Trump TV is the next logical step. But who is loyal to him now?

With legal issues to deal with, and maybe an eye on 2024, Trump needs maximum visibility

James Moore
Saturday 14 November 2020 13:37 GMT
Kayleigh McEnany says Trump will 'attend his own inauguration' on 20 January

Up until recently Newsmax TV was a tiddler in the deep swamp of America’s conservative media, little more than a mosquito buzzing on the rightward flank of Fox News, the established alligator of these everglades.  

It’s suddenly grown a set of teeth.  

Some of Fox’s recent editorial decisions have enraged the Tweeter in Chief. There was its early call of the state of Arizona for Joe Biden. Host Neil Cavuto cut away from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany when she was “charging the other side with welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting” without anything resembling evidence to back up her assertions.  

So the Donald found himself a new safe space.  

A blizzard of retweets from his adoring fans pledging to abandon Fox in favour of Newsmax duly appeared on the president’s feed.  

Pity poor One America News (OAN). It’s been trading in the same brand of conspiracy theories and slavish adoration for years now. It banged the same drum as Newsmax post election. Voter fraud! Trump won! We’ll never see the indictments coz the Dems will just plead straight guilty when they come in. No, really. OAN’s Christina Bobb actually said that with a straight face.  

The previous pretender to the “network that outfoxes Fox” throne did get a mention or two, but Newsmax was Trump’s retweet king.

Which brings us to his next move, because he assuredly did not win the presidency, either in terms of the popular vote (Joe Biden got 5 million more and counting) or the crucial electoral college votes.  

Eventually reality is going to have to bite. The moonshot lawsuits will fail. The baseless allegations of fraud will go nowhere. Even slavish Republican lickspittles like South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham have been inching towards acceptance. He’s called for Joe Biden to be included in daily security briefings, albeit without conceding the Democrat’s victory.  

When Trump is finally turfed out of the White House, entering a media he plays so well is the logical next step.  

It’s been reported that he wants to “kill Fox” for its perceived disloyalty, with Trump TV.  

When it comes to real estate he’s a poor stick, as his repeated bankruptcies and the losses, revealed by the New York Times, facilitating minimal income tax payments, serve to prove.  

But as I’ve written before, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the business of celebrity. The impact of his endorsement on Newsmax speaks to that.  

Take CNN Business: it went from as little as 25,000 viewers thought the summer to 182,000 on election night, and approaching 350,000 in the aftermath. Its biggest shows, featuring people like Trump’s former spokesperson Sean Spicer, have approached 800,000 viewers.  

Suddenly, Newsmax is making the news as well as reporting on a highly slanted version of it.  

But despite the Trumpkins angrily tweeting their pledges to drop Fox in its favour, it doesn’t appear to have much hurt Rupert Murdoch’s network.  

Could Trump change that? He’d need some wrecking ball to do it.  

Fox is awful. But it’s slick and sharp with that awfulness; it’s a full service news network that the big cable providers have to carry; a moneymaking machine run by talented people that has survived multiple scandals, including a string of horrible sexual harassment lawsuits that spawned the movie Bombshell, two of whose female stars (Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie) picked up Oscar nominations.

OAN and the newly empowered Newsmax are cheap and amateurish sideshows by comparison. But what about now that they are allied to Trump, with his formidable database of supporters who treat him like a god-emperor?

Starting his own network to take on the ratings behemoth of cable news would take money Trump just doesn’t have. Ditto expertise. Murdoch he ain’t.  

There have been suggestions that Trump could try using his database to launch a digital subscription-based service. This could make money, potentially a lot of it, but it wouldn’t have the same clout or reach.  

With legal issues to deal with, and maybe an eye on 2024, Trump needs maximum visibility.  

Paired with one or the other of Fox’s rivals, well, it’d make things interesting. Shares in Fox’s parent company have wobbled of late. Wall Street has some worries.  

Unless Fox decides to try and outbid them. Money can make friends of the bitterest of enemies and they aren’t as far apart as it might look. Trump still tweets approvingly of the friends he has at the network. Its opinion hosts have fully embraced the alternative reality in which he lives. If Trump decides he can’t beat them, he might just end up joining them.  

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