Times have changed since Steve Bannon left Breitbart News to serve as White House chief strategist. When Bannon was editor-in-chief of the publication, it never shied away from controversy and featured a variety of firebrands on their writing staff. Less than a year later, merely criticizing the Islamic religion can get you a pink slip at Breitbart.
Former Breitbart journalist Katie McHugh wrote that “there would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn’t live there” in a Tweet she posted after a terror attack killed seven people and injured 50 others in London on Saturday. It received over 1,000 retweets, and expressed a sentiment undoubtedly shared by the bulk of Breitbart’s readership. Nevertheless, it was considered a transgression large enough for McHugh to lose her job.
“Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration,” McHugh said. She refuses to back down from her statements, and set up a fundraiser page to help pay for her “essential medical bills.”
This is not the first time that Breitbart’s independence has come into question since Trump capstoned his meteoric rise to the White House. The editors of Breitbart put the lid on any criticism of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a powerful White House advisor whose family has direct ties to George Soros.
While it can be easily understood why Breitbart would want to protect the Trump administration, it is less clear why the organization is suddenly softening their stance on Islam. The publication has been routinely criticized by pro-Muslim and left-leaning groups as inflammatory and hateful since its founding. This firing has not appeased Breitbart’s critics, who are already gloating because of the news.
“Breitbart is a hard gig. You can be fired for both being too racist and not racist enough. The Goldilocks level of racism is hard to hit,” New Republic senior editor Jeet Heer wrote in a Tweet about the incident.
“If the cold, emotionless machinations of the free market mean that publishing xenophobic trash now entails meaningful consequences, the right-wing media establishment will have some serious existential soul-searching to do in the days to come,” Jay Willis wrote in a GQ column.