27 October 2004


by Matt Rubinstein at 9:38 am

Editor & Publisher magazine is keeping track of who the US newspapers are endorsing for next Tuesday’s election. So far Kerry is ahead by 142 papers to 123, which blows out to a circulation of 17.4 million to 11.5 million since W is more popular in smaller—not to say hick—markets. These guys reckon that newspaper endorsements have some influence on 5% to 10% of voters, and so could be a factor in the swing states.

The New York Times was one of the first majors to weigh in, and predictably enough endorsed Kerry—or, more accurately, spectacularly disendorsed the incumbent. It’s worth a read if you want a good summary of Bush’s failings:

The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education’s handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.

But more interesting is this spray by The American Conservative magazine—in favour of Kerry. It manages to look beyond ideological alignments and suggest that Bush is bad for the tories as well as the (strong language warning) liberals—he’s bad for everyone:

Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation’s children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy.

It also makes the point that the US isn’t doing itself any favours by alienating the rest of the world, an idea that seems to be ignored if not scorned by most of the population. Thanks once again to Nick, this time channelling his mother-in-law, for the article.

For all that we may consider the US a caricature of democracy, with its dopey electoral college system, its ridiculous commercials and fundraisers, its goose-shoots and wolves-at-the-door, at least over there they’ve got a lot of newspapers and they go different ways. Here in Australia, only The Canberra Times and Fairfax giveaway The Melbourne Times stuck up for Latham; all the rest were more or less virulently pro-Howard—except for The Sydney Morning Herald, which broke with tradition by not endorsing anyone, getting on its high horse about independence and non-partisanship. Interestingly, Fairfax management (in Sydney) was accused of telling The Age to endorse Howard, but staff in Melbourne insist that they decided all by themselves.

All the Murdoch papers trumpeted Howard unequivocally and unapologetically. Or just bashed Latham, like the Sunday Herald Sun did:

Mark Latham, an ill-disciplined man, who as Labor leader is still to fully take shape, heedlessly said he wanted the troops “home by Christmas”.

Every Australian wishes for that. Just like the mums and dads of the boys at Normandy and Tobruk and Ypres and Villers-Bretonneux and Gallipoli and Inchon wished their kids could be home for Christmas.

But they had a job to do, which they did and which our nation proudly celebrates every November 11 and April 25. That generation won then and we must win again. Once more we are on the right side of history.

To rashly bring the troops home by Christmas might mean somewhat fewer Christmases for many of us. The Sunday Herald Sun believes all Australians need to keep that in mind as we cast our vote for our future next Saturday.

It sounds better if you read it in the voice of Philip Baker Hall as library cop Lieutenant Bookman in Seinfeld. Gratuitous quote:

Yeah, ’71. That was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards, Abby Hoffman telling everybody to steal books. I don’t judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. But you put on a pair of shoes when you walk into the New York Public Library, fella.

See? But the point is what we already know: that the Murdoch papers are by and large awful, and that there’s a terrible lack of diversity in the Australian media—we’re much worse than America here. On the 7.30 Report last night, media analyst Roger Colman argued that left-wing polemics like Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism misunderstand Murdoch’s motives: he doesn’t care about Bush’s right-wing policies, Colman says—he just wants to sell papers to right-wing audiences; he’s following the market. That may be true in America, but it doesn’t hold up so well here, where Murdoch has been such a significant part of the game for so long that he can make his own market—especially in the many cities where he is the market.

And even if it is true: surely there’s more to running a newspaper than just telling people what they want to hear—what they already think they know? Isn’t there?

One Response to “Endorsements”

  1. Ady Says:

    Would men have more fulfilling emntiooal lives, especially in old age, if they read more women’s fiction? Would women be more fulfilled if men did? As a male, I would confess to having been influenced more by non-fictional female authors. Pam Chessell’s A Guide to clear thinking’ & Gillian M Hibbins Stands to Reason’ are books I value still today. Do they help provide an insight to how I view women? Honestly, I’ve never taken a moment to think of it in this context. Perhaps this is because I rate/approve/relate to the writings (irrespective of the authors gender) on the merit of content and the personal value it brings to my life. The merit of fiction, nonfiction fulfilling emntiooal lives (age aside) is for me questionable. I believe there is no one path to the enlightenment by either gender. There are differing levels of understanding which can assist with empathy and emntiooal awareness in respect to gender complexities. I would be hesitant to confirm my acceptance with the views expressed in the article but would concede in some cases the value could provide more clarity.PS. The Reference link to the Online Article is missing the : between http & // so it’s not working.

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