USA Today marked a historic first on Thursday (29 September) by breaking a 34-year-old tradition of not endorsing a candidate in a presidential election and lending lukewarm support to Democrat Hillary Clinton. The newspaper joined a bevy of newspapers to urge its readers to choose a candidate other than Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In a scathing editorial, USA Today's editorial board lambasted Trump as "unfit for the presidency," citing his "erratic" behaviour and his "chequered" business history. "From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week's first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents," the news publication wrote.
USA Today added that Trump was "ill-equipped to be commander in chief" and he "traffics in prejudice". The editorial board accused the real estate mogul as being a serial liar who is in "a league of his own when it comes to the quality and quantity of his mis-statements".
The publication did not give Clinton its full support, noting that she "has her own flaws". It did however urge voters to stay true to their convictions. "Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump."
USA Today is just the latest publication to criticise Trump in its presidential endorsement. In early September, the New York Times readily endorsed Clinton. The Dallas Morning News and The Cincinnati Enquirer, both of which typically endorse Republicans, opted for Clinton instead.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Republic named Clinton the "only choice to move America ahead" in its endorsement on Tuesday (27 September). The paper, which has never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president, has received subscription cancellations, angry phone calls and even a death threat for its atypical endorsement, the New York Times revealed.
One newspaper, The Detroit News, also abandoned the GOP for a third-party, Libertarian Gary Johnson. It remains to be seen what effect the endorsements will have on voters other than their news subscriptions.