Trump’s Future in Right-Wing Media Is Seen Undimmed by Riot
But even as Silicon Valley and Washington drew the line with President Donald Trump after he encouraged supporters to descend on the U.S. Capitol this week -- leading to a deadly clash -- his potential future in conservative media looks largely unharmed.
“Donald Trump is a money-making commodity in media,” said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign adviser. “There will always be a space for him. He will always have a tremendous audience. Even people who hate him will watch him.”
Twitter said on Friday it will make Trump’s suspension permanent, blocking one of the president’s favorite outlets. But with a love for the limelight, he is expected to pursue media opportunities of some kind after he leaves office, according to many observers, whether it’s a book deal, a lucrative role at a news channel or his own media venture.
In November, Axios reported that Trump is considering an online streaming service, which would be easier to start than a traditional cable-TV channel.
Christopher Ruddy, chief executive officer of the conservative media outlet Newsmax, said Thursday that the president is still welcome on his network.
“I don’t see him being shut out of certain media after this,” Ruddy said. “The people who don’t like him didn’t like him before yesterday.”
Hicks Equity Partners, a private equity firm, has reportedly tried to raise money to create a right-leaning channel to compete with Fox Corp.’s Fox News, the most-watched cable news channel.
It’s unclear whether the firm, led by Trump supporter Thomas Hicks, is still pursuing the idea or whether Trump would be welcome on the channel. A spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ruddy said that Trump has sparked controversy many times before, such as in 2017 when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violence that broke out at a far-right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“And people are still interested in hearing what he has to say,” Ruddy said. “I think he’ll remain a media and political force for some time to come.”
What’s less certain is how much play he’ll continue to get in the mainstream media. For years, Trump helped outlets like Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times boost their audiences, and they’re unlikely to ignore him in the future.
While some major media executives denounced the attacks on the Capitol this week, they stopped short of blaming Trump directly for sparking them.
Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of ABC owner Walt Disney Co., called the violence “an egregious and inexcusable assault on America’s most revered institution and our democracy.”
John Stankey, CEO of CNN parent AT&T Inc., said that the violence “makes clear that elected officials’ perpetuation of the fiction of a fraudulent 2020 presidential election is not only reprehensible but also a danger to our democracy.”
But for media conglomerates whose prosperity hinges on attracting audiences in large numbers, it can be hard to cut off purveyors of misinformation.
AT&T, for instance, owns the satellite-TV provider DirecTV, the largest distributor of the right-wing One America News Network. The pro-Trump channel has raised doubts about the election results and reported Thursday, without evidence, that “far-left instigators” infiltrated the protests at the Capitol.
MSNBC owner Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., the two largest U.S. cable operators, carry Newsmax, where host Greg Kelly challenged the election results and told viewers this week that Trump supporters weren’t behind the attacks.
On Thursday, Simon & Schuster moved to distance itself from one backer of election-fraud claims. The publisher, which is being bought by Bertelsmann SE, canceled plans to publish a book by Republican Senator Josh Hawley, citing his efforts to overturn the election and the ensuing violence at the U.S. Capitol.
But there’s a big difference between a book by a lesser-known senator and one by Trump, Nunberg said.
“Simon & Schuster would love to publish a Donald Trump book,” Nunberg said. “That book will sell more than Obama’s. And it wouldn’t be 700 pages.”
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