Bannon has learned the downside of having a wealthy backer

Breitbart staff at work 2017

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For ages, I wished that Whaleoil had a wealthy supportive backer like Breitbart does. When their advertising was being attacked and boycotted they were able to continue because of their backer. We had a very wealthy backer in the past for a new Media organisation called Freed which we were a few days away from launching a few years ago. Journalists had been interviewed and selected and an office to work from in Takapuna had been found. It was all go and then our backer was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The Mercers are the wealthy family that backs conservative new media site Breitbart and because they are now unhappy with Editor Steve Bannon he has been forced to step down from his post at Breitbart. He or she who pays the bills calls the tune and it is a sobering reminder that when you have a wealthy backer you gain money but you lose control of your business.

Bannon’s position has been deeply shaken by his feud with Donald Trump over the statements cited in the new “Fire and Fury” book. According to US media, the spat also created an open rift between the 64-year-old strategist and his powerful financiers, the conservative Mercer family, which had played a key part in Bannon’s rise to power.

The Mercer family patriarch is the 71-year-old hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer[…]

“I believe that individuals are happiest and most fulfilled when they form their own opinions, assume responsibility for their own actions, and spend the fruits of their own labor as they see fit,” he said in November.

According to an in-depth report by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, Mercer is a Christian conservative, gun enthusiast, a climate change denier, religious, small-government proponent and a man who despises the political establishment as incompetent and corrupt. He has donated over $100 million (€84 million) to various right-wing candidates and think-tanks. Most of that money has gone through the Mercer Family Foundation, run by Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah.

[…] The Mercers first met Andrew Breitbart, the founder of what is now Breitbart News Network in 2011. Through him, they soon met Bannon, who took over the reins after Breitbart died of a sudden heart attack in 2012. According to the New Yorker magazine, Bannon served as the Mercers’ de facto political adviser.

The Mercers also invested $10 million in Breitbart and gained a large stake in the nascent company.

[…] Steve Bannon once praised the Mercers for laying the “groundwork” for the Trump revolution, saying that their impact was even bigger than that of the Koch brothers.

What caused the Mercers to break up with Breitbart and Bannon?

The cracks between the billionaire family and the news outlet became clearly visible in November 2017, when Robert Mercer announced he would sell his Breitbart stake to his daughters. In a letter to employees, Mercer criticized the notion that his “politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon’s.”

“I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” he said in the letter carried by the US publication Business Insider. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”

[…] The feud was blown open last week, when Rebekah Mercer publicly distanced her camp from Bannon after his supposed remarks on Donald Trump Jr.

“My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” she said, pledging her support to “President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected.”

According to the New York Times, Bannon initially denied the rumors that the Mercers were cutting him off and insisted that everything was fine.

“The Mercers haven’t given me money in years,” he told multiple people, according to the newspaper. He also reportedly refused to admit any mistakes on his part.

He was forced to resign just days later.

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