KAO: The New York Times' endorsement raises questions

Column: Left on Red

I am not personally aware of any college students who look to The New York Times editorial board for guidance on whom to vote for. 

The New York Times believes its advice to be very much worth taking. 

The New York Times editorial board announced on Sunday evening that it was endorsing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in the Democratic presidential primary. In the past, The New York Times would only endorse one candidate in the primary, but this time, it endorsed two. 

The New York Times thought this was a terribly clever move. 

In the accompanying article, the editorial board explained why it had endorsed two candidates. Warren and Klobuchar represent two different ideological strains within the Democratic Party (the progressive and centrist wings, respectively), and the dual endorsement split the difference. But endorsements matter because they settle on a single person. 

The New York Times undercut itself by refusing to come out in favor of one candidate, and by extension, one side in the ongoing intraparty fight between progressives and centrists. It was feckless. Perhaps the eminent journalists on the editorial board were unaware you cannot vote for two candidates: It spoils your ballot.

The endorsement process has long been cloaked in secrecy, but the paper changed that this year too. In a move reminiscent of reality television, The New York Times ran a one-hour television special on Sunday night, featuring interviews with the Democratic candidates and segments of the editorial board’s deliberations. 

The New York Times seems to have reckoned that by increasing the transparency of the endorsement process, it would boost its legitimacy with the public. These efforts were enlightening, in that it showed how intellectually and morally bankrupt The New York Time’s politics are. 

Toward the end of the endorsement article, this sentence appears: “Basket-case governments in several nations south of the Rio Grande have sent a historic flood of migrants to our southern border.” 

No doubt the liberals of the editorial board derive great personal pride from not being racist, but this is racism. Calling the governments of Latin America “basket-case” is condescending, and eludes the ongoing role the United States has held in destabilizing those governments.

Even worse is The New York Time’s description of migrants, fleeing the countries the United States destabilized, as a “flood” — this is dehumanizing language, not so far removed from that of the president it deplores. Of course, The New York Times has long sided with the ruling class, and the paper itself is a pillar of the establishment. 

Given its institutional role as the mouthpiece of the ruling class, The New York Times had few kind words for Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). The editorial board complained about his “ideological rigidity and overreach” and denigrated Sanders’s policies, like “nationalizing health insurance (Medicare for All)” and “decriminalizing the border.” 

The editorial board went on to draw a false equivalence between Sanders and President Donald J. Trump, saying that Sanders’s election would be “exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” 

This is a ridiculous comparison, as Sanders and Trump have nothing in common: The former is a stalwart progressive who fights for the working class, and the latter is a reactionary, white nationalist billionaire. 

As disgusting as this cynicism is, it is not unexpected from a mainstream organ like The New York Times. Its contempt for the Left drips from the page. 

The New York Time’s endorsement of Klobuchar stems from that contempt too. As, in my opinion, Klobuchar is a terrible candidate who has perennially trailed in the polls. 

Furthermore, she is notorious for being abusive to her staff, having reportedly hurled binders at them. While The New York Times editorial board alluded to her behavior, it ultimately decided such peccadilloes were not disqualifying. Klobuchar is everything The New York Times values: a bland centrist who is also a horrible boss to her employees. 

To its credit, The New York Times did endorse Warren, but dismissed her blame of the business community for issues like climate change. The “onus is on society as a whole,” a ludicrous statement when ExxonMobil exists, according to The New York Times. 

It is no coincidence the editorial board repeatedly failed to articulate a critique of power throughout its endorsement. It has no desire to do so. 

Most voters are not relying on The New York Time’s verdict, so why does it matter? 

The significance of the endorsement lies in the exercise of the paper’s power in elite opinion-making. It signals where the liberals of the ruling class have placed their ideological chips. 

Whether their opinion tends to be accurate is questionable — they endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008, and on Sunday, many editorial board members placed Cory Booker in their top two (each member wrote down their top two choices to winnow the field). Booker has since dropped out of the race.

Perhaps irrelevance is the most d*mning indictment of The New York Times endorsement. After all, the race is shaping up to be between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, and The New York Times endorsed neither. 

Samuel Kao is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in history. His column "Left on Red" typically runs on alternate Wednesdays.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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