WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — An editor at conservative news site Breitbart had a one-word response to reports that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had been forced out Friday: “#WAR.”
Editor Joel Pollack’s tweet came after the New York Times broke the news that President Donald Trump was getting rid of Bannon at the end of a tumultuous week that shined a harsh spotlight on his connections to the white nationalist alt-right.
Hours later, Breitbart News announced that "populist hero" Bannon has returned as executive chairman and chaired Friday night's editorial meeting. He had run the site, one of the then-Republican presidential nominee’s most high-profile media allies, prior to joining the Trump campaign last August.
Since a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last weekend led to violence that left a counter-protester dead, Bannon was reportedly one of the few aides encouraging Trump to cast blame on “both sides” instead of putting responsibility squarely on the racists.
In recent days, Bannon gave several unusual media interviews, including one to a progressive magazine in which he suggested all of President Trump’s threats of military action against North Korea were a bluff.
Joshua Green, a Bloomberg reporter and author of a recent book on Bannon and Trump, said Friday afternoon that Bannon told him he is going to war, but "war for Trump against his opponents."
Reports conflict on the exact circumstances of Bannon’s departure, but his conservative media allies lashed out online Friday.
“#winteriscoming #thenorthremembers,” tweeted Breitbart reporter John Carney.
“With Steve Bannon gone, Donald Trump risks becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger 2.0,” read the headline on Pollack’s article about the staff change, referring to the actor and former Republican governor of California.
According to Pollack, Schwarzenegger ran as an outsider who would reform a corrupt political system, much like Trump did.
“But after struggling with intense media criticism, and after losing a key referendum on reforms to state government, Schwarzenegger gave up on his agenda, and abandoned the political base that had brought him into office,” he wrote. “He re-invented himself as a liberal, embracing policies such as California’s controversial cap-and-trade program, which had zero effect on climate change but has chased businesses, jobs, and middle-class families out of the state.”
Those close to Bannon have told reporters they fear there will be no true Republicans left to steer Trump’s agenda and this is now a “Democrat White House.”
Alt-right journalist Mike Cernovich said in a Periscope livestream on Thursday night that if Bannon is fired, he would release a series of scoops that would “destroy marriages, relationships.”
“If they get rid of Bannon, you know what’s gonna happen? The motherlode. If Bannon is removed, there are gonna be divorces, because I know about the mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything,” Cernovich said, according to the Daily Beast.
Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart writer who had an acrimonious break with the site, predicted Bannon will now attempt to become “the conscience of the nationalist populist movement.”
"He's going to use that power to smash the president when he thinks the president is wrong," he said on Fox News.
Axios reported that a source close to Bannon said he will go “thermonuclear” against the “globalists” who remain in the Trump administration.
According to Axios, Bannon met this week with wealthy Breitbart funder and Trump supporter Robert Mercer to discuss his next steps.
Liberals on social media, meanwhile, were celebrating the ouster of one of the White House’s most influential nationalist voices.