Sadly, it’s not at all surprising that a newspaper’s editorial board, a newspaper that endorsed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, got death threats for its trouble.
The Arizona Republic had never endorsed a Democrat for president in the last 125 years, until it endorsed Clinton last week.
The response was deplorable, prompting the publisher of the newspaper to stand up to the thugs on Sunday.
To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles — he’s the Republic reporter who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago — and threatened that more of our reporters would be blown up because of the endorsement, I give you Kimberly. She is the young woman who answered the phone when you called. She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.
Mi-Ai Parrish [edit to add: publisher of the Arizona paper and former deputy managing editor of the Star Tribune] wrote that she was grateful for those who supported the free exchange of ideas. She defended all the journalists in her newsroom against the attacks of those who don’t, however.
To those of you who have spit on, threatened with violence, screamed at and bullied the young people going door-to-door selling subscriptions, I give you those dozens of young men and women themselves. Many sell subscriptions to work their way through school. Most were too frightened to share even their first names here. But they are still on the job. They know that free speech is part of a society that values hard work and equal opportunity.
To those of you who have called us hacks and losers with no purpose, and that we are un-American, I give you Dennis. He is the investigative reporter who first revealed the despicable mistreatment of our veterans at the VA hospital. His work triggered comprehensive debate and, one hopes, lasting change. He and others on his team have been hailed as heroes by veterans’ families across the country. Dennis knows that free speech is sometimes the only way to hold the powerful accountable.
To those of you who have invoked the name of longtime publisher Gene Pulliam, saying he is spinning in his grave, I give you his wife, Nina. After reporter Don Bolles was targeted by a bomber for doing his job, Nina Pulliam wept at his hospital bed. He died there slowly over 12 days. The Pulliams understood that free speech, and a free press, come at a cost.
Diane Boiles, the daughter of the assassinated reporter, wrote that people should leave his name out of their threats of violence.
“I don’t dare if you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, red, yellow, green, black or white, he fought for the truth and died for it,” she wrote. “He was the kind of guy who would vote for a candidate but still have a beer and be friendly with the person who didn’t vote the same as him or agree with him. I don’t think he would appreciate his name being used as a threat. By all means please air your concerns or disagreements but leave him out of it.”
She describes a time apparently long since passed in America.