On Wednesday morning, two Republicans who hours earlier had toppled Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House made a well-worn trek to a 19th-century brick townhouse a few blocks away from the Capitol and entered the cluttered sanctuary of Stephen K. Bannon’s recording studio.
Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, the instigator of the rebellion, and Nancy Mace of South Carolina, one of seven other Republican defectors, huddled with Mr. Bannon for a morning meeting ahead of a joint appearance on his “War Room” podcast.
“Tectonic plate shift here in the imperial capital,” Mr. Bannon told his listeners at showtime, while directing them to donate to his guests online. “We must stand in the breach now. We have to lance the boil that is K Street in this nation.”
From this cavelike studio not far from where Congress meets, Mr. Bannon, the former Trump adviser, has been stoking the chaos now gripping the Republican Party, capitalizing on the spectacle to build his own following and using his popular podcast to prop up and egg on the G.O.P. rebels.
Mr. Bannon has spent years promoting the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, railing against coronavirus mandates and what he refers to as a “criminal invasion of the southern border.” His obsession of late was toppling Mr. McCarthy and taking out what he describes as “uniparty” Republicans who have become indistinguishable from Democrats.
With Mr. McCarthy’s historic downfall this week, his wing of the party has claimed its most prominent trophy.
Mr. Bannon represents a clear through line from the grievance-driven MAGA base to Congress. And his role in the meltdown that played out this week in the House helps explain why the Republican Party appears to be eating its own. He is a vital part of a feedback loop of red-meat media hits and social media posts, online fund-raising and unfettered preaching to an often angry and fervently right-wing base that rewards disruptions and detests institutions. [Continue reading…]