Newspaper Endorsement: What is it Good For?

Sarah Palin’s hometown newspaper and the largest newspaper in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News, has endorsed Barack Obama for president. []

…Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Newspaper endorsements, such as the Anchorage Daily News,’ is the latest chapter of the media’s love affair with Obama as the single-digit-day countdown to Election Day begins. Currently, Obama has three times the newspaper endorsements than John McCain.

Even Utah— the most Republican state in 2004, where nearly 72 percent of the votes went to Bush—is seeing its largest paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, endorse Obama. []

Similar to the Anchorage Daily News, the Salt Lake Tribune cites Palin as a reason not to vote for McCain:

Then, out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously under equipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain’s bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.

Still, we have compelling reasons for endorsing Obama on his merits alone. Under the most intense scrutiny and attacks from both parties, Obama has shown the temperament, judgment, intellect and political acumen that are essential in a president that would lead the United States out of the crises created by President Bush, a complicit Congress and our own apathy.

So what does it mean that so many newspapers, including those from Republican towns, are coming out for Obama? Not much.

Newspaper endorsements are growing more controversial each year as technology advances and more information is available to the public from sources other than newspapers.

Critics argue that a newspaper is supposed to stay objective and it undermines their reliability as a source of fact-based information if they come out in support of a candidate.

Newspapers who endorse, and those who defend them, believe it is a critical part of the democratic process. Endorsements are like a newspapers computation of the facts as well as a reflection of public opinion.

But in the end, whether you agree with their merit or not, newspaper endorsements have been proven to be little more than another poll of where the public stands. To this extent, in this election cycle, Obama’s lead in endorsements is just another indication of his lead in popularity throughout the country.

–Jamie Wong