Joshua Green’s tell-all book on former Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon’s role in the Trump revolution confirms Breitbart News’s early role in Donald Trump taking up the torch of the nascent American nationalist-populist movement.
Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, hit bookstore shelves to quick sales Tuesday. The book tells the story of Bannon, his dedicated team at Breitbart News, and his intellectual fellow-travelers in fomenting that movement before Trump’s announcement and then guiding it to the pinnicle of American politics in the greatest presidential upset in living memory.
Green, a reporter and now editor with Bloomberg Businessweek, covered the Trump campaign from its early days. In chapter eight, he recounts a scene shortly after Trump announced his run in June, 2015. Milling about in the post-announcement buzz at New York City’s Trump Tower, the future president brought Breitbart News into his inner sanctum in order to direct his appeal to the untapped Republican base:
Leaving nothing to chance, he invited Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle up to his twenty-sixth-floor office immediately following his announcement for an exclusive interview and some extra anti-immigrant, anti-establishment jawboning, just to ensure that the Republican base heard his message loud and clear.
The impact, according to Green, was immediate and overwhelming. “They heard it, and they loved it. Bannon, who was ecstatic that Trump had not softened his message now that he was truly in the race, splashed the news across Breitbart,” he writes.
June 2015 saw the launch of a new phase in Bannon and Trump’s relationship that would eventually land both men in the White House and the culmination of a long period of intellectual collaboration in creating the Trump campaign’s nationalist-populist bent.
Bannon, according to Green, followed up Boyle’s interview by arranging Trump’s celebrated trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. “Then [Bannon] got busy arranging a surreal visit Trump would make to the U.S.–Mexico border a few weeks hence, one that would further affix his anti-immigrant identity at the center of his presidential campaign,” Green writes.
Despite Green’s unfortunate use of the term “anti-immigrant” to describe the opposition to millions of illegal aliens entering and remaining in the United States that proved to be centrally important to Trump’s campaign, the account in his book confirms Breitbart News’s coverage as an early and essential means by which the campaign took on its nationalist-populist flavor.
In the 17 months between Boyle’s Trump Tower interview and the eventual November victory over Hillary Clinton, Bannon would officially join the Trump team and Breitbart News would come to define the voice of the emerging Trump electorate.