Although Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump will likely carry Missouri, only one newspaper in the state is backing him.
The St. Joseph News-Press is also one of only three daily publications in the country to endorse the billionaire nominee.
Over the years, the paper has generally supported Republicans, although it occasionally backs Democrats for statewide and local offices. In this election, News-Press Executive Editor Dennis Ellsworth contends its editorial board thinks the country needs change after eight years under President Obama. “We said, as we looked at both candidates, that we were casting our lot with a movement that says ‘We need more significant change than the entrenched governing philosophy that’s been in place for about eight years and would be continued by Mrs. Clinton’” said Ellsworth. “That’s really the point, is that both candidates are flawed. But there are a lot of people who, in our part of the world would say, ‘Her flaws are worse than his flaws’. That’s what we really argued in our editorial.”
Ellsworth claims his publication’s not trying to make a provocative statement or draw national attention to itself. “It’s not normally in our nature to be seen as far one way or the other. But we’re O.K. with the fact that we have ownership of this newspaper that’s conservative to the extent that they really wanted to take a stand on this one.”
Ellsworth says the New-Press reflects the interests of a large segment of its community. He notes the editorial board was concerned other publications were indicating they would stop making endorsements. “We think that endorsements are helpful. It provides kind of a version of depth of reporting from the editorial staff on some of these topics. And it helps people. So many people going into this election are talking like ‘I don’t like either one of them’. Well, the fundamental problem is that we have to pick somebody”.
Ellsworth notes the News-Press received 40 calls from people threatening to cancel their subscription over the endorsement. But he says response was more positive after the paper published an article explaining its process for determining who to support.
In that piece published Tuesday, after the paper’s initial endorsement in Sunday’s edition, the editorial board clarified that the endorsement is an opinion from the paper’s opinion page, which does not influence its news coverage.
The other publications supporting Trump are in Santa Barbara, California and Waxahachie, Texas. The newspaper in Santa Barbara is also named the “News-Press”, but is not affiliated the St. Joseph newspaper.
The negative response received by the Missouri paper pales in comparison to the death threats received by a Phoenix, Arizona newspaper which endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Arizona Republic, like the St. Joseph News-Press, has a history of supporting Republicans for president.
Several other large daily publications, such as The Dallas Morning News, which have long backed GOP candidates at the top of the ticket, are supporting Clinton this year. In fact, no newspaper with a circulation of 50,000 or greater has endorsed Trump while 68 are supporting Clinton.
Several large conservative publications, including The Wall Street Journal and New York Post have yet to make an endorsement.