There was a nice story in the Huffington Post the other day about Glenn Beck's The Blaze falling apart. Digby then wrote about what this might mean for conservative media and what it might mean for the Talking Yam after his electoral failure.
What the Huffington Post story doesn't cover is why Beck had to create his own media "empire" instead of staying in the protected bubble of Fox News and News Corp. He was fired, canned, pushed out, let go, contract not renewed, left to spend more time crying with his family or whatever euphemism is used these days. News Corp gave all sorts of lame reasons, but the documented fact that he stopped bringing in ad revenue for News Corp is a huge part of why he is off Fox.
And the reason ad revenue disappeared is because of the incredible work of my friends at Color of Change, Angelo Carusone of @stopbeck (now at Media Matters) and all of their supporters. They convinced advertisers to not associate their brand with Beck's race baiting and craziness.
This decoupling of consumer goods advertisers from conservative media is a really big deal. It's something that I and a legion of people have been working on for over a decade. The success of my friends in the #stoprush group alone is absolutely phenomenal.
We've found that in general advertisers don't like to support racist, sexist bigots. There are some exceptions, especially those whose audience sees being called a sexist bigot a compliment.
The reason I developed the Spocko Method to defund right-wing media was because while I knew there are plenty of people who will happily consume racist, sexist claptrap, I also knew that the women and men running consumer businesses do not want to be publicly associated with it. Using these people's desire to protect their brand has led to a massive loss of revenue to right-wing media distributors.
Right-Wing radio and TV hosts like Limbaugh and Beck have gone from cash generating assets, to consumer brand damaging liabilities.
If Trump decides to start a media company he will be competing with Fox News and other networks for advertisers, many of whom pressured those media companies to not associate their brand with Trump.
- Are the thousands of advertisers who left Limbaugh because of his sexist comments about women going to want to be associated with Trump News?
- Will the hundreds of advertisers who said, "Take us off race-baiter Beck's show!" flock to the network of Donald "Mexicans are rapists and women are pigs" Trump?
This does not mean that a "Trump News" wouldn't have tremendous traffic like Glenn Beck did. In the beginning Trump will be able to generate huge traffic, but not necessarily ad revenue. And traffic alone might be enough for Trump, especially if it is the only metric that he reveals. But the idea pushed by conservatives to the mainstream media and the liberal media is that if you don't generate revenue it's not really a success. Of course the same metric doesn't exist for right-wing media.
The possibility of a popular, but money losing, Trump network should concern us and remind us of another media model that is glossed over. It currently exists, it's huge and it shapes "conventional wisdom." It's the "purposely lose millions in your news divisions to push an agenda" model. As an example, did you know that the New York Post LOSES around $110 MILLION dollars a year, every year?
This is the Murdoch model. He uses his money-losing properties, often newspapers, to punish his enemies and threaten the people who disagree with him and his views. He uses all his properties to push the "no-taxes on the rich, no trust busting, no regulation" views.
And he's not the only rich right winger who throws bad money after bad to push extreme conservative views in the media, often times by being the media. Were you aware that the Washington Times lost a billion dollars over 33 years? I'm sure you know about how Pete Peterson is spending one billion dollars
"...to underwrite numerous organizations and PR campaigns to generate public support for slashing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, citing concerns over "unsustainable" federal budget deficits.
--SourceWatch, the Center for Media and Democracy
But here's the thing, Trump doesn't need a profit making media empire to push his ideas, just a Twitter account and a phone. Why would he spend money on programming or infrastructure when the media will include his Tweets for free?
I think that Trump will continue to use the media to promote himself after he loses. It will be very hard for the media to wean themselves of the tiny-fingered walking orange hairball they have enjoyed pimping 24/7 for over a year. What will stop them from continuing to run his tweets alongside every single story about every single Clinton action during her term?
I'm actually kind of hoping that Cheeto Head does try to start a media empire, because it would cut into his visibility on the rest of the "news" shows.
One of the reasons that media will keep running with Trump's comments on Hillary after the election is because it keeps the conflict going. Expect continued, "He said she said, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, we have to leave it there." from the media.
Sometimes watching the media use their constitutionally granted power to enrich their investors rather than inform people leads me to despair. We talk a lot about the need to get money out of politics. We know it's bad because of how it corrupts our elected officials. But it also twists the people who get that money.
The media aren't going to voluntarily walk away from an Orange Goose who lays golden eggs. We need to change things so that the media doesn't have to depend on covering the tweets of an Orange Goose to feed their families.