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Prior to the June primary, CityBeat endorsed Bernie Sanders for president with the expressed caveat that if Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination we’d stand with her in the November general election. Subsequently, via emails and letters I heard it from area Bernie Backers who were upset we weren’t pushing the progressive pedal to the metal.
That’s fine. As has been and always will be the case, strong opinions and free speech are the currency we deal in here.
When we published our general election Voter Guide last week it should have been no surprise that we endorsed Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump. Once again, however, missives poured in— this time from the right—strongly and savagely denouncing the choice of the country’s first female major party presidential nominee.
Again, everyone has the First Amendment right to speak his or her mind, and there’s no complaint here at getting interaction from readers all over the political spectrum—but did anybody actually expect this alt-weekly to go for Trump? Nobody threatened us with bodily harm, but the DEFCON level of animosity was high.
Here are a few lines from one email (representative of several others but comparatively calmer and better composed):
“I knew even before reading your Voter Guide issue that you were going to endorse Hillary Clinton. But I didn’t think that the reasons for your endorsement would be as puerile and trivial as the ones that you cited. Come on, locker room talk? Prep school put downs of nonwhite males? Tic Tacs?...I knew that for a magazine that is so relentlessly desperate to emphasize (or fake) its social hipness bona fides, that you would show no real moral core. But I would at least expect a sense of proportion. Yeah, Trump is, or has been known to be sometimes crude, bumptious and bellicose, but if you think that he’s worse than the criminal behavior that both of the Clintons have engaged in over the years then you really are a hopeless case.”
Maybe this should have been expected. This email is small potatoes compared to what’s happening around the country. Showing scorn for the media is trending bigly .
Trump had been denouncing the press all along the campaign trail. When he appeared inside the San Diego Convention Center back in May, CityBeat staff writer Torrey Bailey was there when Trump called the press “bloodsuckers.” He added from the stage: “Look at them, they’re some of the most dishonest people around.”
At a recent rally in Cincinnati, a hostile crowd of 15,000 Trump boosters derided the media by chanting, “Tell the truth,” and called reporters “whores” and “presstitutes.” The crowd allegedly needed little egging on to make the working press feel ill at ease.
And then there are the atrocities aimed at The Arizona Republic. This newspaper is a bastion of conservatism and in 125 years had never endorsed a Democrat for president. Until now. After publishing a Clinton endorsement, the death threats started.
The Republic publisher Mi-Ai Parrish wrote that the company got messages that included: “You’re dead. Watch your back,” “We will burn you down,” and “You should be put in front of a firing squad as a traitor.” She added that, along with writers, editors and receptionists dealing with an angry public even the young people going door-to-door selling subscriptions were getting screamed at, bullied and spit on.
This is preposterous. If a conference were held tomorrow I’d be the first one at the microphone to hash out the industrywide imperfections of social media-era journalism. But Trumpian trolls spewing death threats is just plain criminal.
Such undeterred, malicious support for a presidential candidate made me recall Trump’s January 2016 quote du jour. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he said at an Iowa campaign rally. Apparently he knew then what we are all now realizing: Almost nothing will make his base change their minds about voting for him.
The third and final presidential debate is Wednesday, Oct. 19. Fox News’ Chris Wallace (yes, Mike Wallace’s son) will moderate. The announced topics include: debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates’ fitness to be president.
About 100 million people will watch the show. But the categories may as well be: Potent Potables, That’s A Fact-ish and Speaking from Uranus.
Trump could stand onstage and read excerpts from Penthouse Forum—and that wouldn’t change a lot of his supporters’ minds, regardless of what the “rigged” media might report.