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Bench Memos

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Media Distortions of Roberts’s Executive-Branch Record—Part V



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I’ve just reviewed the August 1981 memo from Roberts to the Attorney General that today’s Washington Post article (which I’ve critiqued in the two previous posts in this series) discusses. That memo concerns a meeting request made by Arthur Flemming, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The Post’s discussion of the memo is extremely one-sided. It says that Roberts “derided” a report that Flemming passed along, but there is nothing in his language that is mocking. The Post clips its quotations from the memo in a manner unfavorable to Roberts. In its apparent effort to obscure that the battle is largely over quotas, the Post drops the word “quotas” from the memo’s reference to “the purported need for race-conscious remedies such as busing and affirmative action quotas.” Likewise, it fails to note that the “serious criticism” that Roberts says the report “is subject to” is its failure “to recognize the actual effect of race-conscious remedies,” including the fact that busing “has been ineffective in redressing racial imbalance.”

It is, of course, possible that the Post reporters are merely sloppy, but, as my previous posts and essay have documented, the evidence of bias seems very strong.



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