Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Should the Media Apologize for Bad Endorsements?

The Grapevine does not endorse candidates because of the sticky situation with our publisher and their non-profit status, but I have to ask: If a newspaper makes an endorsement that turns out to be boneheaded do they have an obligation to apologize for that editorial? In the last State of Ohio election the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Governor Bob Taft in his re-election campaign. Since his victory we have seen scandal, condemnation by the Plain Dealer, and repeated failures from his administration. It seems that there is not a week that goes by that we do not hear from the Plain Dealer a story about how bad this administration functions in overseeing the state. So, with all this negative press about the Governor, I had to ask Doug Clifton, Plain Dealer editor, when he was going to issue an apology. Here is his response.

"While we certainly wish Taft had lived up to expectations, I don't think we owe an apology for the endorsement. Again, people are free to take our guidance or not. Certainly we offer it in good faith but can't guarantee everyone we endorse will be a success. Often we endorse the best of a bad lot. That wasn't the case in this race because Hagen was a good man. We just thought Taft would be more likely to get things done given his party affiliation and that of both the House and Senate. "--Doug Clifton December 13, 2005.

Tim Hagen was the Democrat running against Taft. I believe this is the standard response listed on page 842 of Journalism 101 textbook under the Chapter "What do you say to remain credible after endorsing Adolf Hitler/Richard Nixon (insert name here) in your editorials?" The explanation did not provide much clarity so my only reply (by popular demand) is:

Customer: This isn't an argument! It's just contradiction!
Professional Arguer: No, it isn't!
Customer: Yes it is!
Professional Arguer: No, no, no!
Customer: It is!
Professional Arguer: No, it isn't!
Customer: Yes it is! An argument is an intellectual process! It isn't just contradiction!
Professional Arguer: Look, if I'm to argue with you, I have to take up a contracitary position!
Customer: Yes, but it's not just saying "No it isn't!"
Professional Arguer: Yes, it is!
Customer: No, it isn't!



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