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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    By John Cassidy
    AUGUST 18, 2016

    What better way to mark the news that the head of, the alt-right news site, is now running Donald Trump’s campaign than with a conspiracy theory? And, unlike some of the conspiracy theories that appear on Breitbart, this one might actually be true.

    The theory making the rounds is that Trump’s latest campaign reshuffle isn’t really about trying to win the election. In bringing in Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, and recruiting Roger Ailes, the disgraced former head of Fox News, as an adviser, Trump is making a business play: he’s laying the groundwork for a new conservative media empire to challenge Fox.

    The official story is that the shakeup—which saw Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, eclipsed—is all about defeating Hillary Clinton. “I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years,” Trump said in a press release announcing the changes, referring to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, a pollster he brought in to be his new campaign manager. “They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win.”

    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Monica Langley and Janet Hook, who broke the story, Trump added, “I’m going to do whatever it takes and do it the way I think will win.” As for Ailes, the Trump campaign denies that he is playing any official role. (It hasn’t denied the New York Times revelation that Ailes met with Trump on Sunday in New Jersey.)

    Does this official explanation withstand inspection? Hardly.

    Trump’s got a core group of supporters who love his nativist, outsider shtick and pack his rallies. There is another chunk of voters who have reservations about Trump, but who are so disgusted with regular politicians, or who are so opposed to Hillary Clinton, that they have decided to back the Republican nominee. It’s been clear for months, however, that these two groups make up, at most, about forty per cent of the electorate. To beat Clinton, Trump would have to win over many more Americans who have an unfavorable view of him. (According to the Huffington Post poll average, this group makes up about two-thirds of the electorate.) That’s not media bias: it’s arithmetic.

    For months now, Manafort and other Republicans have been trying to get Trump to broaden his appeal by urging him to stay on message and act a bit more Presidential. Trump chafed at this advice—last week he admitted as much to Time magazine—and now he has cast it aside. In turning to Bannon, he is embracing a right-wing enragé whose business is appealing to ultra-conservative Tea Party types. (Two headlines from today’s Breitbart home page: “Clinton ‘Does Paid Errands’ for Russian Oligarchs”; “Roger Stone on Huma Abedin’s ‘Very Clear Ties to Radical Offshoots of Islam.’ ”)

    The appointment of Bannon isn’t merely another affront to establishment Republicans, such as Paul Ryan, whom Breitbart News has lately been targeting. It is an acknowledgment by Trump that he no longer has any interest in modifying his strategy to appeal to college-educated voters in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Milwaukee, where he is running miles behind where Mitt Romney was in 2012. Instead, he has decided to retreat to his base, which is a surefire recipe for political failure. But not necessarily business failure.

    Back in June, Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison reported that Trump was “considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States.” A person briefed on Trump’s thinking told Ellison that it went like this: “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.” One of Ellison’s sources also reported that Trump resents the fact that he has helped raise the ratings of certain news organizations, such as CNN, without getting a cut of the additional revenues.

    Trump has “gotten the bug,” the source said, “so now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.”

    Bannon, a former investment banker who took over Breitbart News in 2012, after the sudden death of its eponymous founder, also has large ambitions, and they involve taking on the mighty Fox News. In a lengthy column posted earlier this month, Bannon compared the burgeoning rivalry between Breitbart and Fox to the Peloponnesian War. “The incumbent Athenians might as well know that the Spartans are coming for them, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it,” he wrote. “Indeed, more Spartans are joining us every day.”

    Right now, the idea of Breitbart going head to head against Fox seems fanciful. Fox News isn’t merely the most popular cable news network; in prime time, it’s the most popular cable channel of all, beating out entertainment networks like Disney and USA.

    Financial analysts reckon that it creates an annual profit of about $1.5 billion. Breitbart, despite the fact that it has been growing rapidly, is still a medium-sized Web site. Alexa, the analytics company, ranks Breitbart thirtieth among news sites, just behind the New York Post and a few spots above The Atlantic.

    But what if Trump and Breitbart could team up, raise some money from outside investors, and bring aboard some of the television executives who built Fox News? As part of his lucrative severance package from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, Ailes almost certainly signed a noncompete agreement. But how long does it last? And does it preclude him from providing some informal advice to an old friend?

    Bannon already has some ideas of his own. He believes that Fox News is drifting away from its core conservative viewers, and that, with Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, increasingly calling some of the shots at Fox’s parent company, this process is likely to continue. “The Murdoch sons, aka the Minor Murdochs, think Fox is too conservative, too Roger Ailes-like, too Middle American,” Bannon wrote in his column. “And they have a plan to fix that.”

    We can be assured that a TBN (Trump Breitbart News) Network wouldn’t shy away from the conservative, or even the “alt-conservative,” label. It would be nationalistic, xenophobic, and conspiratorial. If it featured regular appearances by Trump, and if it managed to poach some of the Fox News stars who are friendly toward him, such as Sean Hannity, it might even make money. And that, we all know, is something Trump has always been interested in. But, as I said up top, it’s only a conspiracy theory.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Well after what I've seen and heard this week, I hope they start Trump Broadcasting Network.
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