In case you missed it, The Times-Gazette made national news with our endorsement of Donald Trump for president.
First, Politico magazine called asking about the endorsement. Then I started receiving emails and messages that we were mentioned by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show as one of just six, at the time, newspapers in the nation that had endorsed Trump. Next, someone forwarded me a link to a blog of a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who, picking up on the Politico article, noted that The Times-Gazette was the only newspaper in Ohio to endorse Trump.
Wow. If any additional proof was needed of just how far left the national media has veered, it’s provided by the fact that a small-town newspaper’s endorsement of the Republican nominee for president is considered something worthy of statewide and national attention.
As readers know, our endorsements presented online Oct. 21 and in the Oct. 22 print edition focused mostly on local endorsements, with a few short lines devoted to state and national races. Our endorsement of Trump was all of two sentences. But the eagle-eyed supporters of Hillary Clinton are scouring publications nationwide to ridicule anyone not lining up properly.
Much has been made this year of the number of traditionally right-leaning newspapers that have endorsed Clinton, or at least decided not to endorse at all rather than recommend Donald Trump. Frankly, in most cases this development has more to do with corporate edicts handed down to the local papers they own than with decisions being made by local editors – although in an increasing number of cases, “local editors” are no longer local. They ain’t from around here, so to speak.
This is not speculation. I know editors who work for the companies in question, and they have long privately shared their frustration about the heavy-handed editorial directives they receive from on high on a weekly basis, without regard to whether the political leanings of the communities they serve are properly reflected in the editorials they publish.
A thoughtful blog post by a reporter who recently worked for a metro paper owned by one of the biggest newspaper conglomerates made several points about today’s staffing of newspapers by editors and reporters from elsewhere, and the ideology handed down from the top. I won’t identify the specific publication he is referencing because I don’t want to make a habit of criticizing other newspapers by name aside from The New York Times and Washington Post, which I criticize freely because they have destroyed from within what were once venerated institutions.
The reporter, Ben Liebing, wrote, “There’s also nothing wrong with being a non-native. Sometimes it lends invaluable outside perspective. This can be good. What it guarantees, however, is an incomplete understanding of local colloquialism, culture, ideology, and — most of all — history.”
He added that even at the most conservative of newspapers, supporting Hillary Clinton was considered a given in this election, with top editors openly cheerleading for her candidacy, effectively quelling opposing voices. “While working there, few talked politics overtly. Job security and the servile timidity that accompanies political correctness kept any would-be dissenters in line,” he wrote.
Liebing noted, “But the general tenor of the newsroom was clear, and writers were both edited and expected to march in tune.” He added, “The bottom line is that the city’s oldest news source has lost touch with the town on which it once reported.”
And so it is in this atmosphere that newspapers that dare to endorse Donald Trump for president are held up to scrutiny by other media outlets, with editorial support for the GOP nominee considered as much of an anachronism as transistor radios. With that in mind, I’m grateful that The Times-Gazette’s owners have never dictated editorial directions, leaving those decisions to local newsrooms whose staffers live and work in our local communities.
Make no mistake, it is not just a candidate like Donald Trump who, going forward, will not receive the backing of most newspapers. In truth, no Republican candidate for president will receive more than a few scattered endorsements in the years to come, considering the growing ownership consolidation of metro newspapers and the dictates of their overwhelmingly leftwing, centralized home offices, regardless of the political demographics of the regions served by their individual publications.
It is an understatement to acknowledge that Donald Trump is an imperfect candidate. But his opponent is even more seriously flawed, in ways that go far beyond political incorrectness or merely being boorish and rude. The FBI’s reopening of its examination of her email carelessness – with sensitive emails now apparently showing up on devices controlled by the sexting voyeur Anthony Weiner – should, under normal circumstances, seal her defeat. But this year’s election is not a normal circumstance.
Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton’s obvious disregard for the importance of national security, her cavalier attitude toward subpoenas and congressional hearings, her contempt for the “basket of deplorables” who have the temerity to support someone other than herself, and her and her husband’s lifelong pursuit of financial advancement regardless of the questionable country that contributes to it are actions which make it much more embarrassing for newspapers that have endorsed her than those who have endorsed someone other than her.
As of this writing, polling averages show a race that is virtually tied. Roughly half the electorate is voting for Trump. How unfortunate that 99 percent of the endorsements from the nation’s newspapers represent the political leanings of only the other half of the population. And they wonder why so many metropolitan newspapers are struggling.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.