You may have heard that The New York Times made some history Sunday night by endorsing not one but two Democratic presidential candidates: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. But, it’s actually a third candidate — Joe Biden — who may get the most out of the Times endorsement process.
Why? Because of this.
The video of Biden taking a selfie with the elevator operator was captured by the crew shooting the Times’ TV show “The Weekly” on the way up to his official interview for the endorsement.
Which, as you know by now, he didn’t get.
But that’s beside the point here. What Biden did get is an African American woman telling him that she “loves him” and that he is her “favorite.” And a video of that exchange that has been viewed more than 281,000 times in less than 24 hours, a virality only topped by former candidate New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s very strong answer to a Times editorial board question of who has broken his heart (more than 800,000 views).
Biden, sensing a moment, tweeted the video of the encounter on Monday afternoon with the caption: “Honored to have won Jacquelyn’s endorsement.”
“The NYT video of Biden in the elevator now has more than 6x the views on Twitter than the NYT opinion videos for Warren and Klobuchar … combined,” tweeted Snapchat’s Peter Hamby.
Which is remarkable. And speaks to a few realities:
1) The power of newspaper endorsement — ANY newspaper — is increasingly limited in terms of its ability to sway voters. That’s especially true of national newspapers like the Times. Honestly, there’s an argument to be made that being endorsed by the Quad City (Iowa) Times — which Klobuchar was — will benefit her more than splitting the endorsement of that “other” Times with Warren.
2) We live in a visual and social (media) world. That 22-second clip of Biden — the thrill of meeting him the woman clearly has, his demeanor and kindness — is the sort of thing that will be shared time and time again by people who see it as a true moment of humanity, a window into what this public figure is really like. Those images are more powerful — as a persuasion tool — than any words the Times wrote about its endorsement(s) of Klobuchar and Warren.
To the extent then that the Times endorsement process has an actual effect on real votes, I’d bet it will be the Biden moment that is remembered by voters. In that then, Biden may have won by losing (the Times endorsement at least).