Most Newspapers Didn’t Like Trump But Their Headline Writers Now Love Him

While few newspapers supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, their headline-writing copy editors are happy that the president-elect’s name has only five letters. Heads at the top of yesterday’s Washington Post front page:

Trump takes aim
at federal workers

aides say
is priority

Today’s lead story:

Trump shifts on
Clinton, climate

Looking back 50 years,  it almost appears copy editors had some control over the nominating process: Trump, Clinton, Obama, Romney, McCain, Bush, Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Reagan, Mondale, Carter, Ford, Nixon, McGovern, Humphrey, Goldwater, Johnson. A lot of short names.

When longer names got the nomination—Goldwater, Humphrey, McGovern, Dukakis—they lost to shorter names.

The 1940s and ‘50s were different: Eisenhower, Stevenson, Truman, Dewey, Roosevelt, Willkie. Longer names—Roosevelt and Eisenhower—won most of the time.

How did headline writers handle that? FDR and Ike.

Senators who could be future presidential candidates? Headline writers wouldn’t vote for Barrasso, Murkowski, Blumenthal, Klobuchar, Stabenow, or Van Hollen.

Or Sheldon Whitehouse. Try writing thousands of heads about President Whitehouse.

One governor got some 2016 talk about a presidential run: John Hickenlooper of Colorado. How did Colorado papers handle that? Westword said: “Yet the buzz keeps getting louder, even as Hick, to no one’s surprise, protests his utter disinterest.”





  1. Fun perspective. Were Trump’s last name HICKENLOOPER or my favorite name from Watergate, Ulasewicz, would he have made his name-licensing fortune?

  2. Jon Stewart was born JONATHAN STEWART LEIBOWITZ. When he started his standup work, he changed his name to JONATHAN FEINBERG. Until he figured out it was the same thing. (This is Stewart’s account.)

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