UPDATED: NY Times responds to Rose note with correction

[Previous title: “Tom Friedman and NY Times get the facts wrong on Prop. 11”: see update at the bottom.]

Unfortunately, op-ed writer Thomas Friedman and the New York Times are following in the footsteps of the Wall Street Journal by failing to fact-check what they write on redistricting.

Mr. Friedman’s endorsement of independent redistricting commissions is a good one. His column focuses on “the most important innovation of all — political innovation that will empower independents and centrists, which describes a lot of the country. . . . Henceforth, districts in California will not be designed to be automatically Democratic or Republican — so more of them will be competitive, so more candidates will only be electable if they appeal to the center, not just cater to one party.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman gets his facts wrong when he describes California’s Proposition 11 as an “initiative that took away the power to design Congressional districts from the state legislature and put it in the hands of an independent, politically neutral, Citizens Redistricting Commission.”

As readers of this blog know, Proposition 11 put only Legislative, not Congressional, redistricting under the Commission’s control.

An initiative sponsored by Charles Munger Jr., the Voters First Act for Congress, would add Congressional redistricting to the Commission’s portfolio, while an initiative sponsored by Speaker Pelosi and Representative Berman would abolish the entire Commission and return all redistricting control to the legislature and Governor. The California Secretary of State is verifying Mr. Munger’s signatures. The Berman measure is collecting signatures. Both hope to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.

Perhaps Mr. Friedman and the Times will correct that column with one including their opinions of the Munger and Berman proposals?

Anyone looking to check any facts on redistricting can call or email the Rose Institute anytime.

UPDATE: After this post and email messages to the Times from the Rose Institute, Mr. Fiedman and the Times corrected the column.  A correction now notes “An earlier version of this column misstated the terms of a recent California initiative. It will reshape districts for the state legislature, not Congressional districts.” The rewritten column now notes that California’s redistricting commission “will go to work after the 2010 census and reshape California’s state legislative districts for the coming elections. . .  (There is a movement pressing for the same independent commission to be given the power to redraw Congressional districts.).”

With the quick correction, readers can now focus on Mr. Friedman’s accurate assessment of the need for redistricting reform — at both legislative and congressional levels.

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