President Donald Trump may launch a digital streaming network to rival conservative outlets like Fox News after leaving the White House next year, members of his inner circle have said in recent days, as the prospect of his inevitable departure becomes ever apparent.
It was reported back in 2016 when the polls showed him losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Mr Trump was expected to ignite the media industry with his own cable news network, after recruiting millions of fans and supporters along the campaign trail.
Four years and a one-term presidency later, some speculate Mr Trump might actually start that next endeavor come January, with Axios citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the president’s intentions on Thursday: “He plans to wreck Fox. No doubt about it.”
Should the president in fact decide to move forward with creating a TV business, he’d have an enormous competitive advantage given the campaign email and cellphone contacts list he has accrued over the years, having filed the paperwork to run for re-election the day he stepped foot in the White House.
Trump's messaging at the moment:
- I won.
- Or I lost and I'm re-running in 2024.
- Or maybe I'm starting a streaming TV network.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) November 12, 2020
Throughout that whole time, Mr Trump has been holding rallies across the country and fundraising from his voters — all the while collecting their information, which could be used in his next business venture.
Ps for real: Anyone - even Trump; even you! - can launch a streaming video network. Could do it on day 1.
Who would watch after the initial novelty?
Who would pay to watch?
How long before Trump gets frustrated being on a TV network that isn’t on TV?
— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) November 12, 2020
While some of the president’s inner circle have spoken about the issue behind closed doors and anonymously to news outlets, others have been more public with their confidence in Mr Trump’s intention to become a regular TV fixture. What that means for his political future is another question.
“Many of us expect Trump to go into the television business,” Mick Mulvaney, the president’s former chief of staff, said in a recent interview with Radio New Zealand. “What we’re calling, for lack of a better word, Trump TV, to compete with — say — Fox News.”
“I think the president figured out a long time ago that there’s five or six networks vying over half of our nation that’s sort of center-left, and one network vying for everybody in the center to the right,” Mr Mulvaney said. “So I think he’s going to do that. I don’t know if that takes him out of consideration for 2024, I don’t think it does. I think in fact he might use that as a way to stay relevant through to 2024.”
The news comes as it becomes increasingly clear Mr Trump will eventually be forced to leave the White House in January, with a series of lawsuits he’s aimed against the electoral process having proven to be frivolous, and with President-elect Joe Biden receiving a clear and substantial victory against the Republican incumbent. Mr Trump only secured 214 electoral votes, compared to Mr Biden, who earned at least 273, making him the official president-elect, according to projections.
Mr Trump has continued to spread lies and misinformation about the election results while promoting baseless conspiracy theories of mass voter fraud and systematic rigging. The president’s campaign has yet to provide any credible evidence of its allegations of voter fraud.
Still, Mr Mulvaney said the president was unlikely to concede to Mr Biden.
“The president doesn’t like losing,” he said. “It’s difficult to make the case that you are a great president if you are a one-term president.”