Short odds: newspapers bet on political winners rather than ideology.
Conservatives often counter this argument by saying the numbers are skewed by the amount of small and medium-sized dailies that endorsed the Republican candidate and that if you look at the large-circulation dailies--the newspapers often referred to by conservatives as "the elitist press"--you will find Democrats favored by those papers with large circulations and greater national influence.
SJR couldn't find the statistics for large-circulation newspaper endorsements anywhere.
So, we decided to get them on our own. We decided to cover the last six presidential elections going back to 1980. First, we determined which 20 newspapers in each of those years had the largest circulations at the time. Then, we began calling the editorial-page editors at those newspapers to find out which candidate the papers endorsed. The results are contained in the following six charts.
A few things jump out. For one, in many of the years covered, three of the top four newspapers, by circulation, did not endorse anyone for president--USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times consistently refuse to endorse presidential candidates. (In 1988, the sixth largest newspaper by circulation, the Washington Post, couldn't make up its mind between Vice president George Bush and Gov. Michael Dukakis, saying that if the two major political parties couldn't come up with anyone better than those two, it was dropping out of the endorsement game.)
Another fact that jumps out in our survey is that, except for 2000, the top 20 newspapers in the United States collectively endorsed the eventual winner every election year. (Some would say this situation was also true in 2000 since the top 20 papers went for Vice President Al Gore.) This could mean that the newspapers' influences are powerful. Or, it could mean that the editorial pages of American newspapers invariably go with a winner rather than with an ideology.
Also, three times, in 1980, 1984 and 1988, the so-called "elite" press went for the Republican candidate--in 1980, it meant turning its collective back on an incumbent Democrat. On the other hand, it also turned its collective back on an incumbent Republican in 1992.
So, overall, the numbers are ambiguous. Republicans can draw the conclusions they want, and Democrats can do the same.
Still, our statistics don't seem to support the idea that U.S. newspapers are monolithically liberal, at least not on their editorial pages. It's more complicated than that. Also, it should be remembered that every one of the newspapers in these charts is owned by a huge corporation and most corporations are apolitical. The shrinking number of dailies in this country simply don't have the powerful and protective political agendas they used to have--The New York Times" virtual character assassination of Clinton in 1998 and '99 attests to that.
1980 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,838,891 Don't endorse New York Daily News 1,524,641 Reagan Los Angeles Times 1,000,942 Don't endorse The New York Times 873,255 Carter Chicago Tribune 784,388 Reagan Chicago Sun-Times 655,322 Carter New York Post 639,604 Reagan The Detroit News 629,598 Reagan Detroit Free Press 604,062 Carter The Washington Post 584,500 Carter San Francisco Chronicle 509,354 Reagan The Boston Globe ** 501,520 Anderson Newsday 489,888 No one The Philadelphia Bulletin * 434,105 N/A The Philadelphia Inquirer 425,877 Carter The Newark Star-Ledger 406,728 Carter The Miami Herald 398,415 Carter The Cleveland Plain Dealer 395,452 Reagan Houston Chronicle 356,288 Reagan The Houston Post * 331,172 N/A * No longer exists ** Endorsed Anderson and Carter, figures not included in Carter's totals 1980 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Reagan 489 43,899,248 Carter 489 36,481,435 Anderson 0 5,719,437 Newspapers endorsing Reagan 4,839,325 Newspapers endorsing Carter 3,948,159 1984 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,959,873 Don't endorse New York Daily News 1,346,840 Reagan USA Today 1,162,668 Don't endorse Los Angeles Times 1,046,965 Don't endorse The New York Times 934,530 Mondale New York Post 930,026 Reagan Chicago Tribune 776,348 Reagan The Washington Post 728,857 Mondale The Detroit News 656,367 Reagan Chicago Sun-Times 649,891 Reagan Detroit Free Press 647,130 Mondale Newsday 539,065 No one San Francisco Chronicle 535,796 Reagan The Philadelphia Inquirer 525,569 Mondale The Boston Globe 520,081 Mondale The Cleveland Plain Dealer 482,564 Reagan Houston Chronicle 441,557 Reagan The Newark Star-Ledger 434,117 Reagan The Miami Herald 419,631 Reagan Minneapolis Star and Tribune 373,145 Mondale 1984 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Reagan 525 54,455,075 Mondale 13 37,577,185 Newspapers endorsing Reagan 6,673,137 Newspapers endorsing Mondale 3,729,312 1988 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,869,950 Don't endorse USA Today 1,338,734 Don't endorse New York Daily News 1,281,706 Bush Los Angeles Times 1,116,334 Don't endorse The New York Times 1,038,829 Dukakis The Washington Post 769,318 No one Chicago Tribune 715,618 Bush Newsday 680,926 Dukakis The Detroit News 677,385 Bush Detroit Free Press 629,065 Dukakis Chicago Sun-Times 579,272 Bush San Francisco Chronicle 559,312 Bush New York Post 550,473 Bush The Boston Globe 509,060 Dukakis The Philadelphia Inquirer 502,756 Dukakis The Newark Star-Ledger 462,084 Bush The Cleveland Plain Dealer 444,884 Bush Houston Chronicle 420,320 Bush The Baltimore Sun 406,599 No one The Miami Herald 401,423 Bush 1988 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Bush 426 48,886,097 Dukakis 111 41,809,074 Newspapers endorsing Bush 6,092,477 Newspapers endorsing Dukakis 3,360,636 1992 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,795,206 Don't endorse USA Today 1,506,708 Don't endorse Los Angeles Times 1,146,631 Don't endorse The New York Times 1,145,890 Clinton The Washington Post 802,057 Clinton New York Daily News 777,129 Clinton Newsday 758,358 Clinton Chicago Tribune 724,257 Bush Detroit Free Press 580,372 Clinton San Francisco Chronicle 556,765 Bush Chicago Sun-Times 528,324 Clinton The Boston Globe 508,867 Clinton The Philadelphia Inquirer 502,149 Clinton The Newark Star-Ledger 481,027 Clinton The Dallas Morning News 479,215 Bush New York Post 437,918 Bush Houston Chronicle 419,725 Bush Minneapolis Star Tribune 410,920 Clinton Cleveland Plain Dealer 410,237 Clinton The Detroit News 398,630 Bush 1992 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Clinton 370 44,909,889 Bush 168 39,104,545 Perot 0 19,742,267 Newspapers endorsing Clinton 6,905,330 Newspapers endorsing Bush 3,016,510 1996 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,783,532 Don't endorse USA Today 1,675,091 Don't endorse The New York Times 1,071,120 Clinton Los Angeles Times 1,029,073 Don't endorse The Washington Post 789,198 Clinton New York Daily News 734,277 Clinton Chicago Tribune 680,535 Dole Newsday 564,754 Clinton Houston Chronicle 545,348 Dole Chicago Sun-Times 496,030 Clinton San Francisco Chronicle 486,977 Clinton The Dallas Morning News 478,181 ? The Boston Globe 471,024 Clinton New York Post 429,642 Dole The Philadelphia Inquirer 427,175 Clinton The Newark Star-Ledger 405,869 Clinton Minneapolis Star Tribune 393,740 Clinton Cleveland Plain Dealer 386,256 Clinton The Arizona Republic 382,122 Dole The San Diego Union-Tribune 372,081 Dole 1996 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Clinton 379 47,402,357 Dole 159 39,198,755 Perot 0 8,085,402 Newspapers endorsing Clinton 6,226,420 Newspapers endorsing Dole 2,409,728 2000 election endorsements NEWSPAPERS CIRCULATION (Avg. Daily) ENDORSEMENT The Wall Street Journal 1,762,761 Don't endorse USA Today 1,692,666 Don't endorse The New York Times 1,097,180 Gore Los Angeles Times 1,033,399 Don't endorse The Washington Post 762,009 Gore Daily News, New York 704,463 Gore Chicago Tribune 661,699 Bush Newsday 576,345 Gore Houston Chronicle 546,799 Bush The Dallas Morning News 495,597 Bush Chicago Sun-Times 471,031 Bush The Boston Globe 464,472 Gore San Francisco Chronicle 457,028 Gore The Arizona Republic 445,322 Bush New York Post 443,951 Bush Denver Rocky Mountain News 426,465 Bush Denver Post 420,033 Gore The Star-Ledger, Newark 407,537 Gore The Philadelphia Inquirer 400,385 Gore The San Diego Union-Tribune 370,395 Bush 2000 Vote Candidate Electoral Popular Bush 271 50,456,002 Gore 266 50,999,897 Nader 0 2,882,955 Newspapers endorsing Bush 3,861,259 Newspapers endorsing Gore 5,289,452
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|Author:||Bishop, Ed; Starck, Jeff|
|Publication:||St. Louis Journalism Review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2003|
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