New York City residents struggling to recover from Sandy's aftermath awoke to a surprise on the cover of today's Daily News. On the left side of the tabloid's front page, the News trumpeted its endorsement of Mitt Romney for president. Accompanied by a headshot of a smiling Mitt, the statement stood in odd juxtaposition beside the paper's announcement of its newly formed Disaster Fund. If nothing else, the pairing of the two headlines on the same cover would lead one to expect an explanation of how Romney might handle the city's economic recovery. But let's just say that today's paper is full of surprises.
The Daily News calls itself "New York's Hometown Paper" and much of its readership is in many of the same outer-borough neighborhoods hit hardest by the storm. The same is true of the New York Post, yet as a Murdoch outlet, that paper's pre-Sandy endorsement of Romney came as no surprise. But the News is always at war with the Post, and its publisher, Mort Zuckerman, is a conservative Democrat. And, as Sunday's announcement reminded readers, the paper had endorsed Obama in 2008.
Zuckerman and company chose to back Romney, the editorial explained, because the economy had not improved fast enough during Obama's first term in office. Such was not a new claim from Zuckerman. In April, the publisher told Fox's Neil Cavuto that he had made a "mistake" in supporting Obama, and that Romney had "by far a greater understanding of how this economy works." Still, even if the publisher of the News (and Chairman of U.S. News and World Report, as he identifies himself to national audiences), has had a recent change of heart regarding the president, one would think that the question of which candidate would best handle the post-Sandy economy would be discussed at some length.
Instead, Sunday's endorsement makes only passing reference to the storm's devastating effects on the region. It comes in reference to Obama's handling of the stimulus. According to the News, "the legislation was heavily designed to satisfy the party's constituencies and hunger for social programs, and inadequately weighted toward job-multiplier projects like building and repairing bridges and railroads -- including subways." This type of criticism usually would come from someone arguing for more government stimulus, not less. But later in the piece Obama is repeatedly faulted for not being fully committed to deficit reduction.
Far more problematic than its faulty logic, this meager reference is all we hear about the city's post-disaster dilemmas in the endorsement. There's no reference to Romney's vague commitment to FEMA, or to the need for government spending to help the city and region recover from the storm's devastation. It's not entirely clear how a Romney presidency would "create jobs, jobs, jobs" or "energize the economy," as Zuckerman and company predict. What is clear is the last thing New Yorkers need from their "Hometown Newspaper" right now is empty rhetoric.