CD8 Endorsement Interviews: $1 Million Buy-In

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Maryland Scramble has confirmed that the Washington Post, in making its endorsement in CD8, only interviewed three candidates: Kathleen Matthews, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone. The proffered excuse for such a shocking abdication of the Post’s responsibilities was that “there were just too many candidates.”

Folks, there were six candidates not interviewed – the interviews would have lasted maybe a half hour each, and the preparation time would have been maybe another hour or so. So quite frankly, I don’t buy it. It’s one thing to use “viability” as a consideration in making the endorsement, it’s another to shut out six of nine candidates from the process altogether.

What this appalling decision says is that the Post, whatever its occasional head fakes in the direction of campaign finance reform, is ultimately only interested in money – how much of it each candidate has raised, and even worse, how much of it each candidate has spent. David Trone hasn’t filed a campaign finance report yet, and he isn’t fundraising at all, so all the Post can go on is the sketchiest estimates of his self-funded spending, extrapolated from the prodigious amounts of mail and television advertising that he has done.

The Post has steadfastly refused to do any public polling in the race, so all we have to go on is internal polling, strategically leaked at the time and in the manner the candidates choose. Despite this obvious problem, the Post, as do other media outlets, repeats every internal poll result as the gospel – until another poll comes out, which then becomes the new gospel.

In the end, the one remaining media outlet with the presumptive credibility to assess the race with any degree of seriousness, has instead decided – without any fanfare or even any notice at all – to play the role of gatekeeper and unilaterally shut out 2/3 of the candidates from its endorsement process. While such a decision may have eased the Post’s workload by a few hours, by using money spent as the sole apparent criteria, the Post’s editorial process has become part of the problem which it claims elsewhere is in desperate need of fixing. In less polite conversation, that’s called hypocrisy.

At the end of the day, it is likely that the Post would have been considering the same three candidates for its endorsement. But by dispensing with even the pretense of considering all the candidates, the Post has sent an insidious message: only wealthy people with the ability to raise or spend enormous amounts of money are even worthy of their time. That’s just wrong.

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