Black Political Writer Declares for Romney

An African-American journalist makes waves with his Republican support.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Most Journalistic Reaction: “Disapproving”

Robert Vickers, a black journalist and the political writer at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., gave some readers at least two reasons to disagree with him Friday. He told them his choice for president, and said that person is Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate.

“Given that my role here is to explain politics to readers, it felt appropriate to divulge my choice and explain how I came to that choice,” Vickers told Journal-isms by email.

“It was not a decision that I came to easily, and even now the traditionalist in me is still uneasy. But the walls between straight news and opinion were blown down long before I wrote my column. And rather than leave readers to guess about my preference and speculate on my motivation, I felt my transparency in explaining how I came to my decision would serve the readers.”

Vickers, 44, joins what the Pew Research Center found were just 2 percent of African Americans who intend to vote for Romney. Earlier this week, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader disclosed that Rufus M. Friday, its president and publisher, was another. The percentage of newspaper political writers who disclose publicly their polling-place choices — or are even allowed to — might be just as small.

“There’s been two kinds of reaction: that to my voting choice and that to my decision to share it,” Vickers said by email. “Most of the journalistic reaction has been disapproving, and I can understand that. Though reporters have flogged their opinions on television and radio for years, they’re still uncomfortable doing it in the old gray lady.”

Vickers said in his column, “. . . No party consideration, ideology, race or religion factor into my choice — I’ve never even been a member of the Democratic or Republican parties. It’s a pragmatic decision made more about the incumbent than about the challenger. And it’s predicated on the hardships the nation must address in 2013.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. In his attempt to win the office, Romney has taken such a slew of conflicting positions that Barack Obama has dubbed the tactic ‘Romnesia.’

“Americans should legitimately wonder whether Romney even knows what he believes in.