The New York Times Triggers Widespread Ridicule Over Endorsing Both Warren and Klobuchar

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?

55 thoughts on “The New York Times Triggers Widespread Ridicule Over Endorsing Both Warren and Klobuchar”

  1. So glad to see you say those things. I have always thought objectivity was compromised at minimum by endorsements. Those endorsements are determined by the owners/executives. Would a reporter dare put out an unfavorable article to whom their bosses just endorsed? Will they try to gain favor with their bosses by attacking the opposing candidates?
    But then again I am not naïve enough to believe that the owners of the “news” are all altruistic truth tellers.

  2. I just turned off my TV. All the news channels and even PBS had the Senate trial on live. Boring! I had to turn it off. The Three Stooges are on soon. Much better to watch than the Senate baloney.

  3. I agree that political endorsements by newspapers should cease, but not because news organizations are neutral. They’re not and never were, even before the “divisive” political environment in the U.S. went into overdrive in the aftermath of the 2016 election. “Neutrality” in news is a recent historical idea, propagated in no small degree by the NYT, which many writers on the media, such as Glenn Greenwald and Bill Moyers, have long debunked, though without jettisoning the idea of fairness and accuracy with respect to facts.

    At any rate, political endorsements should cease, or people should take them with an enormous grain of salt if they continue, because they encourage people not to think for themselves and have their opinions formed by the supposedly more capable cognoscenti who presume to determine public opinion, an enterprise which should offend any small “d” democrat or induce contemptuous laughter. Some of the comments on the NYT editorial board’s decision to endorse the two candidates are disconcerting in this respect, as they seem to have wanted the paper to make the case for them for just one candidate so they could feel less confused, understandable perhaps (endorsements are a long-standing practice), but no less an abdication to the “manufacture of consent” that doesn’t bode well for democratic government.

    On the other hand, this endorsement has some value because, by unctuously splitting the difference between two candidates (one “realist”, i.e., nondescript and centrist, and one “radical”, i.e., unreliably socially democratic and apparently, we have just seen, unprincipled), it more honestly reveals the media in general (per above), as well as something significant about the Times’ own politics, and how it operates.

    The Times is notoriously the paper of the “moderate” (always in quotation marks) wing of the Democratic Party, that is, its moneyed-donor, ossified, Pelosi-Schumer-Clinton wing, and its editorial pages have recently made it quite clear that it is nervous about the possibility of Bernie Sanders being elected. Indeed, the left and its ideas recently have become too politically powerful, largely due to Sanders, to credibly ignore or call “unelectable”, an epithet that the paper has consistently hurled at the left year after year, decade after decade, successfully until now. In this context, the board, mindful of its ever diminishing standing among the public, especially after the foundation for its Russia obsession went south, clearly felt that it not only had to open up the endorsement process in the first place to allow people to see how their decisions are made, but then to say something favorable about Warren (the lesser generator of ideas that the public favors among the Democrats) – grudgingly. This decision is thus characteristic of the NYT’s seeking the milquetoast middle, which agitates no one yet favors the “centrists”, but now, in a changed political environment, being unable to do so other than in this awkward manner.

  4. By JT’s reasoning, editorials and opinion pages should also be abandoned by our newspapers. That is a ridiculous idea.

  5. I don’t know where it started, but it’s a myth that newspapers are “impartial.” After all, many – if not most – American newspapers were started to advocate a particular political point of view. At one time, many had the name “Democrat” or “Republican” on their masthead. The Washington Post was started by a prominent Democrat with the aim of promoting the Democratic Party. In my home county in Tennessee there were two papers, one called the Carroll County Democrat and the other the Carroll County Republican. (Even though the county is and always has been Republican, the Carroll County Democrat was the dominant paper.) Since then, the two papers have merged and no longer use the same names. The primary paper in Little Rock is still the Democrat-Gazette. In short, newspapers are NOT impartial, they are political hacks as are the vast majority of editors.

  6. I hit the floor when the Times remarked that Elizabeth Warren was a “gifted storyteller.” That’s her qualifications, a storyteller. I’ll bet Bernie Sanders and the Cherokee were in agreement.

  7. Newspapers should not endorse anyone. Otherwise, they are trying to affect voting behavior.

    Op/Ed shows are great to not only hear from like minded people, but also to understand the polar opposite. However, there is a strong need for media that simply report the news. Just the facts. Give the readers and veiewers the respect of trusting them to form their own opinions.

  8. “We have struggled to move our media away from the yellow journalism and corporate advocacy seen in the last century.”

    Huh??? How Hiroic! And no, that is not a misspelling:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroo_Onoda

    Hirō “Hiroo” Onoda (小野田 寛郎, Onoda Hirō, 19 March 1922 – 16 January 2014) was an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer who fought in World War II and was a Japanese holdout who did not surrender at the war’s end in August 1945. After the war ended Onoda spent 29 years hiding out in the Philippines until his former commander traveled from Japan to formally relieve him from duty by order of Emperor Shōwa in 1974.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. Agreed on the media needing to take a look at endorsement policy — especially in a primary.

    And they were sitting ducks for Trump’s “call in” promotional tactics in 2016. Just giving him the time was a subtle endorsement of his presence in the race. NBC probably had a mandate from on high because he was still trying to promote The Apprentice and the network probably thought it wouldn’t go any further than that. Hell, neither did Trump.

    The fact he won and pivoted that role into becoming the perfect Trojan Horse for the most devious Republican party dirty goat impulses had yet to dance across the screen of possibility in his Manhattan real estate developer mind.

    Bottom line though, media endorsement is, and always been, a twisted bag of tricks.

  10. What do I think? I think it’s somewhat twee to complain about editorial page endorsements in this cultural environment. That’s just the least of the media’s defects.

  11. Loved the NYT’s description of Warren as being a “gifted storyteller”. Guess that’s what A-1 prevaricators are called today!

  12. I can certainly understand endorsing either candidate given their achievements and leadership

    Warren’s never held and executive position and Klobuchar’s the exemplary bad boss. We can do without such ‘leadership’.

  13. They got two women, but they missed some of the other”minority” groups.

    I personally am offended that the NYT failed to endorse a black (sorry – AA), or Latino.

    If they endorsed two, they could have endorsed three just for fairness’ sake.

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