As Election Day draws near, and Donald Trump’s support erodes, the Republican presidential candidate has ramped up rhetoric about the election cycle being rigged against him by the media — a claim he doubled down on, during the third and final debate against Hillary Clinton. Clinton, in turn, said such claims are damaging to American democracy.
After host Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would accept the final results on Election Day, the candidate responded, “The media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing.” He also said the election has been rigged in Clinton’s favor more generally, and singled out the New York Times.
“I’ll tell you one other thing: she shouldn’t be allowed to run,” Trump said. “She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect, I say it’s rigged, because she should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.”
Clinton rebuked the claims that the media and political establishment is colluding against her opponent.
“This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling,” she said. “That is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”
In the days leading up to the last debate, Trump has called on supporters to watch voters closely at the polls, arguing that the system is rigged.
“You’ve got to get your friends. And you’ve got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths,” he said on Tuesday, pointing to what he considers widespread voter fraud. One of Trump’s fervent supporters, Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, went so far as to issue a call to arms. Last weekend, he encouraged Trump voters to take up “pitchforks and torches” to fight back against the machine.
In reality, media coverage has been very generous to the Republican candidate. Over time, according to Media Matters, Clinton received more negative coverage than her opponent, and was featured in fewer positive stories. The Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy also concluded that news coverage of the two campaigns actually hurt Clinton while improving Trump’s popularity.