Editor’s Note: It was quite a weekend for Barack Obama. Coming off the last debate with John McCain, Obama received endorsements from three big newspapers: The Washington Post (natch), but also The LA Times, which hasn’t endorsed since Nixon in 1972, and The Chicago Tribune, a traditional GOP bastion that has never endorsed a Democrat. Then there was Christopher Buckley, the conservative icon’s son (“Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama”), who was promptly fired as a lead columnist for his father’s National Review. And over the weekend, Gen. Colin Powell went on Meet the Press to announce, eloquently, that he was voting for Obama and why. (Locally, in reddest Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune also endorsed “That One.”) Meanwhile, the Obama campaign announced it had raised a stunning $150 million in contributions during the most recent reporting period. Exclaims McCain, “We've got ’em right where we want ’em!” The question is what newspaper (and other) endorsements do, especially these days, when voters are certainly not dependent exclusively on newspapers for information anymore. It’s possible, I suppose, that undecided voters, seeing the Tribune or the Times or the local Bugle, might experience a sudden epiphany. And I do believe that newspaper staff pay much closer attention to the races, and so are much better informed about the candidates and issues than most of us. But are there unintended negative consequences? What do you think? Click on "Comments" under this WORD and chime in. File as “anonymous” if you like.
Endorsements & Credibility
“Young news consumers are suspicious about traditional authority. They prize objectivity, straight-forwardness and transparency. I doubt there’s a reader under 30 who gets why newspapers endorse presidential candidates—and most of the ones I talk to ask the following: How can a newspaper be objective if his newspaper endorses a candidate on the editorial page?”
Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune 2008—Richard Stengel, managing editor, Time (March 2008)