Is the Media Afraid to Unconditionally Endorse ‘Outside’ Candidates?
20 Aug

Is the Media Afraid to Unconditionally Endorse ‘Outside’ Candidates?

As a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, I read Miami Herald recommends Marco Rubio and a long-shot newcomer for Senate, Pam Keith with more than a passing interest. I must admit, I also read it with mixed emotions.

I thought the editorial was strong and correct in delivering its criticism of the both parties. I also thought it took courage for the Miami Herald to recommend a non-establishment candidate since her selection does not fit the traditional media pattern of defaulting to better known career politicians.

I have met Pam Keith and would also have picked her among the three Democratic candidates you chose to consider. She has some fresh ideas, while Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson drag their “baggage” behind them.

Pam and I are very much alike. We share a realistic and global view as well as a personal understanding of the unique challenges facing our state’s underrepresented minorities. As a proud member of the Hispanic/Latino community (a community that comprises approximately 65 percent of Miami’ Dade County’s population) and a businessman who has worked to ensure equal opportunity for all communities, I believe I bring a critical perspective to the race for the U.S. Senate. Yet, I was not included in the discussion of eligible candidates. In fact, I have been treated as a footnote in this campaign by most of the media even though I have been finishing a strong third (behind Murphy and Grayson) in the straw polls in which I have been included.

It is less important whether I win than it is that voters be given a candidate who can encourage traditionally underrepresented members of the community to become part of the political process rather than simply a constituency that gets exploited at election time. The Miami Herald’s decision to ignore my campaign denied the Miami-Dade community and its readers of that opportunity.

Correspondingly, while the Miami Herald ostensibly made an endorsement in the U.S. Senate race, it did so in a manner that was unfair to the candidate and, more importantly, to the voters. An endorsed candidate deserves parity with her opponents, but she did not receive it. Instead, the Herald provided a conditional endorsement that predicted that the candidate’s “chances of winning this primary are slim to none.”

I would suggest that any candidate’s chances reside with the voters. If you are going to endorse a candidate, you owe her the dignity to do so without reservation. Instead, your endorsement encourages people to believe that a vote for a non-establishment, “long-shot” candidate would be a wasted one.

It has become fashionable for media outlets to express disappointment about the quality of our elected officials and to call for new leadership. However, almost every media outlet yields to the tired thinking that someone “new” cannot win. The reality is that “new” candidates can only win if the media stops trying to convince people that their “chances are slim to none.”

There is a prophetic quote in your endorsement that states: “When a party leaves its own members with fewer choices, or abandons neutrality to favor one candidate over another, voters lose. It’s an insult to anyone who wants fairness in the electoral system.”

Consider the possibility that, with marginal rewording, the Miami Herald could have exposed another problem: “When a media outlet ignores new candidates leaving its own readers with fewer choices, or abandons neutrality to favor one candidate over another, voters lose. It’s an insult to anyone who wants fairness in the electoral system.”

As you so wisely determined, even a long-shot candidate deserves consideration. I would have appreciated the opportunity to persuade you that I too am a deserving candidate. Next time, I hope you will respect the uphill battle non-establishment candidates have chosen to fight and try not to add to the height of the hurdles we must overcome.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

(Please feel free to express you opinion below. My only request is that you do so rationally rather than emotionally and in a civil manner that respects the rights of others to disagree.)

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