Nov. 9, the day after America picks its next president, Donald Trump will need something new to do. Increasingly, it looks like starting his own media empire could be his next business endeavor.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been in contact with prominent banker Aryeh Bourkoff about the prospect of launching a Trump TV network, according to the Financial Times. Bourkoff, founder and CEO of the investment bank LionTree, has assisted on several major media deals, including Verizon’s takeover of AOL last year.
Kushner, who’s married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and is intimately involved in his father-in-law’s presidential campaign, has somewhat of a media background himself as the publisher of the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper. Some have said Kushner is Trump’s “de facto campaign manager,” having drafted policy speeches for the Republican presidential nominee, developed an online fundraising system, and advised in the selection of his running mate, Mike Pence.
In recent months, Trump has surrounded himself with people who might assist in the creation of a media empire. And now that his poll numbers have collapsed, he might begin to consider the idea more seriously.
He hired Stephen Bannon, the chairman of right-wing news platform Breitbart News, to run his campaign (Bannon reportedly boasted about being Trump’s “campaign manager” as early as 2015). Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was ousted from Fox following allegations that he sexually harassed female employees, has advised Trump. (Ailes can’t formally be involved in Trump TV due to his exit agreement with Fox, but nothing’s stopping him from giving his friend some timely advice).
Most of all, though, Trump has Sean Hannity in his corner. Hannity, Fox News’ most popular commentator, has admitted to also advising the Trump campaign. He has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave the network if Ailes does.
Trump’s apparent interest in building a media empire does not mean he’ll be successful. In fact, he very well may not be. He might have millions of loyal supporters, but he’d have trouble ever growing that audience. The campaign has made his brand toxic, so advertising would be tough to come by. An online subscription model might work, but a third of his supporters are 65 or older. In the age of cord-cutting, cable companies may be reluctant to add another pricey channel to their bundles.
In any event, if Trump loses the election, there will be tens of millions of Americans eager to see what the businessman would do next. He already tried Trump steaks, Trump vodka, Trump airlines, and Trump magazine. So why not Trump TV?