Accuracy in Media

Endorsements from celebrities, current and former lawmakers and advocacy groups are commonplace in politics. But newspapers’ editorial boards also offer endorsements, and in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary, the New York Times editorial board’s endorsed candidates flamed out before Super Tuesday.

The New York Times editorial board issued a dual-endorsement of both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in January. The Times said that they endorsed both candidates because they were “the most effective advocates for each approach” of stabilizing American democracy. After the Super Tuesday primaries, Warren finished third in her home state of Massachusetts, while Klobuchar dropped out of the race before Minnesota’s Super Tuesday primary election. Klobuchar endorsed former vice president Joe Biden after withdrawing from the race. Their dual-endorsements flopped and it did not reflect well on the Times’ editorial board.

Other mainstream media’s editorial boards have yet to announce who they will endorse, such as USA Today and the Washington Post. In the 2016 election, USA Today, Washington Post, and New York Times ran anti-endorsements of then-candidate Donald Trump. Trump won the 2016 election despite their anti-endorsements.

Last year’s media’s coverage of the non-Biden candidates in the primary field overplayed their hand in hyping candidates such as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), both of whom dropped out before the first primary. The media criticized Biden for months ahead of the primaries, but now, Biden’s Super Tuesday wins put his campaign back on track in the 2020 race. With their upstart candidates out of the field, the media has to pivot back to covering Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leading up to the party’s convention this summer.

The New York Times’ endorsed primary candidates faltered this past week, while Biden and Sanders remained as the top two contenders in the primary field. The Times has the right to endorse candidates, but it should have waited until several primaries were over and observed primary voters’ preferences. Now, the New York Times editorial board has to wait and see whether Warren will last after a lackluster Super Tuesday showing and avoid the perception of bias against Biden or Sanders.

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