The Trump ‘Breitbart & Ailes’ Campaign Shake-Up Further Exposes Primary Media Coverage as a Fraud
When I wrote here on Monday that Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort would likely survive the crazy story in The New York Times about being paid over 12 million dollars in cash by pro-Russian political forces, I was technically correct, but effectively dead wrong (in fairness, I didn’t know about this at the time). Trump has now shaken up his campaign yet again and essentially made the head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, the new chief of the flailing operation (with a third campaign chief in three months, so much for Trump being able to claim he will hire all the very best people as a central theme of his campaign).
There are many important implications to this story. The first is that this is as close to a surrender, without actually quitting, that the Trump campaign could do in mid-August. The idea that Bannon, who has zero experience in this realm, is going to pull off a miracle comeback, is like a football team making their color analyst, who has never even played a game, the offensive play-caller while down 14 points late in the fourth quarter. Conservative ex-Breitbart staffer Ben Shapiro has already correctly excoriated this decision in graphic terms.
Second, this opens the very real possibility of a true Trump implosion which would end up targeting the “Evil GOP Establishment” as the cause of the defeat well before November and could easily result in open Civil War with the GOP before the end of the campaign. All bets are now off when it comes to how bad this could theoretically get for the Republican Party in November. It also now seems very plausible that the remainder of the campaign might be used as little more than a marketing campaign for a future competitor to Fox News Channel (especially with former Fox News chief Roger Ailes apparently now an advisor to Trump).
Third, are the ramifications for the “conservative” news media in general and Breitbart.com in particular. Andrew Breitbart’s creation had already sadly become a laughing stock for their almost hilariously pro-Trump coverage, but now it would seem to be impossible for their “reporting” to be seen as anything other than the voice of Donald Trump. Once you have admitted that your operation is, for all intents and purposes, nothing but a Super Pac for a (liberal and unqualified) presidential candidate, there is just no way to go back to pretending that you are anything close to resembling a “news” organization, even after he has lost, possibly very badly.
Fourth, there is the issue of what this does to Andrew Breitbart’s legacy. Former Breitbart editor Larry O’Conner made a compelling argument today that Andrew would have never felt remotely comfortable with his web empire being so closely connected to a presidential candidate. Bill Kristol rightly focused attention on the idea of Breitbart.com being so supportive of Trump in particular is a great disservice to Andrew’s memory.
As for me, I had a brief, intense, and complicated friendship with Andrew which unfortunately broke apart soon before his shocking death. Andrew introduced both my first two documentary films at their premieres and was someone for whom I would have, at one time, taken a bullet. What changed was my belief that, much to my astonishment, Andrew really viewed me much more as a “brand competitor” (anti-media, white male, conservative in Los Angeles) than as someone I mistakenly thought was an extremely close friend. I always assumed there would be plenty of time for Andrew and me to repair our relationship. Sadly, I was wrong.
Many people have tried to claim they know how Andrew would have reacted to his website (along with the Drudge Report, which he once basically ran) becoming effectively the mouthpiece for Donald Trump while proactively trying to destroy other, far more conservative, candidates and leaders. I agree that speaking for the dead is an inherently dangerous endeavor. However, I agree with those who say that Andrew would likely be disgusted with what has transpired since his untimely death.
While Andrew actually shared several qualities in common with Trump, and would have loved to see him as a talk show host of some sort, he never would have wanted him as the GOP nominee. This would have been especially so when it was very obvious that putting Trump up against Hillary Clinton would effectively assure her election.
Finally, the entire fiasco now also ends any rational debate over what really happened to make Trump the nominee in the first place. I have written probably far sooner and more regularly than anyone else about how and why the bulk of the “conservative” media was in the tank for Trump during the primaries. We now basically know for sure that this was part of at least a semi-organized and premeditated effort, with Breitbart.com and Matt Drudge aligned on the Internet side, and Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity leading the charge on the television format. They didn’t do this because they thought it was good for the country or even the conservative cause. They did it because it was good for them financially.
To claim differently at this point would be like a woman who gets dumped by a guy who immediately ends up marrying her best friend and doesn’t realize that there was obvious cheating and betrayal going on all along.
The reality is that all of those pro-Trump, and viciously anti-Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Romney, Ryan stories which Breitbart.com has churned out over the last year were nothing but a fraud. They were perpetrated by a now corrupt entity which claimed to be a “conservative” news source but which was really nothing but a propaganda machine for an unqualified, liberal conman.
Personally, as a religious agnostic, as much as I desperately hope that there is such a thing as an afterlife where those who have died still have an idea of what is happening here on earth, I have always had grave doubts that such a “place’ really exists. This is one of those few moments when, for the sake of my old ex-friend Andrew Breitbart, I actually hope my suspicions are correct.
John Ziegler is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at email@example.com
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.