January 22, 2020

NYT Endorsements

On Sunday, the New York Times editorial board endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination. New York Times

On Monday, Joe Biden tweeted a now viral video from the elevator ride before his interview with the editorial board in which Jacquelyn, a black female security guard, took a selfie with him and expressed support for his candidacy. Twitter

Both sides are critical of the decision not to pick a single candidate:

“Maybe someone should explain to the editors that endorsing multiple candidates for the same race isn’t actually an endorsement at all… Most ironically, the paper set up their standard as the best chance to beat Trump, and then chose two candidates who can’t even come within ten points of winning the primaries. Warren’s been declining into the second tier for the last three months, and Klobuchar never got a bump out of it in the first place — which means they’re not even Democrats’ choices to represent either of the two directions for the party.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“While nearly everyone else in the world of Democratic politics seems to have made up their mind, the board needs more time to choose between a more radical approach to fixing America’s many ills (represented by Warren) and a more conventional one (Klobuchar). The Times editorial page has taken its reputation for careful, sober decision-making to the point of paralysis—calling into question all the ostensible reasons for opening up the endorsement process in the first place… In the end, we learned very little about the board’s beliefs, about politics, or journalism, other than that it is able to recognize the demands of the moment but doesn’t quite have the courage to meet them.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

Both sides also expect Biden to benefit from the viral elevator video:

“We live in a visual and social (media) world. That 22-second clip of Biden -- the thrill of meeting him the woman clearly has, his demeanor and kindness -- is the sort of thing that will be shared time and time again by people who see it as a true moment of humanity, a window into what this public figure is really like. Those images are more powerful -- as a persuasion tool -- than any words the Times wrote about its endorsement(s) of Klobuchar and Warren. To the extent then that the Times endorsement process has an actual effect on real votes, I'd bet it will be the Biden moment that is remembered by voters. In that then, Biden may have won by losing (the Times endorsement at least).”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

“A deputy editor explained that the news division gathers facts but that the editorial board is composed of people who take those facts and ‘describe the world as it should be’…  [And yet] the editorial board couldn’t manage to tell you which Democrat should be the party’s nominee. At the end of their rose ceremony, they cut the flower in half…

“The editorial board had talked about how, though they were reassured by Joe Biden’s apparent vigor and health, they found that the case for him was essentially that he’s ‘a warm body’ that can beat Trump. But the camera people caught a glimpse of Joe Biden on the elevator with a black woman who works as [a] security guard in the building. She smiled at Joe and said she loves him, adding, ‘He’s awesome.’ It was the most genuine and least calculated moment of the show. The Times can pronounce on how the world ought to be. But that security guard showed the stubborn way in which the world remains as it is.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“The indecisiveness might have felt less grating if the Times hadn’t put so much effort into turning the endorsement into a spectacle in its own right… As much as the rollout of the Very Special Episode has been about the Democratic primary, it has also very much been about the New York Times and The Role of the New York Times in the Democratic primary. And in this state of hyper-self-awareness and inflated ego, the Times has done what the Times does best: choke. Not unlike a few years ago when the Times’ endorsement of Andrew Cuomo for governor consisted almost exclusively of reasons not to vote for him, the paper’s editorial board has decided that, in lieu of any sort of clear-eyed, moral direction, it will offer readers throat clearing, ambivalence, and a vague gesture at who might possibly be OK.”
Ashley Feinberg, Slate

Yet “the Times damns Sanders in the crudest terms, concluding, ‘Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.’ Amazingly, the paper of record does not recognize the contradiction in arguing that Sanders is associated with ‘now mainstream’ ideas that ‘may attract voters who helped elect Mr. Trump in 2016,’ while at the same time dismissing him as too ‘divisive’… If they got out of New York a bit more, they would also recognize that what they imagine to be radical is realistic—and necessary. That’s not where the Times is at, however; indeed, the board’s longing for ‘a single, powerful moderate voice’ is palpable in the editorial.”
John Nichols, The Nation

“As much as the editorial board calls for unity, their definition of the term is not entirely coherent… While Sanders may not have the bipartisan legislative record or rhetoric of unity that seems to appeal most to the editorial board, he has built a multiracial coalition of working class voters. While Klobuchar and Warren may boast unity across Congressional aisles, Sanders outperforms other Democrats among Independent voters in a head-to-head against Trump and in Independent donor contributions…

“[Their definition of ‘unity’] calls into question what the Times means by ‘divisive.’ The policies Sanders has mainstreamed through his candidacy are broadly popular—Medicare for All, in particular. If Sanders’ ‘divisiveness’ is just shorthand for dissent against a violent status quo, how is that a problem? It’s hard, then, not to step back and take a more cynical view of the board’s rationale: The rhetoric of democracy and unity is more about appearances than actual equality and justice for millions of people.”
Malaika Jabali, New Republic

From the Right

“The editorial board's contempt for Trump is expected. But its outright dismissal of the dominant front-runner, Biden, and leftist leader, Bernie Sanders, as well as its latent contempt for Buttigieg, is eerily foreboding for the state of the media's relationship with the Democratic Party. They chose two of the candidates, both unfavorable with the nonwhite members of the electorate, overlooking the three candidates most overwhelmingly likely to become the nominee… In a way, its decision was almost a concession that legacy media won't decide the primary. Why pretend that they can?”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“After grouping the candidates into those who want to return to the status quo ante Trumpus (Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, and—weirdly—Yang) and those who want a revolution (Sanders and Warren), the Board decides to abdicate its responsibility and instead choose an inferior example of each… If the Board wanted a utopian vision, Bernie was clearly their guy. In his interviews at the NYT headquarters, he came off as populist to the core, promising to be an ‘organizer-in-chief’ who would force Mitch McConnell to play ball or get him kicked out of office by mobilizing a groundswell of opposition among Kentucky voters. Maybe not the most realistic plan, but Warren didn’t handle the question of how she would get things done any better…

“In Klobuchar, they found their perfect faux-moderate, rejecting the obvious choice: Joe Biden. If the Board’s intention was to endorse a moderate to balance out Warren, they could have hardly done better than Biden, who seems to be running on a platform that consists entirely of nostalgia for the relative normalcy of the Obama administration. Instead the Board rejected him in favor of Klobuchar because his agenda ‘tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate’ and ‘will not get America where it needs to go as a society.’ In other words, the Board committed to endorsing a moderate and then rejected the most moderate of the moderates for being too moderate.”
Grayson Quay, The American Conservative

Many note that “Klobuchar is certainly far more moderate than Warren, but if nominated, Klobuchar would still be the most radical candidate nominated by a major party in years, despite her claim to the moderate lane in the Democratic primary. Both support a $15 federal minimum wage, far fewer restrictions on abortion, a federal study of reparations for slavery, and the abolishment of the constitutionally-created Electoral College. These stances alone are enough to cast both senators as left-wing progressives.”
Tristan Justice, The Federalist

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