Note: This is part 2 in a series on what happened to the Breitbart name and legacy after Andrew Breitbart’s death.
When Andrew Breitbart died, the staff of Breitbart.com understandably took up the #war mantle created by Andrew’s electrifying Tea Party speeches. However, one of the greatest aspects of Breitbart was that he was a happy warrior. He had liberal and conservative friends. He enjoyed what he did and the way he did it. I think that was best expressed on Red Eye the day after Breitbart died. And yes, that is Ben Shapiro in the teaser frame.
Andrew Breitbart was full of ideas and energy. His presence filled a room. While it is very little consolation, he seemed to fit 40 years of life into 20 years as a movement conservative. The downside is that Breitbart was not very interested in money. He didn’t become a media darling and money he made from Breitbart.com was invested into the business. When you’re not rich, rich people can come in and take over.
Stephen Bannon is a hard-core right-wing ideologue who also happened to make some decent money working at Goldman Sachs. He became a producer, which meant he bankrolled films (and, fortuitously, Seinfeld). Producers often start thinking their money gives them the ability to have more say in movie making and Bannon eventually became a director of his own movies. By 2004, he was making propaganda documentaries about how great conservatism is. He also met Andrew Breitbart.
Years later, Bannon arranged financing for Breitbart News and took over when Andrew Breitbart died. By 2012, Bannon seemed to be an unhappy, bordering on angry, warrior. His film, the Undefeated, about Sarah Palin’s accomplishments and struggles against the media, got him close to Palin, but yielded little political action because Palin never took the spot most people were expecting her to take in the 2012 Republican primary contest. Much like the Tea Party groups targeted by the IRS, money for a Palin campaign didn’t seem to be there.
Bannon steered Beitbart News from supporting Republicans in general to drawing a line between the good mavericks and the bad RINO establishment Republicans. As Republicans made gains in the Senate, the balance shifted from conservative iconoclasts to pragmatic free market Republicans.
By 2015, a candidate emerged who was both endorsed by Sarah Palin and capable of either self-financing or getting enough free media to offset lower fundraising totals. Donald Trump was the perfect Steve Bannon candidate. He was the honey badger that Bannon wanted Breitbart to emulate. Trump was also wildly popular and made the $100 million that went into the Jeb Bush campaign disappear with nary an impact on the election. Trump eschewed political professional for passionate specialists. In that way, Stephen Bannon finally got a seat at the big table.