23 October 2012

I had a somewhat testy exchange of Facebook a few weeks ago in which I posted a link to the Salt Lake Tribune (Trib) and someone (apologies again to that person…) replied that the Trib was far to liberal for their taste. I don’t think there is any doubt that the Trib is considerably more “liberal” in their coverage than the Deseret News, but I don’t think they are really off center compared to the rest of the country. As evidence that it really wasn’t a left biased newespaper, I submitted that at the time the Trib had endorsed more Republicans for major state races than they had Democrats. 

That certainly is not conclusive proof of a lack of liberal bias on the part of the Trib. But I don’t think that is really the issue. There is a bias, just not the kind of bias that you would expect. Below are the endorsements the Trib has now completed in the Presidential race, and races for Governor, Senate and all four House races:

  • President – Obama (D) link
  • Governor – Herbert (R) link
  • Senate – Hatch (R) link
  • House 1 – Bishop (R) link
  • House 2 – Seegmiller (D) link
  • House 3 – Chaffetz (R) link
  • House 4 – Matheson (D) link

I hope it’s obvious right off the bat that the Trib has taken great pains to offend everyone. I don’t recall in any of these endorsements that they gave any consideration at all to third-party candidates so fans of Ron Paul on the right or Jill Stein on the left are irritated already. The endorsements are split almost evenly with four republicans and three democrats. You can bet that the fans of Senator Hatch are planning on cancelling their subscription over the endorsement of President Obama, and vice versa. So… where’s the bias?

It’s highlighted by Seegmiller in House District 2. This is the only major race at this level that has an “open” seat. Due to Utah gaining an additional House seat, and the gerrymandering redistricting process, Bishop, Chaffetz and Matheson are running in redrawn seats, but seats that contained at least part of their old districts.

In other words,** the Trib endorsed all incumbents except in the one race where they couldn’t**. They endorsed pandering to the status quo, and supporting the existing power structure. That is how you get a paper endorsing Obama relatively left of center (and far, far left in the minds of many Utahns), Seegmiller and Matheson who are centrists at best and who would be moderate republicans in any blue state, and Bishop, Hatch and Chaffetz who are among the most conservative members of congress. (I am going to keep my opinion of Herbert, and where he fits in this scale to myself, seeing as how I work for him.)

We would do well to remember that Congress, with its 10% approval rating, is made up of all these incumbents. I hope if you are voting for one of the incumbents it’s because you have taken a long hard look at the issues important to you and your family. I hope you picked the candidate that truly will better represent your interests, and not because as the Trib argued when endorsing Rob Bishop “There is just one thing Bishop has that McAleer doesn’t have: seniority in Congress.”

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