“Obamacare 2.0 Guts Enforcement, Gives Illegal Aliens Health Care Through Identity Fraud.”
This was one of the many headlines criticizing the recently proposed healthcare plan on the infamous news site Breitbart. In light of the new plan, the admittedly alt-right news platform has seemingly turned away from the Republican establishment in favor of an “all-out assault against Trump’s chosen health plan,” as Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale put it.
In a comical turn of events, Trump himself is now being criticized by the news site that unyieldingly supported him during the campaign. This puts Trump in a tough position. Should he support the beliefs of the people who put him in office or work with Republicans in Congress now?
Breitbart has become a popular news alternative for the right. They see it as “an answer to mainstream media organizations, including The [New York] Times, that are viewed as liberal in outlook.” With several thousand followers on Twitter, Breitbart’s nationalistic, anti-immigrant message reaches out to those on the right-wing political fringe and gives them a voice. Trump triumphed, in part, because he appealed to these such voters that previously felt disenfranchised and would not normally vote. To get those disenfranchised to support him, Trump tweeted more links from Breitbart than any other news organization during the campaign season and outright praised the organization.
Breitbart’s alliance with Trump was bolstered even more when the former Executive Chairman of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, was made a chief strategist to the White House after formerly being the CEO of the Trump campaign. He is now considered one of the most powerful people in the White House and he is happy to use his position to spread the extreme views of Breitbart.
Given the mutual support, the president apparently thought Breitbart would bow down to everything he says. But this is not the case.
Breitbart openly denounced the new Republican healthcare plan, known to some as Trumpcare or “Obamacare Lite.” Instead of praising the new healthcare plan, Breitbart continues to publish pieces on the new healthcare plan such as “Cotton: GOP Health Care Plan Is ‘Not Going to Work to Bring Down Premiums.”
While a condemnation of the new healthcare plan was expected by liberal news outlets like Huffington Post and MSNBC, the harsh criticism by Breitbart made Trump supporters pause and may even quash the whole plan.
However, while the Trump team seems horrified that the site turned on them, it should not truly come as a shock. Only recently has Breitbart “moved from the fringes to a central media player” with the help of the Trump campaign, and the Trump people are just now realizing the founding intention of Breitbart: attacking the Republican establishment as too moderate. The site notorious for criticizing moderate Republicans is still criticizing moderate Republicans.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a long term target of Breitbart, seems to be taking most of the heat for the healthcare plan. Breitbart even has hinted about replacing Speaker Paul Ryan. One article about his primary race against businessman Paul Nehlen is titled “Nehlen: Paul Ryan a ‘Soulless Globalist’ ‘Grown in a Petri Dish in DC’ Who Puts ‘Corporate America’ Over Wisconsin Workers” which makes no attempt to hide Breitbart’s contempt.
So is Breitbart becoming too radical for Trump? No, not at all.
Trump likely will try to appease the entire Republican base for as long as he can; but when push comes to shove, there’s a strong possibility that he will succumb to the alt-right… and more importantly to Steve Bannon. Instead of supporting more moderate plans—for healthcare and in general—that some Democrats can sympathize with, Trump will listen to his base and create extremely conservative legislation that appeals directly to them. This same kind of legislation that will alienate establishment Republicans like Paul Ryan.
Some say directly appealing to alt-right during the election cycle was like making a deal with the devil, and now Trump may finally have to pay the price of leaving the Republican establishment behind for a whole new era of Trump-and-Breitbart’s America.