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Trump 22: Trump TV?

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Not often would, or should, a presidential candidate’s post-campaign plans enter into consideration of why that person should become president.

But.

When a presidential candidate can conceive of his run for the highest office in the land as a launching pad for a new business enterprise, that’s a startling reversal of priorities that should stun the senses.

Welcome to Trump TV.

Caveats here up top: No one has announced such a thing, it may never materialize, and what degree of interest candidate Donald Trump may have in it is not clear.

There’s been speculation that Trump, who has a long-running presence on reality TV (mainly in “The Apprentice”) might combine efforts with two friends and allies who have extensive media experience: Roger Ailes, formerly head of Fox News, and Steve Bannon, now the CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign and also formerly head of Breitbart News and a former film producer. (One early-on problem would be that Ailes and Bannon apparently are not friendly.) The concept would be a new media organization, which might include web, cable TV or streaming activities, with a presumed built-in audience: The Trump campaign loyalists.

There is somewhat more than just speculation to this. On Monday the Financial Times reported, “Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November. . . .the approach suggests Mr Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalise on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to Democrat Hillary Clinton next month. Mr Trump has in recent days ramped up his criticism of the “dishonest and distorted” mainstream media, which he accuses of being biased against him in collusion with the Clinton campaign.”

Trump hasn’t added a lot of personal fuel to the fire. A recent Huffington Post report said that “Trump denied last month that he’s had any talks about starting a media company, whether alongside disgraced former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who has recently advised him, or other conservative media figures. Ailes reportedly has a non-compete clause that could prevent him from launching a Fox News competitor.”

But a source also said for that article, “Trump is saying, ‘I’m not going to give up trying to be president, but just in case it doesn’t happen, I want to have a voice for me and my people … we will not lose the voice we’ve built.’”

Is Trump’s “appeal to the base,” his campaign approach dominating the last month of his campaign, really nothing more than a business setup for what comes next?

Is the United States really nothing more than one more big business opportunity to him, damage to the country be damned?

We’ll know in another three weeks. – rs

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