Editorial: Non-endorsements of Trump fail voters

Posted October 3, 2016
Updated October 13, 2016

Media experts and newspaper professionals are seeing a growing stream of "unpublishing requests" from readers who don't want their past published lives instantly Google-able. But deleting unflattering stories can set a dangerous precedent. (Deseret Photo)

A CBC Editorial: Monday, Oct. 3, 2016; Editorial# 8062
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

For doing so little, USA Today’s Thursday, Sept. 29 editorial page got a lot of attention.

In its 34 years of existence, the newspaper has never endorsed a presidential candidate and is sticking with that policy.

So, what’s the big deal?

What it did do was something of an anti-endorsement. Republican Donald Trump, in a scathing assessment, is “unfit for the presidency.” The editorial Thursday was a dirty laundry list of shame: “He is erratic. … He is ill-equipped to be commander-in chief. … He traffics in prejudice. … His business career is checkered. …He isn’t leveling with the American people. … He speaks recklessly. … He has coarsened the national dialogue. … He’s a serial liar.”

With all that going against Trump, is there someone that USA Today says SHOULD be the next president?

Well, no. In fact, the editorial makes the point it does not “represent unqualified support for (Democrat) Hillary Clinton.” Vote, the folks at USA Today recommend. “Just not for Donald Trump.”

It might be said the newspaper merely trumped Trump.

In the arena of endorsements, there’s no testing the water with a toe to swim with the sharks – it just gets nibbled off.

If you believe that Trump is dangerous and needs to be defeated, the only choice is to vote for Clinton. That is just the way elections in the United States work and for USA Today to think, or suggest otherwise is naive or disingenuous.

Votes for third-party candidates, no matter the reason, do have an impact. Look at what it meant to George H.W. Bush’s failed reelection in 1992 due to the votes that went to Ross Perot or to the victory for George W. Bush in 2000 because of the votes that went to Ralph Nader in Florida.

In an accompanying explanation, the newspaper tried to say it was taking sides. But it really didn’t. What the newspaper did was firmly plant itself on the sideline, rooting for one team’s failure but not cheering on anyone else’s success.

Other newspapers around the nation with far deeper roots in political endorsements – particularly backing Republicans -- didn’t pussyfoot. The Arizona Republic (formerly the Republican), had NEVER in its 126 year history backed a Democrat until endorsing Clinton this year. The Detroit News, for the first time in 143 years, overlooked the GOP nominee to back Libertarian Gary Johnson . The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle, all with long GOP traditions, are backing the Democrat for president.

For these papers, the decision wasn’t easy. It meant breaking with deeply rooted traditions. It upset long-standing expectations from readers. These community news organizations are local and the people they serve shop around the corner and sit in the local café. They quite literally can be in the editors’ faces with sharp disagreements or support.

By contrast USA Today has a diffused national audience. Its readers scurry through airports or kill time at free motel breakfasts.

Endorsements aren’t musing on the state of the electorate or the candidate. They are, like elections, opportunities to make a choice, make a difference and stand up FOR something and someone.

When voters go into the polling place, their ballot doesn’t ask them to pick who they’re voting against. They’re asked to make a choice, to make an affirmative statement – in this case about who should be the next president.

If USA Today – or any other editorial voice -- is going to stake such a sharp stand about who it is against, it owes its readers a statement about who, and what, it stands for and why it makes a difference.


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  • Joe Simpson Oct 3, 2016
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    "...If you believe that Trump is dangerous and needs to be defeated, the only choice is to vote for Clinton..." which announces to everyone the inherent leftist bias of CBC. The corollary would of course have to be just as valid: "If you believe that Clinton is dangerous and needs to be defeated, the only choice is to vote for Trump." What about the huge number of voters who hold that both are unacceptably dangerous in their own ways? I will not case a vote for baldfaced corruption and values utterly antithetical to everything I believe about morality and freedom. Remember, the next president will appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. It's a scream how the left decries Trump's politics of fear, and then uses PRECISELY the argument of fear to tell people they have no choice but to vote for Hillary. It seems that this insanity will not stop until the populace finally decides to leave the two party plantations. The sad thing is that we're all free to do so but so few will.

  • Aiden Audric Oct 3, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The article discusses 3rd parties.

  • Ray Ubinger Oct 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Good for USA Today, to not go along with the demopublican pretense that Clinton and Trump are the only two candidates on everyone's ballot.