Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is reportedly considering launching a conservative news outlet backed by the powerful Mercer family, along with a "cast of Fox News celebrities," according to Michael Wolff book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," and a report from BuzzFeed news.
According to Wolff, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and Peter Thiel were set to discuss the idea of a conservative news outlet last May - however Ailes slipped and fell two days before the meeting, hitting his head and dying before the discussion could occur.
Word of Thiel's potential new venture with the Mercers is of particular interest in light of revelations about "backstabbing" Steve Bannon - executive chairman of Breitbart News, with whom the billionaire family has now officially split following explosive comments made about the Trump family in Wolff's new book.
On Thursday, the Mercers and other Breitbart News Network LLC board members were reportedly debating whether to oust Mr. Bannon as chairman, while the news organization has been cast into disarray.
Staffers at Breitbart, which Mr. Bannon has called his “killing machine,” described a “chaotic” day at the company, with writers—many personally recruited by Mr. Bannon—wondering whether he would last the day. -Wall Street Journal
Asked Thursday whether Breitbart should oust Mr. Bannon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders replied "I certainly think that it's something they should look at and consider."
The Mercers had been longtime supporters of Breitbart and Steve Bannon - investing a reported $10 million in the news outlet - while Robert Mercer was perhaps the most influential backer of Donald Trump's run for the White House. The billionaire, who has been contributing to conservative PACs since at least 1998, recently sold his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters after stepping down from Renaissance Technologies, where he was co-chief executive officer.
Robert Mercer's daughter Rebekah reportedly pushed Trump to bring Bannon on board, according to Newsweek.
However, it now appears that Rebekah has changed her tune and according to Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs "Steve Bannon's main financial backer, conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, spoke with Trump Today, I'm told," adding "She then issued a statement distancing herself from Bannon. A "one-two gut punch" for Bannon as one WH official told me."
Steve Bannon’s main financial backer, conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, spoke with Trump today, I’m told.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 4, 2018
She then issued a statement distancing herself from Bannon.
A “one-two gut punch” for Bannon as one WH official told me.
However, she also adds that there was no sign that the White House has succeeded in pushing Bannon out of his leadership of the conservative Breitbart News website" and that insiders said he was doing business as usual there on Thursday and showed no signs of leaving the organization.
With Bannon on the outs and the Mercers reportedly in discussions with Peter Thiel over a conservative news network, one wonders how much longer Breitbart will remain relevant - and funded - absent the ejection of the company's current chairman.