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Bannon will return to Breitbart News

White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon.

The White House's loss is Breitbart's gain.

Stephen K. Bannon, who left his post on Friday as President Trump's chief strategist, has resumed his role as chairman of Breitbart News, the provocative right-wing website that propelled him to national fame.

Hours after his departure from the White House was announced, Mr. Bannon led the evening editorial meeting of his former publication, Breitbart said on its website.

"The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today," the editor in chief of Breitbart, Alex Marlow, said in a statement.

Mr. Bannon's previous tenure as chairman of Breitbart coincided with the site's move to the epicenter of the nationalist brand of right-wing conservatism that swept Mr. Trump into office last year. His return to the site is likely to reinvigorate Breitbart's role as a gathering spot for Mr. Trump's most ardent populist supporters.

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The site has been without Mr. Bannon since last August, when the chairman took a role running Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, injecting the site's frequent themes — illegal immigration and inner-city crime, for instance — directly into the presidential election.

Although Mr. Bannon said he was no longer involved in the site's operations, Breitbart's Washington coverage in recent months has been interpreted through the lens of Mr. Bannon's priorities in the White House.

Breitbart's audience fell, too, even as its former chairman helped direct national policy and one of its correspondents landed a rare sit-down interview with Mr. Trump.

It can be harder to rattle the establishment while running the establishment, and Breitbart's web traffic has fallen from its heights of last fall. In July, the site received 12.4 million unique visitors, a drop of 32 percent from the year before, and down nearly half from its peak last November, according to comScore, a cross-platform measurement company.

A provocateur who relished creating controversy, Mr. Bannon started his White House tenure in January by declaring the news media "the opposition party," and telling the press to "keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." His bracing attacks on mainstream journalists remain a defining facet of the Trump administration.

Several Breitbart journalists said on Friday that they hoped Mr. Bannon's exit from the White House might re-energize the site's rebellious spirit and help staff members feel freer to attack Mr. Trump directly.

Mr. Bannon's detractors said they believed he would use Breitbart more as a medium for personal advancement.

"He will use Breitbart as a battering ram," said Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who resigned in part because of disagreements with Mr. Bannon's leadership of the site. "Steve and subtlety have never shaken hands."