Yesterday started with polls from Georgia, Alaska, Utah and Arizona– four deep red states that Romney won, respectively, with 53%, 55%, 73% and 54% of the vote. It's unlikely, but Trump could actually lose all four– and not because those states' Republican governors are rigging the election against him. Even mainstream Republican voters are starting to finally realize what has infected their party.
Let's look at the results in Utah in 2012 and then compare them to yesterday's polling results from the very biased Republican Party polling firm Rasmussen, which basically exists to make Republican candidates think they have a chance to win even when they don't. Utah, 2012, actual election results:
• Mitt Romney- 72.79%
• Barack Obama- 24.75%
• Gary Johnson- 1.24
• Jill Stein- 0.38%
Rasmussen's Utah survey of likely voters released yesterday:
• Donald Trump- 30%
• Evan McMullin- 29%
• Hillary Clinton- 28%
• Gary Johnson- 5%
• Jill Stein- 1%
Margin of error is 4%, which means Trump, McMullin and Clinton are tied… in Utah. So what's next for Trump after what seems to be turning into a spectacular defeat in exactly 3 weeks from today? Is there some strategy behind the apparent madness of the Donald Trump campaign? It sure isn't an exercise in GOP party building– quite the opposite, in fact. Olbermann hinted at it in his video above and we've discussed it here before: Trump TV. He sure has an audience ready for all the unhinged hatred, paranoia, bigotry and white nationalism he's built his campaign on. I expect crackpot hedge fund billionaire, Robert Mercer, a fringy right-wing loon, will bankroll a proto-fascist network fronted by Trump and run by Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Con-man. The Financial Times reported that Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, publisher of the money-losing New York Observer, is trying to make a deal– or might be trying to make a deal, having “approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November… [He] contacted Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder and chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank, within the past couple of months, according to three people with knowledge of the matter… [T]he approach suggests Mr Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalise on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to Democrat Hillary Clinton next month.”
Mr Bourkoff, who launched LionTree in 2012, has advised on transactions worth more than $300bn, including Liberty Global’s $23.3bn acquisition of Virgin Media and Verizon’s $4.4bn takeover of AOL. He is also John Malone’s favoured adviser and helped the so-called “Cable Cowboy” consolidate the US pay-TV industry — in deals that culminated in Charter Communications’ $78bn takeover of Time Warner Cable this year.
More importantly, Mr Bourkoff is a friend of Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka. The two have worked together in the past: Mr Bourkoff advised Mr Kushner, who also owns the weekly New York Observer newspaper, when he tried to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team four years ago.
Establishing a Trump television network would be difficult, even with a potentially large audience for its programming.
Cable and satellite companies are loath to take on extra channels in an era of shrinking audiences and “cord-cutting”– the cancellation of pricey pay-TV subscriptions in favour of cheaper, online alternatives. An “over the top” digital service would be one possibility but still costly because Mr Trump and Mr Kushner would need to spend heavily on marketing, talent and technology.
Roger Ailes, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel, is a friend of Mr Trump’s but would be prohibited from working on a Trump television venture by the terms of his exit agreement with the news network. He parted company with Fox this summer following an independent investigation into claims he sexually harassed Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News presenter.
However, Sean Hannity, Mr Trump’s biggest cheerleader on Fox News, would be free to work for a prospective Trump network. Mr Hannity was among several Fox stars, including Bill O’Reilly, with clauses in their contracts allowing them to leave if Mr Ailes did.
Talk about a Trump network has persisted, partly because of the fervent crowds that Mr Trump continues to attract on the campaign trail and his existing links to conservative media. Mr Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart, a network of rightwing news sites, was hired in August to run the Trump campaign. Breitbart is currently on a global expansion push, with the aim of adding sites in Germany and France to its existing operations in the US and Israel.
Easy as it is to write Trump off as a buffoon and a useful idiot, this could be a very dangerous enterprise between Bannon's aggressive fascism and Mercer's humongous fortune. Very dangerous, even if we get to enjoy watching the demise of Fox News in the process.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis