Donald Trump’s campaign just began broadcasting the first installment of what it’s calling a nightly campaign coverage show exclusively on Facebook Live. The show, which will be broadcast on Trump’s Facebook page at 6:30PM ET from today until Election Day, is hosted by campaign advisors Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims, as well as The Blaze commentator Tomi Lahren. For the first episode, the trio is interviewing campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and adviser Jason Miller, according to Wired.
It's important to note that, while the production has all the hallmarks of a television news broadcast with hosts wearing formal attire and onscreen graphics similar to Fox News chyrons, it's not claiming to be journalism. Instead, it's selective coverage with a pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton bent, more akin to cable news commentary and punditry than an unbiased news source.
"We all know how strong the left wing media bias is."
The show may have been purposefully designed as such to appeal to Trump supporters who once received a majority of their information from Fox News, but have since gravitated to more fringe publications over the course of the last 18 months. Clinton, on the other hand, does something similar with The Briefing, which is designed to look like a digital media operation with an emphasis on sleek design and social video production. Both are in a way masquerading as something they're not — you could argue The Briefing is far more subtle — to play to the preferred tastes of their primary audience.
The Trump campaign's show is an expansion of a strategy devised shortly before the third and final presidential debate last week, when Epshteyn and Sims did pre- and post-debate shows on Facebook Live and wracked up more than 9 million video views. Part of the program will also involve live streaming every one of Trump’s rallies and providing commentary before and after those events. In the first 10 minutes of the broadcast, the inaugural episode has more than 55,000 active viewers on Facebook.
"We all know how strong the left wing media bias is. This is us delivering our message to voters," Epshteyn told Wired in an interview. "It has nothing to do with Trump TV. It’s about using 21st century technology and communication in a way that’s effective." Since the debate night Facebook broadcasts, Trump’s campaign has been tight-lipped on its post-election plans and whether it would pursue a media venture to monetize the candidate’s massive audience of conservative voters.
It would certainly make sense, and this nightly news show could be the first step, despite Epshteyn’s claims otherwise. Trump notoriously despises the mainstream media for what he perceives as a unilateral bias against him and his campaign. Today, at a rally in St. Augustine, Florida, Trump said, "The media isn’t just against me, they’re against all of you." These supporters, whom are already distrustful of major news organizations, are now being sold a direct line to Trump, one crafted and filtered by campaign staffers to appeal to voters who already turn to the candidate’s Twitter account and Facebook page as a primary source of information.
Update 8:03PM ET, 10/24: Clarified that while the show is in a news format, it is not in fact claiming to be journalism or to compete in any way with traditional news organizations.