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NY Times Is Wrong on Civil Rights Commission
Oliver Dawshed

The New York Times has printed an atrocity of an editorial about the US Civil Rights Commission and deserves to hear about it. The full editorial is at:

The editorial states that "Mr. [Jeb] Bush is right to be critical of the apparent absence of consultation with the eight-member commission's two Republican appointees in the report's preparation and in faulting the commission's refusal to honor repeated requests by his office to see the complete preliminary report instead of just "relevant portions" in order to prepare comments prior to the commission's final vote on Friday. These petty gestures of partisanship and discourtesy have the effect of undermining the commission's ability to speak with credibility and moral authority on the sensitive subjects it addresses. "

The Times has its facts all wrong. Berry said plainly in the meeting that the date of delivery of the report was discussed and agreed to in their March meeting and that all members of the Commission got copies at the same time, so there was no "absence of consultation," apparent or otherwise. Further, Berry stated that it is Commission rules to release relevant sections of the report to individuals who might be defamed or degraded, that no individual was defamed or degraded, and that by internal policy, affected agencies receive sections of the report. Bush received 80 pages as a courtesy because he is an "affected agency". What would Bush have done with the statistical analysis section? Why should the Commission change its policy for Bush?

It's the New York Times that is being partisan and discourteous, and it has NO credibility or moral authority left.

The Times further states that

"While adding incrementally to what was already revealed in previous studies, including one by Mr. Bush's own blue- ribbon commission, the report's detailed findings break little new ground."

Whoever wrote the editorial is amazingly stupid. The report presents sworn testimony of all the ways in which people were prevented from voting. It presents the first analysis of the ChoicePoint data that a governmental body has performed. And the statistical analysis is suggestive of actual ballot tampering. Lichtman pointed at one aspect of that at the hearing. He looked at discard rates for Hispanic (Cuban) ballots in Miami and found that the rate was the same as the non-white rate, even though Cuban education levels are similar to those of blacks. If you have two minority populations with similar characteristics and one gets its ballots thrown out and the other doesn't, tampering gets to be one of the few explanations remaining.

I hope that folks are moved to write to the Times to tell them they should get their facts straight before slandering Mary Frances Berry and the rest of the HONEST people at the US Civil Rights Commission.

Write to: letters@nytimes.com