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Opinion: Barack Obama racking up the newspaper endorsements (including one that really caught our eye)

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Editor & Publisher, which specializes in covering the newspaper industry, is keeping track of press endorsements in the presidential race. As of today, it’s a rout: Nods for Barack Obama outpace those for John McCain by more than 3-to-1.

Many will profess not to be surprised by this. Still, although many newspapers -- especially the larger ones serving urban populations -- long have leaned Democratic in their editorial stances, the magazine notes that the tally in 2004 was a horserace: John Kerry barely edged George W. Bush, 213-205.

The Ticket will be the first stipulate that newspaper endorsements are not particularly influential these days in high-profile political races (and have not been for several cycles). That’s a big reason why one of the recent endorsements caught our attention -- given the state in which it appeared, it constitutes a working definition of tilting against windmills.

The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s major newspaper, came out for Barack Obama. This, in a state President Bush carried in 2004 with close to 72% of the vote (his best showing anywhere).

McCain, the editorial makes clear for its predominantly Mormon audience, clearly hurt himself in the paper’s eyes when he bypassed Mitt Romney as his running mate. It then harshly criticizes ‘the impetuous McCain’ for selecting Sarah Palin instead.

Palin, the editorial continues, ‘quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain’s bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.’

The Tribune’s readers, at that point, could be excused for checking the masthead to make sure they had not mistakingly stumbled across a copy of the New York Times.

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The Tribune piece goes on to detail what it terms ‘compelling reasons’ for backing Obama; the complete editorial can be read here.

-- Don Frederick


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