The following opinion piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. It is reposted with the author’s permission.
According to national polls the presidential race is tightening, but Electoral College map projections show that Donald Trump‘s path to winning 270 electoral votes resembles a tightrope more than an actual path. Strategists from both parties are now quietly betting that Trump will win slightly more or less than McCain’s 2008 electoral vote total of 179 or Romney’s 2012 total of 206. It appears as if the Electoral College’s “blue barrier” will be the real obstacle to Trump’s wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Trump will not quietly fade into the background.
Trump will eventually launch a “Trump TV” media venture.
After speaking with a well-informed Trump insider (name asked to be withheld), I can confirm that both assumptions are true.
Let’s take a deeper dive.
Given Trump’s addiction to media attention, it is impossible to believe that after November 8, he will retreat quietly into his Fifth Avenue tower presiding over board meetings with no television cameras. After all, this is the A-list celebrity businessman who, in his first attempt at elective office crafted a simple message, tapped into national angst and galvanized a powerful movement of passionate “fed-up” voters. Along the way he captured countless hours of free media coverage, leveraged social media to the max, defeated his numerous primary opponents and parlayed all his talents into winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
Unfortunately, for the sake of national unity, the intense voter frustration that fuels the “fed-up” movement will not dissipate once the scandal-plagued “Madame President” rules over Washington. In fact, both Clintons residing in the White House is likely to usher in an intense era of hyper-polarization led directly or indirectly by Trump himself. Contributing to that sentiment, a recent Politico headline read:
“Trump’s new aim: Poison a Clinton presidency.”
The piece quoted longtime Clintonite Paul Begala saying, “We are already seeing an effort by the Trumpsters to undermine Hillary’s presidency before it has even begun.”
Supporting the supposition that Trump will not retreat from the political limelight stands the true reason: Continuing the fight against “Crooked Hillary” represents a potentially lucrative business opportunity wrapped in face-saving and patriotism.
Remember, above all else, Trump is a marketing specialist who will know how to repackage, rebrand, and reposition his message to millions of disappointed American voters. Shortly after conceding, you can expect Trump to say something like, “I will not let you down. Millions of voters are telling me to continue the movement I started against ‘Crooked Hillary.’ But folks, I will need your help, so stay tuned for a big, big, announcement.” (You can just hear him saying this.)
Here are some facts that will justify Trump’s future statement.
Even if Trump loses the election in an Electoral College “landslide,” Nate Silver’s popular prediction site FiveThirtyEight projects that he will win 43.3 percent of the popular vote to Clinton’s 47.5 percent. Since turnout is the big X factor, no one can predict how many millions of votes 43.3 percent represents, so allow history to be our guide.
In 2012, Obama won 51.1 percent of the popular vote yielding 65,915,796 votes. Romney won 47.2 percent equaling 60,933,500 votes.
In 2008, Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote earning 69,498,516 votes. McCain won 45.7 percent translating into 59,948,323.
For example, let’s say Trump wins 50 million votes. Theoretically, if he engaged less than half of those voters with his message of “continuing the movement” he still begins his new media venture with a YUGE loyal audience. That loyalty could also translate into a built-in asset worth millions of dollars – the contact information of everyone who registered for a free ticket to attend one of his famous rallies or donated to his campaign.
In addition to this valuable database, Trump will have all the talent and capital he needs to launch what, according to Fortune will be a, “right-wing media outlet of his own, a cable channel and digital-media platform based on the Trump brand, like a cross between Fox News and the website Breitbart News.”
But, according to the Trump insider who told me that if Trump loses this media project is definitely in the works – the brand may be “Trump” but the driving force has a different last name. “It’s all Jared” my contact stated emphatically.
“Jared” of course is Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband who also doubles as Donald Trump’s de facto campaign manager.
Kushner is already running a media company as owner and publisher of the Observer. With an eye toward the next big family project, apparently Jared is spending large amounts of campaign resources on voter data analytics. “Just look at Trump’s Federal Election Commission reports,” says the Trump insider.
However, most of the Trump TV media speculation swirls around former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. It was Ailes who conceived, implemented and built Fox News into the behemoth is it today. Recently, Ailes was forced to step down from Fox due to sexual harassment allegations and now, supposedly he is advising Trump on campaign media strategy. But Ailes’ Fox News contract precludes him from starting a competing cable channel. That is not a problem according to my contact since Ailes knows “cable is dead,” and the new Trump media venture will be “internet based.”
Media reports about Trump TV also prominently mention Stephen K. Bannon. On August 17 after being named Trump’s campaign CEO, Bannon temporarily stepped down from his post as Chairman of Breitbart News.
Bannon considered a media and business genius (and occasional bomb-thrower) took over the Breitbart organization after the founder’s untimely death in 2012. Since then, Bannon built Breitbart into a wildly successful news and new media company. As proof of its growing conservative influence, the New York Times, in a recent media/business piece about the company had as its opening sentence,”Breitbart News has arrived.”
But my Trump insider downplays Bannon’s involvement in a future Trump TV/internet venture, insisting that Jared will lead the way. Offering more insight, my contact says it is unlikely that Trump will star in or host most of the programming given Trump’s problem with “attention span.” Certainly, Trump will be the face of the venture and its flagship programming, but he will appear “no more than once a day or even once a week.”
This leaves much room for programming to capture the attention of Trump’s love for “poorly educated” voters turned viewers. Eventually, after hours of raging against Hillary grows old, here are a few suggestions for Trump TV/internet entertainment:
A food show hosted by Chris Christie: “Cooking with Oreos.”
Trump Dynasty: “Big Game Hunting with Don Jr. and Eric.”
“Lock ‘Em Up with Judge Rudy” (Giuliani)
“Real Housewives of Trump Tower” with Melania, Ivanka, Vanessa, and Lara Trump.
“Meet the Depressed” — Sean Hannity’s Sunday news show with Republican leaders.
Campaign tactics with Roger Stone: “Dirty Tricks Done Dirt Cheap.”
Dr. Ben Carson’s medical talk show: “Black Doctors Matter.”
2020 with Mike Pence: “DON’T Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
The programming possibilities are endless, but so are the chances that Trump TV could go the way of Trump University, Trump Steaks, Trump Mortgage, Trump Airlines, Trump Ice, Trump Vodka and Trump… click here for more.
Finally, according to my source, Trump TV will be launched with “OPM” (other people’s money) so, as always in Trump Tower, the “The Art of the Deal” will be the real winner.
Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign’s creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign’s ad council. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams. Contact Myra at [email protected].
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