This election cycle has seen a trend that is nothing short of staggering. A slew of historically Republican newspapers have jumped ship to endorse Hillary Clinton. The Houston Chronicle made Hillary only the third Democrat to garner its support in 64 years, while The Dallas Morning News made Hillary the first Democrat to get its endorsement in 76 years. Well, add The Cincinnati Enquirer to the list. One of the biggest newspapers in a big swing state announced that it endorses Hillary for president.
The Enquirer has long been a classic Main Street Republican newspaper. It hasn’t endorsed a Democrat for president since it backed Woodrow Wilson’s reelection bid in 1916. So what broke this trend? Well, The Enquirer’s editorial board thinks that “these are not traditional times.” It believes that this country needs “a leader who will bring out the best in Americans, not the worst.”
While The Enquirer is critical of what it sees as Hillary’s “arrogance and unwillingness to admit wrongdoing,” it openly admits that its concerns about Hillary “pale in comparison” to its concerns about Donald Trump, whom it loudly denounces as “a clear and present danger to our country.”
The Enquirer makes clear that it isn’t impressed with Trump’s bombastic statements on foreign policy, suggesting that they are evidence of “an impulse control problem.” It was also unnerved when it learned how Trump endorses some of the worst tyrants in the world, such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Saddam Hussein. While it gives Trump credit for toning down his “divisive rhetoric,” it doesn’t think that “going two weeks without saying something misogynistic, racist, or xenophobic” is something to be applauded.
The Enquirer also issued what has to be the sharpest critique I’ve ever seen from a mainstream media outlet about Trump’s support of birtherism.
“While Clinton has been relentlessly challenged about her honesty, Trump was the primary propagator of arguably the biggest lie of the past eight years: that Obama wasn’t born in the United States.”
In contrast, while The Enquirer believes Hillary “has her faults,” she brings a lot to the table. Hillary, The Enquirer says, “is a known quantity” who has demonstrated that she can work across the aisle to get things done. It also praised her career-long work in fighting for the rights of women and children in this country and abroad, as well as fighting for LGBT rights and marriage equality. It believes she displayed “stronger diplomatic skills than she gets credit for” while Secretary of State, and credits her for “restoring U. S. influence internationally.”
Audience engagement editor Peter Bhatia wrote that most of his colleagues are well aware that it’s not nearly as big a deal as it was in the past when a newspaper endorses a candidate. However, he believes that this election is a situation where The Enquirer must speak out “as a citizen of Ohio and the region.”
He added that in recent years, the editorial board has become somewhat more centrist due to the addition of members “who, frankly, don’t have much use for extreme ideologies from the right or the left.” They are more interested in supporting problem-solvers from both parties. For that reason, the editorial board voted unanimously to endorse Hillary–and felt it had to issue its endorsement before the debates.
Bhatia openly admitted that The Enquirer’s endorsement was going to cause a lot of vitriol. He was right; both the endorsement and Bhatia’s article are drawing the usual slew of attacks on Facebook. That’s too bad. The Enquirer should be applauded for having the integrity to put its Republican history aside and reject a manifestly unqualified candidate. As I have said before, any endorsement of Trump at this point would be an act of gross journalistic malpractice.