The Financial Times reported on Monday that Donald Trump’s son-in-law and campaign adviser Jared Kushner, publisher of the no-longer-influential New York Observer, has been in talks about starting a Trump TV network with an investment banker who helps advise media deals. Kushner approached the banker, Aryeh Bourkoff, about starting a network after the election, although the Times reports that Bourkoff is not seriously interested in working with Trump. From a subsequent Vanity Fair piece:
The notion of a Trump news network has been swirling around for months, since Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison reported that the former reality-TV star was mulling the idea of creating a “mini-media conglomerate” in June. At the time, Trump and his advisers, which include Kushner and former Breitbart News leader Stephen Bannon, had been mesmerized by the huge crowds turning out at rallies and his millions of followers on social media. Clearly, the message had hit a nerve—albeit a terrifying one—and what better way to monetize an already devoted, already well-defined audience?
In June, Vanity Fair reported that Trump may even be considering the creation of not just a channel, but a “mini-media-conglomerate” specifically tailored to Trump’s base. “Trump’s rationale,” a source knowledgeable about Trump’s plans told Ellison, “is that, ‘win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.’ ”
In a Monday post titled “Donald Trump Might Not Be Running for President,” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait concluded that some of Trump’s most recent moves make sense as prep work for such an effort:
If you do assume that Trump is acting rationally, then it is very hard to explain his campaign moves as steps in a considered plan to get elected president, and much easier to explain them as steps toward monetizing his audience through a media empire. This theory would explain why Trump handed control of his campaign to a media mogul (Steve Bannon), why he has needlessly attacked fellow members of his party, and why he has risked demoralizing his own voters by repeatedly calling the election rigged. These are logical decisions if his end goal is to wrest the intense loyalty of a large minority of the country away from other conservative organs and center it around a media brand he can control.
The Trump campaign has denied rumors that Trump plans a return to media after the election.