Steve Bannon, appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump, arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. 
Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images

The ‘Breitbart-ization’ of Trump World continues

When then-candidate Donald Trump brought on Steve Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, to help guide his campaign’s message, it marked a turning point in the president’s political trajectory. Breitbart earned a reputation for publishing highly provocative, right-wing content – routinely causing headaches for the Republican Party’s establishment – and positioning Bannon to help lead the team spoke volumes about Trump’s radicalism and embrace of the fringe.

In the months that followed, the political amateur and his supporting staff never looked back. Bannon helped write Trump’s convention speech; he took over the role of campaign chairman; he became the new White House’s chief strategist after the election; and it was Bannon’s voice that came through in Friday’s inaugural address.

Now, what was once described as “the Breitbart-ization of Trump’s campaign” has led to the Breitbart-ization of Trump’s White House. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
When House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s redbrick Georgian revival house in Janesville, Wis., was surrounded last July by women whose children were murdered by undocumented immigrants, conservative writer Julia Hahn published a scathing report and a blurry snapshot of Ryan’s departing SUV.

The headline: “Paul Ryan flees grieving moms trying to show him photos of their children killed by his open borders agenda.”

Three months later, Hahn wrote a 2,800-word story alleging that Ryan (R-Wis.) was the ringmaster for a “months-long campaign to elect Hillary Clinton.” It was just one of a torrent of posts over the past year that cast Ryan as a “globalist” who is cozy with corporations and an enemy of Donald Trump-style populism.
Now, Hahn is joining the White House’s staff as an aide to Bannon – a move, according to the Post’s article, that “alarmed and angered” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) allies.

It’s easy to understand why. From her Breitbart perch, Hahn not only excoriated congressional GOP leaders, she also slammed the right-wing House Freedom Caucus for not being tough enough when taking on Ryan and the Republican establishment.

Much has been made of late of Trump’s affinity for division. As Vox’s Ezra Klein explained late last week, “Donald Trump’s inaugural address, like his campaign, was notable in part for how uninterested he was in healing divisions. He did not pretend our disputes were illusory. He did not suggest our divisions would be easy to bridge. He was perfectly clear about whom he was speaking to and whom he wasn’t…. Trump thrives on heightening the divisions in American politics.”

And while this is clearly true on a national scale, it’s true on a narrower, more partisan scale. too: Trump also thrives on pitting contingents of the Republican Party against one another, and now even enjoys seeing the factions of his own White House team – Reince Priebus’ establishment against Steve Bannon’s radicals – go at it.

Is it any wonder people close to the Speaker’s office are feeling anxiety?

Update: While I was writing this, a new report suggested a third Breitbart alum is headed to the White House: “Breitbart national security editor and Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka is expected to join President Donald Trump’s White House, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider.”

No word yet on the scope of Paul Ryan’s frustrations.