Presidential candidate Donald Trump's nearly continuous dangerous rhetoric, indefensible gaffes, and careless, offensive remarks have caused even fellow Republican politicians to renounce his campaign recently. And after Trump ostensibly suggested that "Second Amendment people" — i.e. owners of potentially deadly firearms — shoot his opponent, Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one major news outlet unflinchingly and angrily escalated the sentiment. In imploring Trump to end his campaign and for the GOP to abandon him, The New York Daily News dedicated its front page to Donald Trump and its accompanying editorial underscored the precarious, tumultuous state of American politics with Trump so close to winning the Oval Office.
At a campaign event in North Carolina Tuesday, Trump very Trump-typically made a totally untrue statement: That Clinton aims to "essentially" abolish the right to bear arms. "By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," he told the crowd, referring the the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know."
Political spectators and high-profile pols alike interpreted this comment as an alleged incitement to Trump supporters to attempt to assassinate Clinton or otherwise physically harm her. The New York Daily News unveiled its upcoming front page soon after, the warning "THIS ISN'T A JOKE ANYMORE" emblazoned across it next to a photo of a smug-looking Trump.
Inside the issue, which ran August 10, the newspaper's editorial board lampooned the man it views to have been "toying with political bloodshed." It was an indictment of Trump's campaign, the political heavyweights begrudgingly backing him, his character, and his very sanity, and it is proving divisive, to say the least:
Trump can offer no apology sufficient to make up for insidiously making light of murder. Nor can he explain away or justify planting a notion that could spur a demented follower to kill a political rival, a President or Supreme Court justices...
... Since the Democratic convention, Trump’s offensiveness, ignorance and instability have repulsed Americans, including Republicans, in increasing numbers. Leading GOP national security experts have deemed him unfit to serve as commander in chief.
With notable exceptions, Republican officials have stayed uneasily with Trump while disowning his words and actions. Now, he has left them no choice but to dump Trump.
Social media reactions to the Daily News' strong stance reflect ideological divisions among the American people that this election season has highlighted. Basically, some people abhor Trump's recklessness, while others view him as a savior out to eviscerate the "politically correct" culture that dictates that presidential candidates generally shouldn't casually, positively refer to their opponent's murder.
The #NeverTrump legions are psyched by the cover, and ready to expand on the various reason Trump should never, ever enter the White House:
Others clearly see the headline as inflammatory and unfair:
(Trump's campaign did issue a statement saying that Trump was simply reminding gun owners that they should unify to vote in November. It's a half-assed and unconvincing argument, because Clinton would nominate a SCOTUS justice post-election. But at least the Secret Service is aware of and actively investigating the situation that a presidential candidate it is assigned to protect has created.)
Despite individual voters' opinions about whether or not the Daily News was justified in calling for the GOP to shut out Trump the way he kicked a baby out of one of his campaign events last week, it is unlikely that Republicans will unanimously do so. Some individual conservative lawmakers are shunning him, but House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed Trump comments as "a joke gone bad," indicating that many in the party will continue to coalesce around him against their better.
The Daily New's editorial board, though, was right to call out Trump and the GOP elite who prop him up and tirelessly perform damage control. Since winning his party's nomination last month, Trump has publicly encouraged the Russian government to illegally interfere with the United States' general election, claimed that said election will be rigged in against him, sparred with the family of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq, insinuated that women who experience sexual harassment at work are weak, and displayed a startling dearth of knowledge about international affairs.
Trump has consistently demonstrated that he does not have the knowledge, interpersonal skills, temperament, emotional intelligence, decency, or self-restraint required of the president of the United States of America. The New York Daily News analyzed the objective evidence of this fact, and — spurred by Trump's literal condoning of a potential assassination attempt against his competition — urged him and the Republican establishment to recognize this and perform the ultimate disaster prevention instead of its usual damage control.