San Diego Issues Historic Endorsement

Recently, The San Diego Union Tribune (U-T) turned heads when the historically conservative newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president. This is the first time in the paper’s 148 year history that the editorial board has chosen to endorse the Democratic candidate, deeming Clinton the safer choice for president.

The U-T is not alone in its historic endorsement. Other major papers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, Arizona Republic, and Cincinnati Enquirer, have gone against their traditionally conservative roots to endorse Clinton.

Some papers have even broken their own rules, choosing to endorse a candidate when, historically, they have not. The Chicago Sun-Times, which refused to endorse a candidate in 2012, decided to reverse this decision to endorse Clinton in the current presidential race. Additionally, the paper decided to release its endorsement earlier than is typical.

“[The] best way to avert a train wreck is to wave a warning flag as soon as possible,” the paper said.

USA Today said that it is sticking with its policy to not endorse candidates from either party. That being said, USA Today did choose to make its opinion clear, by declaring Donald Trump as unfit for being President of the United States. USA Today’s statement strongly advised readers against voting for the Republican candidate.

“By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump,” the declaration said.

Among newspapers with the largest circulation in the U.S., Clinton has been the main endorsee. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle have all issued their endorsements of Clinton.

Three papers have chosen to endorse Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. These endorsements have come from The Chicago Tribune, Detroit News, and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

So far, the Republican Party’s candidate, Donald Trump, has received zero endorsements from major newspapers in the general election.  Trump is the first major party nominee who has failed to do so.

While some of these endorsements are unprecedented, given the political climate, more and more news outlets are choosing to endorse. The main motivation for doing so is that their guidance may  steer the public in what they claim is the right direction.

University of San Diego students haven’t let these endorsements slip by them unnoticed.

Senior Abbey Solnet noted the importance of papers and political leaders speaking their minds.

“I think it’s telling when a historically republican newspaper comes forth and says they don’t support the Republican [Party] nominee,” Solnet said. “It’s not just major newspapers; it’s major Republican leaders who don’t support Trump, which is concerning [because] he is on the ballot for president without the support of his own party. I personally don’t have much background knowledge in newspapers and their affiliations with politics, but I found it fascinating that some Republicans are realizing, and publicly sharing, that Trump does not represent the values of the Republican Party or of the American people and should not be elected to lead our country.”

Although these endorsements are carefully thought out, for many papers, they come at a price. Those papers that typically lean to the right are facing harsh backlash for choosing to endorse a Democrat or Libertarian Party candidate instead of supporting their party’s candidate. According to The New York Times, these papers have seen subscription rates plummet as a result. Many of them have also received death threats.

Senior Elisa Flores agreed with many of these subscribers that papers should keep their political feelings to themselves.

“Newspapers are supposed to be an unbiased source of information for the people,” Flores said. “When they choose to endorse candidates or any political party, they actively violate that duty. Our democracy only works if people are informed, and that cannot happen if their source of information chooses to omit, distort, or take [an] opinion on a fact in order to appeal to one portion of the political spectrum.”

While ordinarily many papers may take this into account, under the circumstances, some news sources are choosing to go against regular policies. Whether this means endorsing an opposing party’s candidate, or choosing to endorse when normally they would not, many papers are taking the current presidential race very seriously. They see it as their duty to make their opinions known, and help guide their readers in the right direction.

Whether or not you agree with a newspaper’s decision to endorse candidates, one thing is for sure, the importance of voting is being emphasized now more than ever.

By Dani DeVries, Opinion Editor