Trump has jumped the shark by picking Breitbart exec as CEO
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Former Breitbart Chairman Steven Bannon's elevation to the "CEO" of the Trump campaign marks a "shark jump" moment for Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE.

More specifically, it marks the moment when Trump strapped on a rocket pack, lined up his water skis, and leapt 1,000 Katy Perry left sharks, landing in a pit of scorpions that he set on fire using his dragon breath, escaping with his life but not his dignity.

Hiring Bannon to manage Trump's campaign is essentially Trump hiring a mirror.


Bannon is a volatile figure, as I can attest from having known him for years — I was editor-at-large at Breitbart from 2012 to March 2016, and worked as a member of the top editorial team until late 2013. There are few people who have dealt with him who haven't been on the receiving end of a fully blue tirade over some nearly meaningless issue. He fancies himself a media Svengali, but has utilized celebrity politicians and pundits to push forward his own career, rather than vice versa. 

He's ambitious, he's mean as hell and he's willing to run roughshod over anyone to achieve his agenda.

Some of that might be a positive in a campaign honcho. Politics is bloodsport, and Bannon knows that — he was always fond of calling his political allies "honey badgers," as in the YouTube video that proclaims "honey badgers don't give a s---."

But when it comes to advising politicians, Bannon isn't likely to steer Trump toward victory.

That's because Bannon has made his bones riding the latest political horse until the horse collapses beneath him, then leaping to the next one.

Bannon's career in right-wing politics began to gain steam after he hooked up with former Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (R-Minn.) and made a documentary touting the Tea Party; he then parlayed that into a new documentary with former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, whom he pressed forward as a legitimate political contender up until the point she collapsed into self-parody; he used the Palin connection to make friends in the highest level of the conservative movement; he offered free office space to Andrew Breitbart, then made a documentary starring Breitbart about the Occupy Wall Street movement; when Breitbart died, Breitbart's business partner offered Bannon the chairmanship of the company; he then used Breitbart as a poker chip to ingratiate himself with the Trump campaign.

There is no evidence that at any point, Bannon was a voice of moderation, or that he ever provided well-aimed critiques aimed at bettering those with whom he worked.

Bannon's a career enabler who has spent enormous quantities of time and energy devoted to ingratiating himself with major figures, then playing off them for his own benefit.

So, what's in it for Bannon? Well, if Trump wins, he's a genius: the man who saved the Trump campaign from itself, the master political whisperer. He'd presumably be White House chief of staff, and those he considers enemies could begin preparing their annual IRS audits.

If Trump loses, Bannon can always play the same game he's played before: convincing politicians with whom he works that he was on their side, and that they can work together. It's no coincidence that The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump has "quietly explored becoming involved with a media holding."

What does Trump get out of all of this? He gets the feeling of comfort, of approval. As Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes put it, "Trump's campaign has now entered the Hospice Phase. He knows he's dying and wants to surround himself with his loved ones. #BreitbartCEO."

There's sad truth to that: Trump wants to go out on his own terms. And those terms will be fully Trumpian. Which means that Trump will get Trumpier. The "let Trump be Trump" angle always attracted Trump, since he's a narcissist. Now he'll get to play out his fantasies with Bannon screaming "that's genius!" in his ear every few hours.

Never mind what happens to the Republican Senate and House. This campaign has been Trump's plaything, and he'll play with it until the batteries go dead.

But there's something more disturbing that Republicans should note here for the long haul: the perversion of a major pseudo-conservative media outlet into a propaganda forum for one candidate, and the merger of that forum with the candidate's campaign.

For years, Andrew Breitbart complained about the "Democrat-Media Complex." Now the man who took over his company and hollowed out its core principles and philosophy has created the first Trump-Media Complex, and proved that the perverse relationship between media and politics doesn't stop with the political left.

Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of "The Ben Shapiro Show." He is a former editor-at-large of Breitbart.

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