Exclusive: Riding Trump wave, Breitbart News plans U.S., European expansion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The right-wing Breitbart News Network is expanding its U.S. operations and launching sites in Germany and France, its U.S. editor-in-chief told Reuters, as it seeks to monetize the anger and anti-immigrant sentiment unleashed by Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is followed by members of his family as he arrives to address supporters at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The planned expansion is one sign of how the right-wing media landscape is shifting in the wake of Trump’s campaign to provide a platform for the more radical views that helped fuel the Republican candidate’s shock election victory on Tuesday.

Breitbart, whose profile surged when its former head Stephen Bannon was tapped in August to become Trump’s campaign chairman, has been a close ally of the New York real-estate mogul in conservative media. A leading voice of the so-called Alt-Right movement -- a loose-knit movement of white nationalists, anti-Semites and immigration foes -- it regularly attacks Republican Party elites, publishes anti-immigrant themed stories and promotes political conspiracy theories.

U.S. Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow said in an interview with Reuters last week that he plans to hire more journalists in the United States and increase Breitbart’s multimedia production here, with more podcasts and videos.

“There’s going to be more hiring that goes on – I’m already picturing more tech reporting, more media reporting,” Marlow said. “We do a ton of politics reporting now so I don’t know that we’ll need to do more but we certainly aren’t planning on scaling back with anything.”

Breitbart’s U.S. technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos is meeting with producers outside of Breitbart to explore launching a new television show, Marlow said.

Yiannopoulos has faced criticism for comments he has made about Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists and feminists. Social media platform Twitter banned him in July for inciting harassment of the actress Leslie Jones.

Breitbart, which already has a U.K. website, has begun interviewing European journalists to staff the planned new Breitbart France and Breitbart Germany sites, Marlow said. The aim is to help elect right-wing politicians in the two European countries, where anti-immigrant sentiment has been on the rise, sources close to Bannon said.

Speculation had simmered for months that the Republican candidate could launch his own “Trump TV” network if he lost Tuesday’s election. But Trump had done nothing to secure investments, partnerships and permits needed for a new broadcast network, according to three people inside his campaign.

Bannon, who took over Breitbart after its founder Andrew Breitbart died in 2012, sees an opening to tap what he sees as a wave of American populism similar to forces driving Britain from the European Union, according to a source familiar with his thinking. It was unclear whether he would return to Breitbart now that Trump has won.

The former Goldman Sachs banker launched Breitbart London in 2013 after seeing a “business opportunity” in the campaign to leave the European Union, according to the source. He chose a young conservative activist, Raheem Kassam, to run the site but also hired a venerated British journalist, James Delingpole, to add cache.

Breitbart London’s political and business aims were so closely integrated that Kassam took a brief leave of absence from the site to advise Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit movement. The more popular the “Brexit” movement became, the more people went to Breitbart London to read about it, and the more advertisements Bannon sold.

Bannon’s bet paid off: the June 23 vote to leave the EU was Breitbart’s most heavily trafficked day up to that point--(overall) both in London and the United States.

Alexandra Preate, a spokeswoman for Breitbart, declined to disclose how much revenue it generates and the identities of its main backers.

Editing by Jason Szep and Stuart Grudgings