Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor To Trump Supporters: ‘North Star Is Truth’

In a bold statement to readers, Chris Quinn, the editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio reaffirmed the newspaper’s commitment to truth and transparency, particularly in its coverage of former President Donald Trump.

In a letter published on Saturday, Quinn emphasized the importance of holding public figures accountable, regardless of their popularity or support base. He asserted that truth remains the guiding principle of journalism, even when it may provoke disagreement or discomfort among readers.

Quinn noted that he often receives letters from passionate Trump supporters who’ve criticized his paper’s coverage but nonetheless defended the newspaper’s commitment to journalistic integrity:

“I feel for those who write. They believe in Trump and want their local news source to recognize what they see in him.”

“The angry writers denounce me for ignoring what they call the Biden family crime syndicate and criminality far beyond that of Trump. They quote news sources of no credibility as proof the mainstream media ignores evidence that Biden, not Trump, is the criminal dictator.” …

“This is a tough column to write, because I don’t want to demean or insult those who write me in good faith. I’ve started it a half dozen times since November but turned to other topics each time because this needle hard to thread. No matter how I present it, I’ll offend some thoughtful, decent people.”

“The north star here is truth. We tell the truth, even when it offends some of the people who pay us for information.”

Addressing Trump’s tumultuous presidency, Quinn did not mince words, describing the former president’s actions as undermining faith in democratic institutions and instigating an insurrection against the government:

“The truth is that Donald Trump undermined faith in our elections in his false bid to retain the presidency. He sparked an insurrection intended to overthrow our government and keep himself in power. No president in our history has done worse.”

“This is not subjective. We all saw it. Plenty of leaders today try to convince the masses we did not see what we saw, but our eyes don’t deceive. (If leaders began a yearslong campaign today to convince us that the Baltimore bridge did not collapse Tuesday morning, would you ever believe them?)”

“Trust your eyes. Trump on Jan. 6 launched the most serious threat to our system of government since the Civil War. You know that. You saw it.”

Quinn firmly communicated that the “facts involving Trump are crystal clear, and as news people, we cannot pretend otherwise, as unpopular as that might be with a segment of our readers.” He stressed there “aren’t two sides to facts,” pointing out that those “who say the earth is flat don’t get space on our platforms” no matter how much that might offend them.

While Quinn acknowledged the existence of differing perspectives on President Joe Biden’s leadership, he firmly rejected comparisons between Biden and Trump:

“Biden has done nothing remotely close to the egregious, anti-American acts of Trump. We can debate the success and mindset of our current president, as we have about most presidents in our lifetimes, but Biden was never a threat to our democracy.”

“Trump is. He is unique among all American presidents for his efforts to keep power at any cost.”

Quinn later expressed bewilderment at how Americans who value democracy could support Trump, drawing parallels to German leaders who overlooked Adolf Hitler’s flaws for personal gain. He highlighted a New Yorker article on Hitler’s rise to power, emphasizing the dangers of tolerating falsehoods for political ends.

Quinn further criticized politicians who deny truth for power, likening them to those who denied Hitler’s danger, and lamented the trust placed in authority figures despite evidence to the contrary, asserting the newspaper’s commitment to truth over popularity:

“No one in our newsroom gets up in the morning wanting to make a segment of readers feel bad. No one seeks to demean anyone. We understand what a privilege it is to be welcomed into the lives of the millions of people who visit our platforms each month for news, sports and entertainment.”

“But our duty is to the truth.”

Quinn concluded by expressing concern about parallels between the current state of American politics and the events leading to Hitler’s rise in 1930s Germany but pledged to continue truthful reporting regardless:

“In our newsroom, we’ll do our part. Much as it offends some who read us, we will continue to tell the truth about Trump.”

Quinn’s letter to his readers sparked considerable attention after it was shared by Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University (NYU) who said Quinn “says it as clearly as he can.”

Quinn’s message resonated with readers.

Cleveland, situated in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold, provided the backdrop for Quinn’s message.

During a rally last month aimed at supporting his favored candidate in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary, Trump delivered an unrestrained speech characterized by dehumanizing remarks about immigrants and freewheeling insults.

Trump forecast that the United States would not hold another election if he failed to win in November, repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and called those who were imprisoned for their actions during the January 6 insurrection “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots.”


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