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Numbers game



Someone over at the Free Press apparently wasn’t paying attention.

In an editorial titled “Oil, Cars, Jobs” the paper’s opinioneers last week reiterated a months-old Republican claim that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s plan to raise fuel efficiency standards would cost Michigan 105,000 jobs.

That assertion — first reported in April by various media, including The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News — spewed from Marc Racicot, national chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Last week’s follow-up editorial suggested that rank-and-file members of the United Auto Workers union, which endorses Kerry, may not support him “if they buy estimates from the Bush re-election campaign that Kerry’s plan to raise fuel economy standards will cost Michigan 105,000 jobs.”

The problem is that between April and last week, Racicot’s claim has been debunked.

The Michigan Land Use Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Benzie County, did what reporters should have: They invstigated Racicot’s claim, and found his numbers to be “at best a serious misrepresentation” of a 2-year-old study, and “at worst a deliberate fabrication.” The MLUI has been saying as much on its Web site ( for weeks.

Pennsylvania State University professor Andrew Kleit, author of the “working paper” Racicot apparently used as his source, told MLUI’s Stephanie Rudolph he never discussed Michigan job losses. Kleit, who conducted his analysis at the request of General Motors, did speculate in the paper that 104,000 jobs nationwide might be lost. But even that claim never made it into what the institute described as a “much longer, academically vigorous version” of the study published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Rudolph’s investigation made a fairly big splash when published in June. And she’s a bit mystified as to how any member of the Free Press editorial board issuing pronouncements on environmental issues could have missed it.

“I don’t know if they saw it, but it was published on four or five different environmental sites,” Rudolph tells News Hits. “Anyone who is environmentally minded would have seen it.”

Free Press editors did not return calls requesting comment.

Rudolph, however, tells us she’s been given the opportunity to set the record straight in an op-ed piece the paper has asked her to write.

To paraphrase Ben Bradlee, famed former managing editor of the Washington Post, that’s what you’d call a non-correction correction.

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