When Donald Trump picked Breitbart.com co-founder Stephen Bannon to help run his campaign, that got people thinking. Maybe Trump, like all successful business people, is already thinking of his next move. And it’s not to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump News is eerily plausible, a new news organization to take on all the “disgusting and corrupt” people Trump has berated along the campaign trail. Let the truth stream!
The speculation was advanced by CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter and pondered by Ben Shapiro, former Breitbart editor in chief, who wrote about Bannon:
“So what’s next on his agenda? If Trump wins, he’s in a position of high power; if Trump loses, Bannon could head up a new media empire with Trump’s support and the involvement of new Trump supporter and ousted former Fox News head Roger Ailes. Look for Sean Hannity to be a part of any such endeavor.”
I can imagine the tagline: “Trump News: You Won’t Believe It.”
To Trump’s way of thinking, If you are Donald Trump, what you bring to a news operation is a) your brilliance; b) your good looks c) your business savvy and d) your brilliance. (You’re so brilliant it should be listed twice. Has to be.)
So that means Trump would not care too much about starting a TV operation. Real estate is about location, location, location and TV news right now lives near the railroad tracks, right next to blighted Newspaperville. Anyway, he can't keep propping cable news up forever.
The young people--the ones the Republicans don’t have and the ones Fox News and other TV news outlets don’t have--are all congregating online. That’s where Trump would want to be. Plus real estate there is cheap. It’s the equivalent of a pop-up store. A cable news operation takes serious money and carriage deals. Not so for a Website.
Trump already knows the turf. The way Trump has mastered the Internet as a communication tool makes Barack Obama’s campaign staff seem as old fashioned as dial-up.
Trump is working it. MediaQuant, which has been charting earned media candidates have received, has been gobsmacked by how much “free media” Trump has grabbed---$5 billion of all kinds so far and an estimated total of $8 billion by election day.
In July, supposedly, Hillary Clinton finally came close to matching his earned media haul, MediaQuant says. But another earned income tabulator, MediaMaxOnline, says that just from Aug.4 through yesterday, Trump received over $198 million in online earned media, compared to Clinton’s far slimmer $77.3 million.
Plainly, with less spending and a political staff that has been either non-existent or just uncoordinated, Trump has kept momentum on his side without spending much to do it.
Only now will Trump begin running ads, we’re told.
But in the meantime, Trump’s lack of spending is killing local stations.
Ken Goldstein, Bloomberg politics and advertising analyst, estimates political spending on local stations is down 60% over the same time in 2012. In money terms, that’s the difference between $373 million then and just $146 million now.
What’s causing that big gap is pure Trump. He’s been tweeting through his campaign. And it’s been impure Trump, too: Political action groups have been so repulsed by Trump they won’t spend on ads that would support him.
Maybe that ultimately torpedoes his chances for the presidency. But if he’s building a news brand, he stands to have the only one around after election day that isn’t crooked. If he does say so himself.