Will Media Businesses Survive Trump?!?

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Will Media Businesses Survive Trump?!?

Well, let's get right to it: maybe. It's hard to tell. It's hard to know what to believe at any given tweet. I'm just sure next December won't look like this one.

It's time to remember why January is named after the Roman God Janus … so, let's look back and forward at the same time at the major changes that happened and what they might mean next year … and make some guesses about who and what might survive the next tempestuous year.

If, of course, next year rings in on time (or thereabouts). Sure, we can count on that, can't we?

Looking Back @politics in '16:

We all know how it turned out. The GOP candidate Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College vote by the 8th (last count) best margin ever; not the claimed overwhelming triumph. The loser, Democratic candidate Hilary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote by some 2.8+ million votes … with about 85k+ in the wrong states.

So, what does that mean?  Many pundits gave the win to disenfranchised, unhappy, put-upon rural white voters. That's an overstatement, but with a lot of truth. Others simply blamed Clinton and her campaign. Also, something with a lot of truth. Clinton's campaign blamed, among others, FBI Chief Comey, the Russian hackers and the drip-drip-drip of e-mail releases that reminded even Clinton that the home server during her Secretary of State term was a real mistake -- never mind that it really didn't mean a damn thing.

Never mind, too, there had never been a candidate like Trump. His out-of-any-box, remarkable media savvy and an untouched ability to lie his way through speeches built around applause lines certainly set a new low bar for politicians and non-politicians.  We had seen this before, with Huey Long and George Wallace, for example. But never before had it been done with such panache!

The real winning, though, happened because the better-than-expected, data-driven Trump campaign concentrated on the right states at the right time with a simple, memorable message: Make America Great Again.

Which proves something about advertising messaging.

Looking Ahead @politics in '17:

Yeah, I know. Scary. But necessary. If you did pay close attention throughout the year and actually listened to the things Trump said that made some sense and had some continuity (beyond the sloganeering) you've probably already booked your Russian for Beginners courses or at the very least bookmarked Google Translate.

As soon-to-be former President Obama remarked, "Elections have consequences."  The Grand Old Party has morphed into the Grand Ole Trump, a new party dedicated to the most addictive of American values: power.  Plus, as with all things Trump, money. The only real question is how egregious that will be.

But back to consequences for media companies:

Net neutrality will go away. The Federal Confusion Commission will get even more so, especially since Tom Wheeler will resign on Inauguration Day just after Commissioner Rosenwercel has to resign on January 3. That gives the Republicans a 2-to-1 majority right away.

The Voice of America will be reborn as the Voice of Trump (VoT).  (A defense bill in effect gave control to the White House. 24/7 tweets to the glory of Trump?)

If Trump's infrastructure promises are real (and more than just a sop to guaranteed rates of return for private investors), that could mean much better broadband infrastructure for more rural citizens.

Media content companies willing to challenge the new President had best shore up their legal and PR departments. Trump ran against big media before, during and after the campaign.  Another new paradigm for a President's behavior has been set along with a threat to one of our most basic values as a democracy.

The real target, I believe, is freedom of the press. The new President might like the Second Amendment, but the first one is thorn in his ego. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are fragile freedoms. "Fake news" is the least of the problems. State control of media continues to be a world-encompassing virus. Americans need to be vigilant!  Just moments after I wrote this, CNN's Reliable Sources reported that incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated he wanted to change the White House daily briefings to … well, something different.

Since most of Trump's Cabinet leaders-in-waiting have already expressed their desire to upend their respective Cabinets' purpose, the changes of explosive stories du jour will be endless … setting up more free press pressures ... especially since each nominee seems to fly in the face of the new President's campaign promises.

In short, for content companies … welcome to interesting times.

Random Notes:

If you're wondering about the advertising side of media, click here for Stuart Elliot's take … worth a close read.

Bloomberg has a new news app … so why didn't it include relevant Twitter tweets?  That would make it easier to buy on stock drops by new PEOTUS/POTUS tweets and then sell on rebound like it can work on their terminals.  As The Economist has noted:  It's the new American business model.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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