Memo to Breitbart News: You’ve been warned.
In an early morning discussion Tuesday, MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski mocked Breitbart News for claiming that they haven’t told their reporters to stop writing critical stories about Jared Kushner. President Trump’s senior aide and son-in-law is reportedly in a giant power struggle with the site’s former Executive Chairman Steve Bannon, now Trump’s chief strategist.
Business Insider‘s Oliver Darcy wrote Monday that Breitbart’s senior editors ordered staff to stop writing unflattering stories about Kushner, and that Bannon had previously “instructed” Breitbart’s Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle “to stop publishing articles critical of Priebus.”
But the denials soon arrived.
Axios’s Pablo Martinez reported that Boyle called Darcy’s piece “100 percent fake news.” Several other reporters received strongly worded denials from the site as well.
Despite that, Breitbart insiders are now rampantly speculating about who leaked to Darcy.
It was Boyle who allegedly made the reported demand on a company conference call with some 19 people listening in, The Mirror has learned. Boyle replied to a request for comment by referring The Mirror to the site’s prior public denials.
Given the sheer number of ears on the call, whomever spoke to Darcy is unlikely to be outed anytime soon. But Breitbart insiders have a few prime suspects: editors Amanda House, Neil Munro and White House reporter Charlie Spiering. Breitbart Texas Bureau Chief Brandon Darby and Breitbart London Bureau Chief Raheem Kassam are also on the which-one-of-my-colleagues-leaked shortlist.
Lee Stranahan, a Washington reporter who recently quit Breitbart and went to work for Sputnik Radio, told The Mirror he is not Breitbart‘s mole. He said he, too, has heard that Boyle told editors to go easy on Kushner.
“I have not talked to Oliver [Darcy] about this story,” Stranahan stressed to The Mirror. “Whatever sourcing they have is independent. Independently, I know for a fact that was going on. The obvious example is when the Fire Kushner hashtag was trending worldwide. The fact that they didn’t cover it was telling, but it confirmed what I’d heard from people, which is that editors, including Boyle, were afraid to touch it. Nobody told me it came from Bannon. I believe it is independent fear on the part of Matt, who doesn’t want people mad at him. I’ve been very openly critical of Kushner and Ivanka, and I have not heard anything from Bannon on any of it — and Bannon knows how to reach me.”
Asked about Boyle’s claim Darcy’s report is “fake news,” Stranahan replied, “That’s not what I’ve been told by people in the company. I talk to a lot of people inside the company, obviously.”
Stranahan said Boyle would be lucky to be ordered around by Bannon.
“Matt Boyle was much better when Steve Bannon was bossing him around. The best thing that could happen for Matt Boyle is Bannon bossing him around more. He’s better when that happens. He’s just on his own. His news judgment is demonstrably suspect — nothing against him personally.”
Stranahan, who calls himself a “Breitbart loyalist,” handles the issue of Bannon by making no bones about the fact that he’s on Bannon’s bandwagon.
“I’d rather just get it out there,” he said. “I’m loyal to Steve, I’m a fan of Steve’s — that’s all. No one is fooled that Boyle is an objective journalist. I’m not saying he’s a bad journalist. Boyle’s gone rogue. But Breitbart’s gone rogue. Breitbart not only does not have Bannon’s back, but I don’t think they have Trump’s back. Everyone knows he [Boyle] loves Trump and did Bannon’s bidding.”
Stranahan said he thinks Breitbart News is afraid of “pissing off” the administration by criticizing anything having to do with Ivanka Trump. “She’s the problem,” he said. “I do get why they [Breitbart] are being timid. I just don’t operate that way and I don’t think Breitbart’s readers expect them to operate that way, either.”
Scarborough, meanwhile, sneered at Breitbart News this morning.
“Isn’t that interesting?” Scarborough asked facetiously as Mika read a report that Breitbart had ordered its staff to cease beating up on Kushner — and the site’s subsequent denial.
Scarborough said he planned to keep a watchful eye on the site.
“I look forward to the negative attacks on Jared Kushner in Breitbart,” said Scarborough, dripping with sarcasm. “I will be looking at your website today. But that’s an absurd notion. Listen, they had to back down. Steve Bannon is an island unto himself in the White House. Any allies he may have had have scattered and have told the president that they are with the president and his family.”
Scarborough then kicked Bannon in the balls. “I just think it’s a matter of time,” he said. “Does he decide to become Kellyanne Conway and stay in the White House with no authority and hang on, or does he leave the White House?”
The “Morning Joe” host said he’s heard from three people that Bannon is losing his marbles.
“The word I heard from all three: He just snapped,” he said, sprinkling in the words “undisciplined” and “unbalanced” for good measure.
HuffPost‘s Sam Stein, agreed, saying, “Jared will always be there. It was a stupid fight to pick.”
Full disclosure: Matthew Boyle and Neil Munro previously worked for The Daily Caller. Munro sat across from me and often chomped on pita chips. At some point, a small jar of Vegemite shifted over to my desk from his.