put out the press release.
    -Instead he doubles down a little bit, until …
    -His financial backers start getting mad at him.
    -So Bannon goes into groveling mode like the pathetic loser he is.
    -And it doesn’t work! HAHAHAHAHA. You’re fired!

    Did I miss anything?

  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    Bannon may be out, but his alt-right neo-Nazi poison will continue to stain American conservatism for a long time.

  4. Slugger says:

    I recommend a close reading of The Satyricon by Petronius to anyone wishing to have a career in politics. Not the movie with that name!

  5. Not the IT Dept. says:


    Yes, but…

    It wasn’t “his” to begin with. Like with most things on Bannon’s resume, he saw it existed, then elbowed his way to the front of the line and claimed to lead it. The media gave him “credit” for it because he played up his evil genius grimacing to scare everyone. He couldn’t sustain it. He’s a booze-brined druggie who’s reached the end of his line. In ten years he’ll be arrested for dumpster-diving outside a biker hangout and die of the DTs in jail as he’s raving about SJWs crowding his cell.

  6. teve tory says:

    He was purged by the Trump camp for things in a book which the trumpers also claim is a pack of lies.

    Which is it?

  7. SenyorDave says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Stephen Miller is still a senior policy adviser to Trump. Like Bannon, he is a white nationalist, but I think he is more of a true believer. Any person who surrounds himself with people like Bannon and Miller isn’t fit to hold any office, much less POTUS.

  8. wr says:

    @Slugger: “Not the movie with that name!”

    To be fair, the movie was actually called “Fellini Satyricon.” Truth in advertising!

  9. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    The rationalization appears to be that Bannon invented the pack of lies and that Wolff gleefully printed them.

    The interesting thing is that Bannon started telling Gabe Sherman at Vanity Fair back last August pretty much the same things he told Wolff, and no one at the WH seems to have gotten upset by Sherman’s articles.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    For someone touted as a Modern Machiavelli this guy Bannon seems to have the strategy and tactical ability of a concussed goldfish. Didn’t he realize what was going to happen?

    (Oh, and by the way, scuttlebutt has it that what really sent the Mercers ballistic wasn’t any potential we-may-be-considered-as-making-financial-contributions-to-a-political-campaign. It was Bannon’s trial balloon of raising taxes on the rich. Bannon could have actually gotten populist traction with that, so they had to head him off at the pass.)

  11. Kathy says:

    Proof that the only thing that can get you in trouble in Trumpland is being truthful.

  12. inhumans99 says:


    Yes, but the silver lining is that their voice was amplified by Bannon when he was the top dog at Breitbart and now that he is out it may be less exciting for the media to focus on and move on…any marginalization, however slight, of any mouthpiece for the “alt right cough*white supremacists*cough” is a glorious thing indeed.

    President Trump will never admit it but having to knock down his friend a peg or two in such a public manner is not good and had to hurt him a bit when it comes to keeping his cult leader like grip on his base.

  13. PJ says:

    I think Mueller should contact Bannon and ask him if there is anything more that he wants to share.

  14. Pete S says:

    In a small way I grudgingly respect Bannon for this and this only: At the time he was making these comments to Wolff, he seemed to believe there was a decent chance that Trump’s presidency would not survive the year. If he had been right about that this book would make him look pretty smart, and would help finish off any Trump kin who were still trying to hang on. He would own the Republican Party.

    But he was wrong, Trump stayed in office until the book came out. Bannon took a big swing and missed. He is an odious person trying to lead a movement of degenerates, but at least he is willing to back up what he believes.

  15. Kathy says:

    I think Bannon proved too Trumpian for Trump’s tastes.

    I don’t mean in an ideological sense (Trump has no ideology), but in the way he acts: he “tells it like it is,” and has no tact whatsoever. This is fine for Trump only when Trump does it, but like a coward and a bully, he won’t take it from anyone else.

    The Bannon quotes on Wolff’s book also reveal him as politically inept, something he proved all over again by backing Roy Moore.Seriously, who in his right mind goes after his ally’s, not to mention his boss’, family? There are many ways to sideline the boss’ kid and her husband while being tactful and seemingly respectful.then when you resign after a few years, or when the presidency’s over, you can let loose any accumulated bile in a tell-all book.

    BTW, all this really makes Hillary Clinton look terrible. She couldn’t defeat a moron candidate with a political idiot in charge his campaign.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Bannon had the loony idea that Trumpism was a thing. Trumpism is not a thing, it’s not an ideology, it is in fact free of any actual intellectual content at all. Trumpism is just a cult of personality. It has never been, and will never be, any more than that. David Koresh with more money and less bladder control.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, and:

    1) Darrell Issa is quitting. The great Hillary-killer is finished, preemptively fleeing the battle before it’s begun. Pity. It was going to be fun crushing him in the midterms.

    2) The Trump administration has had to admit that it has zero evidence of voter fraud. That would make ALL of our resident Trumpaloons wrong. No doubt they’ll line up to admit it.

  18. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think Bannon may have seen it as Bannonism, and Trump as its avatar.

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That makes 31 Republican House GOPers who are retiring, including NINE committee chairs.

    In 1994, before Newt rode his wave to power, 28 Democrats retired ahead of the election. That was a record until now.

    And it’s only January.

  20. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @CSK: Nobody at the WH reads Vanity Fair?

  21. grumpy realist says:

    Comments from The Daily Beast on Bannon’s future plans. Um, what?

    If Bannon is truly believing what he claims, I think we’re dealing with someone a few knives short of a picnic basket, as the saying goes. Away with the fairies. Madder than a box of frogs….

  22. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist: yoiu don’t he should cap off his career by challenging Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020? Such a move could send the price of popcorn through the roof.

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Stephen Miller is still a senior policy adviser to Trump. Like Bannon, he is a white nationalist, but I think he is more of a true believer.

    He is very much a true Trump believer. His passion for Trumps vision (as he may imagine it to be) borders on the fanatic.

    I would love to have an article here at OTB that gives us more insight to this guy and his thought process.

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It was Bannon’s trial balloon of raising taxes on the rich. Bannon could have actually gotten populist traction with that, so they had to head him off at the pass.

    I love it when Reformicons like Douthat, Ponnuru, and Salam talk about the Republican Party needing to cater to the needs of the working and middle class. I do not think that word “Republican” means what they think it means.

  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    More importantly, no one at Fox News reads Vanity Fair.

  26. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Good point. Hadn’t considered that.

  27. Kylopod says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I would love to have an article here at OTB that gives us more insight to this guy and his thought process.

    There was a good Vanity Fair article on Miller last summer. I found the following tidbit rather shocking:

    When Miller celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at Beth Shir Shalom, Islas was a close enough friend to be invited. But Miller abruptly ended their friendship that summer, before they both went off to Santa Monica’s huge, 3,400-student public high school. According to Islas, one day Miller telephoned him and told him he didn’t want to be friends anymore. Not content to just let their interactions fade as they moved from one school to another, Miller wanted to make a point. “He gave me a whole list of reasons why we couldn’t be friends and almost all of them were personal, but the one that stuck out was because of my Latino heritage,” Islas recalls. “It was the one that wasn’t directly personal. It was very strange.”

    While Bannon is the one who proudly described the Breitbart website as a “platform for the alt right,” it is possible that Miller has even closer ties to the movement, despite his own Jewish heritage. While at Duke University he worked together with Richard Spencer, the man who coined the term “alternative right.” (Miller has since denied their relationship, but Spencer disputes the denial.) I see Miller as being sort of like a Jewish version of Sheriff David Clarke, in that they’re both people who sound like they should be wearing white hoods despite having an ethnic/religious heritage that would normally make them a target of such groups.

  28. Anonne says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Bannon had the loony idea that Trumpism was a thing. Trumpism is not a thing, it’s not an ideology, it is in fact free of any actual intellectual content at all. Trumpism is just a cult of personality. It has never been, and will never be, any more than that. David Koresh with more money and less bladder control.

    Trumpism is modern conservatism: whatever pisses off liberals, updated by the moment. Brash braggadocio, little thought for policy. Alpha male-ism, where strength is all that matters. It very much is a thing. No, it’s not an ideology. It’s an attitude.

  29. Kylopod says:


    Trumpism is modern conservatism: whatever pisses off liberals, updated by the moment. Brash braggadocio, little thought for policy. Alpha male-ism, where strength is all that matters. It very much is a thing. No, it’s not an ideology. It’s an attitude.

    I recently read three books on the alt right. (Calling them all “books” may be a bit of an exaggeration; the first two are essentially long articles in book form.) It has been described in many places as simply the latest rebranding of white nationalism. I myself have said that, more or less, in the past. And there’s some truth to that statement–Richard Spencer who coined the term “alt right” is a self-described white nationalist, and several figures who have been big in the WN movement for at least a couple of decades (Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow) have come to be associated with the alt right.

    But one point that sometimes get overlooked is the extent to which it is a “movement” of Internet trolls. One of the movement’s precursors was the so-called Gamergate controversy, which was basically a campaign of misogynistic harassment of female video game designers on social media. The movement emerged almost organically on platforms such as 4chan, and it involved the heavy use of memes that weren’t necessarily racist in origin (the most famous is Pepe the Frog). In that sense it isn’t a white-nationalist “movement” in the traditional top-down sense that we normally think of when talking about groups like Aryan Nation or websites like Stormfront. It’s more a primal roar than a distinct ideology, and even though many WNs (such as neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin) see the trolling as a tool to spread WN ideology, others such as Milo have attempted to pass off their antics as “mere” trolling while claiming to disavow white-nationalist ideology. This bait-and-switch where you say something offensive, and then fall back on the claim that it was just a “joke,” in fact predates the alt right–Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter helped pioneer this tactic on the right a couple of decades ago.

    One definitive thing you can say about the alt right is that they’ve all been batso over Donald Trump from the beginning. In a sense he embodies all that they’re about, a guy who goes on Twitter and launches racist and sexist harassment against anyone who gets in his way, but whose actual “ideology” is as fluid and amorphous as you can get. To these people, it doesn’t actually matter whether he ends up building a wall or not, or whether he keeps Muslims from entering the country. They love him because of his attitude and what he represents, not what he actually succeeds in doing.

  30. Matt says:

    @Kylopod: Indeed the majority of the ones on 4chan don’t care what Trump does as long as he keeps pissing off liberals. These people see a woman who wants paid the same as a man doing the same job as a Feminazi that must be destroyed. That’s why they came out in droves to attack female gamers and game producers. Those females had the audacity to leave the kitchen and make their own life. The core of this is the deep hatred of women who have scorned them in private life. They believe by virtue of being a male and an “alpha” that they deserve to have women falling all over them. The reality is their problems all stem from their toxic personality (including their female issues). It’s just much easier to blame everyone else for not seeing how truly awesome they are….

    I have no idea how to get those people to channel their anger/rage into something productive.

  31. Kylopod says:

    I do think the element of misogyny on the alt right has been overlooked in favor of the racism, even though it may be crucial to understanding the movement. Much of their language–terms like “alpha” and “cuck”–spring from notions of male dominance that has been suppressed. But then, racism and sexism have always been intertwined to some degree. When Trump talked about illegal Mexican immigrants being rapists, he was invoking an ancient theme running through white supremacy–the idea that white women need protection from defilement by “others.”

    It’s also connected to the practice of falling back on the idea that it’s all just a joke–“4 the lulz,” and that anyone who gets offended is a “snowflake.” As I’ve argued before, this is mostly a ploy to rebrand reactionary, backwards attitudes as being part of a cool, subversive rebellion against an oppressive elite. They want the freedom to offend to their liking without the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of their words–consequences that they deny exist. I’m reminded of the quote from The Big Lebowski, “Nihilists! F*ck me. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” That doesn’t work on the alt right, where the two are inseparable.

    For people like this, it’s hard to imagine how Trump could ever disappoint. In theory it could happen if he were to suddenly start behaving like a civilized human being, but as long as it’s Trump being Trump, he’ll always have this fan base, even if his actual legislative agenda never pans out. This is because they don’t actually want brown people, women, homosexuals, etc. to disappear, they just want to reassert their dominance over these groups. Isn’t that what it’s always about?

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: As said, we’re dealing with hipster Nazis….

    I’m also extremely annoyed by how a chunk of these idiots label themselves as “incel” (involuntary celibate) and whine like crazy over it. No one owes you a sex life, guys. Maybe if you didn’t have such big chips on your shoulders and the attitude that you deserve to date supermodels because of your intrinsic wonderfulness you’d have a better reaction from the members of the opposite sex you bump into. And for gossakes, start bathing and using deodorant!

    (We had a bunch of these types at MIT. My roommate and I called them “wet kittens”. We were pretty brutal about their whining.)