Conservative newspapers are in a real bind. They have a candidate for president whom they can’t endorse — at least, not while retaining a shred of integrity. The result is some astonishing deviations from the norm.
Some Newspapers Give Surprising Support To Clinton
Many of those coming out with surprising endorsements are making no bones about how they view Donald Trump. The Arizona Republic was among those who decided to endorse Democrat Hillary Clinton while lambasting her opponent. The Republic has never — since its inception in 1890 — picked a Democrat over a Republican in the race for the White House until Tuesday. Its assessment of Trump was blunt.
After summing up the Republican’s insults to women, the disabled, veterans, Latinos, and Muslims, the editorial concluded:
Each of those comments show a stunning lack of human decency, empathy and respect. Taken together they reveal a candidate who doesn’t grasp our national ideals.
And, as the world now knows, the man is not to be rebuked:
Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads.
The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
Not that the paper’s view that Clinton “has the temperament and experience to be president” has won it many friends in Arizona. At least, that’s not who’s being most vocal. The endorsement has brought death threats and cancellations.
Nevertheless, on Friday, the San Diego Union-Tribune — which hadn’t endorsed a Democrat in its 148-year history — told its readers that Hillary is “the safe choice.” Calling Trump “vengeful, dishonest and impulsive,” the paper listed all the enemies that it felt he would create for the country — not only around the world, but here at home:
We could see an administration with an open enemies list, starting with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, his Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and more.
Others Endorse The Libertarian, But Guess Who Gets Nothing?
Not all conservative newspapers have been able to bring themselves to endorse Clinton, even while soundly rejecting Trump. In an equally surprising development, Libertarian Gary Johnson has received more endorsements from daily newspapers than the Republican has — six to be precise, as of Friday, compared to Trump’s big fat zero.
On Thursday, The Detroit News, which has gone Republican for 143 years, endorsed Johnson. In the paper’s own words:
We abandon that long and estimable tradition this year for one reason: Donald J. Trump.
The paper’s biggest objection to Trump is summed up in one paragraph:
The most worrisome thing about Trump is that he is willing to stir the populace by stoking their fears of sinister forces at work from within and without to tear down their traditions, values and families. He has found profit in dividing Americans from each other, and from the rest of the world.
On the other hand, the Detroit daily emphasized that Johnson “excelled at public service” in his eight years as governor of New Mexico. Acknowledging that Johnson would be “the longest of long shots with an electorate that has been conditioned to believe only Republicans and Democrats can win major offices,” the editors added:
This is an endorsement of conscience, reflecting our confidence that Johnson would be a competent and capable president and an honorable one.
Obviously, not everyone is bothered by Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe — about which he was honest — or his difficulty with naming a foreign leader whom he respects. As a matter of fact, the most earth-shattering news for Johnson came on Friday, from one of the most influential newspapers in the country.
The Chicago Tribune Is The Biggest Shock Of All
The Chicago Tribune, the nation’s 8th largest paper, endorsed Johnson while smacking down a widely circulated — and apparently popularly held — belief:
We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote.
The Tribune sees flaws in both the major party candidates, which led to their endorsement of Johnson:
We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president — regardless of his or her prospects for victory — than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates.
Rather than repeat the tendency to make sport of the Libertarian candidates, the editorial board emphasized their strengths:
Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments. They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible.
Certainly these endorsements all have the potential of drawing support away from Donald Trump. The newspapers have been pointed and effective in their criticisms of him. Perhaps the loudest voice is the one that doesn’t speak at all — the absence of any endorsements for Trump from any publications.
As it turns out, both the Republican and Democratic campaigns might want to pay attention to the gaining momentum of this phenomenon.