Breitbart’s failed attempt to join WH press pool reveals deep ties to Trump admin, raising ethics concerns
Breitbart News has released a list of its senior staff, which further details connections between the website’s editorial staff and Steve Bannon, as well as connections to hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer’s family.
While Bannon’s connection to the outlet was already clear — he was a founding member — USA Today’s reporting raises further questions about conflicting interests due to the outlet’s close ties to the White House.
The outlet provided the list of top editors, including Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer and Managing Editor Wynton Hall to the Senate Press Gallery’s Standing Committee of Correspondents in an attempt to obtain congressional press credentials.
However, the outlet’s close ties to the White House pose ethics issues.
Former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon now serves as White House chief strategist, and the Mercers were top Trump donors on the campaign trail. The Mercer family also holds stakes in Breitbart, and heavily invested in “dark data” firm Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by the Trump campaign last year to target specific voter demographics. Bannon sat on the board of the Mercer-funded data firm.
Rebekah Mercer, who played a role in the Trump campaign and transition efforts and is a top GOP donor also brought Bannon to the Trump team while on the campaign trail. Schweizer and Hall are also connected to Rebekah Mercer via the Government Accountability Institute, to which she is a main donor and chairwoman. Bannon was a co-founder of the Institute.
According to USA Today, Schweizer is listed as the organization’s president, and Hall as the communications strategist.
The report notes that reporters seeking access to the Senate Press Gallery “must not be engaged in any lobbying or paid advocacy, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the U.S. Government, or in prosecuting any claim before Congress or any federal government department, and will not do so while a member of the Daily Press Galleries.”
The various connections between Bannon, the Mercers, Breitbart, and the White House then pose a number of ethics issues regarding Schweizer and Hall’s legal eligibility to become credentialed members of the press gallery, and in turn join the White House press pools.