A little over four years ago, on the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Trump staffers were primed, ready, and arguably excited to lose the presidential race against Hillary Clinton. It was like the ending of a 2000s teen RomCom. Future Presidential Counsel and TikTok mom, Kellyanne Conway, strived to become a TV news staple. Steve Bannon, who would ultimately become the White House's Chief Strategist, wanted to spearhead the Tea Party movement. First daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, planned to transform their newfound level of fame into brand deals. Meanwhile, POTUS himself was rumored to be contemplating a Trump TV network, a decision allegedly encouraged by his longtime friend, the late, disgraced Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes.
Four years later, these clear paths beyond a lost election, as recounted in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, are looking a bit more complicated for conservatives. As the Trump presidency ends, the question of what, exactly, will happen to POTUS, his cabinet, his conservative Twitter defenders, and the names on the list of his sycophants loom ahead.
According to Georgetown Professor, the aforementioned have one powerful weapon in determining their next steps -- conservative outrage.
"Just as the 2024 hopefuls are the GOPers most aggressively supporting Trump's claims of fraud, there is a straightforward incentive explanation for a lot of media rage on the right, which that it is a performative effort to grab Trump's followers," he said, adding a screenshot from Ben Shapiro's Twitter account.
On Monday, the famed political commentator and unintentional "WAP" cover artist posted a tweet hyping upcoming projects from The Daily Wire, which he co-founded back in 2015.
"Establishment media have utterly beclowned themselves for four years with Russian collusion nonsense, Trump-as-responsible-for-covid propaganda, and Trump-as-fascist garbage. Now they'll morph into Biden stenographers. Americans are tuning out, and they should," he wrote. "Subscribe to Daily Wire here. Enough is enough. We have big things coming in 2021 and beyond."
Yet Shapiro isn't alone. Following POTUS's loss to Joe Biden this weekend, reports have surfaced that the President's 2016 backup plan of launching his own conservative television network may come to fruition after all. As Newsweek pointed out, this is a seemingly logical step after four years of denouncing the "fake news" media.
Yet these prophecies are further contorted amid our cancel culture. Last week, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter with an interesting question regarding accountability. "Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee a decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future," she wrote. "Lol at the 'party of personal responsibility' being upset at the idea of being responsible for their behavior over last four years."
"We should welcome in our fellow Americans with whom we differ politically." reads the group's homepage. "But those who took a paycheck from the Trump Administration should not profit from their efforts to tear our democracy apart." In other words? Cancel the members of the Trump administration. Yet will cancellations even matter if their base, their target audience of conservatives, is unphased by this outcry? At the end of the day, these future endeavors are determined by two factors -- demand and profitability.
Just as there will always be a market for left-leaning news, the Mother Jones, Jacobian, and Huffington Post (which in full disclosure, published a few of my personal essays from my time at NYU about identity and relationships), conservative news is very profitable. Last year, Fox News reported $2.67 in revenue for Q1 in 2020. According to Daily Caller's about page, the Tucker Carlson-founded outlet's "reporting is distributed worldwide to over 20 million unique readers each month." It's basic economics, the concept of supply and demand.
While the future of media in a post-Trump America remains unclear, there is one thing we can do -- actively consume the types of reporting we want to see in this nation. Support your local newspapers. Tune into your favorite news stations. Hell, even buy a subscription to your favorite digital magazine. Our dollars and clicks are our voices when it comes to the media landscape.