The Times ended their endorsement, writing, “Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate. May the best woman win.” They were signaling a debate within the Democratic Party of pragmatism versus disruption, which Klobuchar and Warren represent, respectively.
The Times’ selection played out in a unique way. The paper has endorsed presidential candidates since 1860, but this was the first time they’ve aired portions of their process publically, followed by the announcement of the endorsement during an episode of The Weekly, which aired on FX on Sunday night. It is also the first time the Times has endorsed more than one candidate.
The publication acknowledged the different approach, writing that the endorsement of two candidates was “a break with convention.” They reasoned that “Senator Warren is a gifted storyteller” and that she speaks to “plenty of progressives who are hungry for major change.”
But the Times also argued that Klobuchar “has a lengthy resume in the Senate, and bipartisan credentials that make her an invaluable dealmaker, she’s shown she can unite the party, and perhaps the nation.”
Both candidates reacted to the news via Twitter almost immediately after the endorsements were announced. Klobuchar simply wrote, “An honor!” while Warren hooked her response to something she pointed out during last week’s debate when she said, “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are women: Amy and me.” On Sunday night Warren wrote in a tweet, “So, I guess Amy Klobuchar and I are now both undefeated in elections and undefeated in New York Times endorsements!”
On Monday, editorial board member Mara Gay told MSNBC that is was obvious the board was “extremely torn.” Further explaining that the split decision was “a symptom of [the Democrats] having a very strong field.”
Gay went on to address some of the criticism the Times has faced by not making a definitive choice.
“First of all, I just want to say that we understand that not everyone is going to agree with the endorsement, that’s perfectly fine. This is really about empowering voters. And giving them the information that they’re going to need to make the best decision based on their values,” Gay told MSNBC’s, Hallie Jackson.
Jackson followed-up, asking if the Times took the easy way out.
“I think the thing we are focusing on is there is more than one path forward. Again, this fierce debate going on within the Democratic Party, about whether to be more moderate or to be more progressive is kind of a [red] herring in a sense, because the idea is to find what unites the Democrats and to put forward the best candidate.”
Gay continued, “I just want to pull back a second. Not a single vote has been cast. So, I do think we felt a responsibility to allow voters to really have their say in this process.”
Jackson next inquired about the telecast, calling it an “unprecedented level of transparency” and asking if the Times would do it again. She also asked if there was concern that it “perpetuates a reality TV mentality?”
“I personally found it to be quite refreshing,” Gay replied. “As journalists, we really push for disclosure among public officials, all the time, and transparency. And I think this was part of the process that, all criticism aside, has really worked well. It’s what voters deserve.”