US Election: the newspapers take sides

Copyright Donkey Hotey, reproduced and adapted under Creative Commons

Famously, no one cares which candidates newspapers endorse for US president any more. The Web has broken the print media’s monopoly on opinion just as completely as it’s broken its hold on the news. Searching on Google, it seems as if you can find almost as many posts questioning whether newspapers’ endorsements matter any more as there are American newspapers.

Except people do care. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney care who they have in their corner. They matter to people who care about the US presidential election. We feel good whenever a choice we make is supported by someone else, whether it’s new clothes, a new haircut or a new girlfriend (or boyfriend, naturally).

Equally, when it’s a binary choice such as the US election we appreciate it when others agree on a decision not to do something.

As a media and political junkie, they matter to me. And you, dear reader who has read this far, probably have at least a passing interest in them too. So here are the big ones, with a bit of background thrown in for good measure.


New York Times
– Obama (2008: Obama)

Not exactly a surprise, this one. The NYT has gone Democrat at every presidential election since JFK, even in the 1980s when Reagan and Bush swept the Democrats away, as this handy infographic tells us.

“Mr. Obama prevented another Great Depression. The economy was cratering when he took office in January 2009. By that June it was growing, and it has been ever since (although at a rate that disappoints everyone), thanks in large part to interventions Mr. Obama championed”

Washington Post – Obama (2008: Obama)

The WaPo editorial board is slightly less enthusiastic. It takes us through the domestic and foreign policy record of President Obama “with eyes open to the disappointments” but noting that “[i]n the poisonous atmosphere of this campaign, it may be easy to overlook Mr. Obama’s many important achievements”. Finally, they get to Mitt Romney in the key passage:

“[R]arely has a politician gotten so far with only one evident immutable belief: his conviction in his own fitness for higher office”

Houston Chronicle – Romney (2008: Obama)

The Houston Chronicle highlights energy resources such as shale gas, which Texas has in abundance, and says Obama has failed to capitalise on them. It also mentions the Johnson Space Centre (in Houston) and says:

“It has been an insult to the memory of American heroes like Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride to allow manned spaceflight to languish in the country that put men on the moon.”


“Gov. Romney impresses us as a focused, task-oriented problem solver, both by inclination and by experience – a “fix-it” guy”

Los Angeles Times – Obama (2008: Obama)

The LA Times offers a similar endorsement to the Washington Post. It says that President Obama has proved a safe pair of hands in a polarized, noisy political environment, but criticises him for carrying on with “indefensible” Bush-era national security policies.

“The nation has been well served by President Obama’s steady leadership. He deserves a second term.”

They have harsh words for Mitt Romney:

“It’s hard to analyze the effect of Romney’s plans because he’s left so many blanks to be filled in after the election.”

“His modulating positions on his own tax plan, healthcare reform, financial regulation, Medicare, immigration and the national safety net add to the impression that the only thing he really stands for is his own election.”

New York Post – Romney (2008: McCain)

The Post likens the previous four years to an American bet on “the great Barack Obama experiment” which it says has failed to create jobs or reduce the deficit.

On the other hand they describe Romney as “a man with the experience, the temperament, the principles and the knowledge to address America’s economic woes instead of just blaming others.”

“Because, in the end, the fundamental problem is the president’s core philosophy.

He believes in equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity — and that is not how America is supposed to work.

America is not working right now.”


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