Throughout the 2016 presidential election, right-wing publisher Breitbart was often viewed as so “pro-Trump” that critics referred to the organization as “Trump-bart News.”
Those who thought the connections went deeper than just political affiliation appeared to be vindicated when President Trump named Steve Bannon — who had to leave an executive position at Breitbart to take the position — his chief strategist.
But when Breitbart News leaked audio of House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that he “would not support Trump” — from an exchange that dates back to the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape that many thought might cost Trump the election — the question was obvious: why now?
To answer that question, CNN spoke to former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella. Bardella, who worked with Bannon at Breitbart, suggested that Bannon probably still had some editorial control over what was being published:
“I think that what you’re seeing is a continuation of a long campaign that started at Breitbart before President Trump was elected. Steve Bannon … made it very clear that he perceived Paul Ryan to be the enemy, that their objective was to take him down.
What you’re seeing now is a continuation of that with, I think, the purpose of setting up Paul Ryan to be the fall guy for when this health care plan fails.”
Paul Ryan has been an impassioned advocate for the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, breaking out a PowerPoint presentation on the subject in a televised briefing in early March.
Bardella explained that with Ryan already out there as the face of the new legislation, the leaked audio was perfectly timed to discredit the House Speaker should the American Health Care Act fail.
Bardella concluded: “I think there’s a direct line between, editorially, what you see at Breitbart and … the political ambitions of Steve Bannon. And this is just a continuation of that. It’s designed to set up the Speaker.”