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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

USA Today, one of the largest newspapers by circulation in America, gave Joe Biden its first-ever presidential endorsement on Tuesday.

The big picture: A slew of media companies are endorsing a candidate this year for the first time ever, citing the unprecedented nature of this election.

  • "This is not something we do lightly or do eagerly," said Bill Sternberg, head of USA Today's editorial board.

Between the lines: The newspaper posted a “dis-endorsement” of President Trump in 2016, but fell short of actually endorsing Hillary Clinton.

  • "In 2016, the conservative members of the editorial board could not stomach taking that one extra step and going so far as to endorse Hillary Clinton," said Sternberg.
  • "This time when it was a question of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, there was a full consensus of the board not just to dis-endorse Donald Trump again, but to go that extra step and endorse Joe Biden, who is a less polarizing and less controversial figure than Hillary Clinton."

Details: In the endorsement, USA Today's editorial board says that it's endorsing Biden because Trump's character is ill-suited for the position.

  • "If this were a choice between two capable major party nominees who happened to have opposing ideas, we wouldn’t choose sides."
  • "Different voters have different concerns. But this is not a normal election, and these are not normal times."
  • "This year, character, competence and credibility are on the ballot. Given Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, so, too, is the future of America's democracy."

What to watch: The company has a practice of including the opposing view to its opinion pieces, and so it included an editorial on Tuesday from Vice President Mike Pence, making a case for a second term for him and President Trump.

  • "There is no doubt that 2020 has been a time of unprecedented challenges," the editorial reads. "Thankfully, we have a president with the toughness, energy and resolve to en- sure that America’s best days still lie ahead. A vote to reelect President Trump is a vote for a safer, stronger and more prosperous America."

The election has triggered many news companies to endorse a candidate for the first time in their history. This is especially true for science and medical outlets.

  • Scientific American backed Biden in first endorsement in its 175-year history.
  • Lancet Oncology backed Biden in first endorsement in its 20-year history.
  • New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time in its 208-year-old history, came the closest it's ever come to giving an endorsement but publishing a scathing rebuke of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus.
  • Nature endorsed Joe Biden last week.

Some local newspapers and niche sites are also endorsing Biden for the first time ever.

  • El Nuevo Día, the largest-circulated Puerto Rican newspaper, endorsed Biden in the first endorsement of its 50-year history.
  • A few other smaller entities, like Surfer, have also made first-time presidential endorsements this year for Biden.

The bottom line: Trump won in 2016 despite getting fewer endorsements than any other major presidential candidate in history, The Hill notes.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Trump's impeachment trial: "I think it has to happen"

President Biden told CNN Monday that he believes the impeachment trial of former President Trump "has to happen," but he does not think 17 Republicans will join Democrats to vote to convict.

Why it matters: Biden's comments are most concrete he has made about his views on Trump's second impeachment.

59 mins ago - World

India sets new COVID world record as oxygen demand jumps seven-fold

COVID-19 patients being treated with free oxygen at a makeshift clinic in Indirapuram, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

India has seen demand for oxygen jump "seven-fold" as the country set a new world record for daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, per AP.

By the numbers: India's health ministry reported 412,262 new infections, taking the official tally past 21 million, and 3,980 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The official death toll now stands at 230,168. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

3 hours ago - World

U.K. sends patrol ships to British island amid fishing dispute with France

The HMS Tamar, one of the two ships deployed to Jersey. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it has deployed two Royal Navy patrol vessels to the island of Jersey "as a precautionary measure," as tensions over fishing rights escalate with France.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the government took the action to protect Jersey against potential threats of "a blockade" of French fishing boats at the island, which is off the coast of northwest France.

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