President Donald Trump is secretly working on his next act to start once he leaves office, reportedly planning to launch a new media network for a conservative audience.
And his key goal could be to bury the one network he believes betrayed him over the course of the election.
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“He plans to wreck Fox,” one unnamed source told the Axios website. “No doubt about it.”
The question at this point seems to be not if, but when: It could be January of 2021… or January in 2025.
Whenever Trump leaves office, The Hollywood Reporter notes he’ll have no trouble getting his new network off the ground.
“All kinds of people would bankroll that,” an unnamed unscripted entertainment executive who worked on “The Apprentice” told the magazine. “There was a lot of money behind that campaign.”
The big question is how.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump-linked Republicans had inquired about buying the conservative network Newsmax.
However, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy — a friend of Trump’s – said his network isn’t for sale.
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“We have always seen ourselves as an independent news agency, and we want to continue with that mission,” he told Variety, adding that ratings are up since the election and he’s hoping to beat Fox News himself in the coming year.
But there’s also another option… one that wouldn’t require much start-up capital, wouldn’t depend on getting cable networks to cover it and would eat into Fox News profits.
And that would be to go online-only, via a subscription model, at least in the beginning.
Axios says Trump’s team is looking at going head-to-head against Fox News’ online subscription service, Fox Nation, which costs $5.99 a month.
Many of those viewers, they reason, would love to make the jump to a network geared at the MAGA crowd.
And Trump, for his part, would consider it the first step in crushing Fox News, once his favorite network. Before his presidential run, he even had a weekly call-in segment on the morning show “Fox & Friends.”
But he’s no longer “friends” with the network.
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The president has increasingly and very publicly bristled at some of their coverage of the campaign.
“In the old days, they wouldn’t put sleepy Joe Biden on every time he opened his mouth,” Trump complained when he called in on Election Day. “They had other networks for that, frankly… it’s a much different operation, I’m just telling you.”
The last straw, however, may have been the network’s call on Election Night that Biden had won Arizona.
Given how close the still-contested state is, the call was premature at best.
But Trump reportedly took it personally.
“Anger at Fox / Murdoch family cannot be understated,” tweeted ABC reporter John Santucci. “Should he lose, Trump wants to destroy Fox.”
He said Trump’s aides believe he may even be able to steal top Fox News talents such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson — two hosts who have remained highly supportive of the president and his agenda.
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Should he go this route, Trump has a head start in two ways.
First, he has a clear base of supporters who’ve also fallen out of love with Fox News. They’ve been chanting “Fox News sucks!” at post-election protests, and many have vented at the network online.
And second, he has a way of reaching them directly.
Axios notes he already has a massive database of email and cellphone contacts of his supporters, something the website called “among the most valuable in politics,” which would give him a “huge head start” in the quest to form a new network.
As they say in the TV business… stay tuned.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.”