Stephen Bannon’s decision to resign as White House chief strategist and return to Breitbart News has left people speculating what’s next for the populist firebrand and his media outlet.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Bannon announced that he is “going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
It’s hard to tell what shape Bannon’s war will take because there are several possibilities on the table. However, if rumors are true, a Breitbart television enterprise is high on his list.
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan reported Saturday that “Bannon has told friends he sees a massive opening to the right of Fox News, raising the possibility that he’s going to start a network.”
According to Swan, before his death in May, former Fox News founder Roger Ailes “sent word to Bannon that he wanted to start a channel together.” Bannon supposedly “loved the idea,” sharing with Ailes his belief that Fox News was “heading in a squishy, globalist direction as the Murdoch sons assume more power.”
Paul Bond, of The Hollywood Reporter, writes that Breitbart “intends on expanding into television, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect, according to some who are familiar with Bannon’s ambitions, given that Fox News has fallen out of favor with some conservatives and Trump supporters after Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were fired.”
This matches reporting by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, who tweeted that Bannon has his sights set on the executive chairman and acting CEO of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch.
With big-name media personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos, Tomi Lahren, Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly floating around on the open market, Bannon definitely has the capability of forming an all-star newscast worthy of rivaling Fox News. Bringing in someone like former Fox News co-president Bill Shine to help manage operations would be seen as a separate, but equally game-changing move.
But first, Bannon needs funding and infrastructure.
Luckily, Bannon and Breitbart are backed by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, whom Bannon reportedly met with on Wednesday to plot out his next steps. Mercer was also a megadonor to the Trump campaign during last year’s presidential election.
To solve for the lack of infrastructure, Bannon may look at buying out another media company such as TheBlaze or One America News Network. Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media — if approved by the FCC — could also clear the way for a new conservative cable news network.
Lee Stranahan, former Breitbart reporter and founder of Populist.tv, says that “video in some form is the obvious next step” for Breitbart; however, he warned that it might take them awhile to get things up and running.
“They are going to have an implementation problem because until now, the company has been a slow moving ship,” Stranahan said. “Frankly, they should have been creating original video content for years now but have let outlets like Infowars dominate in that area.”
“That being said,” Stranahan continues, “Bannon is a business genius, a filmmaker and has a background in media. He’s slowed down by the Breitbart editorial team surrounding him and the company lost some major talent in his absence, including people like Alex Swoyer, who has brains, reporting chops and a made-for-TV look. However, if people like rock star [Sebastian] Gorka leave the White House and move into a Breitbart Television venture, they will find a large audience ready for them.”
For what it’s worth, President Trump seemed to give Bannon his blessing to pursue such a venture, tweeting Saturday that the mainstream media “needs the competition!”
If all the right pieces fall into place for Breitbart to launch a television news network, Bannon may finally see his dream of “deconstructing the administrative state” become a reality.
In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Bannon said he feels “jacked up.”
“Now I’m free,” he said. “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘It’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition.”