A newspaper editor defends its endorsement of Trump. Following the column, I will point out a few things. The following url should take you to the comments on the article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/our-towns-newspaper-was-mocked-for-endorsing-trump-heres-what-we-think-now/2017/06/07/3365e17c-4acb-11e7-9669-250d0b15f83b_story.html?utm_term=.5c0009b47aae&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
As publisher and editor of the Times-Gazette, a small daily newspaper in this southwest Ohio town (pop. 6,600), I thought our endorsement of Donald Trump for president last year seemed innocuous enough. Then someone said to me, “Did you see that Rachel Maddow mentioned the Times-Gazette last night?”
Next Politico called. I soon discovered that our two-sentence endorsement was being reported — and often ridiculed — far and wide. The nearby Cincinnati Enquirer produced a post headlined “This Ohio paper is one of only six to endorse Donald Trump.” Not one of six in Ohio — one of six in the entire nation.
Hillsboro is the seat of Highland County, which has voted for the Republican candidate for president for decades but was particularly enthusiastic about Trump. He ended up winning 75 percent of the vote here, compared with 64 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Interestingly, the conservatives I speak with do not really consider Trump one of them. Rank-and-file Republicans tend to view Trump more as an independent who ran under the Republican banner.
But for the most part they’re still with him. They appreciate Trump’s “America first” agenda, not because they believe in isolationism, but because they believe the United States and its citizens should be the government’s top priority.
The president’s tweets can be as annoying to his supporters as to his opponents, and if there is a common criticism, it is that he should tweet less. But his inability so far to overhaul health care, enact tax reform, destroy the Islamic State or “drain the swamp” is largely blamed on overreaching courts and the open “resistance” that appears dedicated to opposing anything Trump wants.
What Trump’s supporters also appreciate about him are the very attributes for which he is relentlessly criticized in the media. People here — a farming community supplemented by modest-paying retail jobs and a few factory opportunities — are frank and plain-spoken. They’re weary of politicians whose every statement seems carefully crafted to say nothing and offend no one.
I understand that. Years ago, I took a break from journalism to work in politics. I know what candidates and politicians are supposed to say and how they are supposed to say it. I sometimes find myself cringing at things Trump says, wishing he would behave more like a typical politician. But then I remind myself that if he did, he would likely lose the support of the grass-roots movement that put him where he is.
The negativity that permeates Trump coverage is a frequent subject of conversation here. Matters that are not frequently discussed: James B. Comey, tax returns, the Paris climate accord and the Russians. Instead, we talk about the heroin overdose epidemic ravaging our community.
Yes, Hillsboro is a rural setting with a majority-white population. But that doesn’t equate to its citizens or its Trump supporters being racist, homophobic or Islamaphobic.
Last weekend I covered the opening of an exhibit at our historical society that pays tribute to a school desegregation saga that unfolded here in the 1950s; the event honored surviving members of the African American community who lived through a chapter in local history too long ignored. A big crowd, white and black, was on hand. Steps toward racial harmony happen even in Trump country.
While Trump carried Highland County heavily, there are people here who did not vote for him and who do not care for him. But overall, despite the avalanche of negative news stories, Trump’s support remains firm. Hillsboro’s mayor mentioned recently that he has noticed Trump yard signs popping up again, either in a show of support or a sign of defiance.
I’m an editor who happens to be a conservative on most issues. But I’m not a conservative editor. I strive to practice and teach solid, unbiased reporting regardless of what we are covering, doing our best to demonstrate respect, accuracy and fairness to all sides. Our political leanings are reserved for the opinion page. I wish more of my liberal colleagues would acquit themselves similarly.
I’m still astounded that our brief endorsement of Trump garnered such attention. In the end, Trump won the state by a solid eight-point margin. Consider the fact that Trump won the popular vote in 30 states, but in most of those states not a single newspaper endorsed him. Could there be better evidence of the gulf that exists between what is called the “mainstream media” and millions of Americans?
After the election, some news media leaders pledged to reexamine their approach. If they are even slightly successful in retooling political coverage, perhaps by 2020 a small southern Ohio newspaper’s endorsement of a major-party candidate for president won’t qualify as national news, no matter which candidate it chooses.
OK. My response. First, the 3K plus comments were devastating. The anti-Trump position goes under the heading of common sense.
The editor says people in his area like Trump’s America First doctrine b/c government have its citizens as its top priority. What is he talking about? What else is the top priority? Oh, I know: one third of our budget goes to foreign countries and the rest goes to undeserving welfare cheats. I got it.
He says the tweets can be annoying. Annoying? You mean the part where he is dismantling the world structure built after WW II? The part where he is shredding the reputations of politicians who cross him? The part where he displays the greatest vulgarity and barbarity imaginable? (don’t we all wish for vulgarity like Bess Truman saying it took her forever to get Harry to say ‘manure’ instead of the earthier word?).
Trump’s wanton destruction of political impetus is blamed on “overreaching courts”. Oh, the ones that look at Trump’s executive orders and the Constitution, put them together side by side, and then say, “No match”? If that’s not what courts are for, what are they for? Oh, I know. In the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Viet Nam, the courts carry out the will of the Great Leader – keep that one in mind, not to mention the “resistance” (he puts that in quotes), aka public opinion. Oh yeah, Sarah Palin’s “real ‘Muricans”. Anything that doesn’t render the national anthem a la Kate Smith isn’t real America. Anything that doesn’t reflect the thinking in this little Ohio town (I come from one, BTW) is not real public opinion.
Trump is frank and plain-spoken. Read my item on Masha Gessen’s comparisons of Trump speak with the Soviet era press in Russian. The man is taking lessons. And these ever so fervent anti-Communists in small town America swallow it whole.
What’s important? The heroin overdose epidemic in the editor’s area? Trump’s solution? Put Jared in charge. Who better to understand the plight of small town America than Jared Kushner. Where do you hear about the opioid epidemic? MSNBC.
The Trump supporters in Highland County may be paragons of tolerance and understanding, but the Trump supporters at his rallies roared their approval of every……… just too much. WTF do these people need to see or hear to realize they elected a self-centered traitor to his country whose mental faculties are failing and whose family could pass for a portrait of the Sopranos? The editor wishes his liberal colleagues in the media would be more like him, fair and balanced. Like Fox News, right?
I just may copy and mail this to the editor. People who run a town’s newspaper are entitled to their political views, including endorsements, on the opinion/editorial page. When I look at conservative and liberal and other news coverage, I fail to see where liberal coverage omits, distorts, fails to apologize for and correct errors, and so forth. Conservative outlets of repute do the same. I’ll bet you that Mr. Editor’s down home folk in Highland County and Hillsboro watch nothing but Fox News and take Limbaugh and Alex Jones as truth tellers. THAT is their problem, even worse than opioids (and I just went through misery getting off my pain killers after surgery, so I can only imagine what those poor bastards go through when and if they quit. God bless them.)