When news that Steve Bannon had left the White House began circulating online last week, it happened in multiple languages.
“Stephen Bannon, l’éminence grise de Donald Trump, quitte la Maison Blanche,” France’s daily newspaper Le Monde reported.
In Germany’s Die Welt, “Trumps Chefstratege Bannon verlässt offenbar das Weiße Haus.”
The news of Bannon’s departure appeared in headlines in Arabic, Spanish, and Russian, as readers around the world began to learn that President Trump’s chief strategist, known for pushing the populist and nationalist agenda that helped earn Trump’s electoral victory, would not remain in his role long enough to see that agenda implemented. And perhaps widespread coverage of Bannon’s exit was not surprising—it followed the high-profile departures of other well-known Trump allies such as former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and former Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci, the last of whose firing led the BBC homepage when it occurred. But the fact of major international news organizations devoting prime space to such stories does raise the question: Why do people overseas, who might not be able to name a single Obama-era strategy adviser or communications director, suddenly care so much about the internal staff shake-ups at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
They certainly haven’t always. “A year ago if you asked someone on the street in Paris or London to name one Obama adviser or spokesperson, you would have had very few answers,” Jérôme Cartillier, the White House correspondent for Paris-based news agency Agence France-Presse, told me. Since then, he said, interest in internal U.S. politics has skyrocketed, both in Europe and elsewhere.