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Our Obama endorsement and your comments

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UPDATE: This post was reformatted after its publication.

The outpouring of reader response to our endorsement of Barack Obama for president, released on our web site Friday morning and in our newspaper on Sunday, has been overwhelming and, for the most part, highly gratifying. By the time the Red Sox had given up the ghost Sunday evening, more than 1,100 readers had posted responses on the message board accompanying the editorial. Many more had written letters to the editor. Quite a few wrote to me directly. I’m told this flood represents a record -- or something close to it -- for reader response to a piece in The Times.

The strong majority of those who wrote, hundreds of readers, applauded our editorial, many for the result but many also offering their appreciation for our reasoning and our writing (as far as I can tell, only one reader found the piece poorly written. I guess you can’t please everyone). As someone accustomed mostly to hearing from people who are angry, I was happily surprised at the outpouring of appreciation for this editorial. To those readers who wrote to compliment us on our work, thank you.

At the same time, a relatively smaller number raised questions or objections that deserve answers. One theme, for instance, was that the editorial reflected a news bias toward Obama (predictably, some saw this as part of our Marxist enterprise. To you, I can only say that I've been at The Times for almost 20 years, and I've yet to bump into Fidel.). I understand why some people would doubt that we can be opinionated in one part of the paper and not in another, and I’m sure some won’t be reassured by anything I can say. Still, I want to emphasize this: All editorials in The Times, including endorsements, are the work solely of its editorial board. The members of that board are listed on our Opinion site here. I lead the board, and I report to the publisher, who oversees our work. No news reporter or editor saw this endorsement before it was written or was even told which candidate we would support. That’s the way we do business on all editorials; this was no exception.

To those readers, then, who object to endorsements because they compromise news coverage, let me just tell you that you're wrong. We endorse for the same reason we write other editorials -- we believe that civic discourse is healthy, and we enjoy participating in it. You don't have to agree, but there's no point in blaming -- or crediting -- our colleagues on the news side. They have nothing to do with our work.

A few readers amusingly suggested that the endorsement was dictated out of Chicago, where Tribune, the company that owns The Times, is based. For some, that suspicion was reinforced by the Chicago Tribune’s presidential endorsement, released a few hours after ours. Again, to be clear: No one from the management of the Tribune company participated in our endorsement in any way. In fact, earlier this year we took a position on a ballot measure where our chief officer, Sam Zell, had contributed money to one side. We took the opposing position. He was not consulted then or in this editorial or in any other piece we have written. Neither he nor any other Tribune executive has never contacted me or anyone on the board to urge a position or to complain about a position we have taken. I am happy to report that editorial policy for the Los Angeles Times editorial pages is developed and written in Los Angeles. I do not know who Sam Zell supports for president.

A couple readers complained that their replies were not posted. I can’t answer for all of those because different people monitored the message board at different times through the weekend, but I was at the helm of that process through the first wave on Friday, and I can tell you that yes, I did delete some responses. Some were profane. Some were racist. Some were threatening to me, the board or to readers who submitted comments. I did not delete any message because it criticized the editorial itself unless the same message was objectionable for those other reasons. I know some people will think that we select replies because they agree with us. All I can tell you is the opposite is true: We especially like to give space to opposing views. No comment was edited, and nothing was rejected because of the position it took on the editorial or the candidates.

Our determination to allow wide latitude on our message boards does produce some disquieting results. Many readers lobbed false charges – notably, the allegation that Obama is a Muslim – and a few were rough on each other. That’s a shame, but to be expected, I suppose, in a campaign that has become as testy as this one. Free speech can be ennobling or destructive, but we’re hardly ones to squelch it; instead, we enforce broad guidelines of decency and allow within them a lot of opportunity for nastiness.

I do hope that as readers continue to argue over this editorial, and over the issues and people in the campaign, they will reach for the ideal of disagreeing over ideas without pillorying opponents. Whatever one thinks of Barack Obama or John McCain, there are serious arguments on the other side. Those committed to politics at its best will listen rather than shout and will use our space to argue but not to wage vile or mean-spirited attacks. I hope you'll join us in that spirit.

 

Comments () | Archives (36)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Purl Gurl

Jim Newton, yours is certainly quite the entertaining bit of self-congratulatory ego masturbation much in keeping with Obama's own.

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation

volunteer

I don't think anyone really expected your publication to endorse anyone but Obama

I have read you stories a couple of time and your bias does show

Good advocate - bad reporting

Michael Mellgard

McCain killed his campaign when he picked Pallin as his running mate. How anyone can vote for him is beyond my comprehension.

Cryos

Well at least the times is finally honest. Now its time for most every major media outlet to just flatly endorse Obama and announce they are not even trying to appear to have media impartiality in this election.

Your publication and the rest of "free press" should be embarressed of your shameless endorsement of democrats and bashing of republicans in what are supposed to be news sections. If you choose to do that in editorials that is your choice but you have violated any trust the public has in your institutions.

The history books will show the 2008 "free press" complete loss of impartiality and fairness as contributing to the downfall of the United States.

Purl Gurl

volunteer writes, in part, "Good advocate - bad reporting".

Much to my personal annoyance our days of Walter Cronkite and truthful reporting are long gone. Walter was often cited as the most trusted man of America. Cronkite's retirement marked the end of the days of good factual reporting and marked the beginning of the days of spinning news simply to earn high audience ratings. Collectively, our American news media has sold out its dignity, at a cheap price, for popularity ratings.

Today and for years, I stopped subscribing to newspapers. Only value found in today's newspapers are as liners for bird cages and cat litter boxes.

Most of my research into news is now based on reading news reports from media outside America. I have found less bias in news reporting about American events through more objective eyes of foreign reporters.

I am quite annoyed by all this bias and spin doctoring being inflicted upon Americans by our American news media; there are no Walter Cronkite types today.

Today, I find there is literally only one trustworthy source of news, this is the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS television.

I have no use for spin doctor reporters of today's newspapers; we have no bird in a cage and our only cat makes good use of the great outdoors to bury the equal of today's mainstream American news reporting.

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation

Truth

Wisdom is often questioned especially by those with narrow minds and views. Thank you for endorsing the best candidate to lead the United States in the 21st Century. As a person who votes the person not the party and who has voted both for democrats and republicans in the past I too have come to the conclusion that the best ticket for our future is Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

McCain has been erratic, his desire for office have clouded who he is and this is a real eye opener. His pick of Sarah Palin is a insult to the people of the US and especially to women it was pandering at its worst. Worst than that they have made American Muslims, Community Organizers and minorities feel like they are all less than Americans and this is race baiting and divisive.

We do not need a power hungry politician with bad judgement and a 19th or 20th Century view of the world to lead us at this time.

Thanks but no thanks to the McCain/Palin bridge to yesterday.

Musa Mathebula

lts so shameful for Repubs not to accept reaility. l am sure the paper have done a good more ln the endorsement slnce l believe they have a democratlc rlght to vote who they love. Again Amerlcans must act wlth maturity, ls lt a SlN to be a Muslim in America?

Lost Fairness

I think the media should NOT be allowed to endorse ANY canidate.. It's Bias, Unfair and Unethical...
Medai outlets are supposed to report the NEWS.. Not push any agenda!!
BTW.. I'm a Democrat too..

Franklin

The media has been biased, it's true. In favor of McCain! Where are the stories about G. Gordon Liddy? What about the Nazi organization that McCain was a board member of? Why did the Keating re-hash use less than a day of the news cycle, when we've been over Rezko/Wright/Ayers two or three times, each lasting several weeks?

I'm sick of the McCain bias. Let's see some neutral reporting.

Ernest Adams

In a world of news increasingly infested with blogs (which in practice means any idiot with a computer), it is nice to see someone stand up for old-fashioned principles of journalistic ethics. Few bloggers have any conception of the separation of functions between the editorial board and the reporters, or the hands-off relationship between the financial and advertising departments and the editorial department.

Thank you for standing up for these principles in the face of hostility and ignorance. Long may they last. And to everyone else: never forget, bloggers aren't journalists.

David

Mr. Newton, it is a shame that a few vociferous right-wingnuts make it sound as if reasoned discourse is dead. Their inability to distinguish between information and opinion, whether conscious or not, is what's giving the press its bad name more so than the press' own inherent shortcomings, real or perceived. That the right-wingnuts appear to be on the losing end this election makes them all the more emboldened to shout perceived improprieties from the rooftops in the hopes of drowning out an ugly truth: their emperor has no clothes.

I would speculate that threats toward your livelihood or even your life have come mostly from the right. If true, therein lies proof that the soubriquette "right-wingnut" is not to be taken lightly. Sad, isn't it, that, when faced with the prospect of not getting their way, the'll go much further than just stamp their little feet. It makes me fear for Obama's life. Should he be elected, I hope that a security squad will be surrounding him 24/7 for the next 4-8 years.

Mitchell Young

Guess that first post sort killed the hope, eh?

You might want to look into how you post, Mr. Newton.

Maybe this was a cut and paste from Word or some such, but it is, as they say up north, hella ugly. As an editor I'm sure you appreciate the need to maintain standards of the readability and the visual aesthetics of text.

peter warren

as I read the comments, I wonder: What about an editorial page being about opinion and being separate from news pages dont the TImes' critics NOT understand?
This isn't MSNBC or Fox News, where comment and criticism and reporting and indistinguishable.
What else do you expect from an editorial but a point of view?

Manny Sfaelos

With all the congressmen, senators and governors, with credentials, that could have been selected to run for the presidency, how could the Dems pick an empty suit. I must ask; WHY?

How did this evangelist, and we know how the libs hate the cloth, ever get to be the candidate? The answer is quite simple. Ted Kennedy. The ego of the Kennedy's would not permit them to endorse Hillary. The Kennedy's would have lost the mantle of liberalism and Camelot would have to be surrendered to a new location where Bill Clinton would preside.

Power is what we are speaking of. The liberals are not concerned with the welfare of the Nation. They are only consumed by the lust for power.

I have lived a long time and am first generation here. I have served our nation. I love it as my father did who came here from Greece and flew the American flag every day of his life. What has happened to us?

I have always been proud to be an American and will never apologize for it. Tell you liberal readers that even France knows the error of their ways.

Why don't you get on the bandwagon and start telling the truth. Be objective and report on what is. Don't make up the whys with opinions that ignore the facts. You owe it to the people of this country that can still read.

PABLO NUNO

I'm democrat but I WILL NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA .
Obama is son of the media , is a product sold by
the media , like the Los Angeles Times , The opinion
of the newspaper is only the opinion of the owners.
The support is because they received money to advertise only the " good" news for Obama.
It"s kind of brivery . that sucks

noba Q

Fear not, LA Times. Your endorsement is right in line with a Higher Power whether anyone believes the story or not. I understand, for even I doubted at times actually seeing this day come to pass. Yet, ALL doubt had been erased before my best friend, Charlotte, from '77 in Dallas called me here to tell me he had arrived on the scene. She knew I HATED politics and wasn't keeping up. In your spare time, see pdf for why right leader is paramount: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp1xBUFjEB0 If anyone reads this, VOTE and encourage others. Take a few with you. No matter that God loves Obama very much. He said "Faith without works is dead." So VOTE. 'NOTHING more important for America now. You'll be blessed, I promise. Well, God's Promise!

Phils Are NL Champs

The media is unbiased? Perhaps if you need to be told what to think instead of thinking it for yourself. If you don't like this paper's endorsement, I'm sure the Daily News would be more than happy to have you. Vote with your feet!

Aldo

I do not begrudge the Times its endorsement of Senator Obama for president, but I do object to the newspaper's consistent failure to report the other side of the story. For example, the Times has consistently declined to report on what appears to be a massive nationwide voter registration fraud campaign by ACORN, despite Senator Obama's long-standing ties to this controversial organization, despite the fact that the Obama campaign paid (and attempted to hide) over $800,000 to ACORN for GOTV projects, and despite the fact that members of Senator Obama's own campaign staff were caught (by college journalists!) voting fraudulently in the key battleground state of Ohio. The Times editorialized that voter registration fraud has been overblown by Republicans as a problem since it does not automatically equate to voting fraud, but then implicitly admitted that voter registration is newsworthy by running a story on October 20th in the California section about a Republican accused of it.

This news embargo is maddening enough on its own, but it is even more galling while the media is contacting the teenage friends of Cynthia McCain's daughter in order to find dirt for yet another hit piece on Ms. McCain, leaving no dumpster unturned in their vetting of Joe The Plumber, and reporting in-depth on Governor Palin's college career (as the Los Angeles Times did on October 21st).

Perhaps the Times considers fraud to be nothing more than the normal "background noise" of every election, but surely as practitioners of a profession that depends upon freedom of expression journalists would be troubled by the Obama campaign's attempt to criminalize complaining about election fraud. Nor is this instance the first time that Senator Obama's campaign has sought to use the power of law enforcement to silence critics. The Obama campaign has sent letters to news agencies threatening legal action against them for running allegedly false campaign advertisements, and Missouri state law-enforcement officials supporting Senator Obama have threatened to take criminal action against "false" criticisms of Obama, prompting Governor Matt Blunt to compare the intimidation to "police state tactics." None of these stories has been reported by the Times as far as I can tell. Again, the Obama campaign's proclivity for using law enforcement to silence its critics should be especially troubling to journalists, not ignored. I am reminded that Mark Steyn's critics succeeded in hauling him before hate speech tribunals in Canada (another story the Times did not report), and I would not want to witness the state criminally investigating people for expressing political opinions under an Obama administration.

The threat of legal action is not the only heavy-handed tactic the Obama campaign and its supporters have used against critics during this election. Obama's supporters have launched a full-scale attack on Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher for having the temerity, as a US citizen, to ask an unscripted question of a presidential candidate who was campaigning in his neighborhood. Obama's supporters have gone so far as to dig up his personal divorce, mortgage and tax records, and to post his home address on-line. They have even complained to the government about his lack of a plumbing license, costing him his job. Times writers Robin Abcarian and PJ Huffstutter breezily dismissed these McCarthyite tactics with the snarky line "Fame comes at a price." But is that true? Fame doesn't seem to have cost Bill Ayers anything. Despite the fact that Ayers chose bombs rather than words to express his opinions no one has hounded him from his job. (Apparently it is now Mr. Ayers job to write radical leftwing ideology into the public school curriculum, a project on which he was once assisted by Barack Obama.)

Anyway, it wasn't fame that cost Mr. Wurzelbacher his job. It was Senator Obama's supporters. Abcarian and Huffstutter seem to missed a parallel to the theme of "nasty Republicans" which the Times has been relentlessly pounding lately. The attacks on Joe The Plumber are similar to the swarm of hatred that Governor Palin has faced since McCain picked her as a running-mate. These swarm attacks are much closer in nature to a mob riot than the isolated (and exaggerated) incidents of heckling at Republican rallies that have been the subject of so much media hand-wringing.

It is unlikely that the Obama campaign actively incited the internet mob riots against Wurzelbacher and Palin, but given his campaign's documented history of astro-turfing (another story the Times did not report) such a possibility cannot be ruled out. In any case, there have been other instances in which the Obama campaign has admitted sending mobs to silence its critics. For example, when Stanley Kurtz attempted to discuss Senator Obama's executive experience running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge on Chicago radio station WGN the Obama campaign declined an invitation to participate and instead sent mobs to call in with slogans scripted by the campaign in order to shut down the phone lines. Perhaps encouraged by the media's willingness to turn a blind eye, the Obama campaign repeated the tactic when WGN invited David Freddoso to their studio. Again, the Obama campaign's preference for silencing critics rather than engaging them should be a special concern to journalists, but it has received almost no coverage. Why not?

If the Times were willing to report criticisms of the Obama campaign like these the newspaper's relentlessly negative coverage of McCain/Palin and its Obama endorsement would get more respect.

Larry Guest

Al Neuharth, patriarch of USA Today, showed his wisdom by declaring that USA Today would not endorse candidates, but rather offer the facts and let the readers decide. Al acknowledged that the massive ego of too many editors would not allow them to avoid the temptation of playing king-makers. It is being said that this is the year that responsible journalism died. As a career journalist, recently retired, I don't believe that is true; it died over the course of the last several years and the LA Times has been one of the principal undertakers.

CEW

I cancelled my subscription with you because I believe the media should always remain unbiased. After showing who you favor, it only told me and my family that continued reading of your publications meant we would be reading a heavily one sided story. It's too bad. We really did enjoy you.

Richard C. Mongler

@CEW Cry moar and learn2history. Newspaper endorsements are as old as newspapers themselves.

And I, for one, applaud the Times -a thoughtful, balanced, nationally respected newspaper- for getting off the fence and -after much consideration- including an endorsement for Mr Obama along with their usual election time endorsements and picks for local politicians and ballot measures.

The fact that the Times hasn't endorsed a candidate for US president since George Washington until now speaks volumes about the importance of the coming election as probably the most important presidential election since 1932 and -arguably- the most important *ever* given the global implications.

Apart from that, as a Republican turned independent voter whose mind was made up for Obama a long time ago, the Times' endorsement means little to me beyond an interesting editorial page 'analysis' of why Mr. Obama is the best man to get America back on track and repair the damage done by a Bush administration who derailed everything from the economy to America's reputation and standing in the world.

Gosh darn it, it's positively the most overtly patriotic 'stand' I've seen the Times make in my 18 years as a subscriber.

Talking of which, I'm going to buy my neighbour a gift subscription to the Times just to cancel out your juvenile hissy-fit.

Richard C. Mongler

@CEW Also, anyone who hasn't made up their minds by now and/or rely on the opinions of others (ie newspapers) to pick a president shouldn't be allowed to vote IMO. Furthermore, undecided voters should be rounded up and shot for being detrimental to the community, country and the human race.

Personally, I won't be voting on a number of local ballot issues or job vacancies at all but it has nothing to do with being 'undecided'. It's because I either haven't had the time to *thoroughly* research both sides of a complex measure in between being bombarded with conflicting TV ads or because I have no idea who any of the candidates for the State Superior Court are, what they've done to deserve my vote and I'm not sure that I care.

'Lazy voting' -where a voter takes their favourite pundits' picks into the booth as a 'cheat sheet' or blindly votes along party lines- is worse than not voting at all and makes a mockery of democracy.

However, if you still have absolutely no idea who or what Mr. McCain, Mr. Obama or even Mr. Nader are and stand for and against, please do us all a favour and step away from the polling place.

Christine Mohar

Where is the report on the Kahlidi Tape??????

cynthiamacchione

Where is the Kahlidi Tape? Lots of us very interested in hearing it.

bob flowers

Barrack Obama is praising a terroist and you don't believe that this is news worthy? I thought journalists were supposed to report the news, not conceal it? Not fabricate it, not slant it, not interpert it? Just how stupid do you think the American Public is? Do you actually believe we can't see through this lines of fabricated lies and deceit that you and the rest of the Press have been promoting in an effort to elect Obama.

But this tax plan, the biggest joke of all time, will take money away from every American who works hard for a living and dole it out to a bunch of losers who expect and demand that the country pay for their living.

The American Dream is too work hard, save your money and you will get ahead.

Not sit around and wait for the FREE government handouts. Anything they get for free comes out of
my pocket. I am tired of working for other people's livelihood! Let them work for themselves. Wouldn't that be a novel idea!

Obama is a menance to this country.

Bruce Lindquist

If the L.A. Times has the Kahlidi Tape, why won't you make it public now? This is very important information to have prior to the election. America should hear it! now, not after the election.

Tim Woodward

I have a tape of John McCain hanging out with Osama Bin Laden. I'll give it to you if you promise to not let anyone see it. Deal? You, like the NYT have lost your credibility. You not longer report. Is this where you want to be? Remember, continue NOT doing your job and IF one day when socialism takes over, It's your industry that is the first to go.

BOBBIE JEAN HUNT

Where is the report on the Kahlidi Tape??????
We have a right to know, otherwise we will not vote for Obama!!!!!!!! Is there something to hide???

Steve Ng

Release the tapes showing the subversive company that Obama keeps and his socialistic policies. I urge everyone to cancel their subscriptions to the LA times for their lack of journalistic integrity.

Pierce Von Hinderliter

I don't get it. If the tape isn't damning to Obama and his campaign for the presidency, then why not release it? To hell with "The source", that's a sorry excuse, especially when we know who the source is. She will have her time in four years when she runs against him.

Your paper has a moral obligation to release that tape and let the American people make their own decision. You are a control freak and you should be ashamed and embarrassed over your poor judgment. Because of your poor judgment the LA Times will suffer in the long run. People don't forget.

Ron Moore

Politics and (news)Papers...so what's new? Any visit to a major library to research the history of American News Papers & Politics will reveal some shocking attacks and political nonsense over the past couple of hundred years.

Perhaps history will record none more shocking than a major news paper such as the L.A. Times in this years presidential election with two these three facts in mind:
1. The L.A. Times endorses Obama
2. The L.A. Times has a tape of Obama that 'reportedly has damaging evidence of Obama statements that may reveal bias and overt statements against the State of Israel and is suggestive of his supporting Palestinian terrorist activity.
3. The L.A Times refused to release the tape to the public.

Unbelievable! The fact is that the public is being denied full disclosure by the 'Times'. Obama should be either vindicated (as to his character of prior statements supporting Israel) or exposed by the fact that he supports anti-Israel sentiments.

Any American President who is elected must protect American interests in the Middle East and the sovereignty of the Nation of Israel.

The L.A. Times must not hide any evidence that would give the American people the answers that would; either give them either hope and trust in Obama or reveal that he is a fraud!

Release the tape! Because you supported Oboma, you put your ethics on the line. Now prove he is the man you say he is or be forever known forever as a whimpy un-American News Organization who put their self interest over that of 'We the People'

God help you if there is major damaging evidence in that tape and you pussy-footed those facts from the American People.

DANA ROSE

RELEASE THE TAPES!
LET US JUDGE FOR OURSELVES!
IT IS SHAMEFUL FOR THE LA TIMES TO BE AFRAID OF THE TRUTH!

public

Why do you publish a tape about the Governor, but won't publish the tape about Obama???

pmags

The reason la times and all the large newspapers are experiencing a decline in circulation is simply because the last 2 years you have been nothing but a campaign sheet for democrats. Bashing Bush and all the republicans Then La times endorsed Barack Obama for President, along with all the other big liberal newspapers. I immediately cancelled my subscription to the LAtimes. I know several people who did the same thing. That was the last straw. By the way, Republicans read. The democrats don't. Good luck!!

sunutv

It's simply great

Jason

Obama and McCain are both honorable men for fighting to win such a difficult campaign. Two things I stress, if Hilary had won, would it have been historic for women? I don't appreciate race "not being an issue" and then it suddenly being "the issue" once he wins. Tells me people's motives, not the issues that the debates covered. Secondly, forget the colors of skin, we got to fix some serious problems in this country instead of "one up-ing" the other guy with clever opinions. Somebody get in there and get the job done. Gas is a problem, health insurance is out of control, Iran is manuf a nuclear weapon, mortgages and credit are terrible, the stock market is atrocious, we are in terrible debt, and the liberal media cannot report anything fairly. I wish Obama the best of luck, this country has a short memory span and he will be on the chopping blocks before you know it just like Bush.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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