USA Today has never taken sides in a presidential race until they un-endorsed Donald Trump by recommending that people not vote for him. You would think this would make anti-Trump Erik Wemple of the Washington Post very happy. Instead Wemple is now in a panic mode.
It wasn't enough for him that the USA Today editorial board recommended that people do not vote for Trump. What has Wemple really riled up is that they did not flat out endorse Hillary Clinton. Instead they recommended that people vote for anyone but Trump, including besides Hillary, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, write-in candidates, or even no one at the top of the ticket. To Wemple all this does is dilute the anti-Trump vote as you can see in his panic attack:
Donald Trump, as USA Today capably explains, is a threat to the United States on a number of fronts — eight, by the count of USA Today. He’s “erratic,” unprepared to be commander in chief, “traffics in prejudice” (which is an understatement), has a “checkered” business career, fails to “level” with the public, “speaks recklessly,” has “coarsened” politics and is a “serial liar.” The sheer awfulness of Trump, too, inspires some nice editorial writing from the USA Today folks.
So shouldn't Erik Wemple be happy? Quite the contrary as he makes clear:
All good, until the end, where USA Today caps off its well-reasoned editorializing with a belly-flop. You see, the USA Today editorial board failed to reach a consensus in favor of Clinton, who turns out to be not a perfect candidate.
...Then comes this woeful paragraph:
Which set off alarm bells inside Wemple's head:
Where does that leave us? Our bottom-line advice for voters is this: Stay true to your convictions. That might mean a vote for Clinton, the most plausible alternative to keep Trump out of the White House. Or it might mean a third-party candidate. Or a write-in. Or a focus on down-ballot candidates who will serve the nation honestly, try to heal its divisions, and work to solve its problems.
Over here, Thought Police. We need muscle!
Did USA Today just issue a back-door quasi-endorsement of, like, Gary Johnson? The Libertarian Party candidate who didn’t know what Aleppo was? And did it just issue a back-door quasi-endorsement of Jill Stein?
Eeek! Voters might veer away from the crony capitalist Democrat game plan! How dare they!
And this business about a possible “write-in” vote? Why doesn’t USA Today just advise its readers to take up knitting?
Or rubbing worry beads like Erik Wemple?