Monday, June 05, 2006

L.A. Times Guarantees It Will Endorse For President In 2008

The L.A. Times editorial page on Sunday promised to endorse a candidate for President in 2008, a step forward in my view.

As the editorial mentioned, a policy of not making an endorsement for major offices was inaugurated in 1973, but eroded somewhat as the Times did endorse in some gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

As the editorial remarked, "The editorial endorsements on this page, like the unsigned editorials taking positions on other public-policy debates, do not affect the newspaper's coverage in any way."

Ed Guthman, a former national editor of the L.A. Times and editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, told me a long time ago that the editorial page is the soul of the newspaper, in that it provides a light into what the editors are thinking and allows readers to know where the paper is coming from.

But, of course, in Los Angeles for the moment, the editorial page is under the sole control of the publisher, Jeff Johnson, who listens carefully to what the Tribune Co. wants. It would be better if the editorial page was under the editor, Dean Baquet.

Still, I think the editorial endorsement for President will mean something, and as a political writer and after I wrote several memos urging such endorsements.

I suspect the 1973 policy against such endorsements reflected personal troubles Otis Chandler had, first because he wanted to break the string of always endorsing the Republican candidates, which had been an embarrassment for the paper, and, second, because he was friendly with state Atty. Gen. Evelle Younger, had been embroiled with him in business ventures, and wanted an excuse not to endorse him.

But these reasons were not really valid excuses. The Times always should have endorsed for every major office, and I'm glad they're getting back to it.

I don't think they'll be endorsing Jeb Bush for President, however.

Endorsing for President is not nearly as intrusive as these infernal telephone calls which have been arriving containing various politicians or groups endorsing various candidates in tomorrow's primary. You can choose whether or not to read an editorial, or even look at the editorial page, but when you pick up your phone, all you can do if you don't want to hear the message is to hang up. It still represents an interruption, and I seldom want to hear these messages.

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6/06/2006 2:11 AM  

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