Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has told friends he wants to create a network that leans further right than Fox News, Axios reported on Saturday. It’s unclear whether it will be a TV network like Fox News, or one that exclusively streams online.
The White House confirmed Bannon’s departure from President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday.
“White House chief of staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Breitbart’s White House correspondent Charlie Spiering tweeted Friday that Bannon returned to Breitbart News as executive chairman, and chaired the outlet’s evening editorial meeting.
News of Bannon weighing establishing a network that leans more conservative than Fox News comes two months after it was reported that Roger Ailes, Fox News’ deceased ex-CEO, wanted the same thing.
Axios reported that in the days before his death, Ailes reached out to Bannon, who was still in the White House at that point, about teaming up to form a new conservative media machine in the mold of Fox News. Bannon reportedly had “no desire to leave” the administration.
Now that he’s out of the White House, Bannon told Bloomberg that he was “going to war for Trump against his opponents – on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over … I feel jacked up … Now I’m free,” Bannon told The Weekly Standard shortly after he was ousted on Friday.
Bannon’s future at the White House appeared to be in jeopardy long before he left. He was rumored to have been behind the far-right’s smear campaign against national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and he’d long had a contentious relationship with the more moderate wing in the White House, which consists of senior economic adviser Gary Cohn – whom Bannon reportedly referred to as “Globalist Gary” – son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
- Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
The final straw, however, appeared to be when Bannon gave an on-the-record interview to The American Prospect, a left-leaning publication.
In the interview, Bannon lashed out National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, contradicted the president on North Korea, and called white nationalists a “collection of clowns” and “losers.” He also said he hoped Democrats “talk about racism every day.”
“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em,” Bannon told The Prospect. “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
The interview reportedly further incensed Trump, who was already irritated at Bannon for participating in Josh Green’s book, “The Devil’s Bargain,” which cast Bannon as being significantly responsible for Trump’s victory in the November election.
Asked during his Tuesday press conference about Bannon’s status in the administration, Trump said, “We’ll see.”
“Look, look – I like Mr. Bannon,” Trump said. “He’s a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that.”
“And I like him,” he continued. “He’s a good man. He is not a racist. I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. But he’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.”
Three days after the press conference, Bannon was out.