Republican mega-donor and Trump backer Rebekah Mercer on Wednesday defended herself against claims of racism and blamed former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon for giving far-right website Breitbart News a bad reputation. Mercer—who was Bannon’s top financial backer until his falling out with the White House last month—said she still supports President Trump and played down her influence at the alt-right news site. “I own a minority stake in Breitbart News (where I have no editorial authority) because I believe it adds an important journalistic voice to the American conversation,” she wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “Stephen Bannon, its former chairman, took Breitbart in the wrong direction,” she wrote, but it can now “refine its message and expand its influence” after his resignation. Critics were quick to poke holes in Mercer’s claims, noting that she worked closely with Bannon on editorial issues at a time she now says the site was heading in “the wrong direction.” The Daily Beast revealed last spring that Mercer helped Bannon interview prospective editors for his Breitbart India venture, during which time she reportedly went on “diatribes” about same-sex marriage and the damage wrought by immigrants in Europe. The Mercer family was outed as co-owners of Breitbart News by the outlet’s CEO, Larry Solov, early last year.
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