Tuesday, May 05, 2020


Donald Trump's ego is massive. How massive? This massive, according to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman:
Trump loves that many Fox hosts are his loudest cheerleaders—but any deviation from Trumpian orthodoxy he views as betrayal. He sees himself as responsible for the network’s continued ratings success, and expects to be treated as such. In private, Trump ... vents that Fox owes its record ratings to him. “At the end of day, Trump thinks he owns Fox. He thinks he made them,” said a Republican who discussed Fox with Trump.
What is he talking about? Fox has been the highest-rated cable news channel since 2002. It began its time at the top roughly a decade before Trump became a weekly Fox & Friends contributor in 2011. Is Trump seriously arguing that Fox's ratings would be terrible if the president right now were ... Hillary Clinton?
Trump’s frustration with Fox has only intensified during the coronavirus pandemic. As the nation’s COVID-19 death count rises, and Trump’s poll numbers slide...
Let me just remind you again that while Trump's poll numbers are lower than they were in late March, during the brief period when he seemed to be taking the coronavirus seriously, they're still slightly better than they've been for most of his presidency, although he hasn't had the large poll bumps that America's governors are experiencing now.
... Fox executives have sidelined the network’s most flagrant coronavirus deniers. In late April Fox cut ties with MAGA stars Diamond and Silk after the duo promoted bizarre COVID-19 conspiracies, including speculation that the virus was man-made or that New York state was inflating deaths totals to hurt Trump politically.
Is that really upsetting Trump? Diamond and Silk made regular appearances on Fox News, but their main gig was a show on Fox Nation, Fox's streaming service. It's highly unlikely that Trump is aware of Fox Nation's existence, or has ever used a streaming service.

Meanwhile, Fox News continues to employ Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, both of whom have become social distancing skeptics. In late April, Carlson questioned the usefulness of the lockdown:
"Remember what they first told us back in February and March? They said we have to take radical steps in order to 'flatten the curve.' Well, six weeks later, we're happy to say that curve has been flattened, but it's likely not because of the lockdown," Carlson said. "The virus just isn't nearly as deadly as we thought it was."
And here's Ingraham last night questioning the value of social distancing:

Trump has discussed the virus twice with Ingraham in the White House, according to The Washington Post, and discussed the crisis with Carlson at Mar-a-Lago in March.

Trump is just treating Fox the way he treats loyal aides and wives -- with indifference or contempt, because he relies on them, and he can't stand the thought of that.

So what's the plan?
Trump now is on the verge of having [an] alternative. According to sources, an investor group aligned with his son Don Jr. and the Dallas-based Hicks family has acquired a major stake in One America News Network, the fledgling conservative cable-news channel that features hosts like Jack Posobiec, a chief promoter of the Pizzagate conspiracy. “[RNC co-chair] Tommy Hicks and Don Jr. have been looking to buy a station for Trump TV,” said one source briefed on the talks. “This is all about building a Fox competitor. Trump is really aiming to take down Fox,” the person briefed on the deal told me....

It’s unclear whether Don Jr. invested Trump family funds in the deal or was given equity.
Both Hicks and Junior deny that they're part of the deal -- but if what Sherman reports is correct, please note that it's Junior who's involved. In 2016, when it was widely assumed that Trump would lose the election, Sherman's Vanity Fair colleague Sarah Ellison reported that the campaign appeared to be a publicity stunt meant to promote a future Trump TV channel -- but at that time, Jared Kushner was the family member who was working to get the channel started.

Now it's Junior. This raises the question: Who would be the intended beneficiary of a Trump channel in the long run?

Both Jared's wife and Junior are sometimes mentioned as possible future presidential candidates. More people believe that Ivanka could be a serious presidential contender, even though Republicans prefer Junior. This channel could eventually be Trump Junior TV (and probably not Javanka TV) in the years leading up to 2024.

On the other hand, One America is a cheap-looking, fifth-rate operation now, and if it's taken over by the Trumps it will probably SOON be a cheap-looking, fifth-rate operation that's headed for bankruptcy.

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