This is the progression of Stephen K. Bannon’s job titles over the past 18 months:
- Breitbart News chairman
- Donald Trump campaign chief executive
- White House chief strategist
- Breitbart News chairman
Bannon stepped down from Breitbart on Tuesday, the end of a stunning rise and fall from the halls of the White House to now stepping down as chairman of the far-right news and opinion website.
Less than a year ago, Time magazine put Bannon on its cover and wondered whether he might be the second most powerful man in the world. Now, Bannon has been abandoned and nicknamed “Sloppy Steve” by the president he worked to elect, and pressured out of the media company that helped him gain Trump’s confidence in the first place.
Returning to Breitbart in August was clearly a less important role but, nevertheless, an opportunity to remain relevant. He envisioned using the website to transform the Republican Party, and appeared to have the support of his ex-boss.
“I can understand fully how Steve Bannon feels,” Trump said in October.
Then Bannon chose to support Roy Moore in the Senate race in Alabama, who eventually lost. This weakened the perception that he could influence or even read a political situation correctly. His critical comments about Trump’s adult children, published in Fire and Fury, US journalist Michael Wolff’s book about Trump's behaviour in the White House, enraged the president, who declared that Bannon had “lost his mind.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last Thursday that Breitbart should “look at and consider” cutting ties with Bannon. Five days later, Bannon was out.
“Steve is a valued part of our legacy,” Breitbart chief executive Larry Solov said, “and we will always be grateful for his contributions and what he has helped us to accomplish.”
Bannon said he was “proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”
What’s next for Bannon?
“I don’t think he’ll be quiet or silent for very long,” Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesman said. “Accepting fate or defeat is not in his DNA. Someone who entertains running for president doesn’t just retreat and shrink away into anonymity. He will try and reinvent himself. He will try and finish what he started.”
Bardella’s remark about presidential ambitions refers to a December Vanity Fair article which reported that a White House run “has at least been a passing thought” for Bannon.
“In October,” Sherman wrote, “Bannon called an adviser and said he would consider running for president if Trump doesn’t run for re-election in 2020. Which Bannon has told people is a realistic possibility. In private conversations since leaving the White House, Bannon said Trump only has a 30 percent chance of serving out his term, whether he’s impeached or removed by the Cabinet invoking the 25th amendment.”
Another possibility for Bannon already is closed. Wolff reported in his book that former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes approached Bannon in April about teaming up to launch a new conservative television network that would feature the just-fired Bill O’Reilly. According to Wolff, Bannon said at the time that he wanted to stay in the White House.
Bannon left the White House just four months later, but by then Ailes had died.
Bannon could attempt to start a new venture without Ailes or perhaps go back to making documentaries, like the one he produced in 2011 about Sarah Palin, before becoming chairman at Breitbart. But those projects might require fundraising and Bannon, through his falling-out with Trump, has alienated Breitbart News investor and billionaire Robert Mercer and his associates, which would have been his most natural source of financial support.