Why editorial boards should stop endorsing presidential candidates

On Tuesday night, The New York Times endorsed Joe Biden for president.

Except, not really. What actually happened was that The New York Times editorial board endorsed Biden’s presidential candidacy. 
In the writeup of that endorsement, in small print at the top, was this disclaimer:
“The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.”
    Now, I know — because I worked at The Washington Post for a decade — that there is a real barrier between those two things. The editorial board and the newsroom simply don’t mix. They are separate entities, with very different missions.
    The problem is that almost no one in America gets that. To them, the Times endorsed Biden. As did The Washington Post. And the New Yorker. And on and on and on. 

    In a world in which the President of the United States has shown he is more than willing to make things up, spread manipulated video and do all sorts of other things to sully the media and its reputation, the idea that people would distinguish between the editorial board of a media organization and its reporters is farcical.
    (Nota bene: CNN does not have an editorial board and does not issue candidate endorsements.)
    Not only do editorial board endorsements confuse people, it also makes it harder for great reporters who work at these institutions to do their jobs. Because people point to the editorial board endorsement of Biden and say, “Well, we know who your paper wants to win!”
    To be clear: I am not ignoring the overall usefulness of editorial boards (although I do think they are a somewhat outdated relic of journalism.) I am fine with ed boards writing pieces on policy or on the President or his party or his challengers.
      But I don’t see the need for the endorsement of a presidential candidate. Candidly, I am not sure how many people in the country are waiting with bated breath for ANY endorsement in a presidential race — up to and including a newspaper or magazine’s editorial board.
      The Point: Journalism was changing before Donald Trump got elected. But his open warfare on the free and independent media should force a rethinking of why and how we do what we do. Endorsing candidates for the nation’s top office feels like something better left in the past.

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