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Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet with close ties to the White House, is now openly campaigning for Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows to become Speaker of the House.

Shortly after the healthcare vote, a source familiar with Breitbart's editorial operations called Axios to preview their campaign for Meadows:

"Mark Meadows is the acting Speaker of the House. Expect Breitbart coverage to reflect that."

On Breitbart's homepage: An image of Meadows that wouldn't look out of place on a presidential campaign. In case that wasn't clear enough, a headline in the top corner of the website read: "SPEAKER MEADOWS?"

None of this should be surprising. Breitbart's editorial team, led by Matthew Boyle, has had a vendetta against Ryan from day one. Just weeks after Ryan took the Speakership, Steve Bannon sent an internal email saying the "long game" was for Ryan to be out of a job by spring. On Breitbart conference calls Bannon used to call Ryan "the enemy," and attack him as a "globalist" who was too soft on immigration. While the two have since patched over their differences — and even found common ground on tax reform — the animus toward Ryan lives on among Breitbart's editorial leadership.

"It's clear that Paul Ryan was just field-stripped by the House Republican conference on health care," the source said of Thursday's healthcare vote. "Negotiations on major elements of President Trump's agenda must be negotiated by other Republican members of the House including the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus."

Side note: Meadows is far from a beloved figure outside of the Freedom Caucus. House leaders mostly loathe him and words like "sociopath" are freely used in private conversations about him. Nor has it been entirely smooth for Meadows within his own group. Two Freedom Caucus members publicly dropped out of the caucus this month. A senior GOP aide said this to Axios about Meadows' prospects for Speaker: "Meadows would never get 218 votes. Not even close. He's despised by many in our conference."

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views on their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of cancelled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to officially change it.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Small businesses see hiring as No. 1 worry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Almost every small business owner in a Goldman Sachs survey is having trouble hiring — and two-thirds think the federal government has done too little to ease their hiring, supply-chain and inflation worries.

Why it matters: The Goldman Sachs research gives a vivid window into the continuing headwinds and hardship for entrepreneurs.