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Brazil's Bolsonaro: Media is trash. Members of the press are my friends

Staff Writer |
Shortly after describing the media as “trash,” Brazilian far-right presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro turned around and called journalists “friends” and pledged to defend a free press, as he courts centrist voters ahead of a run-off election.

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Bolsonaro rode a wave of anger over years of graft, rising violence and a weak economy to take a strong lead in Sunday’s first-round vote, winning 46 percent of votes. Many expect him to beat leftist Fernando Haddad, of the Workers Party, in the Oct. 28 run-off.

Those concerns have increased since last weekend’s election due to a growing list of attacks, allegedly by his supporters, against political opponents, and by his antipathy toward the press, which he labeled “trash” in a Twitter post on Thursday.

Shortly after the tweet, Bolsonaro struck a more conciliatory tone, seeking to appeal to centrist voters and denying he was from the “extreme right.” He also pledged to respect the freedom of a press he has regularly criticized as treating him unfairly, while denouncing acts of violence that critics say have been committed in his name.

“Members of the press, or maybe I should say ‘friends,’... we’re going to guarantee the freedom of the press. We’re not going to have any of that business of media control,” he told a room full of reporters and party supporters in Rio de Janeiro, in his first public news conference since the vote.

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