The media needs to learn that if you mislead people about things that are easy to understand (like crime and education), they won’t believe you about things that are hard to understand (like the long-run economic impact of England leaving the European Union). On Thursday, the British voted by a 52% to 48% margin to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, an action known as “Brexit.” In doing so they ignored virtually all of the self-styled “experts” cited in British newspapers, who opposed leaving, and the majority (although by no means all) of Britain’s media (including the Guardian, the BBC, the Financial Times, The Times, the Daily Mirror, The Economist, etc.).
As Alexandra Petri writes in the Washington Post, “The people who were in favor of remaining were Basically All Experts … the Economist, the Financial Times)… and Every Prime Minister of Britain Who Is Still Alive, but what do these establishment types know?… All of this has come about thanks to a world that is increasingly suspicious of experts.”
But people don’t put much faith in experts, and even less faith in what left-leaning newspapers like the Guardian and the Washington Post claim the “experts” believe. Media-designated economic “experts” helped spawn a financial crisis by claiming that sovereign debt (including Greek government debt that later lost much of its value) was risk free and could be carried on the books of Europe’s banks without the reserve requirements needed for risky asserts.
The public also realizes that the media does not fairly report on what “expert” opinion is, and ignores moderate and conservative experts in favor of politically-correct progressive “experts” in reporting on racial issues, and issues viewed by the media as race-related, such as crime, immigration, welfare, and school discipline. The vote for Brexit was fueled partly by voters’ opposition to high levels of immigration into the United Kingdom.
But the media usually takes a politically-correct line on these issues, citing only left-wing “experts” on these issues (although the bias is more extreme in the United States than in England). For example, when the New York Times recently reported on a 4-to-3 ruling by the Supreme Court in support of race-based college admissions, which many criticized (including experts), the Times published a slanted news article titled, “Supreme Court decision on affirmative action cheered by college admissions experts.”
In so doing, the New York Times concealed from its readers the fact that many experts had filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court over the years opposing race-based college admissions — including an expert who had once worked at the Times itself: former New York Times reporter and Brookings Institution scholar Stuart Taylor. His research found that race-based admissions harm many of the black students they are intended to help. As Wikipedia notes, in 2012, law professor Richard Sander and Stuart “Taylor coauthored Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.” As federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner observed, that “lucid, data-rich book” by Taylor and Sander “is simply the best researched and most convincing analysis ever done of affirmative action in higher education, a work at once impeccably scholarly and entirely accessible to anyone interested in the social and legal ramifications of well-intentioned policies that, as the authors show, have a boomerang effect on the intended beneficiaries.” But the New York Times reporters pretend this well-known book by their award-winning former colleague doesn’t exist, in order to make it seem as if only ignoramuses question the wisdom of race-based affirmative action. Even though Stuart Taylor graduated with highest honors from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude.
Petri’s colleagues at the Washington Post exhibit similar bias in reporting on racial issues, and issues viewed as race-related, such as affirmative action, crime, immigration, and school discipline. For example, Washington Post reporters uncritically parrot claims by self-proclaimed experts that teachers are racist against black students, ignoring contrary peer-reviewed studies finding no racism. Ignoring federal and state crime data, Post reporters pretend that there are no differences in juvenile delinquency and crime rates between whites and blacks, and no difference in their rates of misbehavior at school, even though the black crime rate is many times higher than the white crime rate, and the ratio of black crime to white crime is even higher among teenagers than among adults. They do this even though they have been told by lawyers who worked as civil-rights officials in the Reagan and Bush administrations that differences in crime rates and student misconduct rates persist and are confirmed by both crime statistics and academic research.
As opinion columnist Katherine Kersten wrote months ago in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, black students’
discipline rate is higher than other students’ because, on average, they misbehave more. In fact, a major 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that the racial gap in suspensions is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” That problem behavior can manifest itself in other ways. Nationally, for example, young black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and Hispanics of the same ages combined.
Federal crime statistics show crime and misbehavior rates aren’t the same among different ethnic and racial groups. For example, 51.3% of all Americans charged with murder or manslaughter are black, even though only 13% of the U.S. population is black. These higher arrest and conviction rates reflect higher crime rates among blacks, not racism in the criminal justice system. Black victims themselves tend to identify their assailants as black. As City Journal has noted, “the race of criminals reported by crime victims matches arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests—a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes. No one has ever come up with a plausible argument as to why crime victims would be biased in their reports.”
Despite all this, a recent column by a Washington Post reporter denied that the reason that “black students are suspended at higher rates” is “because their behavior is worse.” In making this false claim denying the obvious, the Post reporter ignored a study in the Journal of Criminal Justice that has been cited in multiple editorials, such as in Investor’s Business Daily and the National Review. That study found no racism against blacks by teachers, and higher rates of misbehavior by black students. [See John Paul Wright, Mark Alden Morgan, Michelle A. Coyne, Kevin M. Beaver, & J.C. Barnes, Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions, Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 42, issue 3, May-June 2014, Pages 257-266].
I predict that the Washington Post will continue to pretend that this study does not exist, even after it has been brought to their attention by email and by being prominently mentioned at Newsbusters. Instead, the Post will continue to cite a discredited study by a left-wing psychologist named Russell Skiba, that claims higher suspension rates of black students are caused by racism on the part of teachers. That study’s conclusion is belied by the fact that teachers, who are mostly white, suspend white students at higher rates than Asian students (suspension rates are highest for black students, lower for Hispanic students, lower still for whites, and lowest of all for Asians), which is hardly consistent with white racism. As Kersten points out in the Star-Tribune, the federal government’s own “data reveal that white boys’ suspension rate is more than twice that of Asian and Pacific Islander boys.” It is also belied by the fact that black principals and teachers, like white principals and teachers, have historically disciplined black students at higher rates than white students, indicating that the reason for black students being disciplined is not racism, but student misbehavior.
Liberal reporters at newspapers like the Post pretend racial disparities in behavior do not exist, in order to carry water for the Obama administration’s deeply misguided assault on school discipline. The Education Department now seeks to curb suspensions for even students who constantly disrupt class, or verbally threaten teachers, based on the premise that school suspensions have a racially “disparate impact” on black students. The Obama administration also wants to totally abolish suspensions in preschools for even violent youngsters who repeatedly bite or attack classmates.
In the Star-Tribune, Kersten describes the consequences of the St. Paul schools adopting curbs on school discipline promoted by the Obama administration. Those restrictions on discipline emboldened troublemakers and caused chaos in some schools:
A St. Paul Central High School teacher is choked and body-slammed by a student and hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. A teacher caught between two fighting fifth-grade girls is knocked to the ground with a concussion. Police are compelled to use a chemical irritant to break up a riot at Como Park High School. Increasingly, some St. Paul Public Schools resemble a war zone. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has branded the trend of violence “a public health crisis… .In the words of one teacher: “We have a segment of kids who consider themselves untouchable.”
Kersten criticizes “the notion that we must equalize racial discipline rates even if it means eliminating behavior standards,” which the “Obama administration has made it a centerpiece of education policy. Longtime Education Secretary Arne Duncan made clear that his department considered racial differences in discipline rates ‘simply unacceptable’ and a violation of ‘the principle of equity.'”
A former Education Department lawyer says that the Obama administration is twisting the language of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to demand illegal racial quotas in school discipline that “curb discipline for black offenders.” It has reportedly “pressured school districts such as Oakland and Palm Beach County into imposing veiled racial quotas” in student suspensions. Obama administration officials in the Education Department has done this even though an “appeals court ruled in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997) that schools cannot use racial quotas in discipline, striking down a rule that forbade a ‘school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline.'”