GREENWOOD – USA Today broke a tradition that goes back to its founding 34 years ago.
It made for the first time an endorsement in the presidential race.
The national newspaper says that every four years its editorial board has revisited its no-endorsement policy on presidential races, the only contest it would consider weighing in on. Until now, it has come to the conclusion that it should keep its opinions to itself. It says it hasn’t wanted to risk the charge of political bias, voters have no shortage of information on presidential candidates to make up their own minds, and its ideologically diverse board could rarely agree on an endorsement anyway.
But this year, the fear of a Donald Trump presidency has caused the newspaper to offer an endorsement — although technically a non-endorsement might be a more apt description.
The New York Times, whose slogan is “all the news that’s fit to print,” finds itself in the news recently for publishing some of Donald Trump’s tax documents.
Disclosed were the first page of Trump’s 1995 New York state resident income tax return, the first page of his New Jersey non-resident tax return and the first page of his Connecticut non-resident tax return. They show a $916 million loss that might have allowed Trump to legally avoid paying any income taxes for up to 18 years.
In addition to the political ramifications of the report, there’s a debate over whether the newspaper violated the law in publishing the documents. That will be probed from all sides until something else in this bizarre presidential election captures the headlines and the attention of the talking heads on the cable news networks.
For me, whenever the New York Times is in the news, I’m reminded of my friend of decades ago, Paul Pittman.
The New York Times executive editor said during a visit to Harvard in September that he would risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. He made good on his word Saturday night when the Times published Trump tax documents from 1995, which show the Republican presidential nominee claimed losses of $916 million that year — enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years afterward.