A conversation with my mom about newspapers’ candidate endorsements

This is so one-sided it can hardly be considered a “conversation,” but I thought it was worth posting since it might provoke some discussion.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, The Des Moines Register announced it was endorsing Mitt Romney for president. This surprised a lot of folks, and outraged some, in part because the Register hadn’t endorsed a Republican in 40 years or so.

I grew up in Iowa and recently moved back. My folks still live here. It is, as you probably know, a swing state.

The following conversation, had via text message right before the start of the baseball game Sunday night, has been edited a little for clarity purposes (spelling):

Mom: You know, I have thought of late, that the DM Register had become irrelevant. Now I know I was right.

Me: Well, I think newspaper endorsements in general are basically useless, and I agree with a couple of people who said the Register was just looking to grab some national attention. I think they might harm their brand overall when they do endorse a candidate, bc they simply confirm the beliefs of ppl who see ALL mainstream media as politically biased and ethnically corrupt. As far as a source of news, the decline of the Register harms the city of Des Moines and the state overall, and nobody should be happy about that.

Mom: Exactly what I thought you would think. I agree.

Me: Baseball time!

Mom: Oh…yes. Some of us have disengaged. GO SF… for your sake! [Ed: My folks cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals. My support for a National League team this year fell to the San Francisco Giants.]

Me: :) I meant “ethically” not “ethnically,” btw. The reason I think endorsements are “useless” is bc I think they confuse the public about what the social role of the newspaper is. At the very moment when these supposedly objective and nonbiased sources of information should be providing just that, newspapers make a big deal of appearing to toss off that mantle and say, “we think you should vote for this person.” For the most part, readers either don’t realize that the endorsement comes from the editorial board and not the news desk, or they consider the distinction to be meaningless in the days of Fox, MSNBC, et alia. Either way, the newspaper tarnishes its public standing, i think.   Go Giants!

Mom: Just as I thought. Enjoy the game and … Dad and I love you so much!

What do you think?

Related reading, which I encountered since Sunday’s text-versation: