Meanwhile, Breitbart has hired John Carney from The Wall Street Journal, and announced three other new hires, as first reported in Axios on Tuesday: Kristina Wong from The Hill, Sam Chi from Real Clear Politics, and Sean Moran from Americans for Prosperity. According to a Breitbart News staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, the site is trying to recruit from Politico as well.
Add to this the fact that Breitbart is planning to expand internationally; the company has outposts in Jerusalem, Rome, and London, and is planning to add France and Germany to the mix as well as reportedly expanding in Italy—a further sign of the site’s ambitions.
The changes mark a significant shift for Breitbart, which has always fashioned itself as a rule-breaking band of outsiders challenging the establishment. But when you’ve become a favorite of a consummate Washington insider like Mike Allen—he recently went on Breitbart’s SiriusXM show to say that “we admire so much what's been built at Breitbart” and “one of the things that we like about Breitbart is you do things that other people aren't”—it’s difficult to maintain a firm hold on that impish, irreverent image.
Instead, competing with mainstream outlets has become the new priority.
“I’m building The New York Times,” Breitbart’s Washington political editor Matt Boyle told me. “That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m building a journalistic enterprise that’s designed to replace all of you.”
Boyle has reportedly, in the past, floated himself as a potential White House press secretary, though he denies that he wants to work in the administration.
According to the current Breitbart staffer, journalists from mainstream outlets started reaching out to the site about jobs after the election, seeing an opportunity for greater access to the new administration in a place like Breitbart than at other outlets.
One former Breitbart writer expressed surprise at its ability to poach from mainstream outlets. “I’m a little bit surprised they’re able to do that. Particularly at this point, since it’s become a comedically preposterous propaganda arm of a single candidate … Even people at Breitbart were joking about, ‘Have you seen Breitbart’s front page.’”
But the former writer offered an explanation: money. Breitbart is said to make attractive offers, especially compared to other right-wing outlets in D.C. “It’s because they outbid everybody else,” the former writer said. “They pay considerably above market value.”
The challenge for Breitbart is that the more it becomes part of the mainstream, the more its outsider cred is threatened. Already, some former Breitbart staffers have splintered off to form an even more ideologically pure group, arguing that Breitbart has become “boring” by hiring journalists like Carney. And it would be hard for any news organization to maintain an identity as an iconoclastic truth-teller if its main mission is to amplify the president’s message, as Breitbart’s critics allege is now the case.