Depending on which polls you believe, it looks as though Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is either going to cruise to victory on election day or squeak past Republican nominee Donald Trump with a narrow margin of victory. Either way, most experts say she is likely to win.
So what happens to Trump when the former reality TV host loses his presidential bid? Will he just go back to playing golf and financing beauty contests? Another season of The Apprentice?
According to some, the real estate entrepreneur actually has something quite different in mind. They say he wants to start 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.
Rumors of such a plan first surfaced in a Vanity Fair piece in June, which reported that Trump had discussed such plans with both his daughter Ivanka and with his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the owner and publisher of New York’s Observer magazine, who has advised Trump on media matters.
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According to a source that theVanity Fair spoke to, the view inside the Trump camp was that “win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.” Trump has also been celebrated by many for his use of social media platforms like Twitter to raise support and engage with his fan base.
Since that initial report, the Trump campaign has made a number of moves that lend credence to such an idea. For example, former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes—who was ousted from the network after being hit with multiple sexual-harassment allegations—is now said to be advising Trump on his media strategy.
In addition to that, Trump just hired former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon as CEO of his campaign. A former investment banker, Bannon took over the website after founder and publisher Andrew Breitbart died suddenly in 2012, and has helped it take on a role in conservative circles that is second only to Fox.
“There is no doubt that there is a broader plan at play to extend the Trump brand and a conversation that they’re initiating right now beyond the November election,” former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella said on CNN’s Reliable Sources show on Sunday.
The New York Times also said recently that it has heard about talks between Trump and Kushner about either starting or acquiring a media outlet and turning it into a Trump-based media entity.
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Bardella said the plan seems obvious when you consider the campaign now has “a person who up until a week ago was running a major audience-driven media entity,” and “is having regular conversations with Roger Ailes.” According to Bardella, “he’s making the case that when he loses this election, it will be because the media had it out for him and we need an alternative to make sure this never happens again.”
Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison said that Trump has also talked with advisors often about his ability to drive high traffic numbers for networks such as Fox News and CNN, and feels that he could do the same thing for his own media company even if he is unsuccessful in his presidential bid.
Maybe that helps explain why Trump has been so critical of former friends like MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Twitter—because he’s planning to go into competition with them.