Donald Trump has suffered “the first major crack” in his coalition of support, after a usually loyal website ran a caustic headline attacking him for apparently ditching a campaign promise.
Breitbart News, the Alt Right website catapulted into the mainstream by Trump’s ascension, ran a headline “BROKEN PROMISE” after Trump’s spokeswoman said he would not pursue the Hillary Clinton prosecution he vowed to throughout the campaign.
Breitbart is widely seen as a cheerleader of President Elect.
Its former chief executive Steve Bannon, who is accused of being a white nationalist, left to run Trump’s campaign and was then appointed to be his chief strategist in the White House.
Journalist Gabriel Sherman, national affairs editor at New York Magazine, called its new headline the “first major crack in [Trump’s] coalition”.
But there followed a debate about whether it was a deliberate move by Breitbart to demonstrate some independence.
Andrew Kirell, a senior editor at The Daily Beast, said the site’s homepage was often bombastic attacks on figures and will “occassionally disagree” for the sake of doing so.
Adam Parks quote-tweeted Sherman’s observion, imagining a conversation where Bannon asked Trump to “pretend to break a promise” and Trump answered: “Just pick one I couldn’t do anyway.”
Trump’s pledge to prosecute Clinton was absurd and impossible.
Barack Obama’s former speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted it was “dangerous” to suggest the president decides who gets prosecuted and people should “stop fucking doing it”.
The FBI concluded Clinton should face no action over her alleged handling of classified information via emails.
On Tuesday, Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC Trump’s “decision” to not pursue a prosecution could help Clinton “heal”.
“I think Hillary Clinton still has to face the fact that the majority of Americans don’t find her to be honest and trustworthy,” she said. “But if Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that is a good thing.”
The comments section on Breitbart’s short article on it, Trump supporters lost it, with one crying: “This is total BULLSHlT. Trump keep your fuqing [sic] word.”
Daily Beast reporter Olivia Messer tweeted the moment from The Lion King, when Simba feels the spirit of his dead father Mufasa has abandoned him, to explain the psychological link between Breitbart and Trump’s campaign promises.
Former Department of Justice spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted that it would be a “disaster” for the department’s independence if the president gave it orders on who to investigate.