Is a Breitbart vs. Fox News holy war on the horizon?
After his abysmal handling of the white nationalist terrorist attack and riot in Charlottesville, Donald Trump has come under new pressure to fire Shadow President Steve Bannon. Bannon's agenda was all over Trump's first statement Monday—specifically his seeming desire to normalize white supremacy through a false equivalency with anti-racism protestors.
In fact, the response to Charlottesville was so disastrous that, according to the New York Times, even Fox News and Wall Street Journal empresario Rupert Murdoch has tried to get the president to fire the former Breitbart chief.
At a recent dinner at the White House with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Kelly, before Mr. Trump decamped for a working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the president listened while one of the guests, Mr. Murdoch, a founder of Fox News, said Mr. Bannon had to go.
Mr. Trump offered little pushback, according to a person familiar with the conversation, and vented his frustrations about Mr. Bannon. Mr. Murdoch is close to Mr. Kushner, who has been in open warfare with Mr. Bannon since the spring.
Now this is an opinion that we here at GQ share with Mr. Murdoch, but if you think that Steve Bannon is just going to take this assault lying down, then you haven't been paying attention to Steve Bannon. Today we see the beginnings of his public counter-attack, as his former website Breitbart News has begun attacking Murdoch and "[White House] Dems" for attempting to separate president from the man who got him the job. The attack on Murdoch goes like this: Murdoch and his WSJ were never for Trump. They were the establishment and they wanted Jeb Bush to win the nomination. They were for immigration reform. They don't get the middle-class Americans that sent Trump to the White House. In fact, Breitbart even cites an anecdote from Joshua Green's tremendous book about Bannon and Trump, Devil's Bargain, to make a point about Murdoch's disloyalty:
Soon after the three of them were seated and the waiter brought their soup, Ivanka spoke up: “My father has something to tell you.”
If you don't think this is Bannon mounting his defense, then you are sorely mistaken. And here's the thing: I think it's going to work too. Bannon has entwined himself so deeply into Donald Trump's brain. Even when Trump knows that Bannon is bad for him, he can't separate himself from him, because he doesn't trust many people, and he trusts Steve. I would not be surprised if the consequence of Trump firing Bannon and trying to pivot away from the most despicable of his policies would be for Steve to return to Breitbart and go scorched Earth on the president, and Trump knows it.
I hope this take ages poorly, but I think whether we like it or not, we might be stuck with Shadow President Bannon for as long as Donald Trump is in the Oval Office.