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Steve Bannon’s Terminal Failure

Six days after a dramatic public falling-out with the president, the former Republican strategist has also been ousted from his once-influential post at ‘Breitbart News’

Steve Bannon Joins Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore At Campaign Rally Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Breitbart News — the web capital of Trumpism — ousted its executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, who has fallen into a dramatic rift with his old boss, President Donald Trump.

Bannon’s fate was sealed by the release of a White House exposé, Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, who reported several insults that the former White House chief strategist had made against Trump and his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka. Trump not only disavowed Bannon; the president predicted Bannon’s departure from Breitbart six days before it happened. “The Mercer Family recently dumped the leaker known as Sloppy Steve Bannon,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”

The billionaire Mercer family, which finances Breitbart, were Trump and Bannon’s early political benefactors. Reportedly, the family soured on Bannon in recent months, and Rebekah Mercer forced Bannon’s resignation from Breitbart as a display of loyalty to Trump. Without the Mercer family’s money — and with the alt-right having broadly sided with Trump over Bannon in the shocking divorce — Bannon’s rebellion against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and “the GOP establishment” has run aground. Trump and his movement have dispensed with Bannon, if only to prove that Trumpism knows only one master.

It is unclear where Bannon will go and what he will do next. Given the wild and unlikely nature of Trump’s political rise, Bannon was once widely regarded as a reprobate successor to George W. Bush’s presidential mastermind, Karl Rove. But Bannon’s reputation quickly unraveled, revealing the so-called genius to be a fluke. In the months after Bannon’s departure from the White House, the Republican Party suffered several off-year election defeats across the country — mostly notably in Alabama, where Bannon had backed Roy Moore’s disastrous Senate bid. Bannon had cast the Alabama race as a proving ground for his flamboyant political judgment, and so Moore’s loss placed Bannon on the defensive. The GOP establishment ridiculed Bannon’s judgment. Mitch McConnell, who tacitly backed Moore’s primary opponent, then-senator Luther Strange, reportedly used Moore’s loss to drive a wedge between Trump and Bannon. Bannon’s unfortunate political judgment — as much as the vulgar comments reported in Wolff’s book — seems to have doomed the rogue strategist.

Now that Bannon is gone from the White House and gone from Breitbart, there’s only one “stable genius” determining Trumpism’s future. Hours before The New York Times reported Bannon’s departure from Breitbart, the infamous right-wing former sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that he would run for Senate in Arizona “for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump.”