Home 2017 Races Should Virginia Voters Care About Newspaper Endorsements?

Should Virginia Voters Care About Newspaper Endorsements?

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With just over two weeks to go until election day 2017 here in Virginia, we’re about at that special time when newspaper editorial boards weigh in with their endorsements. And while, at times, such endorsements can be helpful…sad to say, mostly they are predictable, uninformative, uninformed, lazy, status quo, incumbent-biased, etc.

For instance, see the strongly rightward-leaning InsideNOVA for its sadly predictable endorsements of…yep, a bunch of Republican (white male) incumbents:

a) Del. Rich Anderson (R-HD51), who recently sent out these racist, fear-mongering mailers against Latino/Lebanese/Irish-American woman Hala Ayala (who writes that Anderson’s “mail pieces stoke fear of immigrant and minority communities and make it abundantly clear that he is not in office to represent all those who live in the 51st District, including me”)

b) Del. Jackson Miller (Faaar-right R-HD 50) over a (gasp!) – progressive opponent (Lee Carter) who supports (double gasp!) “such far-left issues as single-payer healthcare.” In contrast to Carter’s support for single-payer healthcare, which basically every other advanced, industrialized nation on earth has, InsideNOVA is totally cool with Jackson Miller’s ZERO rating on a woman’s right to choose, Miller’s lockstep support of the gun lobby, etc.

c) Del. Scott Lingamfelter (Hard-right R-HD31) over Latino woman and highly qualified Democrat Elizabeth Guzman. Note that Lingamfelter recently sent out a fear-mongering, race-baiting piece of trash mailer (yeah, this seems to be a favorite thing for hard-right, white male Republicans to do these days). Also note that Lingamfelter is the character who claimed that dangers around fracking are “urban legends”; who has consistently received ZERO ratings on a woman’s right to choose; who is yet another puppet of the NRA and its minions; and who took to the floor of the House of Delegates to oppose superbly qualified Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond District Court, simply because he’s gay. No problem for right-wing InsideNOVA, though, which endorses Lingamfelter for reelection because, supposedly, “he is very accessible and has proven to be a solid legislator.” Yep, totally brain dead “reasoning,” even for a right-wing rag like InsideNOVA.

d) Last but not least, there’s InsideNOVA’s beyond-moronic, truly laughable non-endorsement in the race between uber-bigot Del. “Sideshow Bob” Marshall (R-Outer Space?) and the superbly qualified Democrat Danica Roem. After reading this drivel, I feel like I’ve lost about 20 points off my IQ, also that I never want to read InsideNOVA’s drivel ever again – let alone to take their endorsements (or non-endorsements) in any way seriously.

By the way, keep in mind that most newspaper “editorial board” endorsements are made by one person, maybe two, so you really need to know who that person or two are and what their ideology is to judge whether or not you should care about their opinions on anything.

In the case of the Washington Post, for instance, it’s important to realize that that paper’s Virginia endorsements are mostly written by Lee Hockstader, a long-time foreign correspondent who treats Virginia like IT is a foreign country (to wit: the last time I saw or heard of Hockstader covering a Virginia political event was back in 2006, when he came out to Arlington to sneer and gawk at what he clearly saw as the lefty rabble supporting Jim Webb for U.S. Senate). As I wrote this morning on Facebook, in response to a post decrying InsideNOVA’s appalling endorsements:

[Also] watch out for endorsements by Lee Hockstader, who has been the Washington (Com)Post’s Virginia editorial dude for over a decade. I mean, this is the same guy who endorsed Barbara Comstock over LuAnn Bennett for Congress last year because he thought Comstock would be some sort of moderating influence in the House of Representatives. And this is the same guy who endorsed the supposed “moderate” Frank Wolf, year after year, even as Wolf went off the far-right deep end. More locally, in 2015, Hockstader/the Post endorsed Mark Dudenhefer (over Josh King) in HD-2, “Tag” Greason (over Elizabeth Miller) in HD-32, “Danny” Vargas (over Jennifer Boysko no less!) in HD-86. In 2013, Hockstader/the Post endorsed Dudenhefer in HD-2, Randy Minchew in HD-10, Tag Greason in HD-32, Dave Albo in HD-42, Jackson Miller in HD-50, Jim LeMunyon in HD-67, Tom Rust in HD-86…getting the picture here?

Gack.

So, getting back to the original question: should Virginia voters care about newspaper endorsements? In short: not really, unless perhaps they happen to have (miraculously?) a well-reasoned, well-researched rationale for one candidate or the other. The problem is, most of the time newspaper endorsements are NOT any of those things, but tend to be slipshod affairs based on…god knows what, really.

Anyway, just a few things to keep in mind as corporate media outlets weigh in over the next few days with their recommendations as to who we should/should not vote for.

  • A_Siegel

    Takes a long time to the caveat: that the endorsements are worth paying attention to if they demonstrate thoughtful substance/reflection. Honestly, I think that the Bristol Herald Courier did a pretty impressive/thoughtful job in making clear why Gillespie did not merit an endorsement. http://www.heraldcourier.com/opinion/no-one-s-got-our-vote-in-virginia/article_3198258c-81d0-5855-a6fd-05535e34b1ec.html Regret that the reach-outs to the Northam team evidently fell into a communications black hole and thus the editorial board ended at ‘no endorsement’ in part because they didn’t have a chance to sit down with Lt.Gov. Northam. Re Gillespie, however, I learned and gained new perspectives from what they wrote/their opinions.

  • Frank Anderson

    Agree that endorsements are often uninformed /biased, but do they make a difference in the outcome of a race? Not since Creigh Deeds rode the Post endorsement to the nomination did I see a proven impact.

    • I’d say they have a lot more impact in a primary than in a general election. For instance, Tom Perriello seems convinced that the Hockstader/Post endorsement of Ralph Northam a week or so before the election really hurt his (Tom’s) campaign. As for general elections, I don’t think LuAnn Bennett lost BECAUSE of the Hockstader/Post endorsement of Barbara Comstock, but it certainly didn’t help matters. I guess my frustration is with any Democrats who actually care what Lee Hockstader – sorry, the “Washington Post editorial board” – thinks about who they should vote for. WHY? Can’t they use Google and/or think for themselves? They really need a former foreign correspondent who doesn’t know jack about Virginia politics advise them on how to vote???