Two and a half years ago, Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News was a juggernaut, attracting some 17.3 million views per month to its inflammatory, racist and often outright false stories. At the time, Breitbart was near the top of the conservative media landscape, occupying an outside place in the national discourse and absolutely raking in views through exploitable social media algorithms and savvy SEO.
Here’s the good news: it’s not anymore!
Per a new report by The Wrap, Breitbart’s traffic has dropped about 72 percent since its peak around Trump’s inauguration. According to the Wrap, Breitbart is now pulling in about 4.9 million unique viewers per month; as you can see from this list on TheRighting.com, that puts Breitbart right in the middle of the pack of middling conservative schlock sites trying to Hoover up enough of Fox News’ digital leftovers to stay afloat. It’s now getting beaten by The Blaze, the Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and the Washington Examiner—all of which, of course, are sharing basically the same far right-wing propaganda.
Part of the decline follows a general trend of declining traffic numbers for political sites—algorithm changes and general traffic downturns have devastated online media overall—but it’s still definitely a sign that Breitbart just doesn’t have the gas it once had. That’s a good thing for the short-term schadenfreude of watching a destructive institution wane in power, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the atrocious viewpoints Breitbart represented are slipping out of the mainstream. It’s actually the opposite.
Per the Wrap, quoting former Breitbart spokesperson Kurt Bardella, who switched his party affiliation to Democrat (lol) after leaving the company and is now is happy to dish:
Others suggest that Breitbart has struggled as the far-right views that used to make it stand out have become mainstream. “Fox News’ embrace of the extreme has left Breitbart with no real space that they uniquely own,” said Bardella, who switched his affiliation to the Democratic Party after leaving Breitbart. “Fox News programming during this time of Trump mirrors what Breitbart homepages looked like pre-Trump. Fox has gone full-tilt Breitbart and in the process made Breitbart irrelevant.”
Bardella may be a very certain kind of D.C. swamp thing, but his analysis here lines up: Fox’s hosts and regular programming have doubled and tripled down since Trump’s election, realizing (shrewdly) that he represents the only possible future for the Republican party now. That’s why Tucker Carlson’s been let off the leash to do a white nationalist power hour every night, and why nearly the entire lineup of Fox anchors focus-test or reinforce different aspects of the Trump administration’s agenda as often as possible.
But hey, at least we don’t have to hear from fucking Milo very often any more! Deplatforming works; unfortunately for all of us, the far-right’s platform isn’t just isolated to Breitbart.