When the Census Bureau this month issued a press release headlined "Most Children Younger Than Age 1 are Minorities," the media snapped to attention. News outlets nationwide covered the announcement, hailing it as a "historic demographic milestone" (CNN), as the "dawn of an era in which whites no longer will be in the majority" (Washington Post), and as an "important turning point for the nation" (McClatchy) that would "starkly … change the face of America's next generations" (Time).
None of that was true.
None of that was new, either. The Census Bureau keeps dangling commonplace demographic data as if they were a dramatic racial revelation, and the press keeps taking the bait. The stories this month about minority births becoming the majority could have been recycled from a year ago, when the same thing was being reported -- and with the same air of history in the making. "For the first time," an AP story declared in June 2011, "minorities make up a majority of babies in the US, part of a sweeping race change … that could reshape government policies." Three months earlier, The New York Times had told its readers that babies born to minorities were "on the verge" of becoming the majority of all US births.