NYT Editors Hedge Their Bets, Endorse Warren & Klobuchar

Talk about hedging your bets.

After keeping the entire Washington media class waiting on the edge of their seats for hours, the NYT editorial board released its endorsements for the Democratic nomination. And in what the paper described as a "significant break with convention", the members of its editorial board have selected not one, but two candidates - both of them women.

Its chosen candidates are: Elizabeth Warren, the Republican-turned-progressive who for years posed as a Native American to game America's system of affirmative action - and Amy Klobuchar, the midwestern senator from the great state of Minneapolis with a reputation for being an unhinged dragon-lady boss.

In keeping with the general level of spectacle and insanity suffusing American politics since the age of Trump, the NYT decided to transform the staid process of making an endorsement into a weeks-long reality-TV-type miniseries, with the paper dribbling out edited interviews with each of the candidates, and publishing episodic updates on its new television spinoff, the Weekly.

That the NYT selected the two remaining women among the top tier of contenders is hardly a surprise: This is, after all, the same newspaper that kicked off #MeToo by dropping the first expose about Harvey Weinstein's history of abusing, harassing and assaulting women just days before the New Yorker followed up with the first piece from Ronan Farrow.

After the paper released the transcript from its interview with Bernie Sanders, which was widely mocked by his supporters for lingering on superficial issues and seemingly inundating the candidate with dumb, irrelevant questions, many suspected that the endorsement would go to Warren.

But given all of the fanfare surrounding this election and a field of candidates that is both unusually large and unusually weak, some suspected that the NYT's endorsement would come with a twist.

As the editorial explained in its missive announcing the decision, the American political scene has fractured into three dominant strains: i) Trumpism, ii) the moderate Democrats who simply wish to wind back the clock to 2014, iii) and the radical leftists who want to tear down America's institutions and start anew with government projects like Medicare for All.

Given the immense divide that has emerged between the Democratic Party's progressive and moderate wings, the paper - which has long been accused of bias toward the Democratic establishment - felt that its endorsements should signal the two standard bearers best suited to represent the divergent wings of the party. Unexpectedly, the paper passed over Joe Biden and his heir apparent, Pete Buttigieg, and instead chose Klobuchar.

After all, if the editors went ahead with their true No. 1 choice, Klobuchar, a candidate who has very little chance of actually capturing the nomination, they would look foolish.

As the editorial board wrote, this winnowing should signal to both candidates and voters that it's time to pare back the number of competitors remaining in the race. I.e., the candidates who didn't receive the paper's endorsement should probably think about throwing in the towel.

Choosing who should face off against Mr. Trump also means acknowledging that Americans are being confronted with three models for how to govern this country, not two. Democrats must decide which of their two models would be most compelling for the American people and best suited for repairing the Republic.

The party’s large and raucous field has made having that clean debate more difficult. With all the focus on personal characteristics - age and race and experience - and a handful of the most contentious issues, voters haven’t benefited from a clarifying choice about the party’s message in the election and the approach to governing beyond it.

It was a privilege for us on the editorial board to spend more than a dozen hours talking to candidates, asking them any question that came to mind. Yet that exercise is impossible for most Americans, and we were left wanting for a more focused conversation for the public. Now is the time to narrow the race.

The decision was immediately met with a flood of derision on Twitter, particularly from Bernie Sanders supporters, who have dedicated themselves to waging internecine political warfare with the Warren camp after Warren accused Sanders of once telling her that a woman wouldn't be able to defeat Donald Trump.

Fortunately for Bernie, who is still on track to win in Iowa, according to the polls, most Americans aren't paying attention to the NYT. And if you're wondering how well the paper's chosen candidates typically fare in the primary, take a look at who the NYT opinion section brain trust endorsed in January 2008...

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