Opinion: Newspapers should not endorse candidates.


In a time where American confidence in the mainstream media and the integrity of journalism has been shaken, the New York Times endorsements of presidential candidates is exactly what American citizens need to be sure that their national news outlets are delivering equal and unbiased coverage of news.  The New York Times has published not one, but four articles in the past week to generate an artificial buzz around their process of endorsement. After a long period of suspense, the Times has decided that you, a single voter, should spend your two votes in the presidential election on Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.  

The Times previously endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 provides additional evidence for the Times’s democratic establishment leanings.  An old survey by the Pew Research Center showed 69% of Americans’ voters would be unswayed by an endorsement from a local newspaper. However that still leaves a sizable amount of influence with a newspaper’s editorial board.  Moreover, a national newspaper such as the Times also heavily influences an election with its coverage of a candidate. Five years ago, the Sanders presidential campaign and many supporters lamented over a large gap in media coverage between Sanders and his rival Hillary Clinton. The so-called Bernie Blackout theory was later supported by a Harvard study of pre-primary coverage that showed he received only a third of the coverage Clinton received.  Similar blackout complaints have also been echoed recently in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primaries by Andrew Yang. When a newspaper endorses a presidential candidate, all it does is erode public confidence in a journalistic institution’s dedication to providing unbiased coverage.  

Obviously all media outlets will have at least some inherent bias, but claiming to report on information objectively while openly stating your favorite candidate only pushes more readers away from traditional journalism.  It is not a coincidence that the Times’s endorsements come right before the Iowa Caucuses. The Times openly states, “Let us help you decide who should be the Democratic nominee.” Media outlets have influence in both their endorsement and coverage.  Generating a buzz around one candidate could help him or her gain the name recognition to win an election while also creating more roadblocks for their rivals. The growing public distrust of traditional news leaves us all dangerously vulnerable to other influences such as false news and selective media consumption that reinforces our own biases.  Now more than ever, America needs newspapers to return to impartiality, which starts by discontinuing the practice of endorsing candidates.

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