I remember the first time I heard the phrase, “Donald Trump for President.” I remember how hard I laughed. I remember how I cracked several Florida jokes (which can write themselves, sometimes). I remember squinting my eyes at that person, wondering if we were watching the same thing on the news, looking at him in the same way my dog looks at me when he thinks I’m saying something particularly stupid: with my head cocked all the way to the side, a definitive “huh?” on my face, and the obvious “did you really just say that?” underlying question coming through in the tone of voice.
As the election cycle wore on, I realized: these people screaming “Donald Trump for President” are dead serious. And I said to myself something along the lines of “oh…dear…God.” (Actually, it was a lot stronger — but this is a family website, so I’ll spare you…)
And lest you think this is all impossible, or that it’s just too crazy for even the most insane media-hungry “star,” remember: Ted Turner did the same thing, years before, and we have him to thank for CNN, TBS, TNT, and the WCW, amongst other television stations. The concept of the “superstation” in cable television originated with Turner, another Young Republican with “political ambitions” who used said ambitions to launch what was once one of the largest media conglomerates in the country. And at the time that he did it, he was the butt of countless Saturday Night Live jokes (back when Saturday Night Live was funny — it was a different time, there was no social media or YouTube or “smart phones,” so getting excoriated on Saturday Night Live was the ultimate indication that you’d arrived in the pop culture zeitgeist).
And this idea of Donald Trump for President of Trump News Network (or whatever he wants to call his “media empire”) is one that other news outlets seem to be accepting as fact, as well. The Guardian did an extremely brilliant analysis of the entire Trump presidential campaign, and they noted that — much like the Know-Nothing campaign back in the 1850s (get out your history books for that one — the parallels are quite interesting) — Trump is appealing to the lowest common denominator of American society, but that lowest common denominator isn’t translating into legitimate poll numbers. And even though the echoes of Trump’s supporters seem to be louder than others, screaming the loudest doesn’t mean you’re winning (sorry, guys).
But for Donald Trump, that’s okay — because as long as the people are talking, the people will be buying. And since Fox News is currently on a ratings decline — since it no longer speaks for the contemptuous “alt-right” that Trump seems to want to cater to — it seems all too appropriate to launch a TrumpTV that speaks to the now-disenfranchised audience.
Trump going up against Murdoch also has loud echoes of Ted Turner, too, and considering that Trump’s new “advisory” team consists of a former Fox News President (Roger Ailes) and a film-maker (Steve Bannon), the idea of the Donald Trump Network seems all too real.
Or, you could take the word of Jacob Monty, a Latino who was formerly at the frontlines of the “Donald Trump for President” campaign, who told Raw Story that this was all by design:
“You can usually count on someone’s self-preservation instincts. Not only is this the right thing to do, this is the only way that he can win the White House. And that he didn’t follow it suggests to me that maybe winning is not part of the game plan. Maybe this is part of a media play where he wants to create a media empire that will focus on the millions nativists that believe that the country needs to control immigration. And if that’s his play, it will be good and he’ll have millions of followers. But he won’t win the presidency.”
Do you want Donald Trump for President… of his own media empire or otherwise?
[Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images]