Steve Bannon, who until yesterday was chief strategist to US president Donald Trump, has barely been out of the White House a day, but whisperings have already begun about what he may do next.
Axios reports that Bannon has said to friends “he sees a massive opening to the right of Fox News.” (Fox News, you’ll recall, is pretty firmly on the right already.) The suggestion is that he may have plans to form a news network, either on television or perhaps even streamed solely online, where Bannon already has a large following as chairman of Breitbart News and where members of the various groups that form the alt-right tend to congregate, particularly on Reddit.
One particular meeting Bannon took before leaving the White House has fueled the speculation. Days before his exit, he is said to have met with Robert Mercer, the vastly wealthy hedge-fund tycoon who has funded numerous political projects and was a major donor to the Trump campaign. Mercer reportedly despises the right-wing establishment—a feeling Bannon shares—and already backs Breitbart. If Bannon did have plans for a network in mind, Mercer would be an obvious choice for a backer.
With Bannon out of the White House, there’s a good argument to be made that he is, in fact, more powerful. He’s free to publicly attack his opponents in the Trump administration as well as Democrats and anyone else he disagrees with, while rallying public support around his nationalist agenda. He has already returned to work at Breitbart.
“Now I’m free,” Bannon told the Weekly Standard. “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘It’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a fucking machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up.”
On Breitbart’s weekly SiriusXM show today, the site’s Washington editor, Matt Boyle, said the site is planning an “aggressive expansion.” What that means, and whether it might include a new broadcast channel, remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Bannon has plans to spread his voice as far and wide as possible.