Chicago Sun-Times Shows White Flag: No More Political Endorsements

The Chicago Sun Times has received your message loud and clear, dear readers. As much as admitting that they are biased and they know it, the long-time Windy City staple has decided that hence forth it will no longer endorse candidates for political office.

In a Sunday editorial, the 71-year-old paper announced its new policy amusingly touting the Old Media’s party line that it engages in “unbiased news coverage” and that newspapers today wish to “appeal to the widest possible readership.”

“They want to inform you, not spin you,” the editorial avers. Yet, the editorial goes on to admit that it has heard from readers who seriously doubt that dedication to unbiased news coverage. And when you note that over the last several decades few national news papers have endorsed a Republican for President — most especially the left-leaning Chicago Sun-Times — it is easy to doubt that purported dedication to just-the-facts reporting.

The Sun-Times is so dedicated to helping Democrats get elected, it even endorsed disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for reelection. Yes, even after his troubles were well known by even the most uninformed Illinois voter. After reelection Governor Blagojevich ended up being convicted on several counts of fraud and influence peddling when he tried to sell the Senate seat that Obama gave up to become president. Blago will begin serving a 14-year sentence in a federal prison this February.

Yet, even before Blago’s convictions for selling the Senate seat he was involved in numerous scandals and still the Times endorsed him any way saying. “There’s no denying the cloud of scandal over his administration,” the Times then wrote. Going on, the Times said, “We’ve chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt and endorse him for a number of reasons.”

It is a bit hard to escape the feeling that the “number of reasons” the Times endorsed the corrupt Blago was spelled D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T!

One has to doubt the commitment to vetting candidates, anyway. All too often the editorial board’s entire decision rests solely on the candidate questionnaires as opposed to any deeper study of candidate’s records or campaigns. Worse, when it comes to judges the Sun-Times most especially would just rely on the left-wing endorsements of the Chicago Bar Association, a horribly biased source for information on judges.

The Times did make an interesting point in its announcement, but only by accident, it appears.

… many American newspapers were unabashedly partisan, and not necessarily only on the editorial page. Not unlike news shops on cable TV and the Web today, they catered to a core of readers who thought very much like them.

This is a good point to make, though it is doubtful that the Times gets it as thoroughly as one might expect. You see, in the salad days of local newspaper wars, each city had two, four, or even more newspapers and each paper was well known for its support of a party or candidate. Readers could scan these papers and get all sides of the endorsement game in order to make their own decision. But these days few newspapers take anything other than the left-wing line on endorsements and the reading public can no longer get both sides of the issue.

The fact is, endorsements are meaningless if every reader can predict based along partisan lines which candidate the paper will pick far in advance of a paper’s “carefully considered” endorsement!

Certainly we can applaud the Sun-Times’ decision to dispense with these predictable endorsements that surprise no one. Perhaps this is the beginning of a sea change in the newspaper industry, led by the Times? If so it would be a welcome change, indeed.

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