The Arizona Republic, the traditionally conservative newspaper that endorsed a Democrat for president for the first time in its 125 years last month, responded on Monday to the scores of death threats, canceled subscriptions, and accusations of betrayal it has received in the weeks since.
In an editorial response, Republic Media president Mi-Ai Parrish addresses the choice the paper's editorial board made in endorsing Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump or no candidate at all, emphasizing through personal anecdotes and profiles of staff members that upholding the First Amendment can come at a cost.
Ms. Parrish wrote:
To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles — he’s the Republic reporter who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago — and threatened that more of our reporters would be blown up because of the endorsement, I give you Kimberly. She is the young woman who answered the phone when you called. She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.
The Republic made headlines when, in late September, it endorsed Mrs. Clinton, joining a number of other publications that have broken with endorsement tradition this election season. The historically conservative Columbus Dispatch and Dallas Morning News both offered up similar endorsements of Clinton, spurring similar outrage among Trump-supporting readers.
Others, such as The Chicago Tribune, took a different path in backing Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. And some publications that typically take no political stand, such as USA Today and The Atlantic, have come forward to offer up endorsements of Clinton or anti-endorsements of Mr. Trump.
In a typical presidential election, the Republican and Democratic candidate would have roughly the same number of media endorsements, Dianne Bystrom, the director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, told The Christian Science Monitor in September.
"You don't have that this year," Dr. Bystrom said. "...Gary Johnson actually has more newspaper endorsements than Donald Trump, so what is significant this year is that those kind of endorsements may make more of a difference because it is so inequitable."
Trump himself responded to the Republic backing Clinton on Twitter, encouraging his supporters to unsubscribe from the newspaper:
But while a number of readers have unsubscribed, with some reportedly spitting on or screaming at Republic employees selling subscriptions door-to-door, others have bought subscriptions to show support for the newspaper's decision, Ms. Parrish said.
"To all the other people who we heard from, who thanked us for our courage and our bravery, or who were bold enough to disagree with us on principle – the people who didn’t threaten to bomb our homes or harm our families – I have something for you, too," she wrote on Monday. "To you, I give my gratitude. I’m grateful that you stood up to say that we live in a better world when we exchange ideas freely, fairly, without fear."