How The Mercers Plotted To Control American Discourse
How The Mercers Plotted To Control American Discourse by William Craddick for DisObedient Media
Is populist nationalism in a slump or is it simply being set up to fail?
The rise and slow decline of Breitbart News has been a symptom of a larger phenomena where populism hit a rocky patch in 2018 after an explosion of growth two years prior. Many pundits and political thinkers have grappled with the ideological challenges that populism faces, but none have tackled a core weakness crippling the movement. Outlets such as Breitbart have, since the beginning of their rise in popularity, been infiltrated and controlled by parties known for funding both sides of the political aisle with the goal of creating a controlled opposition doomed to implode onto itself.
This has been especially true for movements and individuals backed by the now-notorious Mercer family, who over a period of years pushed a coup inside both Breitbart and the general right wing with the goal of promoting leadership figures who were flawed at their core and destined to fail. While the Mercers are known for support of right wing causes, their pervasive support for left wing organizations indicates that they are just another group of elites seeking to keep the system in line.
I. The Mercer Takeover
Although Breitbart developed a general reputation during the 2016 US Presidential elections for identifying with elements of the far right, this was not always the case. Andrew Breitbart, the founder and namesake of the website, began as a more mainstream libertarian-leaning conservative who spoke out in support of the Koch brothers and made appearances at Tea Party events. At the center of Breitbart’s philosophy was a desire to match big ticket funding for left-wing causes with similar initiatives on the right. It would ironically be this kind of approach that proved to be Breitbart News’ undoing.
In 2011, during a period where Breitbart was struggling financially, the outlet was given a $10 million cash infusionfrom the little-known Robert Mercer. One year later, Breitbart unexpectedly died of a heart attack and paved the way for the Mercer takeover of his outlet.
Bannon immediately began to proclaim his intention to turn Breitbart into “the Huffington Post of the right.” Under Bannon’s leadership, the company majorly expanded in 2014 with operations in Texas and London. But the changes happening under the surface wouldn’t become totally apparent until political tensions began to run high during the Republican primaries in 2015.
II. Shift To The Far Right
Up until midway through 2015, outlets such as Politico were reporting that Ted Cruz was the Republican candidate with the closest relationship to Breitbart and most likely their pick for the race. But that was all due to change. In August 2015 a number of Breitbart employees claimed that now-President Donald Trump had given the website money in return for favorable coverage. It was the beginning of a civil war between mainstream conservatives and more hardline right wingers that would culminate in March 2016 when Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields filed a battery complaint against Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The publication’s handling of the incident lead to the resignations of Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro in protest.
By July 2016, the shift was complete. Bannon told Mother Jones while at the RNC Convention that Breitbart was the “platform of the alt-right.” Bannon protégé Milo Yiannapoulos would later try to clarify that the comment was referring to the “trolls on Reddit or 4Chan” instead of actual extremists, but his private behavior would suggest otherwise. Leaked emails show that in early 2016, Yiannapoulos himself was contacting white supremacist figures on the far right behind the scenes.
Unlike Bannon, Yiannapoulos, who once claimed that his father was a member of the Greek mafia, does not appear to be coming back anytime soon due to crippling debts he owes to the Mercers, his own company and others.
III. Questionable Behavior And Connections
Steve Bannon has a number of connections to individuals who have been tied to abuse scandals or human trafficking in the past. Since 2005, Bannon has had had a working relationship with cryptocurrency pioneer Brock Pierce, who described Bannon as his former “right hand man.” Pierce was notoriously involved in the dot-com era Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) abuse scandal. He was also a participant at the Mindshift Conference, which was hosted by now disgraced billionaire child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Bannon has linked back up with Pierce since leaving Breitbart and the White House to work on projects related to cryptocurrency and bitcoin.