Now that Steve Bannon has lost his job at the White House, there’s speculation that it could divide President Trump’s remaining supporters.
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Each week, USA TODAY’s OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other’s media bubble.
This week, pundits and journalists from both sides of the political fence tried to determine what the future will hold for the Trump White House after the departure of Steve Bannon. Bannon is widely credited with helping to craft the populist message that carried President Trump into the White house, and the world will be watching to see what effect his absence has on the president.
From the right: Trump risks becoming Schwarzenegger 2.0
The decision to part with Bannon could “turn out to be the beginning of the end for the Trump administration, the moment Donald Trump became Arnold Schwarzenegger,” wrote Breitbart News‘ Joel Pollak.
Schwarzenegger was a celebrity outsider who promised reform as the governor of California, but abandoned his agenda to recast himself as a liberal, Pollak said. He fears Trump will follow the same path without Bannon.
Bannon was not just Trump’s master strategist, the man who turned a failing campaign around in August 2016 and led one of the most remarkable come-from-behind victories in political history. He was also the conservative spine of the administration. His infamous whiteboard in the West Wing listed the promises Trump had made to the voters, and he was determined to check as many of them off as possible. Steve Bannon personified the Trump agenda.
With Bannon gone, there is no guarantee that Trump will stick to the plan.
From the left: Bannon out, but Trump still racist
The response from the left to Bannon’s departure “has ranged from sweet sighs of relief to exuberant schadenfreude,” wrote Eric Armstrong for the New Republic. But he said those responses only make sense “if you view Trump as a mere vessel and Bannon as the Rasputin behind the throne.”
“But the sad reality is that Trump had done tons of racist stuff long before Bannon ever got hold of him,” Armstrong wrote.
“Bannon’s departure is certainly a good thing. The fewer white nationalists in the halls of power the better,” he said. “But make no mistake, those same views will enjoy the world’s loudest bullhorn as long as Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
From the right: ‘Bannon blew himself up’
Bannon’s ouster was the result of “self-inflicted wounds” and “his own arrogance,” wrote Tom Rogan in an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner.
“Bannon managed to alienate just about everyone he worked with,” wrote Rogan. “By bullying his way onto the national security council (from which he was eventually dispatched), and pushing for trade wars, Bannon earned ire from the national security adviser, defense secretary, and secretary of state.”
Rogan said Bannon leaked information to the news media about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, gambling “that his own relationship with Trump was stronger than the president’s relationship with his family. He was wrong.”
From the left: The Bannon stain won’t wash out
It’s hard to overstate the role Bannon played “in making a New York billionaire into a crude economic populist,” John Nichols wrote for The Nation.
“Bannon’s crude cynicism had a profound influence on Trump, giving the candidate the confidence to make appeals that were designed to inflame racial, ethnic and religious differences,” Nichols wrote.
Trump entered politics “as a reckless and irresponsible child of privilege who had a flair for the theatrical based on his experience with New York tabloids and his second career as a reality-TV show star,” he said. “But Bannon recognized a shamelessness in Trump that could be exploited politically.”
From the right: The media is to blame
Controversial conservative firebrand Ann Coulter blamed the news media for Bannon’s ouster in a series of tweets.
“STEVE BANNON OUT! Media is the most powerful branch of government,” she said in the first of a string of tweets.
“Now, the media will forgive @realDonald Trump and treat him totally fairly,” she tweeted with apparent sarcasm. “They admire weakness.”
She also wondered who the media would decide Trump “has to fire next” and said Trump needs to build the border wall to prove “all his good ideas not from Bannon.”
From the left: Bannon will keep trying to ‘bring everything crashing down’
If Steve senses that Trump is being co-opted by the Jared/Ivanka/Trump Jr./Cohn base, he (and Breitbart) will turn on Trump and recruit someone else like Attorney General Sessions to replace him. I would think that in some ways, Steve will want Trump to feel the pain of his departure, and it would not surprise me if Breitbart starts playing up more of the things that they’ve avoided touching to this point ― like the Russia investigation.
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