The executive chairman of conservative-leaning news web site Breitbart has been hired as CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. A statement released by the web site said that Stephen Bannon’s leave is temporary, and that he’ll be returning to Breitbart at the end of the election cycle:
Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon will take a temporary leave of absence from Breitbart and will resume work with Breitbart the evening of November 8, 2016
“Steve is a huge piece of manpower and we know he will perform brilliantly in his new role as CEO of the Trump presidential campaign,” said Breitbart CEO and President Larry Solov. “We look forward to continuing to deliver the kind of first-in-class news coverage that has generated well-over one billion pageviews so far this year.”
No interim replacement will be made.
Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart staffer and a Trump critic (and current editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire) told us that he sees the shuffling between a news organization and a campaign as a conflict of interest, regardless of political affiliation:
This sort of stuff happens regularly on the left. Journalists join campaigns, then go back to media when it’s all over. That’s fine, so long as bias is stated up front when journalists put on their journalist hats — George Stephanopoulos should have to announce every time he interviews a Republican or Democrat that he worked in the Clinton White House and Bill Clinton campaign at the top level.
But it’s certainly a conflict of interest for Breitbart to continue pretending it’s not a Trump propaganda outlet while its head is the Trump campaign manager who directed its narrative for months before moving to the campaign, and will return to it afterward.
Shapiro quit Breitbart in March 2016 to protest Bannon’s failure to back reporter Michelle Fields, who had accused Trump’s then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of assault when he grabbed her arm. Shapiro said at the time:
Andrew [Breitbart] built his life and his career on one mission: fight the bullies. But Andrew’s life mission has been betrayed. Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda…the facts are undeniable: Breitbart News has become precisely the reverse of what Andrew would have wanted. Steve Bannon and those who follow his lead should be ashamed of themselves.
It is the second major shake-up in the Trump campaign in as many months as well. Paul Manafort had been the face of the Trump campaign, replacing Lewandowski, but he was sidelined amid growing concerns over his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.