Via CNN. You can’t expect him to show his cards about post-election projects now, when he’s trying to boost Republican voters’ morale. But for what it’s worth, what he says about disinterest in a news outlet jibes with what he’s allegedly said privately:
But Mr. Trump himself is said to have expressed limited enthusiasm for the idea of “Trump TV.”
In an interview with the Washington Post in September, Mr. Trump denied that he was interested in pursuing a media property of his own.
Mr. Trump, who historically gets investors for his major projects, seems unlikely to put in large amounts of his own cash into a potentially risky venture.
Does Trump believe in nationalism enough to incur some financial risk in launching a media outlet devoted to propagating it? Or does Trump really just believe in Trump, in which case why would he want the hassle of trying to build market share for a network that will consist largely of showcasing other media personalities? (With interest in Trump-branded hotels dropping, he might be especially reluctant to lay out big bucks to fund a media start-up.) Even if he has his own show on the network, he’ll be on for an hour a day, max. Most of the rest of the programming will be filled up with Sean Hannity and Tomi Lahren and a talk show hosted by Ivanka or whatever. I can’t imagine how a news show hosted by Trump himself would proceed. He’s not going spend his 70s reciting news bites about the day’s events from a teleprompter. And I think the idea of him interviewing guests would offend him. He’s not some schlub who pretends to be interested in the person sitting across from him; he’s the guy who gets interviewed. He’s the star. What would an hour of TV programming dedicated to the idea that “Trump is a star” even look like? Hannity doing softball interviews with him about the day’s headlines every night?
Come to think of it, that’s basically how Fox News operates now.
If Trump TV happens, it’ll happen the way Breitbart.com in its current incarnation happened: Steve Bannon will run it, leveraging the brand name of a Republican media personality with an ardent fan following to build a nationalist news outlet. Trump is only too familiar with the practice of licensing his brand name to businesses run by others; this would be a variation on that, with some airtime reserved for Trump himself when he wants it but without any promise of daily appearances. A Twitter pal floated an interesting alternative to that scheme for Trump a few days ago, though, just in case Election Day goes as badly as the polls suggest. What if … Trump just kept holding rallies after the election? He could organize a few “victory” events for November to scream about how the vote was rigged, Clinton’s presidency is illegitimate, The People need to take back the government, and so forth. Eventually his campaign would run out of money to stage events, but he could launch his own Super PAC and solicit donations through it that would help fund speaking engagements around the country indefinitely. (He could also skip the Super PAC and simply charge admission for his events like any entertainment act, but I don’t know if Trump would want to risk the humiliation of ticket sales being slow.) He could spend the next year or two touring the country, holding an event or two every month, which would protect his political capital and make him a player in the 2020 process. More importantly, though, it would give Trump the sporadic doses of star power that he seems to crave. Nothing would soothe the pain of losing an election like getting to appear in front of a crowd of 20,000 adoring people every few weeks who are convinced he’s the “real” president.
Incidentally, although he’s characteristically bullish on his early voting performance in the clip below, things are not going well so far in North Carolina. He’s holding his own in Florida at the moment, but if NC goes sideways, his path to 270 is essentially gone. Exit question: Er, didn’t Trump TV already launch last night?