Wade on Birmingham

Vote 2008: Alabama newspapers endorse Obama by 2-1 margin


Wade on Birmingham - Vote 2008Alabama may be a solid red state, with polls predicting a 20-point John McCain victory come Election Day, but the newspapers have endorsed Barack Obama by a more than 2-1 by a 5-3 margin by a 2-1 margin. [See third McCain endorsement by the Opelika-Auburn News, added Oct. 28, and sixth Obama endorsement by the Selma Times-Journal, added Nov. 4.]

Of the eight nine 10 newspapers that have published endorsements in the presidential race, five six support Obama, two three support McCain, and one endorsed neither. Before the cries of “liberal media bias” ring out, keep in mind that most of these same papers endorsed Republican George W. Bush in the previous two elections.

See what the editorial boards had to say …

For McCain

John McCainBirmingham News: “The Birmingham News is a pro-life paper. McCain has been a generally reliable pro-life politician throughout his career. Through his long career, McCain has a well-deserved reputation as a budget hawk and is one of the few members of Congress to battle earmarks. We believe McCain’s experience, his ideas and his bipartisanship will be better for this country during these difficult times.”

Mobile Press-Register: “Sen. McCain lives up to the standard set by his political idol, Theodore Roosevelt. Irascible and moralistic at times, at other times modest and conciliatory, he is always the ‘man in the arena,’ daring to do ‘mighty things.’ No one would mistake Sen. McCain for a messianic figure, but he is a tough, battle-scarred, stout-hearted leader. The country will need his kind of leadership over the next four years.”

Opelika-Auburn News: “John McCain has proven to be not as charismatic, and a stump speech is not his strong suit. He does not inspire like Obama. What he does have is a proven ability to look across party lines and has a proven conviction to put aside partisan politics for the common good of this nation. He has the experience Obama lacks and now is not the right time for on-the-job training.”

For Obama

Barack ObamaDaily Home (Talladega): “When the dust clears over campaign promises, and the truth emerges, we like a tax plan that gives more relief to the middle class. We like the choice of a running mate that is clearly qualified in foreign affairs. And we like a cool, calm, steady approach to problem solving rather than an erratic, flip-flop in the face of financial crisis. Those are the hallmarks of an Obama presidency.”

Decatur Daily: “Sen. Obama represents change the nation wants. He’s toughened up during the long series of Democratic primaries and the grueling general election campaign. He’s solid, he’s smart, and he keeps a cool head. He is the better choice to be the next president of the United States.”

Montgomery Advertiser: “Obama combines an appeal to all that is good in America, to that deep-seated knowledge that we can and should do better, with sensible policy proposals that the nation can embrace. It is time for change. Obama represents that change.”

Selma Times-Journal: “Obama speaks directly to small towns and the poor families — the makeup of this region of Alabama — as he talks about his plans and hope and a new day.”

TimesDaily (Florence): “As president, Obama would restore much of the moral high ground that has been lost. He would work closely with our allies. As to the criticism that Obama would meet unconditionally with our enemies, it appears to us that he would be practicing a bit of ancient wisdom all leaders should remember: Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”

Tuscaloosa News: “[Obama] has a vision — unity, cooperation, healing and transformation — that most Americans share. He wants to re-orient the country to empower ordinary people, not just its wealthy voters, big corporations or Washington lobbyists. He wants to make government a helpful ally, not a suspicious monitor. He wants to replace swagger and bombast with genuine concern for rights and well-being.”

No endorsement

Huntsville Times: “This year, The Times’ editorial board decided not to recommend a candidate for president. Because we’re a local paper, we simply can’t match the mass of national and international coverage accorded to this contest. In addition, we don’t have access to the candidates, as we have at the state and local level.” [Note: The Huntsville Times has made endorsements for president in past years.]

It’s nine days until Election Day!

• • •

Complete Vote 2008 coverage.

8 Yips for “Vote 2008: Alabama newspapers endorse Obama by 2-1 margin”

  1. ginny
    Sunday, October 26, 2008, 9:09 pm

    I have never understood this tradition. Why do newspapers endorse a candidate? For one thing, it seems absurdly old-fashioned, and for another, it goes against whatever claims of impartiality they make whenever an election’s *not* pending.

  2. Wade
    Sunday, October 26, 2008, 11:04 pm

    As has oft been said about newspapers, the front page is where you go to find the facts, but the editorial page is where you go to find the truth.

    Newspapers have had a long history of giving informed opinions on bills, laws, policies, programs, elected officials, business, etc. Why shouldn’t they have a say in the most powerful office in the land?

    I don’t think newspapers necessarily claim to be impartial or unbiased, just that they try hard to be fair.

    That being said, the Birmingham News’ endorsement of McCain seems less like a hearty salute and more of a rebuke of Obama’s platform.

    And the Huntsville Times chickened out, using an emphasis on “state and local issues” as its excuse. The editorial board could have easily recommended either McCain or Obama based on the candidates’ stances on issues critical to that city: space exploration, science and math education, and technology.

  3. ginny
    Monday, October 27, 2008, 9:15 am

    So when a newspaper gives an endorsement, who is the person/are the people behind the endorsement? The publisher? A majority vote of the editors? An imaginary vote from the anthropomorphized “paper” who has unchangeable views on roe v. wade, etc? The way Hamburger Helper might come out and say, “Based on our brand book, the giant puffy hand would likely vote for…

  4. Wade
    Monday, October 27, 2008, 10:37 am

    It varies, but typically the editor, editorial page editor and editorial writers/columnists will decide the endorsement. Note that this keeps it separate from the overwhelming majority of reporters, photographer, copy editors and others who put out the paper.

    If newspapers emphasized transparency within their own organizations and products (as they do with government and business), readers might trust them more.

  5. ginny
    Monday, October 27, 2008, 11:04 am

    Good point. I’d rather see a full page of each person’s individual endorsement with personal reasoning, the way the sports writers each pick their favorites in the week’s games.

  6. Birmingham Blues » Blog Archive » Alabama Endorsements: Obama 2 to 1
    Monday, October 27, 2008, 11:05 am

    […] Kwon at Wade on Birmingham has a good round-up of Presidential endorsements from Alabama papers.  Of the eight papers that have endorsed (or not, in one case), five support […]

  7. jamy
    Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 2:04 pm

    An endorsement is traditionally the point of view of the owner. In Decatur, Anniston, Talladega and Lanett, that owner is a local person, and thus the endorsement reflects their politics. (Decatur, Talladega and Anniston are the most reliably Democratic editorial voices in the state, which made their endorsements of Bob Riley in 2006 remarkable.)

    For papers without local ownership, the publisher is the delegate of outside owners. Few outside owners in Alabama impose their views directly, though that does happen in some places, and is clearly the right of the owner.

    Papers owned by outside entities usually try to maintain consistent voices, but may drift over time. For example, the Advertiser has always been Democratic, but while it once was the mouthpiece for a conservative Democratic philosophy favored by white elites of the Black Belt, it has become more liberal as the state party has moved left and as the Big Mule coalition has vaporized.

    Huntsville has among the least distinctive editorial voices in the state. Its editorial page is middle of the road, which makes it less surprising that it would punt. Non-endorsements sometimes reflect deep internal divisions at a paper between publisher and editorial writers.

  8. ginny
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 3:34 pm

    Interesting Jamy, thx!

Leave a Yip

Subscribe without commenting