Photo courtesy of Philly Mag
For clues, look no further than Twitter and Facebook Live
by Tyler Hicks
It’s a rumor nearly as old as this election cycle: Donald Trump does not want to be President.
Sure, he wants to win and take the White House away from longtime rival Barack Obama and new rival Hillary Clinton, but does he want to be Commander-in-Chief every day for the next four years? Given what we know about his campaign, his personality and his tweets, it’s not hard to argue that he’s in the game for the wrong reasons.
Oh, and to start Trump TV, of course.
Last week, we learned that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and trusted campaign advisor, was discussing the idea of a “Trump-branded television network” with an investment bank that specializes in media deals.
While there are numerous roadblocks and challenges in between the Trump family and this lofty network goal, it does seem like a logical business foray for post-campaign Donald. After all, The Donald has already carved out an audience of millions for a potential TV network, all the while cozying up to conservative media titans like Roger Ailes and Stephen Bannon.
Twitter has helped the Republican presidential nominee build a cult following, and intentionally or not, he has laid the groundwork for the first “alt-right” television network — a network that could capitalize on the popularity and possibilities offered by social and new media.
He might have some trouble finding a carrier, though.
Every racist and misogynistic remark damages the Trump brand name even more, making it unlikely that any reputable financiers and cable providers would simply line up to invest in Trump in an already crowded field. For all these reasons, the solution for Kushner and co. is obvious: Embrace online.
We already got a glimpse of what a digital-first Trump TV could look like when the Trump campaign hosted its own live coverage of the debate via Facebook Live. The effort was predictably lambasted online and by traditional news outlets, but the candidate’s supporters tuned in and donated over $9 million in response to the video’s calls for donations.
Even though it’s too little too late, that figure was undoubtedly encouraging for the Trump camp and the man himself, who by this point is probably aware that his brand is facing a fate even worse than his campaign.
As Jeet Heer points out in his aptly titled piece “Citizen Pain,” the infamously creepy and unlikable Trump has lost all credibility and social standing over the last sixteen months. His best shot to stave off irrelevance and financial ruin may be to turn away from the country club crowd and toward the Twitter crowd.
The fan base he has cultivated during his run is fiercely loyal and wildly active online, and if they’re willing to shell out a few bucks here and there already, why not ask them to continue doing the same for a product they can’t get anywhere else?
Time Warner Cable may not jump at the prospect of a Trump TV, but what’s to stop the failed water, magazine, steak and airline mogul from blazing trails in the news app game?
After a couple of bad weeks and video leaks, it looks more certain than ever that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
His options may be increasingly limited, but Donald Trump isn’t going away.
The brand may be irreparably damaged, but his Twitter fingers and insatiable appetite for the spotlight cannot be quelled or satisfied.
He’ll be around in some form because he has to be, and if (when?) it doesn’t work out, we may just see him again in 2020.