After endorsing him for President in 2008, the Billings-based <em>Gazette</em> – Montana’s largest newspaper – has admitted that they were off the mark in supporting Barack Obama and have been proven wrong by the last six years of history.
As part of a June 27<sup>th</sup> editorial, the paper said, “Sometimes, you have to admit you’re wrong. And, we were wrong.”
An unusual move for a newspaper to make, the <em>Gazette</em>’s editors felt they had no choice but to apologize for endorsing a young candidate who has been at the center of several scandals (Benghazi, the IRS, Iraq) as well as a President who has done little to make progress on his most important campaign promises. The latter is actually great news for anyone who doesn’t want to see the country slide into a liberal swamp, but it’s understandable that the <em>Gazette</em> would not see things this way.
Even the right’s most prominent columnists rarely wrap Obama’s failures in such a succinct bow. The paper cites the NSA spying controversy, the Bergdahl fiasco, the VA scandal, the lack of promised transparency, and the failures in Iraq as the reasons for withdrawing support.
Obviously, this falls pretty comfortably in the “better late than never” category, but it’s still a blessing to see people in the media come to their senses about this guy. It might be unfortunate that this wake-up call couldn’t have happened two years ago, but I guess you have to take what you can get. In any case, the same journalists that have abandoned the Hope and Change Train will be jumping on the next socialist social climber that comes along.
Of course, the <em>Gazette</em> probably doesn’t have much to apologize for in the first place. The state went to McCain in 2008, it went to Romney in 2012, and it will probably go to the Republican candidate in 2016. Montana is a red state through and through, with Republicans enjoying a 14-point percentage advantage according to a 2012 Gallup poll. And that even begs the real question: how much do newspaper endorsements mean in the first place? Furthermore, should they even be making endorsements to begin with?
Newspaper endorsements have tradition in their favor, but they date from a time when people expected their journalists to have a point of view. In the last half-century or so, the public has forced newspapers to take a more balanced approach to the news, eschewing yellow journalism and endless polemic writing for the plain facts. Of course, the idea of bias ever leaving journalism entirely is a joke, one that has become even more hilarious in the advent of a few major corporations controlling most of the media. Still, the idea of a newspaper – even one that draws laughter when they claim to be unbiased – throwing their support behind a candidate is archaic and unsettling. Certainly, they have the right to do so. It’s just a matter of whether they should.