Various mainstream media outlets would like for you to believe there is discord in the White House between President Trump and Steve Bannon. The typical narrative goes something like this: Steve Bannon is "The Great Manipulator" (as Time Magazine described him) pulling all the strings from behind the scenes and Trump, the perpetual narcissist, is growing weary of competing for the spotlight.
The question is whether any of it is true or if this is just more "fake news" from a mainstream media intent upon doing anything possible to sow the White House discord they so desperately seek?
Of course, if the media were actively looking to leverage a "character flaw" of a President they see as intent upon always capturing the spotlight, putting staff members on the cover of prominent national magazine covers would be a great way to execute that plan. Per The Hill:
“I assume President Trump was not pleased with the Time cover, because that is reserved for Donald Trump,” said one White House source granted anonymity to speak candidly.
“At the same time, Steve Bannon cannot necessarily control whether he is on that cover.”
Bannon declined to be interviewed by Time for the story, and the photograph had been shot on an earlier occasion. But it raised eyebrows among Trump supporters nonetheless.
“Any time you have staff members on the cover of Time magazine, that’s a problem,” said John Feehery, a Trump-supporting GOP strategist and longtime Capitol Hill aide.
“It’s fine for family to be on the cover. It’s fine even for political opponents to be on the cover. Staff members shouldn’t be on the cover,” Feehery, who is also a columnist for The Hill, said.
All that said, the problem with the media conspiracy theory hypothesis is that President Trump himself lends credibility to their narrative by specifically responding to it. Here is a tweet sent just yesterday by President Trump after a weekend of various media outlets and Saturday Night Live spinning the narrative that Steve Bannon "calls the shots" in the White House.
I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
Making matters worse, according to The ill and NBC News Editor Bradd Jaffy, Trump’s tweet was sent about one hour after MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” played a clip of the “Saturday Night Live” skit, showed an image of the Time cover and posed the question of whether Bannon was “calling all the shots.”
And here is the SNL skit that allegedly provoked Trump's Monday morning tweet storm.
Not wanting to be left out of the party, the New York Times also added its two cents to the Bannon narrative over the weekend, saying “Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council.”
And, once again, Trump took to Twitter to blast the media outlet:
The failing @nytimes writes total fiction concerning me. They have gotten it wrong for two years, and now are making up stories & sources!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2017
While we have the 'utmost confidence' in the anonymous sources of the New York Times and Time Magazine, two extremely credible media outlets that would never undermine their own journalistic integrity to advance a misleading political narrative, we'll reserve judgement for now. But, what say you, dear reader, is Steve Bannon flying too close to the sun or is the media just spinning more "fake news?"