US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Trump launches Facebook show to skirt 'media filter'

WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump's campaign has launched a nightly show on Facebook Live aiming to bypass "the media filter", as White House hopefuls sprint the final leg of a charged race.

Broadcasting from New York's Trump Tower via the Republican candidate's Facebook page, the show dubbed "Trump Tower Live" premiered on Monday and is expected to air every evening leading up to the Nov 8 vote.

"This is just an effort by us to reach out to you guys," said Trump adviser and co-host Cliff Sims.

"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."

Set in what the hosts called the Trump campaign war room, the show mimicked the look and feel of a cable news broadcast, though with lower production values.

The hosts and their "guests" - including Mr Trump's campaign manager and a Republican chief communications strategist - crowded around a small desk set against a backdrop of boxes, loose papers, campaign workers and a large portrait of the real estate magnate.

After a discussion surrounding the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy and an interview with a conservative commentator, the show cut to a live stream from a Trump rally in key battleground state Florida.The broadcast is set to air live each night at 6.30pm, running up against US network television news.

By late Monday night, the broadcast had more than 1.3 million views on Facebook.

 

The Republican candidate has repeatedly attacked media outlets as "corrupt" for participating in what he calls a vast conspiracy to "rig" the election in favour of Mrs Clinton. Faced with the nearly impossible task of catching up with Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump is devoting his energy to a supercharged schedule of rallies, small-group meetings and local news interviews.

Just about everywhere he went on Monday, he expressed worry that news coverage about his lagging poll numbers will keep his supporters away from voting booths, and, in must-win Florida, he worked to reassure voters that the truth is that he is ahead.

"It's called voter suppression. Because people will say, 'Oh, Trump's down,'" he said at a rally in St Augustine, on his second day of a three-day swing in the state, where early voting started on Monday. "Folks, we're winning."

At Boynton Beach, he told a small, hand-picked audience of farmers and supporters that polls that show him losing are "heavily weighted" with Democrats, "like the ABC phony poll that just came out. Phony phony poll". An ABC News tracking poll released on Sunday found Mrs Clinton leads Mr Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters nationally, at 50 to 38 per cent.

"If you read the New York Times and if you read some of these phony papers - these are phony, disgusting, dishonest papers - but if you read the stuff, it's like, 'What are we doing?'" he said. "The truth is I think we're winning."

He cited an Investor's Business Daily national tracking poll that over the weekend showed him ahead by 2 percentage points, but on Monday showed the race tied.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Trump launches Facebook show to skirt 'media filter''. Print Edition | Subscribe