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December 18, 2008

Census Redefines "Parents"

The other day I posted in the sidebar an article with my own (or the tipster's) headline: "Blame Bush: Higher Percentage of Black Kids Living in Two-Parent Homes In Decades."

Well.. kinda.

The New York Times headline “2-Parent Black Families Showing Gains," Wednesday seemed like great news. ( Full disclosure: I am briefly quoted in the article.) After decades of decline, more black kids are finally growing up with their mothers and fathers!

Alas, check out the third paragraph of the piece: “The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child's biological parents.” What the data is really saying, it turns out, is that more black children are living with a woman who may or may not be their mother, and a man who either may or may not be their father, and may or may not be married to the woman who may or may not be their mother.

James Taranto had an apt response to this Orwellianism. “The problem of illegitimacy and broken families had seemed intractable for decades, but the Census Bureau has been able to make a significant dent in it, at virtually no cost to the taxpayer, merely by redefining the word parents.” Equally disturbing is the Times’s complete obliviousness to the import of the Census Bureau’s word play. “The number of black children being raised by two parents appears to be edging higher,” the piece begins. Well, that’s only if “raising” is the same thing as “living with.” If the increase in children living with two “parents” is due, for instance, to a growth in the percentage of mothers cohabiting temporarily with their boyfriends, then “raising” is another bit of dissembling.

It's not so much that this story is biased, though it is, at least in two ways: The NYT is determined to report happy-talk to its liberal readership where there is none, and the NYT is also determined to make up news where none exists. A change in accounting practices does not indicate a trend, except in how people are accounted for.

It's not merely that the MSM is extremely biased, which, of course, they are. It's also that they're simply unprofessional even where they don't even need to be, and seem, as Instapundit remarked, to be less in the business of reporting than in the business of burying real news under mountains of fake news -- to simply hide actual news from the pubic.

Honestly -- the problem here isn't really that this impacts the political discussion much. The problem is just that people have a limited amount of time to devote to reading about news and current trends and policy and all the rest, and the NYT, as usual, wastes a significant chuck of that reporting non-news.

I got taken in. I didn't think they'd just make something up -- especially something so minor. But they did.

So what could people have been reading about were they not wasting their time reading false reportage?

They do this an awful lot.

Supposedly they're the "gatekeepers," separating the news wheat from the non-news chaff. But they behave more like lockjammers, fouling a lock with bubblegum to keep readers from getting to the actual news.

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posted by Ace at 01:03 PM

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