The rumors about whether Donald Trump’s real motives behind his run for the presidency have bubbled about for more than a year. Some have speculated without much evidence that Trump didn’t necessarily intend on winning, but hoped to establish his brand in politics in order to launch his own media company. Earlier this morning, the Financial Times reported that Trump’s son-in law Jared Kushner made some initial inquiries with potential lenders about such a project — after the Republican convention, no less:
Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November.
Mr Kushner — an increasingly influential figure in the billionaire’s presidential campaign — contacted Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder and chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank, within the past couple of months, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
Their conversation was brief and has not progressed since, the people said. Mr Bourkoff and Mr Kushner both declined to comment.
Let’s just note up front that it’s possible for someone to have several ambitions operating at the same time. Trump hasn’t run his businesses one building at a time for decades, after all. If Trump wanted to have a backup plan for a loss in November, he might indeed look for alternatives for fallback positions — and given the long odds he faces in winning the election, especially on his current trajectory, that might be a pretty good idea. Hernán Cortes may have burned his ships on reaching the New World, but generally speaking, successful businessmen know they have to diversify to survive.
But why would this have to necessarily involve Donald himself? It’s certainly possible that Trump could still assume he’ll win and have Kushner look into a Trump TV launch. The brand would be yuuuuge with the boss in the Oval Office, and he has three children who would end up running the empire while he leads the Free World. Donald Jr, Eric, or especially Ivanka could run the new media outlet (with help from Stephen Bannon and Breitbart, natch), and give a Trump administration a handy and friendly media outlet to protect President Trump’s flank. What better way to combat “media rigging” than with a presidential
propaganda journalistic outlet? This report might not have anything at all to do with Trump’s commitment to his presidential campaign — in fact, Trump’s need for Trump TV in the event of a loss seems, well … non-existent.
The only fly in the ointment for either scenario is the ability to actually get on the air, and succeed once that happens. FT’s report covers some of the difficulties — access to cable systems, fragmentation of the audience, cable-cutting among consumers — that would likely make this an unattractive project for venture-capital investors and banks. Remember how well Current TV worked out for Al Gore? Well, except for the $500 million payoff from oil-producing emirs in Qatar to use for their own propaganda efforts? Even that died a slow death, and Qatar’s emirs have an almost unlimited supply of petrodollars for vanity projects. Tycoon TV isn’t exactly a growth industry no matter who’s running it.