Anyone who listened to Steve Bannon host the Breitbart News morning show on Sirius XM heard listeners affectionately refer to him as “Commander,” asking his permission to take the conn. To take the conn in nautical parlance means to assume control of the navigation of a ship. This is a direct reference to Bannon’s time in the U.S. Navy where he served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations working on budget issues after two relatively unremarkable non-combat deployments at sea. As of Tuesday, it appears Bannon has given up the conn as Executive Chairman of Breitbart rather than scuttle the ship in his ongoing battle with the White House.
Bannon’s war with the White House began when he unceremoniously left his post as chief strategist back in August of 2017. His ticket on the Trump train was first punched when he became Chief Executive of the campaign just two and a half months before election day in 2016. As Trump moved into the White House, Bannon moved in to the West Wing. He seemed poised to take down what he called the GOP establishment and globalist agenda with a message that was most akin to populist nationalism.
His journey on that same Trump train ended after months of butting heads with Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who in addition to being his son-in-law, also happens to be the President’s senior advisor. At the time of his exit, Bannon vowed to pursue his same goals from the outside while maintaining his staunch support for the Trump “Make America Great Again” agenda, joining forces with another former Trump advisor, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, and his MAGA coalition. Gorka’s record is also questionable and his exit from the White House cloaked in claims of failure and infighting.
Bannon’s first major offensive came in the form of an all-out assault to get Roy Moore elected to the U.S. Senate in Alabama. That offensive turned into an abysmal failure as what should have been an in-the-bag victory for Republicans went to Democrat, Doug Jones, in a historically red state. Alabama hadn’t seen a Democrat in that seat in more than a generation. During this time Bannon also returned to the helm of the five-day-a-week, morning drive time broadcast of Sirius XM Patriot’s Breitbart News. What the listeners, and likely his other contributors, did not know is that the “Commander” was steering the ship directly towards an iceberg.
That iceberg came in the form of remarks attributed to Bannon in a new book by Michael Wolff, in which Bannon allegedly questioned President Trump’s mental fitness as well as called some of Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr.’s actions during the campaign treasonous. The ship began taking on water immediately and it would appear there were no lifeboats left for Bannon when Breitbart financial patron Rebekah Mercer surveyed the deck.
Breitbart recently expanded its presence on Sirius XM Patriot to include night-time slots, effectively bookending other conservative voices on the channel. There have also been rumors of a Breitbart television network on the horizon to rival what Bannon’s former boss on Pennsylvania Avenue might call “Fake News.” These latest moves by Breitbart, whose listenership is not a monolith but contains a high percentage of staunch Trump supporters, would likely have been put in jeopardy if Bannon had stayed on. Who will take the helm now is unknown, but one thing is certain: This Commander-in-Chief is not inclined to put up with insubordination. It is doubtful anyone from the White House is wishing Bannon fair winds and following seas.
Featured image courtesy of AP