The New York Times editorial board’s presidential endorsement — complete with a hyped reality-TV show to announce the winner (though there wasn’t one) — is objectionable on many grounds. It oozed with self-importance while failing to actually endorse a candidate (instead it gave the nod to both Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, since it is so hard to choose, you see). It was condescending. (“[Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg] showing in the lead-up to the primaries predicts a bright political future; we look forward to him working his way up.”) It made itself, videoed in its august boardroom in the clouds of the New York skyline, the story while showing off its lack of connection to those who live beyond the confines of the five boroughs. (One is reminded of the famous New Yorker cover “View of the World from 9th Avenue,” portraying everything beyond New York City as a vast wasteland.)

In providing this self-parody, the endorsement raises a serious issue about the media’s perception of Democratic voters. Of Joe Biden, it declared, “Mr. Biden maintains a lead in national polls, but that may be a measure of familiarity as much as voter intention.” It is hard to imagine anything more contemptuous of voters, African American voters specifically, who are deeply attached to Barack Obama’s vice president.

We are to believe Biden’s supporters (including, in some polls, the majority of African American voters in the primary electorate), simply do not know better? They do not mean to support Biden, the theory goes. They just remember the name.

Indeed, race and support from critical non-white voters do not figure in the non-endorsement/dual-endorsement. This is not meant as a criticism of either Klobuchar or Warren, but of the cluelessness in evaluating a Democratic nominee able to beat President Trump without so much as a nod to the essential support the nominee will have to inspire among African American voters.

A Washington Post-Ipsos poll released Jan. 11 reveals that black Democratic voters showed most support for former vice president Joe Biden. (The Washington Post)

The Biden campaign, perhaps realizing the derogatory characterization of some of his key supporters, struck back with this:

Coming on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden’s campaign also put out this video featuring Biden speaking to an African American audience:

Media commentators have been predicting Biden’s political demise since the day he entered the race. A Biden victory seems virtually unimaginable to many pundits and campaign reporters. That may be because they are looking at the wrong things, talking to the wrong people and ignoring the critical role of African American voters. It seems that since 2016, when the media never saw the Trump phenomenon coming, too many have learned too little. The primary election will not be decided by the denizens of the New York skyline, but by ordinary people for whom character, decency, loyalty and reliability are essential. A lot of those are not white, do not have college degrees and do not think the specifics of a health-care plan should be the deciding factor in their choice.

Perhaps that nominee will be either Warren or Klobuchar. Perhaps one of them, or another contender, will capture the support of African American voters. However, ignoring these voters and showing disdain for their political choice tells us more about the endorsers than it does about any candidate. And it explains why the media remain baffled by Biden’s staying power at the top of national polls.

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