The big story on Breitbart.com the other day was, naturally, about Donald Trump. In an “exclusive” interview, the iconoclastic conservative website touted a “special message” from the Republican front-runner — to wit, that he plans to succeed in his bid for the Republican nomination.
“Donald Trump is in to win it,” read the lead sentence. The headline: “Donald Trump Shames the Doubters: ‘My Life Has Been About Winning.’ ”
Okay, not so much news there. But by now, Breitbart’s growing readership is probably used to seeing the site toss a few bouquets Trump’s way. Long before rebellious Republicans and the rest of the news media took Trump’s candidacy seriously, Breitbart was championing Trump’s “anti-establishment” message, one that seems to square with Breitbart’s own ethos.
Trump has returned the favor, doling out so many “exclusives” to Breitbart’s relentless Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, that some have wondered whether Trump and Breitbart are in business together. (They’re not, both sides say.) Nevertheless, Trump clearly holds a special place for Breitbart, which is named for its late founder, the activist and media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart. When Boyle, 28, asked Trump about his rising poll numbers after a Republican debate last summer, Trump broke into a broad smile and high-fived the young journalist in front of startled onlookers in the post-debate spin room.
The friendly relations have been profitable for both sides. Last month, Breitbart.com and its collection of “vertical” sections (Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Government, etc.) attracted some 17 million unique visitors — a 124 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the digital research firm ComScore.
That puts Breitbart.com at the head of the jostling pack of conservative news sites that have sprouted and thrived in and around Washington in the past few years. The list includes the center-right Independent Journal (15.6 million visitors in December), the Glenn Beck-founded Blaze (13.1 million), Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller (7.4 million) and the Washington Free Beacon(2.44 million).
Among the conservative throng, Breitbart has positioned itself as a kind of populist scourge, a rabble-rouser for the already roused tea party grass roots. As the site becomes even more aligned with Trump and as Trump continues to be the leading Republican presidential candidate, Breitbart has emerged as a prime rival to Fox News as the media leader for a certain segment of the GOP.
“We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” said Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman and one of its guiding editorial spirits. He adds, “We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-’ the permanent political class. We say Paul Ryan was grown in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.”
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