Insights from Media: Trump has been skunked by the Indepent media in 2016.
Historically, newspapers in the US issue endorsements to candidates running for president, and as a general proposition, in the words from a study at George Washington University: “ … endorsements do offer well written, thoughtful views on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.“ GWU Study of newspaper endorsements.
This week we learned that the Arizona Republic was endorsing a Democrat for president for the first time ever, that the Cincinnati Enquirer was doing it for the first time in 100 years, that the Dallas Morning News was doing it for the first time in 75 years, that the San Diego Union-Tribune was endorsing a Democrat for the first time in its 148-year history (thank you Politico), and that USA Today, which has never issued an endorsement for any candidate, published an editorial this week declaring that Mr. Trump, by unanimous consensus of the editorial board, is “unfit for the presidency.” So, which newspapers are supporting Mr. Trump’s candidacy?
The answer, in short, is nobody, or at least nobody with a choice! I have not found ANY independent daily newspapers that endorsed him in the primary or the general election, although three of them (out of almost 100 issuing endorsements) endorsed Mr. Trump in the primaries. Those three, however, were either owned by his son-in-law, the Rupert Murdoch family (owners of Fox News), or were issued when he was the only Republican candidate left in the race. The National Enquirer, whatever that is, also endorsed him.
Given all we have heard about how liberal the media is, and perhaps “dishonest” according to Mr. Trump, I was also curious as to which party’s candidates do the leading newspapers tend to endorse through the years? The answer, according to Editor & Publisher Magazine, is that newspaper endorsements for president show a strong GOP edge, at least since 1940, which is the first time anyone addressed the question. E&P Study of presidential endorsements since 1940. More recently, George W. Bush had a roughly 2–1 edge in endorsements in 2000, GWU Study of newspaper endorsements, and roughly the same number of endorsements as his opponent in 2004. In 2008, then-Sen. Obama had almost exactly the same 2–1 edge, by percentage, over Sen. McCain, with 77 publications switching sides from the previous national election (from R to D or vice versa) (Wikipedia). In 2012, by contrast, the endorsement edge for the president was just above 50–50. There is, notably, also a pattern of diminishing support for the non-incumbent party after two terms, and diminishing support for the incumbent after one term. Still, historically there have always been hundreds of newspaper endorsements for both Ds and Rs.
In the general election campaign of 2016, however, Hillary Clinton has a 3–1 advantage in endorsements as of the end of September, and that advantage is over the Libertarian candidate! Moreover, at least half of the newspapers that have already endorsed Ms. Clinton endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012.
We also know that the NY Times, the Washington Post, and now USA Today have written editorials explaining why they would never support Mr. Trump (they think he is unfit to lead and/or a threat to the Republic). We also know that more than a hundred national Republican leaders have explicitly declared that they will not support the nominee of their party. Again, unprecedented. And yet, has anyone ever seen as much enthusiasm for a Republican candidate in our lifetime, at least if online commentators and the number of attendees at these events are any indication? These supporters are loud and devoted, and Mr. Trump has become a voice for them that neither Mitt (Harvard, son of a governor), nor John (Annapolis, son of an admiral), nor George (Harvard and Yale, son of a president), nor “41” (Yale, son of a senator) could be. He is on record with his bold ambitions to change America, and while his details are a little fuzzy at this point, his goals are clear. First, stop companies from leaving the United States. Second, reduce taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses, and third, renegotiate our trade deals … to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs. I did not read in his transcript from the debate about a step four (build a wall?), but frankly, I know people who would welcome tax cuts, more jobs and a new approach to immigration. And yet, here we are with the election a little more than a month away and not one independent newspaper in the USA, with all due respect to the ones referenced above, has endorsed Mr. Trump, while many Republican voices have gone out of their way to emphasize his unfitness. In fact, we can say that the Republican party has never nominated a candidate who has generated so much antipathy from so many reliably Republican voices. Furthermore, there has never been a candidate for president in our lifetime who generated so much passion from his fans and his critics for exactly the same reason: they think he could destroy the fabric of America!!
My final thought is that, as Americans what can we do going forward to bring back the angry alienated citizens who prefer the risk of total destruction to electing ‘the most qualified candidate ever’, according to her ex-boss (and ex-opponent), and just as apparently, almost all of the Nation’s newspaper editors? The fact is that there has never been such a strong divide between people who think about these issues and those who feel alienated by the way America works. Come on, people now, let’s get our heads and hearts together.