One small, historically conservative newspaper in Enid, Oklahoma, took a risk, endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton earlier this year, and now its editors are probably regretting it.
The Enid News & Eagle, along with many other right-leaning newspapers around the country, threw its weight behind Clinton in hopes of stopping then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who pulled off a stunning electoral victory in November. Ever since the October endorsement, the paper has been losing advertisers and subscribers.
The endorsement in the fall marked the first time the small Oklahoma newspaper, which was founded in 1893, had endorsed a Democrat. And many of the small, 52,000-member town in which the publication is circulated have yet to forgive the editors.
In fact, according to the New York Times, circulation is down since the controversial endorsement:
The News & Eagle, with a circulation of 10,000, lost 162 subscribers who canceled the paper. Eleven advertisers pulled their ads, including a funeral home that had a sizable account. Someone stuck a “Crooked Hillary” bumper sticker on the glass doors of the paper’s downtown office. A man left a late-night message on the publisher’s voice mail, expressing his hope that readers would deliver, to put it delicately, a burning sack of steaming excrement to the paper.
And the fallout has been with more than just the residents. The town's former mayor pulled out of an event that was slated to honor community leaders because the occasion was being sponsored by the News & Eagle. The Times reported that the paper has received numerous calls, emails and letters complaining about the endorsement, too.
The paper stands by its endorsement. Nevertheless, the staff at the newspaper are doing what they can to try salvaging some of the damage that's been done:
One reader who stopped taking the paper said it was still trying to woo him back by delivering an occasional copy to his doorstep. The executive editor, Rob Collins, has worked the phones, talking to subscribers who had canceled or threatened to do so.
One senior writer for the paper said he senses "almost a sense of betrayal" from readers, citing an experience he had when a man confronted him in a restaurant and threatened to beat him up. The reporter was not harmed.