Media ignores central issue in Missouri redistricting: Race 

One thing the liberal mainstream media doesn't do well is deal with race when there's not an obvious or politically correct angle. We get a case in point this week in Missouri's redistricting battle.

Here's the deal: Missouri currently has nine congressional seats. Thanks to reapportionment, it is losing one seat. Currently, all six rural seats are represented by Republicans. Democrats have three seats: one in Kansas City (Emanuel Cleaver), one in St. Louis (Lacy Clay), and one in the St. Louis suburbs (Russ Carnahan).

Republicans control both chambers of the legislature. The Governor is a Democrat, Jay Nixon. So here's what Republicans did:

They strengthened the Democratic districts of Cleaver and Clay, both of whom are black. Part of strengthening Clay's district involved throwing Carnahan in with Clay in a district that is 49.5 percent black.

From a partisan perspective this would help the GOP -- it nearly guarantees Democrats will lose one seat, and Republicans won't. That's why Gov. Nixon vetoed it.

Republicans needed four Democratic votes in the lower chamber in order to override Nixon's veto. They got them, from two black Democrats in K.C. and two black Dems in St. Louis.

So, black Democrats in the cities were willing to cut a deal with the GOP in order to protect the urban districts -- and the sole white Dem got tossed overboard.

But look at the articles about this in the K.C. Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Associated Press, and St. Louis Beacon. Not one mention of race -- not the race of Cleaver, Clay, Carnahan, Nixon, nor the four state legislature Dems who voted for the plan.

I often see race included in stories where I think it may be only of minor importance. Also, though, we frequently see it left out when it's central to the story.

This is a situation where the racial story is an uncomfortable one, and there is no easy or politically framework into which to fit it. So we pretend race doesn't matter.

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Timothy P. Carney

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