Friday, October 17, 2008

ChiTrib, LAT goes Obama

In its history, the Chicago Tribune has never endorsed a card-carrying Democrat for US President with one possible exception: They did endorse an independent upstart in 1872 named Horace Greeley who was running against the corrupt Ulysses Grant -- and who was later nominated by the donkey. They also backed Teddy Roosevelt when he ran as a Progressive in 1912. But after nine and a half decades of non-stop GOP endorsements it appears that this libertarian paper's patience with the elephant has finally been exhausted; and online today (in print tomorrow) it gave its thumbs up to Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, the Trib's sister newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, has formally endorsed a candidate for the first time since the Watergate era -- and the very pro-business paper too has chosen Obama.

On top of yesterday's endorsement by the Washington Post, that makes three out of the four papers of record in America. If as expected the New York Times also backs the Senator from Illinois, that will mark the first time in living memory that a candidate has completed the Grand Slam.

Some will say, it's just the liberal media ganging up together. Not so. As noted above, the Trib has traditionally been a favourite of the right, and it's worth remembering that WaPo endorsed Dubya in 2004.

The industry's trade publication, Editor and Publisher, notes that endorsements are currently running about 3:1 in Obama's favour -- it was roughly even four years ago with John Kerry winding up with just a slight advantage of 51.7% of editorial pages. If nearly 24% of papers in America have switched party loyalties in that frame of time, it can't be from left to right. (Here's a tally of the list of newspaper endorsements so far). Obviously the editorial boards of America are hearing what their readership is saying on both sides of the aisle: It's time for something completely different.

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