And that, says the right-wing consensus, is the problem. No one would confuse the 31-year-old Marlow, generally respected in the community and within Breitbart, with Bannon, who had more enemies on the right than journalist supplicants in the mainstream media. “I thought Alex was a decent human being who was smart,” said Kurt Bardella, the site’s former spokesman, who had worked with Marlow and Solov for years. “He felt that he had a responsibility to the memory of Andrew to be there and guide the site, and had a lot of heartburn over the way that Steve really hijacked Breitbart.” That takeover included the leadership, too: numerous current and former employees told me that Bannon, whom Bardella described as a “dictatorial bully,” ran roughshod over Marlow and Solov during meetings, overruling their journalistic decisions through pure rage. Over the years, the two Breitbart veterans essentially gave up on pushing back. “[Marlow] was just beat down to where there was no point fighting with Steve because it’s never going to go anywhere,” said Bardella. “I think he just gave up, which, frankly, I think anyone in that position would do.” (Only two other entities seemed to be able overrule Bannon at any given time: __Rebekah Mercer,__long under the sway of her political guru, and Susie Breitbart, Andrew’s widow, widely considered an enigma in the company.)

Marlow won’t take over Bannon’s title as executive chairman, and it’s unclear if there will ever be another executive chairman. As fundamentally decent as Marlow may be, he lacks the magnetic, charismatic personality that defined both Bannon and Andrew and essentially ensured that their employees—mostly hired fresh out of college and now in their late 20s and early 30s—could hardly step up. Unlike the media outlets it hoped to compete against, which tend to promote individual writers and personalities, it’s hard for anyone outside Breitbart’s core audience to name a single reporter for the site. ”As much as [Bannon critic] Ben Shapiro can complain about this and that and Steve mucking up Andrew’s legacy—which he totally did—he did it with Susie’s permission and with Larry’s permission, so there’s something to be said about that,” the source continued. “No one stood up. It’s like a trickle: if everyone would have rushed the gate, Steve would have backed down . . . Instead, one person at a time took on Steve, and they lost.”