The Pasadena Star News misses the day they taught objectivity at reporting school


Author: Joshua Thompson

The Pasadena Star News should be ashamed for printing such a misinformed, biased piece as this. The reporter attempts to demonstrate how Proposition 209 is on the brink of extermination.  The reporter, who quotes extensively from BAMN attorneys, writes, "If a federal court agrees with [Governor] Brown, Proposition 209 will be overturned without the need for a referendum."  After the fold, I set forth the top 5 misrepresentations from the article.

In reverse order (from least egregious/biased to most):

5. One sided reporting.  The article quotes from BAMN attorneys (outspoken advocates for racial preferences), Jerry Brown (same), Sen. Ed Hernandez (same), and two USC professors who take no clear stand on preferences.  The article mentions Ward Connerly, but otherwise makes no mention, and certainly doesn't quote from any proponents of equality under the law.  You would think an objective piece on the legality of Proposition 209 might include an attempt to contact the attorneys who have expertly litigated Proposition 209 for the past 15 years, and who have won case after case after case upholding the constitutionality of Proposition 209 (against the exact same arguments BAMN is now putting forth).  Alas, nothing.  This blatant bias comes in at number 5.

4. Comparing Proposition 209 to Jim Crow laws. The quote reads, "We think creating a separate and unequal process for Latino and black students to seek change is the definition of a Jim Crow law."  This would be higher on the list it weren't a direct quote from BAMN.  But it makes the list because the reporter failed to ask the seemingly obvious follow-up questions.  To wit: Is "a separate and unequal process" for admitting Latino, black, white, and Asian students in university admissions any different?  How is the process for seeking change different for white and black students under Proposition 209?  (Hint: It isn't.) To fail to ask the obvious questions comes in at number 4.

3. Comparing Proposition 209 to "separate but equal."  Let's be crystal clear on the facts here.  "Separate but equal" refers to system of laws that mandated individuals from different races be treated differently.  The most famous example of this legal framework is from Plessy v. Ferguson, where Homer Plessy, who was 1/8 black, was prohibited from riding in a train car for whites.  The Supreme Court, in one of its most infamous decisions, held that de jure segregation of this kind did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.  Contrast Plessy with Proposition 209, which prohibits any racial classification whatsoever.  There is absolutely no way a "separate but equal" law could survive scrutiny under Proposition 209.  This ridiculous comparison is the reporters; it is not, surprisingly, a quote from BAMN.  To even suggest such absurdity demonstrates an intention to misrepresent the facts, but this only comes in at number 3.

2.  Proposition 209 has been horrible for minorities.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As pointed out in this Los Angeles Times op-ed: "Latino students have gone from 15.4% (5,744 students) of freshman undergraduate admissions in 1996 to 23% (14,081) in 2010 (a 145% increase). Asian students have gone from 29.8% (11,085) of the freshman admits to 37.47% (22,877). Native American admits have declined slightly, from 0.9% to 0.8%, but their absolute number increased, from 360 to 531. African American admits have gone from 4% (1,628) to 4.2% (2,624), a modest gain in percentage but nearly a 50% increase in numbers of freshmen admitted."  The benefits of 209 have been well documented, and are easily verifiable, that is, if you want to verify your data.  Moreover, this isn't even considering the possibility that racial preferences actually work to the detriment of the minorities they are designed to help.  But when you want to paint the picture that minorities in California are suffering under Proposition 209, you don't let a thing like facts get in your way. That's number 2.

1.  The title.  "California moves toward reversal of Prop. 209."  Wait, WHAT?@!?  When, where, why, how, did that happen?  Last I checked, both the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court have upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 209.  More recently, the Northern District of California found BAMN's legal argument lacked any merit whatsoever.  Does the piece somehow explain these cases away?  Not at all.  It mentions that the Sixth Circuit recently struck down Proposal 2 in Michigan, but, of course, that does not bind the Ninth Circuit.  The article mentions how Jerry Brown wrote a brief arguing that the Ninth Circuit should overturn Proposition 209, but he tried they same thing before the California Supreme Court last year — they didn't buy it.  The article mentions a state senator who is introducing a bill that attempts to re-introduce preferences into colleges.  But, even if this bill isn't blatantly unconstitutional (it is), it still cannot do anything to abridge Proposition 209, which is part of the California CONSTITUTION.  In other words, Proposition 209 has never been on more solid footing. There has been no objective move toward its reversal whatsoever.   And that is why the title of this piece earns the #1 spot in this list.