Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has left his job as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the website said in a statement on Tuesday.
Bannon has been engaged in a public feud with President Donald Trump since a book was published last week that quoted him disparaging the president and his family. The White House has pressured its allies to cut ties with Bannon, and after his remarks in the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff became public, he lost the support of the Mercer family, his closest financial patrons.
Wolff’s book says Bannon labeled as “treasonous” Donald Trump Jr.’s and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s 2016 meeting with Russian nationals in which the president’s son expected to receive dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton. Wolff also reported that Bannon called Trump’s daughter Ivanka “dumb as a brick.”
Bannon also predicted in the book that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, would “crack” Trump Jr. “like an egg on national TV.”
Bannon issued a statement on Sunday in which he didn’t specifically deny the comments or fully apologize for them. He said that he regretted waiting to respond to what he called “inaccurate reporting” and called Donald Trump Jr. an “honorable man.”
Breitbart has also been the focus of an advertising boycott organized by a group known only by its Twitter account, Sleeping Giants. The group describes itself as “a campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable” and has recently redoubled its effort to persuade advertisers to avoid the site, according to a person with first-hand knowledge of the site.
As a result, the site is largely dependent on outside money from supporters such as the Mercer family.
“Breitbart depends on private financing because they experienced this massive advertiser boycott,” said Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesman.
Little is known about Breitbart’s finances or other investors. The Mercer family has invested $10 million in the site, according to the New Yorker. In a statement last week, Rebekah Mercer, a minority stakeholder in Breitbart, said her family hasn’t communicated with Bannon “in many months” and provided “no financial support to his political agenda.”
“I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform,” Bannon said, according to Breitbart.
The president has minimized Bannon’s role in Trump’s 2016 election win, characterized him as self-interested and destructive, and nicknamed him “Sloppy Steve.” Trump has also denounced Wolff’s book as “fiction,” as well as “really boring.” On Sunday he bemoaned a “Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author.”
The website’s CEO, Larry Solov, said in Breitbart’s statement, “Steve is a valued part of our legacy, and we will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish.”