The fourth branch of the U.S. government

As the 2008 election faces its final days of campaigning, newspapers nation-wide are taking on their role as the “fourth branch of the government” by endorsing either candidate. Over the weekend, Alaska’s largest newspaper Anchorage Daily News announced its endorsement of Democratic nominee Barack Obama, despite its governor on the opposing ticket.

Jewish blogger, GoldnI, stated that the endorsement must have hurt Palin.

“Newspaper endorsements may not count for all that much anymore, but just as a symbolic gesture, this one has to sting. The main paper in Sarah Palin's home state, the Anchorage Daily News, has made its presidential endorsement, and it's not for the ticket that contains a native Alaskan.”

Mirrorofilan, from Germany, also commented on the endorsement.


Many wonder what Gov. Palin's face will be like when she finds out, but I think she has other things to worry about.”

The German blogger then listed the points made by the newspaper including the fact that rumors have spread stating “…she [Palin] appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.” And further stated he could understand the limits on Palin:

“While I can certainly see her desire to break free from the restraints the campaign has put on her, she should also realize the restraints were there for a reason. Whenever she was allowed to say something, she made a complete idiot out of herself. And also, it's just nine days before the election! Way to sabotage your own campaign! It's not like it's already struggling…”

In Israel, Yaacov Lozowick, commented on the New York Times’ endorsement of Obama and Journalist Charles Krauthammer’s endorsement of McCain.

“Neither of these endorsements is remotely surprising. Any other result would have been news so startling it would have made the front page of the New York Times (ah… Well, forget I said it). Actually, the only serious endorsement out there that is in any way not fully obvious in advance is that of the Economist, next week, and they're going to flow with the tide and endorse Obama, just wait and see.

Still, one can make a number of comments about the Krauthammer-NYT comparision. In a nutshell, the NYT backs Obama for being a healer; Krauthammer supports McCain for being a fighter. These two preferences are the result of a deeper difference of opinion, where the NYT feels that top-notch human-relations skills, such as they think Obama has, will tame the world, while Krauthammer feels that at this moment in time (and perhaps always) the world is a very dangerous place, no matter how good the American president is at diplomacy.

So that's an interesting contrast.”

Paul Bryant, in Canada, analyzed the newspaper endorsements as a whole.

“Obama just picked up the NY Times endorsement for President. This is not a surprise as the last Republican they endorsed was Dwight Eisenhower. That being said there is an interesting contrast developing between the two candidates. Obama has picked up 133 endorsements from newspapers and publications vs McCain who has picked up 44. Twenty eight of Obama's endorsements were from papers that endorsed Bush in the last election. The most significant switch was by the Washington Post which has never endorsed a Democrat. Many of the endorsements express concern about Palin as choice for VP as well as the tenor of McCain's campaign. Some express concerns about McCain's ability to handle the economic crisis.”

Bryant further states that the amount of newspaper endorsements reflect the candidates.

“While I don't believe the newspapers have a significant effect on the election. It displays a few interesting things. First, the complete disaster that appears to be the McCain campaign. Second, the ability of Obama to convince individuals who may not traditionally support him to give them their support even if it is with some reservations. Third, that many periodicals regard Obama as the best candidate to deal with the economy.”

Lastly, Iranian blogger, Liana, states the oddness of newspapers endorsing candidates in the first place.

“It’s interesting that newspapers feel the need or desire to endorse potential presidential candidates. In a profession where objectivity rules overs subjectivity and fair and balanced is the ultimate goal (Sorry Fox News, you fail at your own motto), should newspapers endorse candidates? Is it there place to do such a thing? Or are they meant to provide you a service of news without injecting opinions in it? What is accomplished by endorsements? Are people really swayed by their respective newspaper’s decision to endorse a candidate?

These are important questions to be asking. My particular feeling about the matter is divided. I love seeing the publications I read take a stance on issues, at the same time, I feel that remaining neutral is completely respectable and credible. One thing I can tell you, is that even though it’s not Nov. 4 yet, history has already been made in so many ways. As far as newspapers are concerned, it is interesting to note that that the Chicago Tribune endorsed Obama, the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat for president. In another move of epic proportions, the Los Angeles Times’ endorsement of Obama marks the first time the paper has endorsed anyone for president since 1972. Even Esquire magazine has gotten in the game and endorsed Obama!”

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