The chairman of the right-wing news and opinion website Breitbart is now effectively in charge of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. The Wall Street Journal broke the news early Wednesday about the Trump campaign's shakeup:
Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, an outspoken Trump supporter and a former Goldman Sachs banker, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. At the same time, Mr. Trump also is promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, to become campaign manager. Ms. Conway has been a campaign adviser for several weeks.Longtime Republican operative Paul Manafort, who joined the campaign late in the primary season, remains campaign chairman. But the 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 before the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the general-election race. "I want to win," Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday night in which he disclosed his hires. "That's why I'm bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win."
Breitbart has long been among the friendliest news outlets to Trump, an attitude that has been reciprocated by the candidate himself. The outlet's reporters and opinion writers frequently provide favorable coverage for Trump and cover those within the Republican party and conservative movement they perceive as opposed to Trump rather harshly.
But the news site's pro-Trump bent extends beyond its news coverage. When a Breitbart reporter claimed she was accosted and grabbed by Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after a press conference earlier this year, the outlet was slow to defend its reporter. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, denied the incident occurred, despite an eyewitness account from a Washington Post reporter. When video evidence showed Lewandowski had indeed grabbed the arm of Michelle Fields, he was arrested (though eventually not charged with battery). But by then Fields had quit Breitbart, citing management's unwillingness to stand up for her. Another senior staff member, Ben Shapiro, also resigned from Breitbart over the website's handling of the Fields incident.
Bannon, who will resign from Breitbart to take on his more official role with the Trump campaign, has had a long career that includes service in the U.S. Navy, work as an investment banker, and a foray into moviemaking. In addition to heading the pro-Trump news outlet, Bannon has expressed favorable opinions toward Trump in his Breitbart podcast.
The namesake of Breitbart, the late conservative provacateur Andrew Breitbart, was considerably less favorable toward Donald Trump as a political figure. Back in 2011, when Trump was publicly considering a run for president, Breitbart said on Fox News that Trump was "not a conservative" and warned that his celebrity appeal could give Republicans a "celebrity candidate" in the future.