Donald Trump’s presidential campaign endured another shakeup last week when it hired Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman Breitbart News’ parent company, as the campaign’s chief executive.
The press is often referred to as “the Fourth Estate,” meant to keep a close eye on those in power, yet Bannon joins a club of those who have flipped between media and politics – a notorious “revolving door.”
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, in an interview with MediaFile, said that members of the media working for office holders is not unprecedented, but the connection between Trump and Breitbart makes this case “much more unusual” and newsworthy.
Sullivan referred to Breitbart as “almost [part] of his campaign,” and that the recent merger of Bannon and Trump “makes it official.”
“This one is a little different,” said Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent of the New York Times, echoing Sullivan.
The revolving door between media and politics usually involves the move from a “traditional campaign” to things like television gigs, book deals, and speaking at events, Leibovich told MediaFile.
In this case, it is “different” as Breitbart has always acted like a political campaign machine and Trump’s campaign has always acted “like his own TV station,” according to Leibovich.
Robert Entman, professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs said, in an interview with MediaFile, that he “wouldn’t even call it a revolving door.”
Entman refers to Breitbart as “activists” and “propaganda” and says their product “bears almost no resemblance to news,” in part because they “sponsored fake” undercover videos of Planned Parenthood that circulated beginning last year and James O’Keefe’s ACORN undercover videos in 2009.
Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, does not describe Breitbart News as a traditional news site. He says it can be best described as a “‘pro-Trump’ media company” that “publishes a dash of news with a heavy dose of conservative opinion,” Stelter wrote in a CNN Money article.
Kurt Bardella, former spokesman of Breitbart who stepped down this year, unabashedly connected Breitbart with the Trump campaign. He referred to the conservative outlet as “the defacto Super-PAC” and “the rapid response arm” of the Donald Trump campaign.
“They make Fox News look like MSNBC,” added Bardella in an interview on CNN.
David Weigel, who covers national politics for the Washington Post, said in an interview with MediaFile that Breitbart believes they are working to fight the narrative of the mainstream media and reveal the truth of what is actually going on in our world.
“[Trump]’s got a huge fanbase at Breitbart,” said Bannon in a Breitbart newscast in January. “One of the smartest brains out there in demographics, demography, this whole issue of immigration and what it means to to this country.”