By David Weigel
Washington Post | June 8, 2010
Ben Stein, the Nixon administration veteran-turned-actor and pundit, weighs in on the Fred Malek flap. Unfortunately, I think he gets the facts completely wrong in discussing Malek's role in reorganizing the Bureau of Labor Statistics to demote Jewish staffers. Here's Stein.
Nixon believed, with good reason, that most economists at the BLS were Jews and that most of them were Democrats and wondered if there was some connection between those facts and the bad news from the BLS.Nixon never intended to do a thing about it, never intended to punish anyone, was just curious about why the BLS seemed to be slanting the news the way he thought it was being slanted ... so, Bob Haldeman, chief of staff at the White House, was asked to find out about the political and ethnic complexion of the BLS economists. Again, there was never any hint of any kind of consequence and everyone, including RN, knew it was a kind of silly, pixilated, quest.
So, Haldeman tasked his deputy, Fred Malek, one of the nicest guys on the planet, with finding this out. Malek did it, and reported it, and that was the end of it.
This isn't what happened. Over the course of several months, Malek took this order from Nixon, suggested how critical Jewish staffers could be re-assigned, and, in a September 8, 1971, memo, announced that the process was underway.
The following actions have been agreed to and are now being implemented ...-- A politically sensitive, loyal Republican economist will be selected for the new Deputy Post. John Clarke of my staff is now identifying possible candidates. This should be finalized by the end of the month.
-- Harold Goldstein will be moved to a routine, non-sensitive post in another part of BLS. He has been told of this and will move quietly when the reorganization is announced.
I've included a chunk of the memo below the fold, but let's boil this down again. Stein, 2010:
[T]here was never any hint of any kind of consequence and everyone, including RN, knew it was a kind of silly, pixilated, quest.
Harold Goldstein will be moved to a routine, non-sensitive post in another part of BLS. He has been told of this and will move quietly when the reorganization is announced.
Stein should be ashamed of himself for misleading his readers.