As Donald Trump heads into the final week of the presidential election behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, members of his inner circle have denied multiple reports they’re exploring the launch of a media company if his campaign falls short. While Trump’s team insists it’s not pursuing a television venture, the candidate has had one key piece of a potential media business lined up for years. The Trump Organization already owns the Web addresses TrumpTelevision.com, TrumpNetwork.com and TheTrumpNetwork.com.
Based on the Internet archive, the Trump Television site has never hosted original content. Both of the other sites were previously used for the “Trump Network,” a controversial nutritional supplement business Trump bought in 2009 and subsequently sold.
Records show that his company, the Trump Organization, has owned these three sites since at least December 2012. The trio of addresses are among more than 3,000 domain names the Trump Organization owns that were first revealed by Business Insider in an August 2015 report. At the time, Trump’s son Eric, who has worked for his father’s company and campaign, said the collection of Web addresses was part of a “proactive” and “very forward-looking domain strategy” intended to prevent critics and Web squatters from adversely affecting the business. Based on Eric’s comments, the company’s ownership of TrumpTelevision.com suggests that Trump has considered a TV venture or that his company at least wanted to keep the option open.
The Trump Organization’s domain collection includes political addresses along with domains for past, present, and potential projects and sites that could have been used to mock Trump and his brands like DonaldTrumpSucks.com, IHateTrumpVodka.com and TrumpNetworkPonziScheme.com.
While Eric was previously willing to discuss the Trump Organization’s domain names, he did not respond to a request for comment about the three TV-related addresses on Monday. Those sites are particularly interesting given recent reports that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and de facto campaign manager, has approached people about launching a Trump television network after the election. Through a spokesman, Kushner told New York magazine he has not had meetings about a potential Trump media startup.
Kushner already owns Observer Media, which publishes the New York Observer newspaper and Commercial Observer, a real estate industry trade publication. (Full disclosure: This reporter wrote for the New York Observer from 2011 until 2013.) Two other members of Trump’s inner circle also have substantial media business experience. The CEO of Trump’s campaign, Steve Bannon, took a leave of absence from his role leading the conservative media company Breitbart News to work on Trump’s White House bid. And Fox News founder Roger Ailes emerged as a key adviser to Trump after he was ousted from the network amid sexual harassment allegations. Kushner and Bannon did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Ailes could not be reached.