Ex-Breitbart News investigative reporter Lee Stranahan was so appalled with Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow‘s appearance on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” Friday that he’s calling on the site’s publisher to scrap him.
In a weekend Periscope video, Stranahan, who recently quit Breitbart for the second time after the site fired him, voiced fresh rage for Marlow. “Alex needs to be fired,” he said.
Stranahan has an axe to grind, but it doesn’t make his anger any less genuine.
He abruptly bolted from Breitbart in late March after Washington editor Matthew Boyle forbade him from attending White House briefings. Stranahan’s exit was characteristically noisy — for days, he went on Periscope and catalogued exactly how badly the site had treated him. He has since learned that Marlow gave Boyle the order to kick Stranahan out of the White House.
Appearing on Maher’s program as the face of the Breitbart, Marlow accepted the premise that Russia interfered with the last U.S. election but said he feels no need for his site to cover it.
“Russia absolutely was trying to interfere according to those agencies, I have no reason to doubt them,” he told Maher. “…We don’t have any evidence of collusion or any evidence of obstruction of justice yet,” he said. “…I don’t know if Russia tipped the election or not.”
Marlow and Maher yukked it — Maher thanked him for “having balls” and bravely coming on his show.
Marlow returned the suck up and said Maher’s show was known for giving conservatives a space to speak. He laughed when Maher joked about sleeping with his wife. “Maybe I should be with your wife,” Maher said when Marlow noted that his wife likes the movie Titanic and Maher, who was using it as a metaphor, said he likes it too.
Stranahan, who works for Sputnik, called Marlow the “Traitor-in-Chief.”
Boyle did not return to an email request for comment. Neither did Breitbart crisis spokesman Chad Wilkinson, who tends to need a 15-hour window to reply that he’s not going to respond. (I asked if we wipe the slate and start over. He hasn’t responded so I’m taking that to mean his answer is ‘no.’)
In a letter to Breitbart News Publisher Larry Solov, Stranahan called on Breitbart to give Marlow the shaft. But parting ways with Marlow would not be so simple. After all, it’s a family affair: Marlow’s parents — Robert and Wynn — are editors at the alt-right website and losing Marlow would certainly mean his parents would go too. Wynn’s Twitter bio describes her as an associate political editor for Breitbart as well as a “wannabe hip hop dancer.” Sources tell me Marlow’s sister, Molly, monitors the comment section.
“I have no idea what Larry thinks,” Stranahan told The Mirror in a phone interview Monday morning. “Larry is very busy and it’s unclear to me how into story narratives Larry Solov is. Larry may think this is a pissing match. I would hope he would show me the same respect Andrew did,” he said, referring to the late Andrew Breitbart, who died suddenly in 2012.
“That a) I’ve never been wrong on stories. I’m not saying the Russians are not behind the hack. I’m saying there is no proof of this right now. He [Larry] might ignore it [my advice] and think this is a personality issue. This is not a personality issue. This is journalistic judgment. For Andrew’s sake I hope he would do this. Larry has told me he realizes how sincere he thinks I am about my concern about Andrew’s legacy. I’m sure this is not comfortable for him.”
But Stranahan doesn’t think too highly of either Marlow or Boyle.
Nor does he forgive Boyle’s decision to bar him from the White House briefing room.
“Boyle has to be held responsible for his terrible journalism and his Ivanka cocktease,” he said, referring to what Stranahan thinks was a major puff piece by Boyle on Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who has a desk in the West Wing and whose husband, Jared Kushner, is one of Trump’s top advisors. “That being said, Alex is above Boyle in the food chain.”
In his Periscope video and during our phone conversation, Stranahan spoke of an ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) story he wrote for Breitbart that was spiked. He said he can’t show me the email thread that explains why editors killed it because they’ve threatened to sue him if he does. But he will say this: “If Breitbart readers saw it they would be shocked. It shows a complete lack of understanding of Breitbart’s bread and butter narratives.”
Recalling the time Breitbart fired him in 2014, when Stranahan released juicy emails exchanged with then-Breitbart Executive Editor Steve Bannon, now a top advisor to Trump, and Texas Bureau Chief Brandon Darby, he explained, “They were very very very very very unhappy about that. But if they lie about me and my only defense is to show emails, I’ll do that.”
That being said, Stranahan sad his latest iteration with Breitbart includes “some sort of NDA” so he can’t spill.
Stranahan psychoanalyzes Breitbart News.
“The problem that Boyle is the Washington Chief and Alex is the Editor-in-Chief,” he said. “It’s very disturbing. It’s not even the stuff people on the left people would assume. He [Marlow] does not get basic narratives. Well, both of them. In this case, Alex.”
When asked about editor Amanda House, who I’m told really runs the site right now, Stranahan compliments her. “My experience with Amanda is that she was an organizer, which is a key editorial skill set. Does that make sense? Amanda cut through the bullshit and made the trains run on time bullshit. In that capacity, I never ran into any problems with her.”
Stranahan said Marlow’s appearance on Maher was nothing short of embarrassing.
“It’s not my job kiss his ass to the point where I say things that are false,” he said of his own appearances on Don Lemon‘s CNN program. “You can be suitably ingratiating.”
He said Marlow and Boyle “were put in place because they’d bend to Bannon’s will.” After Steve left, Marlow allegedly said, ‘We’re no longer in a position to defend Bannon.'”
Stranahan pointed to a weekend Newsweek piece, the cover of which is Trump perched on Marlow’s shoulders. In it, Boyle is described as someone who has two modes: “Murder or blowjob.”
“Which makes you very reticent to get a blowjob from him,” cracked Stranahan. “You would think that Matt would be very servile, but I’ve heard him say very heinous stuff about Trump. They intimate there are people in the company who are very negative about Trump and very pessimistic who nonetheless tried to put on a good face.”
Asked if this might endear him to people who think Breitbart is constantly fawning over Trump, he replied, “This is the blowjob thing. They know where their bread is buttered.”
Stranahan also intimated that Boyle’s relationship with Bannon isn’t as cozy as people assume.
“Matt’s comments about Bannon privately are reflective of that,” he said. When pressed, he wouldn’t explain himself.
But he did point to Boyle’s “absurd” story about Trump Chief of Staff Reince Preibus allegedly being pushed out.
“After Matt reported that [I thought] what the hell is Matt talking about? It’s because Matt has a very shallow understanding of what’s going on. It’s all based on an emotional thing.”
But getting back to his dismay about Marlow and Boyle, Stranahan says “they’re weak and they’re passive aggressive.”
He says there are good people at Breitbart, but he doesn’t want to say who they are.
“There are a few people who aren’t weak and passive aggressive at Breitbart,” he said. “There are people at Breitbart that I respect. I don’t want to name them because I don’t want to get them in trouble.”
For instance, Marlow’s parents.
“Alex’s mom and dad are senior editors and writers,” he said. “They are major editors with power. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Robert and Wynn. They are more competent and efficient than Alex, in fact. It’s hilarious but it points to a systemic problem at Breitbart. You can’t lose Alex without losing three important editors at once. My guess is it’s by design by Alex. It’s passive aggressive Machiavellian.”
Stranahan had no shortage of insults for Marlow. “He’s standoffish, he takes forever to get back to people on articles, he’s arrogant, he’s smug. “People do not like Alex internally.”
The ex-Breitbart reporter’s heart at least seems like it’s in the right place.
“As a reader, I’m generally frustrated,” he said.