Arizona newspaper responds to threats after Clinton endorsement

Michael Walsh
·Reporter
Mi-Ai Parrish, an executive at USA Today Network, speaking in Mexico City, July 15, 2016. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)
Mi-Ai Parrish, an executive at USA Today Network, speaking in Mexico City, July 15, 2016. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

The Arizona Republic publicly responded to the deluge of threats it received after supporting Hillary Clinton for president, the first Democratic endorsement in its 125-year history.

Mi-Ai Parrish, president of the newspaper, penned a Sunday op-ed explaining what went into the Republic’s decision to break from tradition and how the paper’s journalists go about their jobs.

The Republic’s editorial board had argued in many pieces for over a year that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s principles were not actually conservative, and that they were bad for the GOP, Arizona and the United States, she noted.

“We chose patriotism over party. We endorsed the Democrat,” she wrote. “And then the reaction started pouring in. Threats against our business. Threats against our people. …. What is the correct response to any of the vile threats against me? What is the correct response to the more disturbing actions and words directed against so many others?”

According to Parrish, the backlash was swift and extreme. One person threatened the lives of the paper’s journalists by suggesting they might die in a car bomb like Republic reporter Don Bolles had 40 years ago. Others said they wanted the Republic to be shut down or burned down, or that that they wished it would cease operations under a new president. Some critics spit on or bullied young people selling subscriptions door-to-door. “Hacks,” “losers” and “un-American” were other insults hurled at the paper for not endorsing Trump, she said.

Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Hindu Coalition, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Edison, N.J. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Hindu Coalition, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Edison, N.J. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

For each of these threats or insults, she provided an example of a Republic employee who responded with dignity and compassion, such as praying for those attacking the paper with words or actions.

“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 said. “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.”

Parrish said that her mother grew up under an occupying dictatorship without free speech and that she does not take the First Amendment for granted.

For his part, Trump has encouraged his supporters to cancel subscriptions to the Republic after the paper endorsed Clinton. He did the same with the Dallas Morning News.

Many other right-leaning newspapers have wound up breaking with tradition by either endorsing Clinton or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Trump has not received a general-election endorsement from a major U.S. newspaper.

Just last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement denouncing Trump as an unprecedented threat to press freedom.