MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle warned viewers before a break Tuesday that an upcoming segment would have "bad news for Democrats," a rare example of a daytime host acknowledging the liberal bent of the network's viewership.
"President Trump's official merchandise is bringing in more than just big bucks," she said. "I'm going to walk you through. There is a math to this madness. It is all part of the Trump campaign's digital strategy, and I warn you, it is bad news for Democrats."
Recent Stories in Politics
The left-leaning cable network draws a liberal audience, but Ruhle apparently making a nod to that fact on her show was unusual.
In the next segment, Ruhle discussed how viral merchandise—like witch-hunt Halloween posters and autographed fine-point markers—allows Trump's campaign to collect valuable data.
"Many critics have called this merchandise idiotic, and embarrassing for the Republican Party, but here's the thing," she said. "It doesn't just raise money and fire up the president's base. This glib gear has got a way more important function."
Ruhle and NBC News correspondent Monica Alba reported Trump's team use the sales to collect and study new donors. The campaign raised nearly $1 million alone selling Trump-branded straws, a response to liberal environmentalist calls to use paper straws.
"The president's reelection campaign can use this data and cross-reference it with Facebook data, so they can then learn not just who this hardcore base is, but who their friends, family and community are," Ruhle said. "This is all important commercial data. Massively valuable, massively expensive, and they're getting it for free."