Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Shocking Endorsement from the Star Tribune

In a move that shocked the news world, the largest newspaper in Minnesota - the Minneapolis Star-Tribune - announced today that they were endorsing.... John Kerry.

Why do they even bother to print this stuff? Was there a person capable of reading a newspaper who had any doubt they were going to endorse Kerry? Was there ever any doubt they were going to endorse the Democratic candidate no matter who that turned out to be?

In case the Star Tribune does indeed still fool some people into believing they carefully weighed this decision, let me spoil some future surprises for you.

In 2006, they're going to endorse fruit-loop Senator Mark Dayton for re-election. That same year, they're going to endorse whomever the Democrats nominate to run against Republican Governor Pawlenty.

In 2008, they will endorse whomever the Democratic Party nominates for president; and they will endorse whomever the Democratic Party nominates to run against Senator Norm Coleman.

Along the way, they will endorse a long list of Democrats for lower office, but will now and then toss in a Republican endorsement - especially for a strongly liberal Republican. I think this is somehow supposed to fool us into believing that their editorial board is not truly partisan in their support of the Democratic Party. And I think as recently as 10 years ago, they still had a decent number of readers who bought that. But surely not now.

So I ask again: why do they bother?

Several years back, I took a trip down to the Minnesota Historical Society for some micro-film/micro-fiche research. I was looking to see how the local newspapers covered the events leading to the outbreak of the Civil War. Interesting place, incidentally. Helpful staff too. I recommend it.

Anyway, there weren't many newspapers around in Minnesota that long ago. But the Saint Paul Pioneer Press was. Made for fascinating reading. Oh... one other thing. At the time the name was the Pioneer Press Democrat, because it was an explicitly partisan outlet for the Democratic Party.

Reading through the news coverage leading to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Pioneer Press Democrat saw their role as making the best case they could for their party's nominee. You might think this made them strident and dishonest. You'd be wrong. In fact, the case that they made for Stephen Douglas against Abraham Lincoln was better than what you'll find in most history books attempting to explain it - even with the latter's benefit of knowing the result and consequences. It was written for an audience they assumed would get a good case made from the other side (as indeed they did, because Lincoln comfortably won Minnesota). They couldn't hope to persuade anyone unless they made an honest case on the merits as they saw them. In this case, it was basically a call to avoid the war Lincoln's election would likely provoke, and offering Douglas as the candidate of compromise and peace. History proved they were right to be so concerned, as the war they predicted came about shortly after Lincoln's election. However, history also judged the war to be just, in that it ended the barbaric and unjust practice of slavery (an issue both sides were dancing around delicately in the papers of the day - agreeing it was evil, agreeing they wouldn't even try to end it). It was up to the voters to weigh their own values and decide their priorities.

Back to the Star Tribune and the elections of our own day, I can't help but wonder if their pretend objectivity doesn't harm the case they're trying to help. If they slapped the word "Democrat" at the end of their newspaper's title, they probably believe no one would subsequently trust them to tell the truth in matters of politics.

Except, word to the editorial board, that's already your reputation. You're about as partisan as they come, and by not admitting it your opinions are tainted by more than just partisanship. They're also tainted by your readers realizing you think they're stupid enough that you're fooling them. The very fact that you lie to them about not being partisan in favor of the Democrats damages your trust and credibility.

Then we get unintentional irony like this in the middle of their Kerry endorsement:

"While seeking office in 2000, Bush defined himself as 'a uniter, not a divider.' He has proved to be the most divisive, insular and partisan president since Richard Nixon."

This coming from one of the most transparently partisan organs in journalism, responsible for consistently stoking the fires that keep the Moonbat Express running. It's absurd for a news organ which spits in the president's hand any time it's outstretched to use Bush's failure to unite the country as a reason not to support him.

I don't expect anything to change at the Star Tribune of course. They'll go on pretending not to be biased. We'll go on knowing otherwise. And the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. But the what-if is interesting to ponder.


Blogger pinkmonkeybird said...

Of course, they have a perfect right to endorse whomever they wish. And they have a perfect right to oversample Democrats in their polls.

Some of us merely ask that the StarTribune should more honestly rename their paper The DemocratStarTribune: Hard Left Liberal Newspaper of the Twin Cities.

2:24 PM  

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