Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Folly of Newspaper and Other Endorsements

There was once a time when newspapers were viewed as the ever vigilant "crusaders" and defenders of public interest, albeit self-appointed and as often as not, the creators of their own hype (see "Yellow Journalism" links below), however, society grew up. Today, we have instant access to information the world over at our fingertips, and with it, the ability to do own investigation of candidates and the issues which are important to us.

For years, I've campaigned for the release of unedited transcripts of candidate interviews and full disclosure of the interviewer's names and their political affiliations. I believe that the public has a right to know exactly what a candidate has said about a particular issue, what their positions are on other issues, as well as the ideological slant the article or the so-called "endorsement", was written from. In short, I believe in full disclosure especially when it comes from the media.

I've been involved in politics for close to 40 years now. I have two Master's degrees with a MA thesis in Campaign Management. I've graduated from two leading candidate campaign schools, as well as several nationally prominent community and grassroots organizing programs plus several professional certificates in business management. I've run for office (winning some and losing some). I've managed or advised over 100 political campaigns, and successfully trained newcomers to politics. I've even served as a Congressional Aide and served as state chairman of union and on several national union committees. I've also been a part of candidate review committees which interviews each candidate and makes recommendations for endorsements. I know from whence I speak (or write in this case).

To many times over those years I've come across instances where candidates are misquoted, misattributed, or the "correct" answer inserted while the gaffs were carefully removed for a given candidate, making the "chosen" candidate look better than they actually were or making the better candidate look worse. I've seen where candidates are never interviewed or their positions on issues determined, yet an "endorsement" is still made under the lie that it's somehow unbiased and honest. I've seen ad nauseam where candidates are endorsed solely based on their political registration and no other factor. This is done not just by special interest groups, which you would expect, but by newspapers and other media outlets as well. This, in my opinion, is wrong and deceiving. I know all too well how the game is played; how endorsements are often "earned" and how palms are greased.

Today, in some locations, we have a partial solution with candidate interviews being taped or transcribed and made public and unedited. We need this in order to make an honest and unfiltered appraisal of their positions without an intermediary deciding for us what they said or meant. However, we are still not seeing full disclosure from media. We rarely see the names of those conducting the interviews or making the endorsements, and never are we given their political affiliations. That remains hidden. I believe that you, the voter, have a right to know exactly what questions were asked, how they were answered, and the political slant or bias of those asking the questions and making the endorsements. Anything less is a farce and attempt to manipulate the public.

As I have done for years, I urge readers to take a few minutes to do their own research and make their own decision about who to vote for. The Voter Guide, which is available in many newspapers is one such resource for you to consider. Other resources include visiting the candidate's web-page or contact the candidate yourself with your own questions. If you find that you happen to agree with a particular candidate's positions, fine. Then support that individual as a volunteer, with a financial contribution or with your vote. But do so as an informed voter. Don't let anyone think for you. Ever.

The role of the media is to present the facts in a impartial, balanced and fair manner, not to attempt to manipulate or sway public opinion to suit its own political agenda, even if they think it's "for your own good". Only you can decide what's in your own best interests. Can you imagine Fox, CNN, ESPN, CBS, ABC, or even Public TV making political endorsements? Neither can I, but even if I did I wouldn't take them seriously anymore than I do any other endorsements. So forget about your newspaper's or any other special interest group's endorsements. After all, they're pushing their own agendas and not necessarily looking out after your best interest. Remember too that endorsements are merely personal opinions, and not always the most informed ones at that. So think for yourself. Do your own research and then go vote. Don't let anyone take your decision away from you. America is counting on you.

Yellow Journalism: The Fake News of the 19th Century

PBS: Yellow Journalism

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