How quickly Steve Bannon’s dark star has collapsed. Not so long ago, friends and enemies talked him up as a media genius. He was a political guerrilla operative you underrated at your peril. He was ‘Trump’s Rasputin’, or ‘President Bannon’, the man who really controlled the White House.
Then he lost his job in said White House, fell out with Donald J Trump, and now, a few days after the publication of his comments in Michael Wolff’s book, he has stood down as head of Breitbart news.
The power that Bannon represented turned out to have been the Mercer family, who had bankrolled Bannon, Breitbart and Trump’s campaign. They decided that their relationship with President of the United States was more important than their alliance with Steve Bannon. Now everybody seems to be calling Bannon a stupid slob. Far from being a true revolutionary, people in the know now say he was more of a leech. Matt Drudge tweeted an acid dig — a picture of him with the Chinese businessman Miles Kwok, saying:
‘Steve Bannon finding opportunity and happiness in the arms of a new billionaire benefactor, Miles Kwok, aka Guo Wen Gui. Mercer is yesterday’s mashed potatoes’
Perhaps Bannon will take comfort in the fact he doesn’t mind being hated. Perhaps not. So far he has been shockingly contrite, almost grovelling to the Trump family for having wronged them. But that still wasn’t enough for him to keep his job. Or perhaps he will now go back to operating in the shadows, where he feels he is most effective.
But what now becomes of Breitbart without Bannon? Judging from the last few days coverage, nothing much will change. It is still resolutely pro-Trump. Fans of the site’s founder, Andrew Breitbart, are now declaring their hopes that the website will go back to his mission: destroying the power of Big Government.
That seems unlikely. The website was called Trump Pravda before: that name has become, if anything, more accurate in recent days. In fact, the upshot of the Steve Bannon fall out is that, in the struggle between what people call Trumpism and Trump, the winner is Trump, and the real chief of Breitbart — that fearless enemy of the establishment — is the President of the United States.