The New York Times broke with convention and endorsed two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination — Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
The editorial board’s choice was revealed on The Weekly, the FX and Hulu series, in a first for the publication. As noted in the episode, for 160 years the endorsement process has taken place in private. But the editorial board opened up their interviews with candidates and some of the deliberations to the show’s cameras.
“Many Democratic voters are concerned first and foremost about who can beat” Donald Trump,” the Times wrote in the editorial. “But with a crowded field and with traditional polling in tatters, that calculation calls for a hefty dose of humility about anyone’s ability to foretell what voters want.”
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The Times noted that “there will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives.”
The episode had shades of The Apprentice, right down to the long boardroom table, with the candidates getting grilled by the members of the editorial board followed immediately by some discussion among the members about their respective pluses and minuses.
For Warren, it was her charisma, albeit some concerns that she comes across as condescending. For Klobuchar, it was her Midwestern pragmatism and a record of reaching independent and even Republican voters, although she also faced questions about the turnover of her Senate staff.
The half-hour episode, called “The Endorsement,” started with Bernie Sanders on a snowy December day.
“I want to convey to you that I look at the world a little bit different than you do,” Sanders tells them, suggesting that the way to negotiate with Mitch McConnell is to “make him an offer he can’t refuse.” That is, pointing out that ideas like raising the minimum wage are supported by a majority of voters even in Kentucky.
Joe Biden surprised members of the editorial staff by not coming across as he is portrayed in the media — for his tendency to make gaffes. “He didn’t strike me like that at all,” one of the members of the board said after the interview.
But neither Sanders nor Biden, atop of many of the current polls, made it to the final round. In a vote of the top two choices of the editorial board, Klobuchar, Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker made the cut. Booker has since dropped out of the race.
Biden and Booker had perhaps the two most emotional moments of the episode, when each was asked, Who is someone who has broken your heart? Biden talked of his heart being broken when his son, Beau, died in 2015, and Booker talked of the shooting death of Hassan Washington, who lived in the same Newark building as he did. Booker tried to serve as a mentor to Washington, but got caught up in his mayoral campaign. Washington was killed shortly after he took office.
“We were all there for his death but we weren’t there for his life,” Booker said in the interview.