Today in Conservative Media is a daily roundup of the biggest stories in the right-wing press.
Steve Bannon’s fall from grace in right-wing circles appeared to hit bottom Tuesday, when the former senior Trump adviser and Breitbart News exec announced that he would step down from his perch atop the conservative news site. The move reportedly came at the insistence of Rebekah Mercer, a stakeholder in the site and onetime Bannon ally, who chafed at comments critical of the Trump family that Michael Wolff attributed to Bannon in the former’s new book Fire and Fury. Washington Free-Beacon points out that Wolff mentioned Bannon by name 908 times in its 328 pages, far more than other White House officials and Trump family members.
The normally punchy Breitbart was subdued in its coverage of the man who had led the company since 2012 and who helped put Donald Trump in the White House. Breitbart led with a four-sentence, 86-word post announcing the departure and saying: “Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.”
“Only after the breakup did Bannon see that Breitbart needed Trump more than it needed him,” the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Egger wrote of Bannon’s split with Trump. “So the president and the machine churn on, while Bannon finds himself on the outside looking in.” The postmortems began to roll in Tuesday evening. “No personality in modern political history has so completely squandered an opportunity to be an influential force in American life, particularly in so short a period of time,” writes Jonah Goldberg at National Review. “Bannon may still think that the route to political success lies in heightening social tensions, polarizing American life, and declaring war on political institutions and politicians for sport, but it won’t matter. He is without troops, funders, or a platform now.”
In other news
Ben Shapiro at the Daily Wire took issue with the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalist’s declaration that Donald Trump was the world’s biggest threat to press freedom. “It wasn’t Kim Jung Un (who allegedly kills dissenters), or Ayatollah Khamenei (who bans or jails press members who criticize him), or Vladimir Putin (who allegedly murders members of the press who criticize him),” Shapiro wrote. “It was Donald Trump, who says mean stuff to reporters, then does nothing about it.”
Andrew McCarthy in National Review expressed the misgivings rumbling on the right about the Steele dossier by breaking down how the dossier embedded itself into the mainstream narrative about the Trump campaign, putting the blame squarely on the Obama administration. McCarthy writes that the dossier—chock full of unverified salacious details paid for by the Democratic candidate for president—warranted further investigation, but it was far from credible enough to be shared with the highest rungs of the American government. McCarthy says it’s “egregious” that the dossier was presented before a FISA court, included in a briefing of congressional leaders, and ultimately shared with the press:
Here, then, is the problem for the FBI: Even if Steele had represented that his shocking information about Donald Trump was ripe dead certain, that the dossier had come down from Mount Sinai, the bureau would still have been obliged to treat it as unverified gossip.
Yes, Steele’s information, if true, was indicative of a dire threat to the United States; it would have been perfectly reasonable for American intelligence agents to decide that the allegations warranted vigorous investigation. But even if Steele had been supremely confident in his claims on close questioning, those claims should have been regarded as unsubstantiated rumor unless and until they were corroborated. Clearly the information, absent verification, would have been unworthy of presentation to Congress and the courts.
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