By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org
A report on admissions favoritism at the University of Texas is nearly finished and is expected to be released within the next week or so.
At the same time, a legislative committee that has targeted UT regent Wallace Hall for abuse, even possible impeachment, has its own report prepared by attorney Rusty Hardin just about ready.
According to sources familiar with the matter, committee leaders are looking at using the Hardin report to blunt the impact of the UT report on favoritism.
A draft of the admissions favoritism report is now in UT President Bill Powers’ office, which is suggesting revisions, as the report’s findings are certain to embarrass him.
Sources who’ve seen the draft copy say it demonstrates that applicants who had a lawmaker intervene on their behalf with top university officials were far more likely to gain admission than an applicant without those connections.
Nobody can predict whether the legislative committee will ultimately decide to release the Hardin report right after the clout report in an attempt to steal back the headlines. But if it does, newspaper editors should be ready to recognize the attempt to manipulate them.
It should be obvious which story is the important new development and which is the rehash. So far, we know of about 10 people who appear to have benefited from clout, but this is the first systematic look at the issue, even if the sample size isn’t enormous.
The other story has been done to death, with hundreds of column inches dedicated to complaints about paperwork and nonsensical quibbling about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The persecution of Wallace Hall has been a classic inside-baseball story, well covered despite its low interest to the public because of its importance. But if it can be proven deserving kids are losing their place at a public university to privileged ones, that’s something they’ll care about. And they’ll care about it not because of any of the politics or personalities that reporters have been covering; they’ll care about it because it matters.
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