JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The largest newspaper on the First Coast and one of the largest in Florida will endorse Republican Donald Trump for President, multiple sources have confirmed to First Coast News.
The Florida Times-Union will publish the endorsement in Sunday's newspaper.
Throughout the race for president, almost every major market newspaper in the country has endorsed Hillary Clinton, including usually conservative papers like the Arizona Republic and the Dallas Morning News.
The only larger market newspaper in the country that has endorsed Trump so far is the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper owned by Trump backer and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
The Times-Union is the flagship paper of Morris Communications, an Augusta, Ga.-based, family-owned corporation known for conservative policies and editorial stances. A presidential endorsement is normally the brainchild of the paper’s editorial board, but sources tell First Coast News that this endorsement was a top-down directive from Morris. Speaking off the record, several employees expressed concern with the endorsement, in light of Trump’s statements about women and minorities.
First Coast News has reached out to the Times-Union editor Frank Denton for comment who has reaffirmed the paper's endorsement.
"The endorsement itself is self explanatory," he said. "And in keeping with the traditional conservative values of William Morris newspapers."
He admitted there was internal grumbling at the paper about the endorsement and added that no matter who the paper endorsed there would be grumbling.
"The editorial board handles local races," he said, "but we defer to our ownership on the presidential endorsements."
You can read an extended statement from the company's owner at this link regarding the endorsement.
An anonymous staffer at the Times-Union said some reporters worried it would take years - maybe decades - for the damage to the paper's credibility to be repaired due to this endorsement.
"TU employees debated Friday what was worse," the staffer said, "this endorsement or the editorial 10 years ago defending slavery."
Trump campaigned in Jacksonville Thursday and has made several campaign appearances in Northeast Florida.
First Coast News is a news partner of the Times-Union. The station does not endorse candidates.
Below, see reactions from some TU reporters on Twitter:
And folks. This is how the business works and has worked from the beginning. Your owner determines the tenor of the editorial page.— Tia Mitchell (@TIAreports) November 4, 2016
There is a literal physical wall separating the editorial board and the newsroom.— Andrew Pantazi (@apantazi) November 4, 2016
Spoiler: The Florida Times-Union is endorsing Donald Trump.— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) November 4, 2016
Deplorable me.— Christopher Hong (@ChrisHongTU) November 4, 2016