“Did Trump TV premiere last night?” New York magazine wondered Thursday. It is possible that the answer is yes.
Trump probably doesn't need Seales. He has former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes in his camp. His campaign chief executive, Steve Bannon, is chairman of Breitbart News, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the owner and publisher of the New York Observer.
But Seales's creation has a kind of grass-roots street cred that is hard to come by — and a built-in following of Trump-loving viewers. The Right Side YouTube channel has more than 210,000 subscribers, and its videos have been watched almost 10 million times. Seales told Business Insider last month that he funds a staff of 10 on donations averaging about $25 apiece.
Plus, for all his big-league connections, Trump has a thing for inexperienced people who seem hungry and loyal. On instinct, after a single meeting, Trump hired Corey Lewandowski — a man who had never even worked on a presidential campaign — to manage his White House bid.
“We hit it off,” Trump explained to The Washignton Post's Karen Tumulty in March, a few months before he ultimately replaced Lewandowski.
In Seales, Trump could find his media soul mate. The Right Side founder, who did not respond to an interview request, seems to indulge every suspicion and resentment felt by Trump and his backers. In a Reddit “ask me anything” session in June, one Right Side viewer asked Seales about how to “prevent Hillary from bribing election officials and rigging the election.”
“She would obviously have no qualms about doing that,” the viewer wrote, “so what can be done to stop her?”
Seales fomented the wild conspiracy theory in a way that foreshadowed Trump's own rhetoric in the final weeks of the election: “Citizen journalism,” he replied. “Go out, get the facts on your own and do your own investigations. Find these instances at your local level and report them to media outlets like us and the other conservative sources like Breitbart.”
To another viewer who asked how to handle the mainstream media, Seales gave an answer that could serve as a mission statement for Trump TV: “Just continue to discredit them, call them out and mock the hell out of them.”
In the event of a Trump loss on Election Day, the candidate and Right Side could help solve each other's problems. Trump will have to figure out what to do with a legion of followers whom he had hoped to lead from the White House. Right Side will have to figure out how to create content. The online channel does have two original programs, hosted by Wayne Dupree and Mark Burns, but Trump campaign events are its primary source of material.
In short, Trump needs an outlet, and Right Side needs Trump. If the business executive plans to make Trump TV a reality, it would make a lot of sense to build off the current approximation.