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Conservative Newspapers Breaking Tradition to Abandon Trump

A growing number of conservative newspaper editorial boards are breaking long-standing traditions and endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, or no one at all.
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to a speaker during a campaign rally at the Mid-America convention centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on September 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMADJEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty ImagesJEWEL SAMAD / AFP - Getty Images

A growing number of conservative newspaper editorial boards are breaking long-standing traditions and endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, or no one at all.

The Detroit News on Thursday backed Johnson, marking the first time in the newspaper’s 143-year history its’ editorial board did not endorse a Republican.

“We abandon that long and estimable tradition this year for one reason: Donald J. Trump,” the paper wrote.

Trump’s candidacy has put conservative editorial boards in the same position many Republican lawmakers and voters also find themselves. They are forced to choose between a GOP presidential nominee whose unpalatable temperament and lack of policy specifics are disqualifying for a potential commander-in-chief, a flawed Democratic alternative, or a third-party option with little chance of winning.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Republic -- for the first time since the publication began in 1890 -- backed the Democratic presidential candidate over the Republican.

“Despite her flaws, Clinton is the superior choice,” the paper wrote. “She does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies. Her approach to governance is mature, confident and rational.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle also broke with their longstanding traditions and supported the former secretary of state.

The Arizona Republic received death threats and cancellations after the announcement. The Dallas Morning News also paid a financial price, despite staffers attempts to engage furious readers.

Other Republican-leaning editorial boards like the Richmond Times-Dispatch and New Hampshire Union Leader threw their clout behind Johnson.

“He’s a man of good integrity, apparently normal ego and sound ideas. Sadly, in the 2016 presidential contest, those essential qualities make him an anomaly,” the Times-Dispatch wrote earlier this year.

Just how much influence newspapers have over voters is difficult to measure. But new media and declining circulation has drastically changed how information is consumed.

During the Republican primary battle, Ohio Gov. John Kasich received dozens of endorsements but won only his home state of Ohio. Trump received only a handful of endorsements and ran away with the Republican nomination.

It’s why more newspapers might end up going the route The Tulsa World News did when they endorsed no one.

“Never before have we so firmly believed that each of us has to find the answers for ourselves. We encourage every voter to identify what is important to them and their families,” they wrote. “Only then can each voter determine who they believe is the best choice in this presidential election.”

Meanwhile, USA Today’s editorial board took an unprecedented step in its 34-year history Thursday by declaring sides in a presidential race. The paper's headline deemed Donald Trump "unfit for the presidency" by unanimous consent of its Editorial Board Thursday, before going on to list examples they feel disqualify the Republican nominee for office.

"Our bottom-line advice for voters is this: Stay true to your convictions," the board wrote. "Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump."