The New York Times’ Double Endorsement Weakens Faith in Newspapers



Gage Skidmore

Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Iowa on Aug. 10, 2019. Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren were both endorsed by the New York Times for the 2020 presidential race.

Before every presidential election, The New York Times op-ed staff announces its endorsement of a specific candidate. The candidates are chosen after the newspaper interviews them and gets an idea of their platforms and ideals. The editorial board has over a dozen experienced journalists with different areas of expertise. Ahead of the 2020 election, the publication recently released an endorsement for Democratic presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. 

Though the New York Times usually endorses Democratic candidates as it did this election, it broke convention by endorsing two candidates instead of one. This decision may have been prompted by their trend in previous endorsements for supporting more traditional candidates like Klobuchar, but also a desire for someone more radical such as Warren. 

However, while endorsements are a press tradition, the newspaper’s job shouldn’t include endorsing candidates for a presidential election. The purpose of news is to deliver non-partisan points of views to readers. Even though partisanship is inevitable in the news industry due to bias and need for funding, it is usually not so openly flaunted. By endorsing candidates for something as critical as the presidential race, a newspaper is doing the opposite of its job. The New York Times has an audience of over two million viewers whom they hold influence over. By telling readers to vote a certain way, the media takes away their ability to make decisions based on the information available to them. This is because the newspaper gives a more positive version of the candidate’s platform, thus distracting from objective reporting and preventing people from formulating their own opinion by reading about the potential officeholder’s policies.

Moreover, readers often mistrust newspapers and suspect partiality in their content. Endorsements heighten this problem by outright stating who a publication supports. Endorsing candidates thus weakens faith in the newspaper system, as it brews suspicion that the reporting being done is not completely fair and unbiased. Unfortunately, in a world where news easily circulates on social media, newspapers have difficulty finding readers even as they expand beyond print to online media. While this is the sad truth, journalism still has an obligation to its readers to tell the truth. Without faith in journalism, the world as a whole will become less informed and less open to challenging ideals.

Another issue with the New York Times’ endorsements is their decision to support more than one candidate. The editorial staff picked nominees who appealed to and had sway over a large group of people. While Klobuchar appeals more to moderates, Warren calls to those who want someone more radical in office. In throwing its endorsement behind these two women, the New York Times is showing its audience it cares more about selling subscriptions to as many people as possible to keep their business running than actually taking a stance.

It’s understandable that in the current political climate, the newspaper must find it difficult to pick a point of view which won’t cause too much conflict. But trying to find excuses to reach a half-hearted decision ruins the trust Americans have for journalism. Giving just one candidate a newspaper’s support is bad enough. But with two, the reader ends up being torn between the choices, and with the newspaper giving a positive spin on both candidates, their decision in picking who to vote for becomes harder.

In trying to keep up with its readers, the New York Times has instead made their readers’ decision on which candidate to vote for even harder. This incident is proof that the New York Times was just trying to please its audience instead of using facts to take a stand for what they think is right. With that being said, the problem with endorsements is a bigger issue in the journalism industry. Endorsements only weaken faith in the press and deviate from non-partisan reporting. As this practice continues, newspapers only harm our society further by making us less open-minded and informed to deal with issues around us.