- In internal messages leaked to The Daily Beast, Breitbart News employees debated the role President Donald Trump played in inciting last week’s deadly Capitol riot.
- The far-right Breitbart has actively avoided direct criticism of the president, but the internal messages highlight the growing divide among conservatives regarding Trump’s behavior.
- “We have worked so hard to promote our values, values that made him president when he hawked them, and now he does this, leaving everything in shambles? Nah, destroy him. Let it be a lesson to every other ‘populist,'” wrote one editor in the leaked messages.
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Employees at the conservative, pro-Trump outlet Breitbart News argued over the extent of Trump’s role in last week’s insurrection at the US Capitol, according to The Daily Beast.
In internal Slack messages leaked to The Daily Beast, editors and reporters discussed and debated Trump’s actions, and inactions, on January 6, with one news editor saying Trump had left the GOP “in shambles.”
“He set us back like 10 years,” the editor, Frances Martel, wrote in the messages. “We have worked so hard to promote our values, values that made him president when he hawked them, and now he does this, leaving everything in shambles? Nah, destroy him. Let it be a lesson to every other ‘populist.'”
The criticism is noteworthy from employees of an organization that has spent the last four-plus years actively avoiding direct criticism of the president.
One-time Trump confidant and White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon also served as Breitbart’s executive chairman before being pressured to step down from the role in 2018, due to negative comments he had made about the president and his administration.
The Daily Beast reported another editor, Rebecca Mansour, wrote that she blamed Trump for the riots, saying that the death of Ashli Babbitt - a QAnon supporter who was fatally shot by Capitol police during the riots - was Trump's fault.
Others at the organization continued to defend the president or place blame on the left.
"Trump explicitly asked people to be peaceful and respectful yesterday, and then almost immediately called for the violence to stop," wrote Breitbart columnist, John Nolte, according to The Daily Beast. He also said the mob "clearly" was "99% peaceful."
"I mean, violence is bad but this was nothing compared to Antifa rioting over the summer," another reporter, Kristina Wong, wrote.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Breitbart said the messages came from an internal communications channel called "Hot Takes," created for "healthy internal discussion, dialogue, and debate on any and all subject matters," and that they "are not a reflection of our editorial directives or decisions."