The Trump campaign on Monday launched what they're promising will be a nightly broadcast from Trump Tower's "war room" — an attempt to give voters an unbiased view of the candidate and his efforts, featuring an assortment of guests described by the show's inaugural hosts as "friends of the campaign."
The show will begin every day at 6:30 p.m. leading up to Election Day — and if the premiere episode is any indication, the series is positioned to be a less animated version of the candidate's Twitter account.
The announcement of the Facebook Live stream, where the show was broadcast, wasn't totally unexpected. Trump's love-hate relationship with the media has been a consistent theme throughout his campaign — and it's been rumored that Trump might start a media company should he lose the election. Trump on Tuesday told an Ohio radio host "I have no interest in Trump TV."
Still, just last week, the Financial Times reported that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, discussed the possibility of a Trump TV network with an investment firm.
In any case, America got a glimpse of what we might expect should a media venture come to life after the election, and it was a far cry from compelling. What was perhaps partially to blame: the candidate himself was never on camera — until his regularly scheduled 7 p.m. rally commenced, that is.
The first episode of "Trump Tower Live" was an unpolished production. Sitting around a miniature coffee table were aides and show hosts Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims, along with their first guest, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. All three appeared unaware that the camera had been rolling for some time. It was not unlike the Republican primary debate back in February — in which Ben Carson and Trump appeared to completely miss their cues, waiting awkwardly in a corridor for what seemed like an eternity before walking out to the stage.
"What's going on?" Epshteyn posed to no one in particular. "Give it a second, Boris," Sims retorted. Then the cameraman began to countdown from 10.
"Happy New Year," Conway said with a smile, as they got in position for what they believed was the start of the program.
The episode began with an introduction, with Sims promising to deliver a message "straight from the campaign."
"You don’t have to take it through the media filter and all the spin that they put on it. You can hear it from us directly," Sims said to the camera.
What followed were micro conversations around the "crooked" Clintons, a Wall Street Journal report about Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe giving money to a campaign connected to the FBI investigation of Clinton's emails, Trump's massive social media reach, and hashtag ducks on the ground.
In perhaps the newsiest nugget of the night, Conway at one point declared "unequivocally" that Trump will win in November.
"The race is not over. You have to respect people, give them their voice and their vote and we will win," Conway said.
The show was filled with technical glitches, like random screen jolts, and a call-in guest from Blaze TV was repeatedly interrupted by Mars-like sound effects.
Still, Tomi Lahren got her message across loud and clear: "It’s not over 'til it’s over. And the American people are ready to make our voices heard and be known."
Another problem was perhaps booking the RNC's chief strategist and communications director Sean Spicer. After he came on, the stream dropped roughly 20,000 viewers.
Along with makeshift commercial breaks featuring a pre-recorded clip of Trump vowing to "repeal and replace Obamacare," the show had TV-like banners, a ticker and a link to donate to the campaign.
The overall effort was a good attempt at leveraging the followers Trump has accumulated, which Sims described as being a primary reason the live show exists at all. It would be "malpractice," Sims said, to not take advantage of Trump's huge social media presence.
But, of course, these people are following Trump — and without the candidate, the "suspense" he has so often teased, went missing.