It might be easier for the New York Times to simply say who it is not endorsing. I have long been a critic of media endorsements which I view as self-obsessed as well as inimical to journalistic values of neutrality. For decades I have argued that media should end endorsements of political candidates. The Times however seems to be literally doubling down with its much ridiculed endorsement of both Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I can certainly understand endorsing either candidate given their achievements and leadership but endorsing both is rather bizarre since they present sharply different policies and approaches. While the editorial board wrote that in choosing these two candidates was “radical” but “realist,” many of us view it as just ridiculous.
Various people on both sides of the political aisle mocked the Times and commentators like Dan Rather suggested that the Times pick both the Chiefs and the 49ers to win the Super Bowl.
As a critic of endorsements, I may be the only person delighted by the news. This may finally rekindle the debate over the necessity and propriety of political endorsements. The media serves an essential function in our society, particularly renowned institutions like the “Old Grey Lady.” At a time when media appears to be openly abandoning principles of balance, such endorsements only fuel the distrust of readers in the coverage of the campaign. The influence of the media should not be used to get voters to support a candidate but to get them to consider the unvarnished facts underlying the election.
For those who are lampooning the Times, I would ask why it is any less concerning when a paper picks one candidate while maintaining that they are neutral presenters of the news. We have struggled to move our media away from the yellow journalism and corporate advocacy seen in the last century. Political endorsements are the last lingering part of that troubled legacy.
What do you think?