The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, October 26, 2004  

No Endorsement in 2004

I'm not sure what it says about this campaign, or the times in which we live, that an important regional newspaper cannot make -- or, rather, cannot or will not publish -- an endorsement of any candidate in the most critical election of our time, but that's the decision the Cleveland Plain-Dealer had made with respect to this year's presidential campaign.

The editors write in "For President . . .":

The decision not to endorse in this race was not easily taken. A majority of the editorial board favored Kerry, but after long and difficult deliberations, it was decided that the better path would be to sit this one out. [...]

In this contentious presidential election, we saw no opportunity to serve the purpose of informing readers beyond what the news pages and their own civic diligence have done.

In the end, we did not feel comfortable giving either candidate what would essentially come down to bragging rights.

We believe our readers are perfectly capable of making an informed, rational decision by their own lights, and we strongly urge them to do so.

For background information on the situation at the Plain Dealer see "Cleveland Plain Dealer Editors Back Kerry," The Rittenhouse Review, Thursday, October 21.

[Post-publication addendum: See also the observations at Editor & Publisher magazine. Shawn Moynihan writes ("Cleveland 'Plain Dealer' Decides to Not Decide"):

Since Sunday, the Plain Dealer had been deluged with e-mails, according to three sources. The e-mails, noted Brent Larkin, the Plain Dealer's editorial page editor, came not just from readers, but from all over the country. [...] [Ed.: What? Not since Thursday?]

Tuesday editorial opened with: "In a year of deep political divisions, this newspaper's opinion section is experiencing deep divisions of its own." However, according to several sources, the editorial board clearly favored Kerry.

When asked Monday afternoon how negotiations were going between the editorial board and [Alex] Machaskee [the paper's publisher], [Brent] Larkin [editorial page editor] said, "'Negotiations' is not the right word. We're all in this together." [...]

If Machaskee deflected the Plain Dealer editorial board's choice, it reportedly won't [sic] be the first time: In the 2002 gubernatorial race, according to Plain Dealer insiders, Machaskee decided the newspaper would endorse Bob Taft despite the editorial board's preference for his opponent, Tim Hagen.]

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