Steve Bannon Declares War on Hollywood Post-Weinstein: "It's Blowing Itself Up"
The former White House adviser says that Breitbart will be redoubling its efforts to focus on Hollywood political bias.
A few months after exiting Washington as President Donald Trump's chief adviser, Steve Bannon is back at Breitbart as its executive chairman and is refocusing some of his attention on Hollywood as the industry grapples with claims about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual abuse. Bannon is planning an effort to convince conservatives in the industry to tell stories of political retribution.
"Hollywood isn't a new battlefront for Breitbart, it's the original battle," Bannon tells The Hollywood Reporter. "The fact it's blowing itself up isn't a new stage in the culture war, it's an inevitable one."
First up in this invigorated battle is a 14,000-word article written by a Hollywood insider who will outline what he says was a pattern of discrimination against him and his family due to his conservative political views and especially his support of Trump.
The article, to be published this week, was written by Patrick Courrielche, a former joke writer for Sarah Silverman and Tracy Morgan who started his career as a dancer on American Bandstand and now writes and produces. Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow says "he was embedded in Hollywood for years working on the project."
Bannon and Marlow figure the time is right to focus anew on what they say is an entertainment industry that pushes a liberal agenda while silencing conservatives in its employment because, in part, the industry is being roiled by accusations of sexual assault.
"They've ignored half the country's values for far too long and now these Hollywood elitists' values are publicly on display, and bankrupt," Bannon says. Adds Marlow, "Hollywood turned a blind eye to Weinstein's horrible behavior, now it's turning a blind eye to the conservatives who work there and who make up half its audience."
The website could be refocusing its efforts outside the Beltway as it tries to build an audience aside from Trump news. Breitbart, whose traffic increased dramatically during the 2016 election cycle as it documented the real estate mogul's rise, has seen a decline in traffic this year, an analysis by the website Axios on Oct. 24 found based on comScore data. Breitbart, according to the report, has seen its audience decline 20 percent from August 2016 to August 2017.
The site has also been subject to a sustained boycott campaign by the activist group Sleeping Giants, which uses social media to target specific advertisers who may not be aware that they advertise on Breitbart and asks them to remove their ads from the website, claiming that the site regularly posts "racist and sexist" articles. The group claims to have made a notable dent in Breitbart's ad sales.
Now, post-Weinstein, Breitbart will be redoubling its efforts into what it claims is Hollywood political bias. "These are the same people who disingenuously seized the moral high ground as they attacked our president based on a standard they do not live by," Bannon says. "Americans took their country back not only from the permanent political class but also from these phony culture brokers who have waged war against their way of life for decades. Make no mistake, we didn't start this war, but how Hollywood responds from here will determine whether or not it survives."
The site, of course, has existed for years covering entertainment from a conservative perspective on the vertical Big Hollywood. "Hollywood's war on conservatives is backfiring, so this is a new phase. Hollywood has no more moral authority to lecture us. It can't even keep its own house in order," says Marlow, adding that Breitbart wants to establish itself as a safe place for more Hollywood insiders to "come out of the closet. It will be a moment of vindication for Andrew Breitbart's vision."
"There is a populist movement taking over politics in this country," Bannon says. "Breitbart was founded on the notion that culture dictates politics, and if Hollywood doesn't understand this movement and these people, then they better be prepared for the consequences."
In Courrielche's case, many of his problems with liberal colleagues began after he wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, "Save the Arts by Ending the Endowment," where he argued that Trump should scrap the "politically tainted" National Endowment for the Arts. In one case, his wife was brought to tears by the abuse her family took on social media from some of her husband's colleagues who read the article. "The harassment is subtle," Courrielche says. "It's an organic process that weeds out conservatives, and I'll show how it is done. Weed out, ostracize, repeat."