Forty Years On: Kerner and the Liberal Media

It spawned the famous -- infamous? -- line: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal. Its true name was the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Most people know it as the Kerner Report -- so called because it was chaired by Illinois governor Otto Kerner, Jr. -- and it was published forty years ago today.

The report was commissioned by President Johnson in an effort to determine and help quell the rising tide of urban violence in the middle 1960s. The Commission's main conclusion can be summed up in that oft-quoted line.

Forty years later the situation for black Americans is not by any means perfect, but it is much better.

However, for all the areas of society in which blacks -- and by extension all minorities -- have enjoyed some measure of parity, there is one glaring and ironic omission: the very media which is so often accused of having a liberal bias. It is, in fact, only liberal in its decades-long run of institutionalized discrimination.

Take a look back. The Kerner Report broke it down like this: The journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes.

The italics mine.

Fast forward ten years and the American Society of Newspaper Editors decided to make it their mission to have news rooms reflect the real world in their racial breakdown by calendar year 2000.

And it only took them ten years to come up with that bit of genius.

And they gave themselves twenty-two years to get the job done.

They didn't.

So they gave themselves another twenty-five years. And if they don't get it done by then, eventually the world'll end and that'll be that with that.

What's shocking is the blind spot the media has for its own failings. The exemplar prime is a recent op-ed piece by Frank Rich of the New York Times. Entitled "The Grand Old White Party Confronts Obama," Rich wrote that the problem with John McCain's posse -- way to throw in a dated urbanism -- is not just its age but its demographic monotony: all white and nearly all male.

Really, Mr. Rich? You mean, like the Masthead of the New York Times? Like the Editorial Board of the New York Times? Do you mean such as the Corporate Officers of the New York Times Company?

It's not that Rich doesn't have a point regarding the Republicans. However, why waste ink -- or bytes -- hectoring a political party that risks its own demise when he would do better to take his bosses to task?

The New York Times and Frank Rich are, of course, not alone in their hypocrisy. However, as the self-styled standard bearer of liberalism they would do better to lead by example rather than rhetoric. It has, after all, been forty years.