Maintaining Political Accountability During the 2020 Election Season

Maintaining+Political+Accountability+During+the+2020+Election+Season

On Jan. 19, The New York Times made the decision to endorse two Democratic candidates for president, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Though the Times has a long history of political endorsements, this decision marks the first time two candidates have been selected.

While The Fordham Ram intends to cover the 2020 presidential cycle, we have decided against endorsing a candidate.

The staff of Volume 102 will remain dedicated to reporting the news in an unbiased and impartial manner as we cover the election. We, as a publication, aspire to hold political actors accountable through facts and reliable reporting — not endorsements or personal approval. Though we will continue to share our stances on public issues in our weekly editorial, we will not blatantly advocate for specific political candidates.

Today’s political climate is one of the most volatile in history. With a president undergoing an impeachment trial amidst this competitive and chaotic primary, media outlets are under intense public scrutiny in regards to bias and accuracy. In light of this, political endorsements by newspapers may be doing more harm than good.

Endorsements, by nature, give news outlets the ability to guide the reader to the conclusion that they are pushing for. Instead, the Ram hopes to urge readers to draw their own conclusions based on fair and accurate reporting.

We believe that it is imperative that we provide the necessary information for readers to confront their own beliefs and make a decision for themselves. Journalists have a responsibility to present the truth in a manner that serves to inform without looking to sway the readers in a certain direction.

The New York Times dramatized their endorsement online with a dramatic black screen that reads: “In a break with convention, the editorial board has chosen to endorse two separate Democratic candidates for president.”

The endorsement was also heavily promoted with the trailer for the episode of “The Weekly,” the Times’ show on Hulu and FX, which culminated in the revelation of the paper’s endorsement decision. By framing the interviews and the article around the editorial board’s conclusion, it places less emphasis on the substance of each candidate’s answer.

However, the decision to make the interviews public and on-the-record allows the audience to have more information and develop their own position on each of the candidates. The Times concedes that their opportunity to interview the candidates in depth is an “exercise that is impossible for most Americans.” By including the transcripts online, they are allowing Americans to have more access themselves to the information provided in these interviews. At The Fordham Ram, we encourage our readers to take advantage of this resource. We urge voters to listen to each candidate’s argument, and focus less on the Times’ conclusions from them.

Even with The New York Times’ endorsement, further research is necessary in order to cast an unformed vote.

In their endorsement, the Times wrote that the Democrats are a “divided party.” They said they hope these two candidates could represent the two major factions within the party, and that Warren and Klobuchar expressed the strongest of the candidates to go against President Trump. However, we feel their decision to put their support behind two distinct candidates is not actually a decision. It serves to dilute the attention that the endorsed candidates will receive. Only one candidate will be able to win the nomination, and fostering this sense of amplified competition within the party will likely serve to increase tensions. With the threat of an incumbent with a strong support base behind him, it does not make sense for the Times to further the disagreement and division among Democrat supporters.

Readers need to process the information themselves and develop a conscious decision that they believe in. It is our hope that Volume 102 will help readers during the 2020 election cycle to find the truth and maintain the journalistic integrity that our history asks of us. We look forward to another great volume with an incredible staff by our side.