With his rumpled appearance and far right views, Steve Bannon — whose just-announced exit makes him the latest in the ever-growing line of White House firings and resignations — stood out, even among a cast of White House aides and characters who have become comedy show staples.
The former navy veteran and investment banker became a driving force at far-right Breitbart News, famous for headlines like: “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?”
After helping steer the last months of Donald Trump’s election campaign he was appointed to the role of chief strategist in the White House.
He became a lightning rod for criticism and was depicted as the Grim Reaper by Saturday Night Live.
His brief tenure in the White House was full of turmoil, and his clash with Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who he reportedly called a ‘cuck’ (cuckservative) and globalist.
The lowest point of his tenure was probably the botched implementation of the first travel ban, which saw chaotic scenes of travellers stranded at airports and was successfully challenged in the courts.
The high point would be the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, something he’d long pushed for.
Bannon was back at work at Breitbart News within hours of leaving the White House, with Charlie Spiering, the White House correspondent for Breitbart, tweeting that Bannon returned as executive chairman and chaired their evening editorial meeting.
Breitbart also ran a story on Bannon’s return.
“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”
Breitbart already has been taking aim at some of Trump’s advisers with whom Bannon clashed, including the president’s economic adviser Gary Cohn.
Cohn, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and others are viewed as moderates and even Democrats by Bannon.
Earlier on Friday, Bannon told Bloomberg News, “if there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents – on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in Corporate America.”
Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart since shortly after founder Andrew Breitbart’s death from a heart attack in 2012. Trump tapped him as his campaign chief executive in August, 2016.
The White House says Bannon’s last day today was reached by “mutual agreement”, but there are conflicting reports about whether he resigned or was told ‘you’re fired’.
Either way, what will go down as one of the front pages of the year from the New York Post is looking incredibly prescient.
It was published after the resignation of Sean Spicer (who Mr Bannon reportedly called fat), chief of staff Reince Priebus and communications director Anthony ‘the Mooch’ Scaramucci.
On his way out the door the Mooch gave one of the crudest political quotes of the decade to describe Bannon’s tastes.
National security adviser Michael Flynn, communications director Michael Dubke and FBI director James Comey can be added to the list of those who’ve already left the White House.
Bannon’s incendiary style is probably best summed up by his promise to ‘bitch slap’ the Republican Party.
With Mr Trump in office he may have achieved that goal, though he’ll no longer get to enjoy it from the White House.
Who replaces Bannon will be seen as a major test of the administration’s future direction.
It’ll also be chalked up as another victory for Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly, who was brought in to bring some discipline and direction.
– with wires and ABC