The Slatest

Trump Campaign Hires Breitbart Chief Stephen Bannon

Stephen Bannon reacts to a caller while hosting Brietbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot.

Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Trump campaign has hired Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, as its new “chief executive.” The Journal also reported that Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has been promoted to campaign manager. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to stay in his role. From the Journal:

[T]he reset is designed to bulk up a structure that many Republicans have complained wasn’t adequate for the rigors of the general-election campaign.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has fallen further behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in most national and battleground-state polls in recent days, and some Republicans had been hoping for a course adjustment long before the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the general election race.

On Wednesday morning, Trump told the Associated Press of Bannon and Conway, “I’ve known both of them for a long time. They’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it.”

Bannon, a former investment banker and film producer, has led the extremely right-wing and often conspiracy-minded Breitbart through a period of internal turmoil largely centered around the site’s support of Donald Trump. In the wake of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s alleged assault of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields in March, Bannon was criticized openly by Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro, who resigned in the aftermath of the incident, over his handling of the situation and the direction he had taken the site in since its founder’s death. “In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew [Breitbart’s] mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump,” Shapiro wrote in a statement. “[H]e has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.” A wave of other staffers would resign over the incident, and it was reported in BuzzFeed that Bannon’s firing was demanded by editors that considered leaving Breitbart.

A Vanity Fair article in March revealed the extent to which Bannon pushed pro-Trump coverage at Breitbart:

At Breitbart, pro-Trump coverage is rigidly enforced from the top down, according to two people with knowledge of the site’s editorial process. “Everything that is written about Trump must be approved by Bannon,” said a source who did not wish to be named for fear of retribution. According to this source, Bannon is copied on all stories filed about Trump, and exercises his veto power even for stories that only mention Trump by name or in the context of another person referring to him. “The editors can’t make a move until Bannon responds with ‘Go’ or ‘Hold,’” the source said, adding that his veto extends to the entire Web site. “Tons of reporters would constantly claim that they’d have five stories in their Wordpress just pending, because they’d write it and Bannon wouldn’t approve.”

In February, Glenn Beck, a vocal Trump critic, speculated that Bannon planned on either working directly for Trump or taking Fox chief Roger Ailes’ place in conservative media:

I’m telling you that I believe that Bannon thinks he’s either going to be the chief of staff or he’s going to be the next Roger Ailes. And let me tell you something, Bannon whatever your first name is. Um, you’re not going to be the next Roger Ailes. There is not going to be another Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes is a freak of nature. He is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met in my life and built over a long career a real empire, and nobody is ever going to replace Roger Ailes.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the Trump campaign had hired Roger Ailes to prepare Trump for the debates. This was later denied by Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.