Launched by Andrew Breitbart in 2007, Breitbart News Network has, under former executive chair Steve Bannon, become the premier outlet of alt-light politics. Breitbart currently has offices in London, Texas, California and Jerusalem.
From the outset, Breitbart.com was notable for its aggressive attacks on both the Obama administration and on mainstream Republican politicians. In 2009, Breitbart received attention upon releasing James O’Keefe’s undercover investigation into the community empowerment organisation ACORN which caused the latter to fold.
Bannon took the reins on Breitbart’s demise in 2012 and, with $10 million from hedge-fund billionaire and key Trump funder Robert Mercer (who invested the money in 2011), radically increased the confrontational tone and attacks on immigrants and Islam.
A commonplace tactic is to decontextualize information and quotations in screaming headlines that present wildly inflated claims, often followed by a climb-down in the body of the actual piece.
Breitbart began pumping out pro-Trump propaganda from the start of his campaign and Trump hired Bannon as his campaign CEO in August 2016. Their union hugely boosted Breitbart’s profile, the outlet receiving 45 million unique visitors in the month preceding the US election. Following his victory, Bannon was subsequently hired as Trump’s “senior advisor”. While avoiding direct endorsements of white nationalism, Breitbart has been key to extending the reach of the hard alt-right.
Former figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos adopted the term “alt-right” in 2016 to refer to an online anti-establishment right and whitewashed outwardly racist activities like “trolling”.
In July 2016 Steve Bannon told Mother Jones that Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right”. The NPI’s Richard Spencer told the Daily Beast in August 2016 that Breitbart acted as a “gateway to alt-right ideas and writers”. Since Trump’s election and sustained press scrutiny, however, Breitbart, Yiannopoulos and the white nationalist alt-right have largely disavowed one another.
Breitbart London was founded in February 2014. The outlet has multiple links to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Many hardline figures have had columns on the outlet, including former leader Nigel Farage and editor Raheem Kassam temporarily served as adviser to then-UKIP leader Farage in 2014. Several staff writers also have links to the Traditional Britain Group (TBG), a London-based far right organisation that has hosted a variety of white nationalist and alt-right speakers.
In 2016, Breitbart announced plans to launch offices in France and Germany although these plans have stalled due to lack of funds. Upon leaving the White House in August 2017, Bannon has returned to helm Breitbart.