News & Politics

Shapiro: Trump's Plan B Could Be a 'New Media Empire' With Stephen Bannon, Roger Ailes, and Sean Hannity

Ben Shapiro, former editor-at-large at Breitbart News, argued that Donald Trump’s hiring of Breitbart CEO Stephen K. Bannon as his new campaign chairman suggests that the GOP nominee’s plan B could be the creation of a new media empire.

“Trump’s campaign strategy could be the launch of a new media outlet,” Shapiro wrote Wednesday, after the Trump campaign reported a leadership shakeup promoting Bannon, his former colleague. “If Trump wins, [Bannon is] in a position of high power; if Trump loses, Bannon could head up a new media empire with Trump’s support and the involvement of new Trump supporter and outsted former Fox News head Roger Ailes. Look for Sean Hannity to be a part of any such endeavor.”

Shapiro described Bannon as “a legitimately sinister figure,” and warned that “many former employees of Breitbart News are afraid” of him.

He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies. Bannon is a smarter version of Trump: he’s an aggressive self-promoter who name-drops to heighten his profile and woo bigger names, and then uses those bigger names as stepping stools to his next destination. …

He will attempt to ruin anyone who impedes his unending ambition, and he will use anyone bigger than he is — for example, Donald Trump — to get where he wants to go. Bannon knows that in the game of thrones, you win or you die. And he certainly doesn’t intend to die. He’ll kill everyone else before he goes.

“I joked with friends months ago that by the end of the campaign, Steve Bannon would be running Trump’s campaign from a bunker,” Shapiro added. “That’s now reality.”

Using this credibility, the former Breitbart editor argued that Bannon’s leadership of the outlet followed the exact flirtation with power that Andrew Breitbart would have abhorred. “Andrew Breitbart used his memoir, Righteous Indignation, to target one thing above all else: what he called the Democrat-Media Complex,” Shapiro explained. “He hated the merger of Democrats and the media, and particularly despised their lie of objectivity.”

“Brietbart News never claimed to be objective,” the former editor conceded. “But until Trump won the nomination, leadership at Breitbart News maintained that they had not become a loudspeaker for Trumpism. That was obviously a lie, and one Breitbart would hate. HATE. Now, it’s clear that Breitbart News is indeed and Trumpbart News. That’s pathetic and disgusting.”

Next Page: If Shapiro’s right, my prediction from last July was eerily accurate.

Shapiro’s suggestion that, in the case of a November defeat, Trump could use his high-profile media supporters to set up “a new media empire” echoes a suggestion I made last July. A little over a year ago, I explained that there are many reasons to run for president — some of them economic.

As New York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman pointed out, the 2016 GOP seemed like “less of a political party and more like a talent agency for the conservative media industry.” Every candidate received free hours of TV, radio, and internet attention. Many of them started the race with book deals, and a few of them ended the race with close contacts with the eventual nominee, Donald Trump.

A year ago, I noted that each losing candidate would have marketable value as a pundit, radio host, or author. I never dreamed that the same thing could be true of the eventual nominee. Then, the Republican prospects for victory this November seemed bright — now that’s less the case.

So, buckle up. If Shapiro’s right, we haven’t seen the last of Donald Trump. Indeed, it’s likely we’ve barely seen the beginning.

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