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Trump launches Facebook show to give flailing campaign 11th-hour boost

us presidential election Updated: Oct 26, 2016 01:57 IST
US presidential elections

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania . (AP)

Abandoned by many of his own party leaders and trailing Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee Donald Trump launched a nightly TV show on Facebook on Monday to air his campaign message, speeches and rallies unfiltered and without any ‘spin’ by the media that he has blamed for most of his troubles.

It’s not called Trump TV, which has been rumored to be his real reason for running for president or a post-race project should he lose, but “Trump Tower Live”, as it was supposed to be literally, broadcast live from his campaign war-room from the glitzy Manhattan building that made him what he is and is now both home and office to him.

Can it save his campaign? Can it reverse his declining poll numbers which have recovered somewhat from a 7.5 point deficit to 5.5 in RealClearPolitics average of polls Monday? Even Trump, who likes to boast about good poll numbers and ignore the bad ones, admitted in a radio interview, “I guess I’m somewhat behind in the polls but not by much.”

That uncharacteristic admission affirms speculation gaining ground in recent days the Republican nominee was preparing himself and his supporters for defeat, despite his tweets and statements proclaiming the opposite.

“We are winning and the press is refusing to report it,” Trump said in a tweet, reprising an all-too familiar grouse, just hours before announcing the launch of Trump Tower Live.

“This is just an effort by us to reach out to you guys, give you the message straight from the campaign,” Cliff Sims, a Trump adviser, said introducing the show. “You don’t have to take it through the media filter and all the spin they put on it.”

The opening episode featured Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. Its first “big” story was a Wall Street Journal revelation earlier Monday that Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons, donated nearly half a million dollars in 2015 to the campaign of a local politician, whose husband was a senior FBI official who went on to oversee the agency’s investigation of the use of a personal email server by Hillary Clinton as secretary of state from 2009 to 2012.

The report played big in conservative media, but ran into fact-checkers at other outlets, such as The Washington Post, which critiqued it point by point to argue it was a massive outreach to conclude McAuliffe bought Clinton a reprieve. One, the donation was made at a time in 2015 when Clinton’s mails were not being investigated. Two, the officer had kept the FBI in the loop every step of the way. And, three, he rose to head the email investigation many months after the polls, which his wife lost.

Trump doesn’t like that kind of scrutiny of stories critical of his rival, while demanding adherence to the most rigorous standards regarding stories about himself. But his problem with non-friendly media has many angles. And the one he has complained about the most is that they don’t show the crowds at his rallies, and purposely deflate the number of those in attendance.

Trump Tower Live will take care of that, hopefully. But his race?