Nearly four years after Andrew Breitbart died, the Mercer family’s involvement with Breitbart.com has finally been confirmed. As reported by the Washington Post, last week Breitbart News president Larry Solov had to publicly declare the website’s ownership in order to apply for Capitol Hill press credentials.
Solov said that he is also an owner of the company. The largest share is owned by Susannah Breitbart, the widow of site founder Andrew Breitbart, who died in 2012.
Solov would not reveal which members of the Mercer family were investors.
“I can’t say more than ‘the Mercer family,’ ” Solov told the Standing Committee of Correspondents, the group tasked with approving credentials that grant reporters access to certain areas in the Capitol restricted to the general public. “That’s all I can specify right now.”
“Breitbart is one of many projects that the Mercers undertook with Bannon in the past six years as they expanded their political influence on the right,” the WaPo reports. Under Rebekah’s guidance, “the Mercer family foundation gave nearly $35 million to Washington think tanks and state policy groups between 2009 and 2014” and churned out anti-Clinton propaganda well in advance of the election. He also paid for ads opposing the so-called ‘Ground-zero mosque’ in Manhattan.
The identities of Breitbart’s angel investors were a topic of great speculation after his death. Early rumors that a ‘billionaire family’ was responsible led an alt-right figure within Andrew’s orbit to misidentify the source of the funds as Joyce and Aubrey Chernick. But subsequent reporting named hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer and his politically-active daughter Rebekah, a family with similar political bent and media interest.
That reporting now stands confirmed.
The Mercer family fortune is built on automatic trading algorithms that rip off smaller, more human investors. Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer’s hedge fund, has been accused of dodging billions of dollars in taxes. Four years ago, Mercer settled a lawsuit by former domestic employees for illegally refusing to pay overtime and docking their pay over pet peeves. The Mercers are clearly not interested in the well-being of the working class.
In addition to fringe politics, the Mercers have also spent lavishly on cranks. Arthur Robinson, the perennial congressional candidate and former Chairman of the Oregon Republican Party who denies that HIV causes AIDS, thinks public schools are a form of child abuse, and says we should dispose of radioactive waste by sprinkling it on America from the air to improve public health. Mercer is the single biggest donor to Robinson’s ‘science institute,’ which mainly serves to test urine samples from thousands of strangers — to what end, is not clear. As Bloomberg reports, there are other recipients who are just as far outside the reality-based community, including the climate change-denying Heartland Institute.
But the Mercers made their greatest political investments during the 2016 election cycle, exceeding the Koch brothers to become the biggest political donors of the year. Though they initially supported Ted Cruz, the Mercers were persuaded to back Donald Trump by two longtime associates: infamous media surrogate Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon, the CEO of Breitbart.
It was Robert Mercer’s influence which put Bannon in charge of the website after Andrew Breitbart’s death, and Bannon’s tenure has been marked by an editorial agenda that reflects Mercer’s disruptive view of global politics.
One of Mercer’s most important projects is Cambridge Analytica, a ‘big data’ firm that specializes in using Facebook to promote right wing political causes. Counting Steve Bannon as a board member and operated by experienced disinformation professionals, Cambridge Analytica is a behavioral science shop that played an important role in Trump’s digital campaign — and has helped turn Breitbart into the number one news site on Facebook by increasing clickthrough rates with psychographic profiling.
As the Guardian reports today, Mercer’s company also supplied free services to the Brexit campaign “because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Robert Mercer introduced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this company we think may be useful to you,’” Leave campaign communications director Andy Wigmore says.
“What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information. Why wouldn’t you?” Behind Trump’s campaign and Cambridge Analytica, he said, were “the same people. It’s the same family.”
Much like Bannon, Robert Mercer and his family seem to favor the breakup and realignment of Europe to the benefit of right wing nationalist parties. The contribution-in-kind was never reported, potentially violating British campaign finance laws. For Bannon, it was at least a two-year project that altered the direction of the website he helmed.
Breitbart, which has become the leading platform for the alt-right, is only one of a series of investments that aim to change the media landscape and political views not just in the US but also in Britain. A British version of Breitbart was launched in 2014, Bannon told the New York Times, explicitly to try to influence the upcoming general election. He and Farage have been close friends since at least 2012 and the site has been an important cheerleader for Ukip, with its editor, Raheem Kassam, at one point working as chief adviser to Farage.
In rising to become the most powerful player in Trump’s White House, Steve Bannon has finally come under an investigatory spotlight. Yet reporters are only just beginning to grapple with the Mercer family’s impact on domestic and global politics — or their ambitions to mainstream and empower fringe ideas. Between the Mercers and the Kremlin, it’s not clear which influence is more terrifying.
- How White Nationalist WH Aide Stephen Miller Became The Perfect Trump Voter - August 4, 2017
- Michele Bachmann Wants Church-State Separation To Protect Hate Crimes - August 2, 2017
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions Lied On His Security Clearance Form - July 13, 2017
- Trump Begins The American Kleptocracy With Air Traffic Control - June 5, 2017
- Neo-Nazi National Guardsman Converts To Islam, Kills His Neo-Nazi Roommates - May 23, 2017
- Morning Joe, Republicans Agree: Donald Trump Is Losing It - May 2, 2017
- Trump Waves Off Questions About His Russia Ties, ‘Wiretap’ Claims (VIDEO) - May 1, 2017
- For Michael Flynn, Orange Really Is The New Black - April 27, 2017
- Fox Five’s Greg Gutfield Wants To Inspire The Next Robert Dear - April 26, 2017
- Donald Trump Will Bear All The Blame For A Government Shutdown - April 24, 2017