More Bias on Display
We’re well past the point at which it became fruitless to care, but it’s fascinating to watch a mainstream media “fact check” feature contort itself to justify the bias that we all know to exist in the halls of Big Journalism. One can almost see the erased editorial marks reading, “this organization couldn’t possibly say anything ‘false’,” in a recent PolitiFact concerning Steven Brown of the ACLU.”
The statement being addressed is that “over half of the foreign-born population in Rhode Island is white,” and the findings were as follows:
Brown directed us to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2006-2008, which includes three-year estimates of foreign-born populations in the United States. Specifically, he said he was citing the figures showing that 45.2 percent of foreign-born Rhode Islanders are white.
That’s not more than half. …
Drawing from data in the 2006-2008 survey, the census said that 32 percent of foreign-born people, about one third, are white alone, not Hispanic or Latino. …
A one-year report from 2009 showed that 30 percent of Rhode Island respondents identified themselves as “white alone, not Hispanic or Latino.”
So, judged by the statistic that Brown incorrectly thought he should be using, his statement was only false by a little; judged by the appropriate statistic, Brown’s statement was false by a lot. On what grounds did PolitiFact give him a “half true”? The bias, here, needn’t have been as overt as a decision to figure out how to preserve the ACLU’s shine, but belief in that shine helped Mr. Brown escape the public acknowledgment that something that he said was so misleading as to be false.