Americans trust their news sources to deliver the news without coloring stories with personal opinions or biases. When we read the paper, we expect reporters to make an effort to address all sides of an issue with no less than a heap of fairness.
As the primaries approach, emotions run high and debates run rampant as citizens declare their preference for one candidate over another, based on theoretically objective news. What happens if a well-known news source endorses a candidate?
The New York Times, on Jan. 25, endorsed not one, but two candidates: Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
At least they addressed both the Democratic and Republican parties.
“The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president,” stated the editorial supporting Clinton’s bid for the presidency.
Regarding McCain, the newspaper wrote, “Mr. McCain was one of the first prominent Republicans to point out how badly the war in Iraq was being managed. We wish he could now see as clearly past the temporary victories produced by Mr. Bush’s unsustainable escalation, which have not led to any change in Iraq’s murderous political calculus. At the least, he owes Americans a real idea of how he would win this war, which he says he can do. We disagree on issues like reproductive rights and gay marriage.”
However, a newspaper has no business endorsing a candidate; at least not this early in the game. It’s no small thing for an influential organization such as the Times to venture boldly into a heated debate and spout strong convictions. There’s a lot at stake.
Given its now very obvious biases toward Clinton and McCain, it will be hardly appropriate to assume that the paper’s upcoming political articles about either candidate will be fair or unbiased. We, as readers, will no longer be able to read the New York Times without being wary of the paper’s evident favoritism.
And yet bias shouldn’t stay on the cutting-room floor forever. There are times when taking a stance is necessary and important for fostering change. But when a relatively liberal paper endorses a democratic frontrunner, the strength of the decision to take a stance diminishes.
For an instrument that’s neutral by nature, it should take a little more than primary party politics to provoke a hard-hitting stance.
The issue at hand is not who the New York Times endorsed, because by endorsing any candidate at all, the New York Times has opened itself up to the manipulative antics of the political sphere. Candidate committees and parties will use these editorials as weapons to undermine the reliability of the news that the New York Times reports.
So next time you open up your copy of the Times, remember to consider the biases of its editors; remember that the news doesn’t always run alongside objectivity.