Accuracy in Media

The same kind of policy that resulted in the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at the New York Times has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The media didn’t frame it that way, but race was clearly a factor in Blair getting his job and being promoted at the paper, and the court has now confirmed that race can be a factor in deciding who gets educational opportunities and jobs in society. The court promoted the discredited concept of “diversity,” which is exactly what got the New York Times into trouble in the Blair case. The losers will be more qualified white people, higher standards, and society at large.

Because the Court issued two different decisions, the major media gave the impression that the impact is that race can now only be a factor in admissions policies at colleges and universities. But that’s what most college administrators are saying is their current policy anyway. And that power in the Michigan case, as detailed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is in practice “a carefully managed program designed to ensure proportionate representation of applicants from selected minority groups.” In other words, quotas. Rehnquist produced figures proving his point. The media ignored them.

Justice Anthony Kennedy cited a former director of admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, which won its case, as saying that when there was a debate over whether Cubans should be counted as Hispanics, one professor objected on the grounds that Cubans were Republicans. Kennedy said the court ruling has “the potential to destroy confidence in the Constitution and in the idea of equality.”

Of the three major network evening news programs, only NBC Nightly News mentioned that the court’s only black, conservative Clarence Thomas, had said blacks can achieve without the “meddling of university administrators” and ruled against affirmative action. The University of Michigan had argued that diversity benefited students. But Thomas cited evidence showing that black students attending mostly black colleges do better academically than blacks attending predominantly white colleges.

The University of Michigan had claimed that most historically black colleges were already diverse. But Thomas showed this to be a lie, noting that at Morehouse College, one of the most distinguished historically black colleges, only 0.1 percent of the student body was white, and only 0.2 percent was Hispanic. However, there’s no indication that the black colleges will now start admitting more whites.

It is troubling that President Bush, who has said he would pick somebody for the court in the tradition of Thomas, issued a statement saying, “I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity on our Nation’s campuses.” He has been badly misinformed about the nature of the ruling. He was also apparently unaware that, on many college campuses, a significant number of members of minority groups who are given racial preferences to achieve diversity end up segregating themselves in separate groups and housing. Diversity divides people, rather than uniting them.

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