A new report revives speculation from four years ago that Donald Trump might transition from politics to the media, but it adds a new spin.
In October 2016, when many believed Trump could not defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, talk of what was labeled “Trump TV” flowed freely.
That talk is flowing again now that Democrat Joe Biden is leading in the presidential race and has been declared the projected winner by many news organizations. Trump’s campaign has launched a bevy of lawsuits to challenge the results in key states.
As Axios tells the story, Fox’s early call that Trump would lose Arizona when the state was still very much in play was the last straw for the president, who has become increasingly disenchanted with Fox’s coverage of his administration.
Axios quoted “a source with detailed knowledge of Trump’s intentions” as saying, “He plans to wreck Fox. No doubt about it.”
The source said the president is “going to spend a lot of time slamming Fox.”
Axios recalled past speculation about some form of “Trump TV” but noted that launching a cable network would be a costly, laborious undertaking.
Instead, the report said, the president “is considering a digital media channel that would stream online, which would be cheaper and quicker to start.”
How would it work? Axios took a guess.
“Trump’s digital offering would likely charge a monthly fee to MAGA fans. Many are Fox News viewers, and he’d aim to replace the network — and the $5.99-a-month Fox Nation streaming service, which has an 85% conversation rate from free trials to paid subscribers — as their top destination,” it said.
Trump has a vast database of supporter contacts as well as a loyal base who could be the foundation of any post-White House effort.
The president has signaled here and there that Fox has lost its luster in his eyes.
“Fox has changed a lot,” Trump said in a Nov. 3 phone interview with the network’s “Fox & Friends.” “Somebody said to me, ‘What’s the biggest difference between this and four years ago?’ And I say, ‘Fox. It’s much different.’”
“I’m not complaining — I’m just telling people,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest differences this season compared to last.”
In 2016, one commentator said Trump could launch a streaming service quickly, according to NBC.
“If he’s willing to launch with a limited slate, five, 10 hours of mostly just him, and the rest will come in the next six months, he can get that up in three, four months and just build from there,” Alan Wolk, an industry analyst, said.
Adding unscripted reality show programming and on-demand videos could serve as a bridge to more traditional programming, Wolk said.
“You can watch political stuff for free, his stuff with ads, and then a mix of political and reality programming. If he has access to the beauty pageant footage, some sort of reality thing,” Wolk said. “Those are down and dirty and he can get them up much earlier. Then he might have specials or movies he buys rights to.”
Some are hoping that rather than starting his own media empire after he leaves the White House, Trump will join an existing operation.
“Donald Trump was, is and always will be a ratings phenomena,” said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, according to the Los Angeles Times. “After the presidency, we’d welcome his new show on Newsmax in a heartbeat.”