One of the most persistent rumors of this election—running second, perhaps, to “Russia is trying to rig the election”—is that, after the election ends and he loses, Donald Trump will create a Fox News competitor with his son-in-law, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, and a gaggle of ex-Foxies, most notably Sean Hannity. (Roger Ailes is barred from working with other networks by his Fox exit agreement.) Initially this rumor was an extension of a pet theory held by many, that Trump did not actually want to win the presidency, but was instead running to further his own business interests. But over the last couple of months, as it has become clear that Trump absolutely wants to win and will burn down the country if he doesn’t, the Trump TV rumor has become more plausible, not less: It’s Trump’s best bet to monetize what electoral clout he has. Back in June, Vanity Fair reported that Trump “has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself. Such a situation ‘brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.’”
The Financial Times reported this morning that Kushner recently informally approached Aryeh Bourkoff, who runs a boutique investment bank that specializes in media startups, about a potential Trump TV network. According to the FT, this was a very preliminary meeting—Bourkoff and Kushner are friends—but it suggests that Trump TV is something that Trump and his team are taking very seriously. Trumpism probably isn’t going anywhere, even if Hillary Clinton wins in a landslide, but this is also a fairly clear indicator that Trump has no intention of giving up the spotlight, no matter what happens in November.
Of course, it’s also possible (though less likely) that there’s an element of desperation involved as well. Trump’s brands are reportedly in free fall, and are unable to withstand their namesake’s noxious presidential campaign. A TV network aimed at Trump’s new audience, as opposed to the Trump brand’s old audience, may just be the only card left to play.