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The danger in attacking the media

As the race for the White House enters its closing stages, with only weeks to go before America decides just who it feels is better suited to be commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation on Earth, the media will be playing a key role in the difficult task of trying to cover as accurately as possible the battle between the Democrats and the Republicans for that seat in the Oval Office.

In recent months there have been nothing short of some of the most ferocious attacks and counter-attacks between GOP candidate Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which at times worsened the tone of the campaign. Some felt this made it more than a challenge for the media to gather facts and to report the numerous twists and turns, irrespective of which candidate was in the ascendancy.

When Donald Trump recently described the media as a dishonest bunch who were out to get him at every turn, a sour note was struck with the free press. His outburst did not resonate with most Americans, who know that attacking the media is never a good thing for any politician, especially when one is seeking the highest office in the land.

It is the job of free press to look into all allegations with the highest professional ethics and report to the people the facts they uncover. In the political arena, this is a problem, especially when some information could mean the difference between winning or losing support in the quest to achieve success.

The three crucial debates between Trump and Clinton, which provided America and the world with a chance to hear and see what they had to offer during extremely challenging times, is now history. National polls after the final debate gave Clinton the edge in all three encounters. As the Trump support appeared to hit an iceberg, he began yet another controversial attack on the electoral system itself, claiming it was rigged to keep him from winning. His opponents wondered whether he would maintain such a claim if his poll numbers had him out front in the race.

Some political pundits felt he stumbled badly during the final debate, when he was asked whether he would accept the election results, regardless of how the voting turned out. Trump indicated he would respond when that happens. A number of influential Republicans distanced themselves from that view.

As it stands at the moment, Clinton has managed to expand her support in many key areas, putting her rival in significant trouble with little time to recover. The free press must continue to do their job in keeping the public informed. When things go wrong with some politicians, too often they are quick to attack the press, which is never a winning move. The media must remain vigilant under any type of attack because they represent one of the most precious aspects of democracy.

Here in Bermuda, we could also learn a great deal about having respect for the professional media because without them a part of our freedom would be missing. General elections in free countries are seldom without strong emotions on both sides. The people usually are able to see beyond that aspect and make judgments based on what they feel is best for the country.

Watching it all are the free press.

Close to the finish line: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally in Cleveland yesterday (Photograph by Andrew Harnik/AP)

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Published October 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 22, 2016 at 9:44 am)

The danger in attacking the media

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