Presidential Endorsements: Media Failed Again

One would think that the mega-media newspapers in the nation would have every necessary resource from which to draw to give the public educated and accurate predictions of election outcomes. And if you read or listen to them toot their own horns, you know for certain THEY know it all in this political game! But, once again, the Lamestream Media stepped on their dresses with their pre-Super Tuesday endorsements. And they missed miserably.

“It’s too early to say they missed with their endorsements!” No, it’s not: the candidates they endorsed to win have withdrawn from the contest!

Why do newspapers make endorsements at all?

I’ve always thought it’s kind of weird that newspapers endorse candidates. The rest of the time they report the news and maybe print a few opinion pieces, all the time claiming objectivity and neutrality. Then, every few years, they take up at least a full page to explain why they think you should vote for a particular person. Why does anybody do it?

Some major newspapers have ended the practice. David Haynes of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explained why his paper stopped endorsing candidates: “It really boils down to this notion of independence. We work very hard each day to provide a balance of views on our pages and on our website increasingly and mobile devices as well. And we work hard to be open-minded and approach issues that we’re going to editorialize on independently. We pull good ideas from both major schools of political thought, and we’re pragmatic. We back ideas we think will work. Ideology is really immaterial.
 So then, we do all that for 364 days of the year and turn around and choose sides in a bitter partisan election? I think that tends to undermine this whole idea of independence, and it really undermines this idea of being an honest broker of opinion. Again, that forum, that’s our real mission. The editorial is a part of that.”

He is on to something; distrust of the media is at an all-time high in the United States. One 2018 study found that many of those surveyed blamed bias. You can’t help but wonder if part of that is because newspapers waste their credibility by endorsing a candidate with one hand and then claiming not to be biased in their reporting with the other.

Newspaper endorsements have been a “big deal” for a long time. That has never interpreted into election success, however.

Remember Gretchen Carlson, former morning co-host of Fox and Friends on the FOX News channel? She piped in on this years ago and her words still ring true:

Maybe Readers Feel Newspapers no Longer Report the News

For the last 100 years or so the opinion and editorial sections of every major newspaper have been completely separate entities. The people who decide who to endorse report to different people than do the journalists who write the news. The journalists often don’t know who is getting endorsed until you do.

However, despite those who adamantly justify endorsements by their papers (on which many of those explainers write opinions and endorsements), many people still fail to grasp this fact. The mass belief by the public of this misunderstanding is why USA Today doesn’t endorse anybody — at least they did not UNTIL 2016 when they endorsed Hillary Clinton. Maybe that endorsement was just of “whoever ran against Donald Trump.”

Rather than speculate at the reasoning for newspaper endorsements, I find it easier to simply analyze those who are the pundits who MAKE these endorsements. Most often they are editors, columnists from the paper, and sometimes even publishers who weigh-in. Americans are not so vapid to the political persuasions of those who opine their politics through editorial endorsements — and ALL endorsements are editorial, opinion-based declarations.

Case in point: The Shreveport TIMES is owned by Gannett — a newspaper mega-conglomerate. Shreveport nestled in the pines of northwest Louisiana is a largely conservative community. Louisiana has for a longtime been a red state — especially the northern parts of the state. One would think that the newspaper of a city and sector of a Southern state that bleeds bright red would make an endorsement based on what the paper knows is the choice of the majority of its subscribers. I do not remember a state or national election in the last decade in which The Shreveport TIMES endorsed a Republican. By the way, not a single editor in the paper is from this area and all in their other writings lean left.

I for decades have tried to understand the reasoning for doing so. Maybe Gannett doesn’t care about the leanings of a majority in the Shreveport market. Or maybe they don’t know the leanings in the market! One would think it would be certain suicide for a newspaper to do such over and over with no concern for the newspaper’s subscribers’ opinions regarding any endorsement.

Maybe that’s why the paid circulation of the paper has reportedly dwindled to 50% of its former self. Of course, they maintain it’s because of online instant news access.

Do you want a look at the newspaper endorsements for 2020  presidential candidates before Super Tuesday?

Did you notice the New York Times endorsements? They endorsed two candidates, which has never been done before. Those two, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, certainly knew that endorsement was probably the kiss of death.

But it’s not just the Big Apple paper. Look at those from other major markets that jumped out picking winners and losers: The Charlotte Post and Boston Herald endorsed Michael Bloomberg. The Boston Globe endorsed hometown Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Klobuchar wiped up on endorsements. In addition to the co-endorsement from the New York Times with Elizabeth Warren, She knocked home runs with the nod from the Las Vegas Sun, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, and Seattle Times. Mayor Pete racked up the endorsements of El Paso Times and Orlando Sentinel.

It may have been because of his extreme socialistic views, but Bernie Sanders received an endorsement from just one large newspaper, The San Francisco Bay Guardian.

None of these endorsements made a difference — at least not in the Super Tuesday primaries.

So why do you think voters ditched the ideas and choices of the nation’s leading newspapers and voted for the only real moderate in the field while spurning the nomination of Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist? I can certainly answer that question, and I will. But, understand, what I’m about to say is pure speculation. Granted I have significant data to prove it. But of late, data and evidence in America don’t seem to be very valuable.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out to you that in the 2016 election, of the top 25 polling news sources, only one — just one — correctly predicted Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election. And it was NOT a bastion of big time news organizations. It does not have correspondents covering the international major cities or even U.S. major cities. In fact, it’s not even a newspaper. It’s a university journalism department: that of University of Southern California — the only one who predicted a Trump 2016 victory.

Summary

Here’s the problem that newspapers today face regarding whether or not to make endorsements for presidential candidates. Even though most editorial page editors insist an endorsement is NOT a recommendation for readers to vote for that candidate, most readers don’t believe that. Most of those readers feel that’s exactly what the paper is doing! If that’s not the purpose, what could their purpose be?

In my humble opinion, there’s only one other option: newspaper editors are a dying breed — leftovers from a news era in which newspapers really did reflect the senses of those in their respective communities. There was no internet, no social media, no news but theirs and that from the three television broadcast networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC.

I remember a day not too long ago when every morning, my Jack Russell couldn’t wait for me to open the front door and run to the street with me to fetch our daily newspaper. That was less than a decade ago. By the same time each day that my dog and I formerly made the paper trek, today I’ve already read the morning news from about 20 different online news sources, including that from the three local network television stations and our local news radio station, all online. And I can say I have NO clue who our newspaper endorsed in our November governor’s race nor the mayoral race either. I really don’t care. I’m not one who has ever put much stock in the opinions of editors. I’ve always felt my opinion was just about as valid as theirs. But I had one thing they never had and never will: my perspective. 

After the Super Tuesday endorsement gaffes made by so many newspapers around the nation, I wonder if they’ll back out of the endorsement game for November? Surely they’ve learned they’re going to be wrong at least half the time and hack-off the readers they still have half the time by endorsing. Why not just let their readers (who all have high-speed internet and social media accounts) make their voting decisions based on the facts their paper publishes regarding each candidate in each important race? 

They can’t do that. After all, Americans are generally too lazy to find out on their own who the best candidates are for specific offices. That’s why we have CNN, MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Whoopi Goldberg. We need somebody — ANYBODY — to tell us what to think!


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