Newspapers vote for Kerry

By David Talbot
Published October 17, 2004 7:29PM (EDT)

If presidential elections were decided by newspaper editorial writers, John Kerry would win by a landslide. On Sunday, Kerry amassed a new wave of newspaper endorsements, from the mighty (New York Times, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle) to the minor (the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo. and Muskegon Chronicle in Michigan, both of which endorsed Bush in 2000). According to Editor and Publisher, the Democratic candidate won the support of at least 27 papers, giving Kerry a 42 to 22 lead in newspaper endorsements. Kerry has many more large-circulation papers on his side, Editor and Publisher pointed out, giving him a "circulation edge" of 8 million readers to 2.5 million.

The New York Times editorial praised Kerry's "strong moral core" and decried Bush's "disastrous tenure." The Boston Globe waxed enthusiastic about Kerry's "ability to to see complex problems in new, often, prescient ways and (his) willingness to seek collaborative solutions," comparing him to another native son, John Kennedy.

But it was the endorsement of newspapers in key battleground states like Ohio and Florida that undoubtedly cheered the Kerry camp the most.

The Miami Herald denounced Bush's "narrow partisanship, stubborn refusal to accept uncomfortable facts and simplistic approach to complicated issues."

The Daytona Beach (Florida) News-Journal went further, offering a scathing assessment of the Bush administration's "embarrassing performance" and lashing into Bush for "indulging hs party's religious fringe, shilling for big corporate cronies, withdrawing from foreign alliances, cloaking his administration in secrecy" and "misleading" the country into war in Iraq.

"Fear is the dominant, almost exclusive message of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign," the News-Journal declared. "It has to be. Without fear...this administration can't maintain the illusion of legitimacy."

In Ohio, the Akron Beacon-Journal asserted that Bush, at home and abroad, has "departed radically from the concept of sound stewardship," and predicted that Kerry would "replace a cowboy ethic with a welcome pragmatism."

Bush did win the support of several major newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, although that endorsement is unlikely to do him much good in the electoral battle, since the Republicans have already ceded Illinois to Kerry. The Tribune cheered "Bush's sense of a president's duty to defend America," while acknowleding his "ambitious" global war plan would likely "yield both casualties and lasting results."

The Arizona Republic's endorsement of Bush, while conceding "serious errors of judgement" by the president in Iraq, criticized Kerry for being "incapable of setting out a convincing plan of action in Iraq. We can only guess where a Kerry presidency will lead."

The Indianapolis Star backed Bush, but with little enthusiasm, calling both candidates "unsatisfying."

David Talbot

David Talbot, the founder of Salon, is the author of New York Times bestsellers like "Brothers," "The Devil's Chessboard," and "Season of the Witch." His most recent book is "Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke."

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