Inquirer's pick comes with a dissent

Posted: October 19, 2008

The Inquirer's Editorial Board took the unusual step of accompanying today's presidential endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama with a dissenting view making the case for Sen. John McCain.

The dissenting view runs about half the length of the endorsement, and notes that the decision to back Obama "was not unanimous."

Editorial page editor Harold Jackson said that some newspapers, such as the USA Today, occasionally offered dissenting views on issues, but that he did not know of one being crafted for a presidential endorsement.

"I've been on three editorial boards, and I'm not aware of it being done," he said.

Editorial Board discussions usually remain private, Jackson said. He said that the goal was consensus, and that dissenting opinions were not necessarily expressed in board positions.

In this case, Jackson said, "we felt there are attributes about John McCain that members of the board wanted presented to the reader in a positive way."

All but one member of the board, which includes publisher Brian P. Tierney, took part in the endorsement discussions.

Board members could not remember The Inquirer's endorsing a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon, Jackson said.

He said the dissenting view should help counter the public impression that the Editorial Board walked "in lockstep" on political issues.

But he cautioned against reading too much into the purpose of the counterpoint.

"It is a recitation of why someone might vote for John McCain," Jackson said. "It is not an endorsement. There's only one endorsement on that page."

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 856-779-3893 or tgraham@phillynews.com.

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