Four years ago Donald Trump was expected to lose the United States’ presidential election to Hillary Clinton, all the polls pointed to it, and his next move was rumoured to be a TV network bearing his name.
But the polls were wildly wrong. Trump fever swept the country and landed the reality star in the White House.
Now, as President Trump is forced to vacate the White House, albeit grudgingly, rumours abound that his next move will involve a news channel.
This week, American news site Axios reported the 45th president of the United States was considering starting a digital news channel to rival his old ally, Fox News.
Mr Trump and his once-favourite channel are currently going through a bitter breakup, with the Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlet appearing to edge away from supporting the defeated president.
Last week, the network was the first to call key swing state Arizona for now president-elect Joe Biden, enraging top aides in Mr Trump’s campaign.
“He plans to wreck Fox. No doubt about it,” a source with detailed knowledge of Trump’s intentions told Axois.
US election analyst and Australian National University professor Wesley Widmaier said Murdoch was clearly moving away from Trump.
“It does seem like the Murdoch press has pulled its support,” Professor Widmaier said.
But it’s not just about having an axe to grind – Mr Trump’s plan had always been about building a media empire, said professor Widmaier.
“When he ran in 2016, the argument was, he was doing it as a publicity stunt, now he’s lost he would just be revising the old plan,” he said.
Mr Trump’s ability to drive up ratings has been proven time and time again.
It’s in the numbers – audience levels for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have grown since Mr Trump entered the Presidential race, and they came to a crescendo of record viewers this year.
Even in losing the election, Mr Trump drew the second-highest number of votes.
People pay attention to him – they love to love him and love to loathe him.
“The long and short of it is, yes, he could do it, the plan is certainly plausible,” said Professor Widmaier.
“He doesn’t need to bring all 70 million of his voters for it to be a success if you can get 10-15 million a day that’s a lot in today’s media landscape.”
Mr Trump would only need a handful of his base to watch his channel for it to be a success – Fox News’s election night coverage smashed its competitors, with 13.7 million viewers tuning in.
But building a rival company is not without its challenges.
“The question is ‘Can Trump set up an oxygen tent to rival Fox? That’s an open question,” said Professor Widmaier.
Publicly the Murdochs seem undeterred by the possible competition.
When asked in an earnings call on November 3 whether the company would welcome competition from Mr Trump, Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said: “We love competition. We have always thrived with the competition.
“And we have strong competition now,” he said.
“I would say the only difference today versus some years ago, as our audience has grown and our reach has grown, we see our competition as no longer only cable news providers, but also as the traditional broadcast networks.”
But what would it look like?
“Emotional,” said Professor Widmaier.
“It would be very emotional. That’s what we all missed when we thought he would lose. People voted for Trump because they felt under-recognised by the ruling parties, and Trump is good at playing with people’s emotions.”
Mr Trump has an incredible ability to entertain, to capture a narrative and electrify a massive number of people, he said.
A consummate TV host, he would be at home on his own channel.
“He’s very good at setting up that dramatic framing which is entertaining to watch,” said Professor Widmaier.
“I can see a lot of people watching it if that’s what he does.”