Donald Trump’s foray into news-like production has taken its next step, with the launch of a nightly program on Facebook Live. The show, Trump Tower Live, started Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET. It’s hosted by campaign advisors Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims. Tomi Laren of The Blaze is also part of the coverage.
Monday’s program started rough. The anchors were put on without knowing they were live. You could see the boom microphone drop into the shot. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was checking her phone. We heard the director (or someone off set) count them in from 10. Just as with the program the group produced last week on debate night, the picture is poorly lit and out of focus.
And just as with that debate show, none of those flaws matter to Trump’s core audience.
As of 9 p.m. ET, just after the program ended, it had more than 1 million views. That’s not the same as one million viewers, but it’s a respectable number for sure. It had more than 30 thousand shares and 130,000 reactions. CNN reports the stream averaged 40,000 – 60,000 viewers in its first half hour. People took notice. The program this team produced on debate night has had more than nine million views. There is an audience for these shows long after their original broadcast.
Is this the start of Trump TV? The campaign told WIRED that what we’re seeing is just its way of reaching voters, unfiltered:
Epshteyn says this nightly Facebook Live stream is simply a way for the campaign to circumvent the mainstream media Trump so publicly loathes. “We all know how strong the left wing media bias is. This is us delivering our message to voters,” he says. “It has nothing to do with Trump TV. It’s about using 21st century technology and communication in a way that’s effective.”
Trump Tower Live will be on weeknights, up through election night. This is an inexpensive way for the campaign to reach its audience. Whether or not this is “Trump TV 1.0” is besides the point. Whether this is journalism is also besides the point. This is a live campaign ad. The Trump team is using the free and inexpensive tools now available to produce a news-like show that is on-message and unquestioning.