Exclusive: Steve Bannon, Trump's New C.E.O., Hints at His Master Plan - 2016-08-17
Even for a campaign creating regular media tremors, the hiring of Stephen K. Bannon as the new campaign C.E.O. for Donald Trump has to count as a real shock. Trump is a first-time candidate who has talked about professionalizing his campaign, and yet he has hired a media bomb-thrower with no experience on the trail. But on another level, it is no surprise, since for years there has been a political symbiosis between Trump, Bannon, and Breitbart Media, the news organization that Bannon has led for the last four years. In truth, Bannon and Breitbart Media were Trump before Trump, creating the political philosophy and the political army in waiting that has been the engine for the candidate's astonishing rise in American politics.
To understand the relationship between Trump and Bannon, you need to start with Andrew Breitbart himself. Over a short, fireworks-laced career, Breitbart helped re-write the rules of political discourse in the U.S. Starting in 2007, after a stint at the Drudge Report, he launched a series of Web sites—Big Hollywood, Big Government, and Big Journalism, all under the Breitbart.com umbrella—to challenge the narratives set forth by so-called "liberal media" institutions. His sites, really a decentralized blogger network, were threaded together by furious denunciations of government, politicians, journalists, and Democrats, and they were fueled not by traditional norms of journalism, but largely by anger. It was a potent audience that might, in particular hands, serve as a potent electorate.
Indeed, Breitbart has given voice to millions of mostly working-class white voters who are anguished over the loss of status, the loss of certainty, and the diminishment of a long-cherished way of life—and who tend to blame Congress, the mainstream media, big business, and the Republican establishment for these misgivings. As The New Yorker graphically described it, Breitbart and his fellow bloggers and aggregators were not content providers, but "malcontent" providers—"giving seething, sneering voice to what he characterizes as a silenced majority." Breitbart himself would not have disagreed. "I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then," he told the magazine, "when it's appropriate, for effect."