Over the past couple of weeks, it has become clear to most observers that Donald Trump has been actively hurting his campaign for the White House with his actions and words. Nary a day — fuck, an hour — has gone by this month where we haven’t had to deal with yet another mind-blowingly bigoted or just plain insane utterance from the Republican standard-bearer. The past few days have been even worse, due to him making the Orlando shooting all bout him, claiming POTUS is a terrorist sympathizer and reaffirming his call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
Due to his behavior, whatever gains he made in the polls since capturing the GOP nomination last month have completely disappeared. Recent surveys show his support as far down as the low-30s. A WaPo-ABC News poll reveals that 70% of registered voters see him in a negative light, with women, Hispanics and blacks viewing him as especially toxic. Meanwhile, Republicans in Washington are spending each day fielding questions regarding why they support him as their candidate.
With all that said, the one thing that is apparent is that Trump continues to dominate media coverage. And, with that in mind, it should come as no surprise that he’d really, really, really like to monetize it. According to a report released by Vanity Fair on Thursday, it appears that Trump is looking to create his own little media empire after the election is over. Essentially, he knows he won’t be elected in November, but he also realizes he now has a built-in fanbase of millions of white racists who will follow him anywhere.
As Sarah Ellison wrote, Trump sees the ratings the cable news stations are getting, the clicks papers and websites have received, and all the ad revenue it is generating, and he feels he should be getting a piece of that.
Trump, this person close to the matter suggests, has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself. Such a situation “brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.” Trump has “gotten the bug,” according to this person. “So now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.”
Of course, Trump’s team denies all of this. However, as Ellison pointed out, shortly after calling his spokeswoman to get a comment, Trump sent out that following tweet, appearing to confirm that he is indeed looking into creating his own media brand.
The press is so totally biased that we have no choice but to take our tough but fair and smart message directly to the people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
He also sent another one a few hours later pointing out how profits have surged for cable news networks due to his campaign.
Finally an accurate story from the Washington Post!https://t.co/0nNKEBSd73
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
It would seem that Trump is looking at a more radical, more nationalistic, more race-bating version of Fox News as the endgame to this election. As we’ve pivoted to the general election, his extremist, bigoted, self-absorbed rhetoric is turning off large swaths of the public, making it damn near impossible for him to win in November, and more and more likely that he’ll take the GOP down with him, leading to large-scale losses in local, state and national elections.
Yet, on the flip side, he’s found a loyal audience that will follow him to the ends of the earth. If he can’t inhabit the White House and get the entire nation to worship his cult of personality, the next best thing is to build a TV/online/print shrine to himself, with programming and content devoted to white nationalism, anti-immigrant rhetoric and all-around tackiness.
Of course, despite portraying himself as a mega-wealthy multi-billionaire to help front the capital for such a venture. Trump is nowhere near liquid enough to fund this kind of venture. (Hello, Peter Thiel? Are you there, Sheldon Adelson?) If he tried to go the route of Newsmax, The Blaze or One America, and start a channel from scratch, it will take a while to gain saturation with cable and satellite providers. (All three of those networks are only available in a fraction of US homes.)
His best bet would be to purchase an existing channel with an existing audience that is readily available on the majority of providers and merely re-brand it. He’d also need to hire on-air talent. (I think we already know that Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Jeffrey Lord and Ben Carson will have their own shows.) Again, beaucoup bucks, so Trump would need to beg a real billionaire to put up the cash.
Now, this is mostly speculation at this point, but it does seem that Trump is leaning this direction to a certain degree. This will all appear to be more certain if we see him continue to ‘ban’ outlets from covering him by denying press credentials, as he did this week with the Washington Post, all while focusing more and more on the “dishonest media.” You combine that, with a cratering of general election poll numbers, and you could conceivable see a situation where he gives himself an out to quit the race so he can focus on starting up his own network.