Inside Steve Bannon's First Day Back at Breitbart News
Bannon expressed relief to be back in the news business and out of the White House.
It was a busy day for reporters on Friday. It was nothing compared to the one reporters working at Breitbart News had, though.
In between massive amounts of emails, texts and phone calls from journalists seeking intel on Steve Bannon's exit from the White House and return to Breitbart as executive chairman, there were the usual stories that needed covering — Charlie Daniels weighing in on the Confederate statue controversy, David Letterman insisting that President Donald Trump resign — then an all-hands meeting with Bannon.
Bannon was speaking from Washington to correspondents in other countries and to Breitbart headquarters in Los Angeles via phone, and he was in remarkably good spirits, editor-in-chief Alex Marlow tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"There were cheers from the staff and congratulations all around," says Marlow.
Afterward, staffers in Washington headed to Union Pub on Capitol Hill for drinks, while the L.A. crew, many of whom are on vacation this week (nice timing!), largely went their separate ways.
Senior editor Joel Pollak appeared on MSNBC, then headed out for a boxing lesson and for yogurt at Menchie's with the family. He turned down another invitation from MSNBC on Friday night so that he could observe Shabbat.
"I'm a recluse. I'm home with my family," joked Marlow. "We're writers, not big partiers."
During the all-hands meeting, Bannon expressed relief to be back in the news business and out of the White House, then launched into boss mode, asking for more stories about China and trade and the Alabama Senate race, where the seat formerly occupied by Sen. Jeff Sessions (now U.S. attorney general) is up for grabs.
"He said he was happy to provide some wisdom while with Trump, but now he's back. He was in a fantastic mood. He's fired up," says Marlow.
Bannon also talked about plans to expand Breitbart globally, but Marlow can't divulge too many specifics about strategy or initiatives.
Bannon's quick interview with The Weekly Standard, in which he said that the "Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over," wasn't addressed, though Marlow tried to clarify for THR.
"I can't speak for Bannon, but he's absolutely not anti-Trump. He's very passionate about his agenda. There was no vitriol or bitterness in his mood," says Marlow.
"I think he meant that Trump's agenda is off course, relative to his message. Repealing Obamacare, building a wall, limited military engagement, these are all off track," he says. "I think it was a metaphor for the things that are way off track."
Marlow says the feuds between Bannon and others in the White House are largely media hype, though there were plenty of civilized debates.
"He disagreed with lots of people. He's a visionary," says Marlow. "He sees the political landscape and the U.S. in a unique way that doesn't fit with the establishment, so it's no surprise he butted heads. He's truly original."
"Steve told me a few days after his appointment," says Marlow, "that he'd only be there for a year, and almost to a day, that's how long he was with Trump."
That is, if you count his work on Trump's campaign along with his stint as a presidential chief adviser.
Ironically, Marlow says Bannon wasn't able to pay attention to the news cycle nearly as much as he'd have liked to while working for Trump. "He's a news junkie," he says, though Bannon was keenly aware that many journalists were working overtime to demonize him. It just never seemed to bother him.
"I met with him recently near the White House," says Marlow. "There were four TV monitors behind us, and he was on two of them. There was no awkwardness. He just smiled. Not that he was disinterested; he's just an international superstar. It's part of his life nowadays."