Just over one week after President Donald Trump fired Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, a self-described “email prankster” reportedly fooled several top editors at Breitbart News into saying it intends to smear the Trump administration.
As reported by CNN Money, the “prankster” sent several emails claiming to be Bannon, fresh off losing his job at the White House.
In the emails shared with CNN, Breitbart’s Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, who believed the person on the other end was Bannon, vowed to do his “dirty work” against the White House and its aides.
Marlow, 31, started his career as founder Andrew Breitbart’s editorial assistant. He served in the role for four years until he earned a promotion four years later.
Here’s what you need to know about Marlow:
1. The Emails Promised to Smear Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner
In one email, Marlow claimed that he could have Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump “ousted” from the White House within the next four months.
Marlow said to CNN in a statement that the prankster duping him is “simply a result of (Breitbart’s) effectiveness,” adding that the emails were “tongue-in-cheek.”
Read his statement to CNN below:
The obsession with Breitbart News is simply a result of our effectiveness. This time, an imposter deceitfully obtained and shared with CNN tongue-in-cheek emails that revealed that we feel Globalists present an existential threat to the agenda that got President Trump elected.
If people want to know our thinking, they don’t need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page.
The fake Bannon sent another email to Marlow saying that he had been “reading online about how I’ll be bringing forth my wrath on Ivanka and Jared.”
“I’d be doing this great nation a service if I did,” the email said.
“I spooked em today,” Marlow replied to the email. “Did five stories on globalist takeover positioning you as only hope to stop it. You need to own that, just have surrogates do the dirty work.”
Marlow reportedly continued with a personal smear about Ivanka and Kushner, which CNN refused to publish “because it is unfounded and unsubstantiated.”
The emails from fake Bannon continued to other staff at Breitbart, including Senior Editor Joel Pollak, until CEO Larry Solov sent out an alert to his staff encouraging them to “be especially careful of emails from (the) address,” CNN reported.
2. Breitbart Declared ‘War’ on the White House Following Bannon’s Termination
Bannon was let go by the White House on August 18, and Breitbart staff immediately responded by saying their agenda moving forward would be to criticize the White House.
Pollak tweeted just hours after Bannon’s dismissal: “#WAR,” which is a reference to the mission statement of the website’s founder, Andrew Breitbart.
CNN obtained several emails that were sent out to Breitbart staff following Bannon’s dismissal. In one of them, Marlow reportedly told his staff to “round up hysterical reactions and gloating” by media and Hollywood and advised an editor to “start putting together a narrative story” about Bannon.
The emails sent to staffers by Marlow also told them to be lax on social media use, saying “tweeting tends to do more harm than good.”
3. Marlow Was Hired as the Managing Editor in 2008
After serving as an editorial assistant, Marlow was promoted to be the platform’s inaugural managing editor and was the first official employee at the company. His stock continued to rise, and he was named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” in 2015.
In 2015, Marlow told Bloomberg Business during an interview about the strategy at Breitbart.
“Our whole mindset is looking for these rolling narratives,” he said, adding some of those narratives were ISIS, immigration, race riots and Hillary Clinton.
In an 2015 interview with The New York Times, Marlow said Breitbart’s ultimate goal wasn’t to influence the minds of readers. Instead, it was to report and highlight “stories important to grass roots conservatives.”
Back in March, Marlow spoke to NBC News on the claim that Breitbart is considered a “hate site.” He vehemently denied that, saying “we’re consistently called anti-Semitic despite the fact that we are overwhelmingly staffed with Jews and are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. That is fake news.”
4. Bannon Was a Founding Member of Breitbart News
After Bannon was relieved of his duties at the White House, Breitbart News announced that he’d be returning to run the media platform.
Bannon’s a founding member of the media organization, along with Andrew Breitbart. The outlet has become known for its far-right news, opinion and commentary pieces.
Zeke J. Miller of TIME has referred to the website as pushing “racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right.”
After Breitbart’s death in 2012, Bannon served as the executive chair of Breitbart News LLC., and the platform started to take a more alt-right approach.
In 2016, Bannon declared the website as being “the platform of the alt-right.”
“We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-‘ the permanent political class,” Bannon said to The Washington Post during a January 2016 interview.
5. The Email Prank Comes Less Than a Month After the ‘Prankster’ Tricked White House Officials
The same person who duped Marlow and Breitbart was involved in another “prank” that tricked White House officials into believing he was other officials.
In one instance, he convinced an official that was tasked with cyber security that he was Kushner. That same official gave his personal email address to the prankester.
“Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August,” the fake Kushner wrote to Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert in emails provided to CNN. “It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible (sic) quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening.”
Bossert replied to the fake Kushner, “Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is” (redacted).”
In another email exchange, the prankster pretended to be former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in an exchange with former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
Priebus and Scaramucci had much-documented tensions with each other.
“I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free,” the fake Priebus wrote in an email to Scaramucci, according to CNN. “But after reading your tweet today which stated how; ‘soon we will learn who in the media who has class, and who hasn’t’, has pushed me to this. That tweet was breathtakingly hypocritical, even for you. At no stage have you acted in a way that’s even remotely classy, yet you believe that’s the standard by which everyone should behave towards you? General Kelly will do a fine job. I’ll even admit he will do a better job than me. But the way in which that transition has come about has been diabolical. And hurtful. I don’t expect a reply.”
Scaramucci responded to the fake Priebus: “You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.”