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Politics & Policy

‘How the News Media Distorts Black Families’

That’s the title of an op-ed the Washington Post ran over the weekend. It’s main claim is that a recent study shows that the news media portray black families more unfavorably than white families; interestingly, it’s not asserted that the problem here is with conservative media, since among the worst offenders for networks were Fox News and CNN, and the New York Times and Breitbart for national print and online news organizations.

But the op-ed also has a few paragraphs in the middle denying that the black family is in any sort of trouble. That’s silly, and so I posted the following comment (lightly edited here):

I’m skeptical about the media bias part of this, but the assertion that there’s nothing wrong with the black family is ludicrous.

Seven out of 10 blacks are born out of wedlock, and more than 6 out of 10 Native Americans, and more than 5 out of 10 Latinos — versus fewer than 3 out of 10 whites and fewer than 2 out of 10 Asian Americans. That’s a huge range, and are we really supposed to believe that the fact that it lines up perfectly with how well the different groups are doing is just a coincidence? And note that out-of-wedlock connections with crime, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, and bad educational outcomes are present within racial groups as well as between them.

The only real “evidence” cited here is the 2013 Centers for Disease Control study and it does not stand for the proposition that black and white fathers spend the same amount of time with their children, because that’s true only if you control [as the CDC did] for whether the fathers live with their children or not, and of course a much higher percentage of black fathers don’t live with their children because they are not married to the mother. Robert VerBruggen has written a couple of good pieces on the CDC study for RealClearPolicy.

Orwell said that some notions are so silly that only an intellectual can believe them, and thinking that big differences in out-of-wedlock birthrates won’t affect life outcomes among different groups falls into that category.


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