On newspaper political endorsements

The New York Times endorsed Joe Biden for president today, and I doubt anyone was surprised. Putting politics aside, I can’t think of any self-respecting newspaper editorial board endorsing Donald Trump, based on his daily lies, his demonizing the news media, and his lack of transparency. (In 2016, six newspapers endorsed him. So far this year, two have.)

Related, I shake my head at the newspapers that won’t endorse at all.

Anyway, a friend told me that she was going to vote a straight-Democratic ticket this fall. I pointed out that the News & Observer endorsed some Republicans for Council of State who seemed reasonable and that I would likely follow the paper’s recommendation because I knew little about those races.

“I don’t care,” she said. “Anyone who is running as a Republican is complicit with Donald Trump and the national party. They do not deserve my vote.

“Besides, I think newspapers just throw in a few Republicans to make it appear as if they are fair and balanced.”


I doubt she knew I had been an editorial page editor in an earlier life.

When I was on the editorial board, the News & Record had a progressive stance on most things. People would complain that we were predictable; I’d respond that we were consistent, adhering to our principles. And Democrats more closely aligned with our principles than Republicans. Most of the candidates we endorsed were Democrats, but we occasionally felt strongly that Republicans were the best person for the office and endorsed them.

In one election, a reader called to complain about our lack of Republican candidate endorsements. When I pointed out that the county sheriff and a U.S. House member, both prominent Republicans, were on our list, the caller said, “Pssh. You had to endorse them. They are clearly the best candidates.”

But it is true that sometimes, when candidates in minor races were equally qualified, we would occasionally pick the Republican. It was a coin toss for us. By choosing the Republican, we appeared more balanced.