In New Role Defending Trump Presidency, Breitbart's Traffic Appears to Be Plummeting

Alt-right website, which had boasted of its popularity on the way out, is suddenly silent on the way down as it struggles to adjust to new role of defending the establishment

Shawn Moran, a National Border Patrol Council vice president, speaks on air as part of "The Green Line," a weekly radio show by the U.S. Border Patrol agents' union that is sponsored by the conservative Breitbart News, in Solana Beach, California, February 21, 2017.
Gregory Bull/AP

Breitbart's popularity has tanked the past month by its own standard, Vanity Fair reported on Sunday.

Using the same analytics by used by Breitbart News, the alt-right website formerly headed by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Vanity Fair showed its ranking has plunged from 29th in February to 281st place, as of May 26.

In November, Breitbart CEO Larry Solov had predicted, “While several publishers have enjoyed an uptick in traffic due to election coverage, we are proud to have built a massive and deeply-rooted community that will remain long after the election cycle fades.” Just two months later, in November, Breitbart boasted:  “With over two billion pageviews generated in 2016 and 45 million unique monthly visitors, Breitbart News has now surpassed Fox News (#47), Huffington Post (#50), Washington Post (#53), and Buzzfeed (#64) in traffic.”

Although interpreting analytics at face value is tricky business, Vanity Fair theorizes that Breitbart has stumbled in the transition from being an outsider constantly attacking the Democrats and Washington to defending the missteps of the Republican-controlled White House and Capitol Hill.

“If you’re anti-Trump, there’s never been a better time to read news. It’s like Christmas every morning,” an editor at a conservative media outlet told Vanity Fair. “So every time you open the newspaper or open Twitter or turn on Facebook, you get to enjoy the fact that there are a lot of other people who don’t like Trump and there’s a lot of news stories that show Trump in a negative light. Whereas if you’re Breitbart, you’re scrambling to explain or defend or continue to back the guy that you backed throughout the election. And eventually, if your posture continues to just simply be reactive and trying to explain away things that are happening to or by the president, I think people slowly become sort of disheartened by politics.”

Vanity Fair pointed out that Breitbart's traffic pattern, which spiked in December, remained fairly stable, and then crashed in May, coincided with its decisions to enable and then disable Alexa's certified-results feature, as noted by an Alexa customer representative. Use of this service would thus have created an "apples-to-oranges" comparison of site traffic, Vanity Fair explained.

Even so, Breitbart had no problem boasting of its popularity when the data played in its favor. Now that the comparison is back to apples-to-apples, it woefully trails the Washington Post (41st), Buzzfeed (50th), Huffington Post (60th) and Fox News (64th), remaining conspicuously silent about its current ranking.