Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

The non-endorsement endorsement for Kerry

The controversy over the Plain Dealer's editorial board dust up about their presidential endorsement is well known by know. To recap, the overwhelming majority of the e-board (perhaps all of them) except for the publisher Alex Machaskee backed a Kerry endorsement. Machaskee tried to use veto power, but internal resistence combined with work of the dispute leaking nationally forced a stalemate. The PD missed its usual targetted date for an endorsement Sunday, and today the paper announced that it would make no endorsement:
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. We prefer, this year, to call voters' attention to the races in which we believe our endorsements can be more helpful.
The big loser in this is Bush. This is the loss of a major endorser from 2000.

Another potential loser is Machaskee. The discussion about the controversial endorsement has received extensive coverage on the Internet, radio talk shows and nation media. Many listeners, readers and bloggers said they contact the paper to express their concern. Indeed, according to Editor & Publisher,
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. When asked whether public opinion had any bearing on the paper's decision process in choosing a candidate, Larkin responded, "Not even a little bit."

Larkin may be technically right, but the PD management and editorial staff are going to be haunted by this for some time. Now that its know that Machaskee overruled both a Kerry and a Tim Hagan endorsement, and after some of the progressive "muscle-flexing" with Sinclair, the owner has to know that the paper is starting to risk taking a hit in the bottom line.

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