By choosing to support Warren and Klobuchar, the newspaper’s backing means even less.
On Sunday, Jan. 12, The New York Times released their endorsements for the 2020 Democratic Primary. That’s right, their endorsements, plural. The newspaper endorsed two candidates for the office for the first time in their history, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. While in the beginning the field was wide open, at this point in the race there are less than a dozen candidates and even less viable ones, which begs the question: why can’t the New York Times make a decision on a single candidate to endorse?
This year the Times decided to try a new strategy with their endorsement: instead of smoke filled rooms in some office somewhere, they were going to make their deliberations public in the form of podcasts. Each candidate that wanted to be considered for their endorsement had to sit down for a taped interview the Times released after their endorsement was announced. This put more pressure on the Times to make a decision, and apparently somewhere along the line the editorial board forgot how an endorsement works and selected two candidates.
In case the New York Times forgot, an endorsement is selecting a candidate that they believe to be the best fit for a job. However, by selecting two candidates they are simultaneously saying that no candidate is the best and selecting two decent candidates, which does nothing to show support, instead putting them both on a pedestal of almost-good-enough. This shared spotlight shows waning viability and enthusiasm for the remaining candidates.
By choosing two candidates, the New York Times tried to get the best of the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party. This shows that the Times is not able to risk alienating a specific viewership to appease another. This does not bode well for the validity and honestly of the editorial board’s decision, nor the unity of the Democratic Party behind their eventual nominee. The Times decided to cop out, and choose one from both sides, but in the end they missed reaching both.
The other obvious point this endorsement was supposed to prove was that, no matter which side of the Democratic party you’re on, you should vote for a woman. By endorsing Klobuchar over a higher polling candidate, such as Biden on the moderate side, the Times is gambling on a candidate with less likely to win while pushing that the Democratic Party should elect a women. This endorsement seems to be more symbolic than a pragmatic approach to push voters toward a struggling campaign.
On the more progressive side, Warren’s selection on its own is more logical since she is consistently polling as a frontrunner on this campaign; however, by not selecting her alone, the Times is able to put some distance between themselves and some of her more radical ideas. Either way, the Times should have made a decision, and by throwing support behind both, they make a more symbolic endorsement than one that shows any belief in the ability of either candidate to win.