Breitbart, the website that has fervently supported President Donald Trump’s campaign and nascent presidency, signalled this week that its brief ceasefire with the establishment wing of the administration may have come to an end.
The reliably pro-Trump website has been reluctant lately to skewer former Republican National Committee members who now work inside the Trump administration, such as chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer.
But that appeared to change on Tuesday, when Breitbart savaged House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, which Trump supports. The website deemed it “Obamacare 2.0” and told its readers the legislation “gives illegal aliens healthcare through identity fraud” and amounted to “GOP welfare entitlement.”
An additional story by Matthew Boyle, the website’s Washington editor, went after Spicer for “inaccurately” claiming the bill “fully repeals Obamacare.”
“We are Breitbart,” Boyle wrote in a Slack conversation about his story, according to a screenshot obtained by Business Insider. “This is war.”
Boyle added: “There are no sacred cows in war.”
Previously, when Boyle published an extremely critical story on Priebus, he was scolded by Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s ex-chairman turned White House chief strategist, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider.
Bannon was furious because he and Priebus were portraying themselves in the press as friends and allies, a narrative almost no one bought, and political observers still connected Breitbart’s coverage to him. To many, it looked like Bannon ordered the attack, though the sources said the story actually blindsided him.
According to the two sources, Bannon was so furious he phoned Boyle after the publication of the story and unloaded on him. Boyle had not sought to notify Bannon he was publishing the story in advance, the sources said.
Bannon further aggravated Boyle that week when he instructed him not to publish additional articles critical of Priebus, prompting the Washington editor to tell others Bannon had betrayed Breitbart and was guilty of “treason,” according to a source.
After tension between the two reached a fever pitch, senior White House officials aimed to placate Boyle by offering him access to the key staffers, two sources said.
But the honeymoon phase appeared to end on Tuesday, with Breitbart largely seeking to place responsibility for the repeal-and-replace legislation on establishment GOP figures, despite Trump’s support.
“They thought they could satisfy Boyle by giving him a one-on-one interview with Trump,” a source said. “But the thing about Boyle is you can’t stop him. You can’t control him.”
Neither Bannon nor Breitbart responded to requests for comment.
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