Sunday, October 31, 2010

Michael Smerconish's Confusing Column Against Newspaper Endorsements

I think if one takes Michael Smerconish's call for newspapers to end political endorsements to its logical conclusion, he would lose his job as a columnist for the Inquirer and Daily News:

"When any newspaper lines up alongside Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann, it unnecessarily compromises its status as an objective source of fact at a time when an increasing number of media outlets traffic in ideologically driven, artificial political debates. The vaunted wall separating news coverage and editorializing is sacrificed - apparently based on the assumption that readers are capable of consuming the paper's reportage from the campaign trail but unable to come to their own conclusions as a result of that information."

That's not actually an argument against endorsements, but an argument against the existence of editorials and opinion pieces at all. And it's wrong: The wall between the news coverage and editorializing isn't eliminated because the editorial department does its job. That only happens if the news department starts doing the endorsements -- and that's not what Smerconish is suggesting here.

So it's a confused and confusing column by Smerconish -- who, it should be remembered, endorsed Barack Obama to great fanfare in 2008 ... on his radio show and in his Inky column.

What Smerconish does isn't all that substantively different from Beck or Olbermann -- only he has a newspaper platform in addition to his radio show. I'm not sure how any reading of today's Michael Smerconish newspaper column isn't actually a call for the Inky and Daily News to bring and end to the Michael Smerconish newspaper column.

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