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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

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

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