Nearly two years ago, an armed mob stormed the Capitol building in Washington in an attempt to overthrow the government and keep President Donald Trump in power. In the months since, we have learned that several current members of Congress as well as current and future candidates were involved in the attempt.
Now, those insurrectionist candidates have one less tool holding them accountable. Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund which has bought over 200 newspapers across the country, has announced that their papers will no longer endorse candidates at the federal and state levels. In an editorial run by the Hartford Courant, the purported goal of this choice was “to make sure our opinion pages advance a healthy and productive public discourse” by avoiding the divisiveness and overt politicization of endorsing political candidates.
This decision by Alden does not advance political discourse or increase civility. It is a cowardly attempt to avoid taking a stand against a clear and present threat to the will of the people.
(Full disclosure: I was a freelance writer for the Courant for several years. My breakup with the paper was acrimonious, and I’ve written publicly about it. That said, my disappointment and frustration are not directed at the Courant itself. This isn’t their policy; it’s the policy of Alden Global Capital.)
Alden’s decision to forgo political endorsements has resonance here in Connecticut. Take the example of Robert Hyde, a former business owner from Connecticut who now runs a lobbying firm in DC. Hyde was deeply involved in President Trump’s scandal regarding Ukraine in 2019 that led to the president’s first impeachment. Hyde was also present at a “war room” meeting in December 2020 where strategy was being discussed to keep President Trump in power after he lost the election. Finally, Hyde attended the January 6th rally, although he states that he did not join the mob who attacked the Capitol.
Hyde has been tight-lipped about his involvement in Trump’s planning process, but the fact remains that he was there. Hyde has also run for statewide office here in CT, declaring for national Senate races and the House of Representatives. These are the races that the Courant and other Alden newspapers will no longer endorse.
Endorsements don’t simply tell readers what to think, but they also serve as a chronicle of a politician’s actions. Endorsements typically lay out the reasons why the editorial board did or did not choose to support a candidate, putting months or even years worth of critical information in one easily accessible place. Someone like Hyde has several stories detailing his activities over an entire year. Laying the case out against him in one editorial is an important service.
More broadly though, this new policy is an explicit surrender to extremist, insurrectionist and white supremacist candidates seeking office across the country. Editorial boards are not simply choosing between which candidate’s tax policy will yield the best result. The next few national elections are between people who respect the outcome of a legitimate vote, and those who do not. Silence is complicity, and Alden is choosing to be complicit in the rise of anti-democratic candidates across the country. These candidates often combine authoritarianism, racism, sexism and bigotry in a toxic morass. The moral imperative to speak out against such candidates is clear, and Alden is refusing to meet its responsibilities.
Alden Capital Group is a hedge fund, and it has decimated local newspapers around the country in pursuit of profit. The decision to stop endorsing candidates is more of the same. It’s a cynical ploy to avoid upsetting advertisers and a certain segment of the population. In this case, that segment is openly contemptuous of the wishes of the majority of the people and willing to plot, scheme and even use violence to achieve their ends. They must be opposed, not coddled for clicks.
All the elements of American political and civil society must unequivocally denounce both the attempt to subvert the will of the people, and everyone who had anything to do with it. That includes news organizations. Wrongdoers need to be called out, and with Alden’s decision to remove endorsements, there’s one less place in Connecticut that will do so.