The Union reported in its editorial this morning that it has no intention of endorsing a candidate for president, mainly because there is no way it could achieve a consensus from the members of the editorial board.
“Rather than offering a ‘board approved’ list of candidates or measures, our role is to provide the public with content it needs to make an informed decision,” the editorial stated.
It’s probably just as well the paper is abstaining from an endorsement because they just don’t pack the clout they used to have. Back when newspapers were the leading source of news and information for people, endorsement carried substantial weight–many times, they were the difference between winning and losing.
But as the influence of newspapers has declined, so has the impact of their endorsements. While they can still influence elections close to home, they have become the equivalent of a kiss from your sister: Nice to have, but something you can live without.
Sometimes newspapers can’t even influence local elections, as The Union found out the last time it endorsed a candidate in May 2006. That’s when incumbent county Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Smith was seeking election to a full term in office, and The Union endorsed challenger Gregory Diaz.
Smith was something else. The Board of Supervisors appointed her in 2004 to complete the term of Lorraine Jewett-Burdick, who resigned. Smith proceeded to screw up several subsequent elections, turning the elections office into a true Keystone Kops operation. When she decided to run for a full term in 2006 against Diaz, The Union wrote in an editorial: “Ignorance is bliss, but not when it’s mixed with arrogance.”
Smith spend no money on advertising and did practically no campaigning, but was elected anyway. The topper: She resigned in April 2007 a week before The Union reported she was moonlighting as the city clerk of Rio Vista for a salary of $90,000 a year.
So much for the power of the press.