Hillary Clinton makes history, but Bill makes the cover

Hillary Clinton made history on Tuesday when she became the first woman to secure a presidential nomination from a major U.S. party — but more than a few American newspapers chose to mark the occasion with big pictures of her smiling husband.

'Let's put a big pic of her husband on the front page!'

The Indiana Gazette was one of many newspapers across the U.S. to illustrate Hillary Clinton's historic nomination with a great big picture of her husband. (Newseum)

Hillary Clinton made history on Tuesday when she became the first woman to secure a presidential nomination from a major U.S. party — but more than a few American newspapers chose to mark the occasion with big pictures of her smiling husband.

The former secretary of state's historic nod was the leading story in papers around the country on Wednesday morning, but those headlines were often illustrated with pictures of former president Bill Clinton, Tuesday's keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Among the many culprits, according to Newseum's archive of newspaper covers, were the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Detroit Free Press and the Alaska Dispatch News.

The Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post all ran pictures of Bill Clinton on Wednesday. (Newseum)

People posted images of their local newspapers on social media, expressing dismay at the photo choices.

Even some who don't support Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election were baffled by the Bill-centric coverage of her nomination.

The widespread Bill Clinton fronts can, in part, be explained by the fact that the former first lady was not physically present at the convention on Tuesday.

But that's no excuse, writes Kelsey McKinney on Fusion.

"Newspapers did not run a photo of Michelle Obama when Barack Obama was named the party's nominee," she wrote. "No, using a giant photo of a spouse to announce a candidate's official nomination is an honour reserved only for the first woman in history to run for our country's highest office."

She makes the cover abroad

While she wasn't there in person, Clinton did appear at the convention Tuesday by video link after her husband's speech.

Some U.S. newspapers — including the New York Times, USA Today, the Dallas Morning News, the Tampa Bay Times and the Chicago Sun-Times — used either images from her video appearance or shots of excited Clinton supporters on the floor to illustrate her victory.

The New York Times put Clinton's supporters on its cover, while USA Today used a shot of the Democratic nominee's video appearance. (Newseum )

What's more, dozens of newspapers around the world managed to find file photos of the Democratic candidate to put on their covers.

In Canada, most papers played Clinton's win under the fold, including the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star. The Globe used a picture of Clinton supporters, while the Post and the Star had only text on the front. 

The Ottawa Citizen and the Toronto Sun put teasers above the fold with file photos of Hillary Clinton.

U.S. President Barack Obama commented on his would-be successor's international recognition during his own convention speech on Thursday.

"Hillary Clinton is respected around the world, not just by leaders but by the people they serve," he said.

"People outside of the United States do not understand what's going on in this election, they really don't. Because they know Hillary, they've seen her work."

Apologies and 2nd printings

As outrage spread Wednesday about the covers that seemed to undercut the candidate's achievement, some newspaper editors took notice.

The Wall Street Journal, which printed early runs with images of the former president, put the Democratic nominee on later editions. 

The Seattle Times issued an apology for its Bill Clinton cover. 

"The omission upset many readers. In hindsight, we focused too much on the live moment and not enough on the history being made. We apologize for missing the mark," wrote assistant managing editor Leon Espinoza.

Now we'll just have to wait and see who makes the cover in November if Clinton wins the election.

About the Author

Sheena Goodyear

Sheena Goodyear is the digital producer for CBC Radio's As It Happens. Originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, her work has appeared on CBC News, Sun Media, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, VICE News and more.


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