Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

October 31, 2012

Endorsements can backfire

TAHLEQUAH — When candidates for political office used to solicit campaign support from the late Sen. Gene Stipe, Oklahoma’s longest-tenured office-holder used to quip: “I can be for you or against you, whichever will help.”

Stipe was a polarizing figure: Folks either loved him or hated him. Many of his constituents in the McAlester area liked him because he protected their jobs and snared cushy project for that region. His opponents distrusted him, and perhaps for good reason: In 2003, he pleaded guilty to federal perjury and conspiracy charges, and later, he was indicted on charges of mail fraud, witness tampering, money laundering and conspiracy.

But Stipe’s point about politics is well-taken: Sometimes the lack of endorsement is more helpful than open support, and sometimes, an endorsement can be the kiss of death.

The Daily Press has suggested candidate choices only on rare occasions. For instance, we endorsed the late Wilma Mankiller when she formally ran for Cherokee Nation principal chief, after assuming the office upon Ross Swimmer’s mid-term departure. Since then, we’ve avoided supporting specific candidates.

It’s not because individuals who work here don’t have favorites; we do. But the employment roster has always come with a diverse cross-section of opinions, and in many races, it would be virtually impossible to land on a candidate that would make all – or even most – of us happy. And though larger metro newspapers can readily work around that problem, it’s not quite so simple for community newspapers. While duties are partitioned at metro papers, employees at small papers wear many hats, and lines often become blurred. We all have to get along.

We’ve noticed another peculiarity about Cherokee County voters: While they sometimes don’t mind being told how to vote on issues, they don’t like being told whom to vote for. In an area when relationships and kinships are complex and intertwined, choosing one person over another can do more harm than good. The last time the Press published picks for every office during an election was in the mid-1980s, and it backfired; only one of the paper’s selected candidates won his race. Later, some readers told us they suspected the endorsements were based on what was good for the paper rather than the community. Some even wondered if candidates had “paid” for the endorsements in some way. They hadn’t, but that type of mindset is difficult to change.

A few readers still believe when we publish a syndicated column that praises or lambastes a candidate, the columnist’s opinion reflects that of the newspaper itself. The same issues arise over editorial page cartoons. So from time to time, it’s necessary to remind readers that the Press doesn’t necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in these cartoons or columns – sometimes even columns written by our own staff members. But we try to present a cross-section of views to appeal to all readers. When the opinion expressed is that of the Daily Press as a newspaper – rather than that of a syndicated columnist, or a writer on our staff – it will appear without a byline or standing head, as per long-standing tradition of the industry as a whole. What you are reading at this moment, then, is “our opinion.”

Despite our policy, every time an election rolls around, candidates or their staffers pressure us for endorsements. When we decline, some respond curtly; occasionally, they subtly imply they’ll “remember” our neutrality after they’re in office – and they don’t mean that in a good way.

Though we always reserve the right to take a stand, we believe that in general, the believe the best way to handle elections is to let readers know the candidates’ platforms and their history both in and out of the public eye. Armed with that information, voters can make informed decisions at the ballot box. Alternatively, they can simply vote for their neighbors or relatives – but nothing a newspaper can do or say will stop that from happening.

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Editorials
  • Priorities on public school spending may be skewed in Oklahoma

    There’s no question that public schools in Cherokee County boast some good administrators. Innovative programming, cutting-edge technology, creative spending strategies and successful students are among their hallmarks. But when comparing their salaries side-by-side with those of teachers, who establish the firm foundation of our children’s futures, it also appears some administrators may be overpaid.

    August 1, 2014

  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

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  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

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    July 25, 2014

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    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
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