When is a Presidential newspaper endorsement not an endorsement? That’s a good question for former PR man Brian Tierney, who led an investment group to buy the Philadelphia Inquirer for $562M in '06 during the great McClatchy Co. fire sale of former Knight Ridder properties.
Tierney’s fingerprints are all over the shocking Oct. 19 “dissenting editorial” that appeared on the same page of the paper’s endorsement of Barack Obama for President. The editorial board said it backed Obama because McCain is nothing more than a clone of the President, as evidenced by his voting with Bush in 90 percent of votes. Some maverick. It knocked McCain for his boneheaded selection of Sarah Palin for VP, calling it a blatant overture to white women and evangelicals that backfired when the Pride of Alaska proved “she is not prepared to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.” That’s taking a stand.
The Inquirer seriously backtracked from its rousing tip of the hat to Obama by offering “another view” below the editorial called “The Case for McCain.” "No one is better prepared than John McCain to serve as commander-in-chief and lead the country as it seeks successful outcomes in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and to work with Pakistan to help kill or capture the perpetrators of 9/11,” the first opening sentence reads. Didn't you just endorsement Obama as the best man for the job?
The “second endorsement” neither mentions McCain being AWOL on the economic meltdown nor recruitment of Palin. Instead, it offers weasel works that attempt to present McCain as solid as a rock, while his unmanned opponent is portrayed as slippery at best. With McCain, “There are no questions to dance around, such as a 20-year attendance of a church whose pastor preached anti-American sermons. No serving on an education panel with a domestic terrorist. No financial support from a convicted felon. No ties to a group currently under investigation for possible registration fraud.” C'mon, give us some names. If you want to bring up non-issues like Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko and ACORN, do so.
Obama has nothing to worry about in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is a bright blue spot on the electoral map of Pennsylvania. He is going to win the metro area in a landslide. The question: Why did the Inky run a counter-editorial that cheapens its endorsement of Obama?
This blogger sees the matter as one of dollars and cents. He believes Inquirer’s ownership did not want to aggravate potential fat cat advertisers who might have second thoughts about placing ads in a paper that supports Obama.
The Inquirer copped out. A double endorsement is no endorsement and a big stain on journalism, a blot not needed as newspapers seek to find their voice in the rapidly changing media landscape.