On MLK Day, NYT Suggests Bush Administration Bad for Black Voting Rights

January 17th, 2006 11:48 AM

The Times commemorates Martin Luther King day in its usual way, making it a Bush-bashing holiday.

Back in 2004, reporter Jeffrey Gettleman lit into Bush for going to Atlanta to mark the day. Here are some excerpts from his January 15, 2004 report:

"Many of Atlanta's civil-rights leaders are outraged about Mr. Bush's planned visit to commemorate Dr. King's 75th birthday and are using the occasion for protests. Already, they have marched with bullhorns, signs and thumping drums, shouting for the president to stay away....Many demonstrators asked how Mr. Bush, who pushed for war in Iraq, could champion Dr. King, who stood for nonviolent resistance....When President Clinton came in 1996, he received a standing ovation. But this presidential visit will be different. It seems to have lifted the lid on long-simmering anger many blacks feel toward Mr. Bush. Some Bush policies, including tax cuts mainly benefiting those with higher incomes and cutting back on welfare-type programs, have alienated black voters, analysts say."

Today's story by Richard Stevenson isn't so blatantly slanted. But halfway into “Bush Salutes Memories Of 2 Civil Rights Leaders,” we get this:

“For Mr. Bush, who started his day with a trip to the National Archives to see the Emancipation Proclamation, the events had clear political undertones. He has long harbored hopes of breaking the grip of the Democratic Party on the loyalty of black voters. But whatever progress he may have made in his first term suffered a setback in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when he was widely criticized as failing to respond urgently to a natural disaster that fell with particular ferocity on poor blacks.”

Stevenson brings up two more outside issues to suggest the administration isn't good for blacks:

“But his administration has come under fire from some critics for taking what they consider a lax attitude toward voting rights. The Justice Department acknowledged last month that top officials had overruled a finding by the department's civil rights staff in 2003 that a Texas redistricting plan that helped gain Republicans seats in the House would violate voting rights laws. And Mr. Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., came under questioning at his confirmation hearings last week over his description of himself in 1985 as a critic of the ‘one person one vote’ precedents set by the Supreme Court.”

Actually, Stevenson’s incidents arguably cancel each other out. After all, the Texas redistricting plan resulted in an increase in Republican congressmen, a result which more closely matched the voting preferences of Texans.

The Washington Times demonstrated the inequity of the original Texas districting in a December 18 editorial, demonstrating how Texas Democrats managed to remain the majority in the state delegation despite being outvoted.

“In 1998, Republicans demonstrated their statewide appeal by re-electing George W. Bush as governor and by simultaneously capturing control of 100 percent of the Texas' 27 statewide elective offices. Nevertheless, an incumbent-protecting, gerrymandered redistricting process following the 2000 census predictably produced a 17-15 Democratic majority in Texas' delegation to the U.S. House in the 2002 elections, despite the fact that Republican candidates cumulatively received 21 percent more votes than their Democratic opponents.”

It can be argued that the Republican reapportionment the Times found so controversial actually resulted in Texas getting closer to the ideal of “one person one vote.” The Birmingham News explains the concept:

“The 41-year-old ruling in Reynolds v. Sims established the principle of ‘one man, one vote’ by ordering Alabama's legislative districts nearly equal in population. The decision ended the political advantage of sparsely populated rural areas over more populated urban areas, a situation that evolved over the 60 years when the district lines were not adjusted for population changes.”

(And notice how the Alabama paper uses the original, politically incorrect phrasing “one man one vote,” instead of the “one person one vote” formulation used by the New York Times.)

For more examples of NYT bias, visit TimesWatch.