On Tuesday, left-wing documentarian Michael Moore wrote that he “knows for a fact” that Trump never wanted to occupy the Oval Office. Instead, Trump launched his presidential bid as a means of increasing the value of his brand, thereby extracting more favorable terms in his negotiations with NBC over the next season of The Apprentice. But the ploy backfired — while, paradoxically, working too well.
Trump’s decision to deride Mexicans as “rapists” and “drug dealers” in his launch speech rendered him toxic to the network — but beloved by GOP primary voters. Soon, Trump had lost a show but gained an unprecedented level of attention and fame. This was tremendous. But also horrible, because it put him in the impossible position of desperately wanting to be the ultimate “winner,” while also desperately not wanting to actually be president.
Elements of Moore’s narrative are backed up by the confession of a former Trump campaign strategist, published by xoJane in March.
The story also seems consistent with Vanity Fair’s report that the candidate has been mulling the creation of his own conservative cable-news empire, once the campaign is through. The magazine wrote that “the presumptive Republican nominee is examining the opportunity presented by the ‘audience’ currently supporting him,” and had “discussed the possibility of launching a “mini-media conglomerate.”
So, slip those Trump shoes back on, one last time. Imagine that you launched a presidential campaign to further your showbiz career. After 14 months as a candidate, you’ve realized that you can’t win in November but you can attract an audience of conservative-news consumers who are looking for an alternative to Fox News. How would you spend the last weeks of your campaign?
Perhaps, you would prioritize keeping your prospective audience entertained, above all else. And to do that, you’d make someone with experience in far-right infotainment the chief executive of your campaign. Plus, you might want to seek out an adviser who really knows the cable-news business. Someone like, I don’t know, Roger Ailes?
Let’s dispel with this fiction that Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.