Fourth Estate nails its colours to Hillary Clinton mast

Amid the unprecedented level of agreement among US daily newspapers, Ryle Dwyer says that most are endorsing Clinton and Trump is without support
Fourth Estate nails its colours to Hillary Clinton mast

Nobody should be surprised that liberal-leaning newspapers like the New York Times, or Boston Globe, have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Most of the American dailies have actually been endorsing her and repudiating Donald Trump, who has not yet received the endorsement of even one daily newspaper.

The Boston Globe endorsed the Clinton campaign last January before the primary elections even began. The New York Times went on to endorse her in September.

“Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience, toughness and courage over a career of almost continuous public service, often as the first or only woman in the arena. We believe Mr Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history,” the New York Times wrote.

Most of the newspapers seem to consider Trump a clown, or a frightening liability. The New York Daily News carried a doctored front-page photograph depicting him as a clown. It had the bold headline: “Clown Runs For President”.

Clinton’s endorsements from the Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Portland Press Herald might all have been considered predictable. Such endorsements do not usually count for much, because the newspapers are generally so predictable, but this year has been very different for the Republican candidate.

For the first time in three quarters of a century The Dallas Morning News has actually endorsed a Democratic nominee for president. It had even endorsed Barry Goldwater in 1964 when he was running against president Lyndon B Johnson of Texas. However, the Dallas newspaper has essentially renounced Trump.

“There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November,” The Morning News declared last month. “We recommend Hillary Clinton.” “Clinton is a known quantity,” the endorsement continued.

“For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president,” it wrote. While admitting that Clinton has drawbacks, The Morning News concluded that the Republican nominee’s liabilities were even worse. “Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism,” it warned.

“He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best,” it said.

The Cincinnati Enquirer has consistently endorsed Republican candidates for president for even longer than The Dallas Morning News, but it, too, has come out in favour of the Democratic candidate.

“While Clinton has been relentlessly challenged about her honesty,” the Enquirer editorial warned recently, “Trump was the primary propagator of arguably the biggest lie of the past eight years: that Obama wasn’t born in the United States”.

“Trump has played fast and loose with the support of white supremacist groups,” the newspaper said.

“He has praised some of our country’s most dangerous enemies — see Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein — while insulting a sitting president, our military generals, a gold star family and prisoners of war like Senator John McCain.”

The Arizona Republic never before endorsed a Democratic candidate for president in its 126 years of existence, but it had broken that trend now. The newspaper was obviously incensed by Trump’s attack on John McCain, the Republican nominee against Barack Obama in 2008. McCain has been one of the US senators from Arizona for the last 29 years.

The San Diego Union-Tribune “has not endorsed a Democrat for president in its 148-year history,” the newspaper emphasised.

“But we endorse Clinton. She’s the safe choice for the US and for the world, for Democrats and Republicans alike.”

The Chicago Tribune had generally been linked with the Republican Party, but it did endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Of course, he was the local candidate. Hillary Clinton is a native of Illinois, but this time the newspaper has essentially decided to stand on the fence by endorsing Gary Johnson, the nominee of the Libertarian Party.

A former governor of New Mexico, Johnson ran as a Libertarian candidate in the last presidential election, but he did not come even remotely near winning any of the 50 states, so there is little reason to suspect that he will do much better this time. He received just 3.5% of the vote in his home state of New Mexico.

Although Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, he is not generally considered a viable candidate. Nevertheless, a number of prominent newspapers have endorsed him this year. As well as The Chicago Tribune, those include the Richmond Times- Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, and the Detroit News.

What would seem significant about this, however, is the fact that all of those newspapers endorsed the Republican candidate in the last presidential election. Their stand now could be interpreted as a rejection on Trump’s candidacy. He obviously scares many Americans.

No daily newspaper in the United States had yet endorsed Trump, while nine of the 15 daily newspapers that endorsed the Republican candidate in 2012 have endorsed Hillary Clinton this time. Three of the others declared for Gary Johnson and three have refused to endorse any of the candidates. Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA, caused a sensation when he came out publicly in the New York Times in an op-ed column under the headline: “I Ran the CIA. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.” His story featured on the various television networks as well, as other newspapers such as The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.

He worked for 33 years in the CIA, serving under six presidents. He never before publicly endorsed any candidate, but he gave two reasons for endorsing Hillary Clinton this year.

“First, Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief,” he said. “Second, Donald J Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”

He suggested Trump had unwittingly allowed himself to be used by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. This evoked the shadow of the Manchurian Candidate of the famous 1959 novel.

Paul Krugman, a prominent New York Times columnist, duly depicted Trump as a “Siberian candidate” whose campaign amounted to a Russian intervention into the American elections. This seemed like the kind of the smear tactic Trump would use.

Morell’s own approach was largely positive. He said he worked with Hillary Clinton for four years while she was secretary of state. His positive contribution seemed almost startling against the backdrop of the incessant negative campaigning.

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