For much of the past two weeks, there’s been a political death watch of sorts for Steve Bannon. First, according to two people close to the matter, Bannon reportedly threatened to resign as Donald Trump’s chief strategist if he was taken off the National Security Council, a bluff that his boss subsequently called. Then, after he was removed, Bannon partisans spun a story that the demotion was natural, since he was only there to “babysit” the recently departed Michael Flynn. Then came a slew of stories, starting with Mike Allen’s report in Axios about how the “globalists,” namely former Goldman Sachs executives Gary Cohn and Dina Powell (ostensibly backed by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump), were threatening to dismantle the very core of Trump’s support, the so-called “deplorables” who elected him. And, finally, came Trump’s coup de grace—an interview with the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin noting that Bannon was a “good guy” (a term Trump has lavished on former pals ranging from Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz), who “was not involved in my campaign until very late.” As the president chillingly noted, “I’m my own strategist.”
In the intervening weeks, news organizations (including this one) have been feverishly reporting on the various permutations of an end to the Trump-Bannon bromance. Politico, for instance, speculated upon Bannon’s potential recourse, noting “friends and foes imagine his options for brutal payback.” In an opinion piece, Frank Bruni of The New York Times pronounced him doomed. The Times also recently reported that Bannon met with Trump backer and mega-donor Rebekah Mercer last week, about potential post–White House options.