Trump plans “vote-count rallies” to “wreck” Fox News in bid to launch competing network: report

Trump reportedly considers launching a "cheaper" streaming-only MAGA platform over an "expensive" cable channel

By Igor Derysh
November 13, 2020 4:32AM (UTC)
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U.S. President Donald Trump Donald speaks during a campaign rally on November 2, 2020 in Traverse City, Michigan. President Trump and former Vice President Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are making multiple stops in swing states ahead of the general election on November 3rd. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump plans to hold "vote-counting rallies" with a focus on attacking Fox News after telling allies he wants to start a digital media company that would "clobber" the conservative news outlet, according to a new report.

Trump intends to bring back his rallies after his election loss, and he is "going to spend a lot of time slamming Fox," a source told Axios. Trump has long been rumored to want his own cable news outlet to compete with the network, but Axios reports that he is now considering a "cheaper" digital streaming network, which would more directly compete with the Fox Nation streaming platform.

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Though the president has reportedly considered "promptly" announcing a 2024 presidential bid, rumors have swirled for years that he wants to use his conservative popularity to launch a Trump-branded media network. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner floated the launch of such a network ahead of the election, according to Business Insider, and discussions about launching a "Trump TV" network have continued this year, according to The New York Times.

Trump has often complained that Fox News' coverage is no longer as fawning as it once was even as hosts like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson push baseless claims to sow doubt in the election results.

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"Fox has changed a lot," Trump said during an interview on "Fox & Friends" ahead of the election. "Somebody said, 'What's the biggest difference between this and four years ago?' And I say Fox. I'm not complaining — I'm just telling people. It's one of the biggest differences this season compared to last."

More recently, Trumpworld has been particularly incensed at Fox News for its early call of Arizona. Fox News, along with the Associated Press, projected President-elect Joe Biden to win the once deep red state on election night. Trump demanded that his team "get that result changed," according to The Washington Post. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and top aide Hope Hicks, who previously worked as chief communications officer for the parent company of Fox News, repeatedly called the network to "get the call reversed," the outlet reported. Kushner even called Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch to ask for the network to retract its call, The Times revealed. 

Fox News' decision desk doubled down on its call in the face of mounting pressure, prompting Hannity, an informal adviser said to have pillow talk with Trump, to publicly lash out at his own colleagues. 

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"Many people have not called Arizona," Hannity said on Monday. "Those that called early made a huge mistake."

But while Trump allies and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, insisted that there were enough votes left to count for Trump to catch up, there now appears to be "no path back" for Trump to win Arizona, according to the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman.

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, told the Fox Business Network on Wednesday that Biden would win Arizona. Trump's lawsuit in the state, which challenges just 180 ballots, would not "make a difference," he added. 

But Trump still intends to use the Arizona call to attack the network at his upcoming events, according to Axios.

"He plans to wreck Fox," a source told the outlet. "No doubt about it."

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In true Trump fashion, however, Trump TV does not actually appear to be headed to cable, because getting picked up by providers "would be expensive and time-consuming," Axios reported. Instead, Trump would likely launch a digital network that would "charge a monthly fee to MAGA fans" akin to Fox Nation, which charges viewers $5.99 a month. Trump is expected to use his massive database of supporters' emails and phone numbers to promote the launch, according to the outlet.

Fox News executives do not appear to be worried about Trump's desire to launch a competitor.

"We love competition. We have always thrived with competition," Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch reportedly said on an earnings call earlier this month. "Fox News has been the number one network, including broadcast networks . . . from Labor Day through to Election Day."

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Though Fox News has hit its highest ratings in the Trump era, "they don't tend to back losers," a longtime Rupert Murdoch confidant told The Times.

Some of the president's most loyal supporters have already switched from Fox, whose news side anchors have increasingly pushed back on the president's baseless claims of fraud and irregularities, to Newsmax TV, which has pushed the president's dubious legal effort, according to CNN. Hosts like former White House press secretary Sean Spicer have seen their ratings rise nearly eightfold since the election.

"Newsmax's sudden gains are about demand meeting supply. There is a demand for content that swears Biden is not president-elect; that Trump is not a loser; that Trump might even win a second term," CNN's Brian Stelter reported. ". . . The five stages of grief are on full display in the pro-Trump universe. The first two stages, denial and anger, are the most perceptible. There are some signs of bargaining and depression too. So far, there aren't many signs of the final stage, acceptance."

Stelter predicted Trump might launch a competitor to Fox News during an appearance on Salon Talks earlier this year. However, the chips may not fall as planned. 

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"He might become a rival. And in that case, I think Fox is bigger than Trump. I do. I may be proven wrong. Now I'm on the record saying this, but I think that Fox is bigger than Trump," Stelter told Salon's Dean Obeidallah. "He would have a hard time launching a Fox rival. It would be one thing to start what he's doing for his campaign, which is web video shows. But for him to launch a widely distributed television network in 80 million homes and get a Nielsen rating on it, I think would be very, very difficult. It's possible, but I think it'd be very difficult."

Al Schmidt, the Republican city commissioner of Philadelphia, who has spent days debunking Trump-backed conspiracy theories about the vote in Pennsylvania, warned that Trump supporters pushing the baseless claims of voter fraud were being misled by "bad actors who are lying."

"One thing I can't comprehend," he told CNN, "is how hungry people are to consume lies and to consume information that is not true."


Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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