Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Arizona GOP Chair Tempers His Blasting Of Arizona Republic's Historic Endorsement Of Clinton Over Trump; Bears Discussion (WATCH, NEWS ANALYSIS)

The Arizona Republic endorsed Hillary Clinton last night - the first time the editorial board has EVER given its nod to a Democrat for President - and, predictably, they have heard an earful today. The Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party joined in the blasting, but has since tempered his criticism.
Trump takes Republic's endorsement
of Clinton surprising well ;-)

Robert Graham's reactions also raise a larger question about whether newspapers should be endorsing candidates in this day and age of a divided electorate and the increase in partisan news coverage.

The historic nature of last night's endorsement of the sweeping rebuff of Donald Trump and endorsement of a Democrat was not lost on anyone, drawing national news coverage from the moment the Republic made its live announcement (below*)

AZ GOP Chair Robert Graham took to the Twitter sphere this morning to blast the Republic as "a liberal publication",  For them to say that Trump is not conservative was a "terribly, unethical commentary." (full tweet at right)

After being asked by Arizona's Politics whether he seemed to be over-reaching a bit, given the separation between reporting and editorializing, Graham gave this response:
"Many voters have been contacting my office concerned with what is perceived as the Arizona Republic's deep bias toward Democrat (sic) candidates both state and federal. If nothing else the Arizona Republic's endorsement of "the democrat" destroys their credibility and will call into question any future coverage of either candidate."
Graham deleted his initial tweet, and replaced it with two suggesting that their credibility has been compromised and telling the Arizona Democrats that the endorsement was "#boughtandpaidbfor"

Graham's comments to Arizona's Politics raise some interesting points. Points that he is not alone in making. The well-respected Columbia Journalism Review published an article two years ago about how and why some newspapers are changing their endorsement practices.

It noted that while some newspapers reversed previous decisions to not make endorsements, a couple of dozen had decided to break the endorsement tradition. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial page editor suggested that a blurred line between the reporting and editorializing sections was the reason.
Editorial page editor David Haynes wrote at the time that some readers “confuse our political news coverage with our editorial recommendations… This loss of credibility is a high price to pay to conjure a ghost of newspapering past that we have come to believe is of little value today.”
The Republic's Editorial Board says they are cognizant of such concerns, but attempted to explain to readers (and viewers) why the Republic will continue endorsing and how it is completely walled-off from the news-gathering function of the paper (as well as corporate influence).

Editorial board member Joanna Allhands told Arizona's Politics that the tradition and the mission are key reasons:
In a nutshell, it’s part of our tradition: We’ve endorsed in the presidential race virtually since this newspaper was founded. But it’s also part of our mission. We respect readers’ ability to make their own decisions. If as a board we can help shape the community discussion and get readers to think critically about their vote – even if it’s different than what we are recommending – we’ve done our job.
Here is the video the Republic produced discussing their endorsement policy.

As noted in the CJR article and as is evident in Graham's comments, it has become more difficult for news reporting entities - old school or new media or in-between - to maintain an impression that they are trying to gather and present news in an unbiased way. A concerted effort to portray traditional news outlets as biased has taken an irreversible toll on much-needed credibility.

Traditions sometimes become obsolete and give way to new traditions. The Donald Trump candidacy has damaged traditional unity in the Republican party, and he is leading editorial boards to make endorsements that they never have before. And, maybe, never will again.

We invite you to share your perspective and comments on this analysis. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or reach out by email ( or Twitter (@AZs_Politics)

*Sidenote to Republic: I appreciate that your Livestream gives me the option of NOT auto-playing and/or muting by default the embedded video. You should consider using those options on!

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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