New York Times’ Presidential Endorsements: Slanted Rhetoric

Tyler Lewis, UMBC:

On January 30 and January 31, The New York Times, one of our nation’s most renowned print newspapers, gave its endorsements for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

As someone who considers himself a moderate, I was extremely interested to see which candidates their editorial board had chosen to support. Upon seeing the results, I could not hide my disappointment.

Their Republican candidate of choice was former Ohio Governor John Kasich. On the Democratic side, they decided to back former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Initially my reaction was, “You have to be kidding!” Hillary Clinton is the candidate who, in all likelihood, will win the Democratic nomination. She has an arsenal of super delegates that have pledged allegiance to her campaign, and that fact alone makes the road to success an uphill one for Bernie Sanders – her only adversary.

I expected them to back Clinton, but John Kasich? Their endorsements were given just before the Iowa Caucus in which Kasich finished 8th with only 1.9% of the vote. In comparison, Clinton received 49.9% of the vote.

To be fair, Kasich did just have a solid finish in New Hampshire. He landed himself in second place with 15.8% of the vote. It’s unlikely that moral victory will rekindle any sort of flame for Kasich, though. The next states to have primaries are Nevada and South Carolina, and according to a poll published on February 12 by the Augusta Chronicle of South Carolina, Kasich is projected to land in fifth with only 9% of the vote.

In my opinion, the fact that the Times endorsed a Republican candidate who has virtually no chance at winning the presidency is not their greatest transgression. It is the rhetoric and word choice they used in their articles of endorsement.

They published two separate pieces – one for each candidate. Allow me to highlight some of the most peculiar sections of each.

The title of Hillary Clinton’s endorsement article is “Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination.” In contrast, the title of Kasich’s endorsement article is “A Chance to Reset the Republican Race.” In one headline, they actually use the name of the candidate they are endorsing, but in the other they decide against it? I could also draw attention to the fact that the font size of the headline in Clinton’s piece is probably 100 and the font size of Kasich’s title is 15, but that might be beating the proverbial “dead horse.”

The first paragraph of Clinton’s endorsement piece states, “For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”

The first paragraph of Kasich’s endorsement piece says, “The battle to be the Republican choice for president has been nasty, brutish and anything but short. The hope among some Republicans is that the Iowa caucuses on Monday and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 will promote a candidate who can appeal to the half of their electorate that does not support the two current front-runners.”

In the Clinton piece they mention her name by the second paragraph. In Kasich’s endorsement they wait until the 6th paragraph to even mention his name. They spend five paragraphs discrediting all the top Republican contenders before they reluctantly disclosed which Republican candidate they “support.”

As an aspiring journalist who hopes to eventually produce work that the American people can trust, I despise the idea of liberal media bias. But I would be naïve to believe it does not exist. A 2014 Gallup Poll found that only 40% of Americans trust mass media. The New York Times’ endorsements for the President of the United States are a perfect example of liberal bias in action.

This is not to say journalists and editors at the Times have not done amazing work. I have no doubt that they are capable and exceptionally talented. But it is no secret that many Americans believe the Times to be a liberal paper.

After all, the Times’ Editorial Board typically makes an endorsement of a single candidate in October once the two party nominees have been decided. And the last time they backed a Republican candidate over a Democratic one was in 1956 when they endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower.

So I will make a proposition to the Times: Don’t bother “endorsing” a candidate from each party before the primary elections if you are not going to make those articles of endorsement fair, equal, and void of spiteful diction that furthers America’s distrust of the mainstream media.



(The Featured Image is credited to Time Magazine)


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