Calling Republicans liars doesn't make it so

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The Chronicle editorial board was in a predictable rage today over Rep. Culberson’s decision on Richmond rail:

In letters to Mayor Bill White and Metro chairman David Wolff, Culberson makes the factually unsupported claim that 97 percent of the people who live, work or own property on Richmond strongly oppose Metro’s plans. Since the transit agency is considering a number of options for either putting rail along all of Richmond or utilizing crossover routes at various points to Westpark, one wonders what crystal ball the congressman was using to come up with those numbers.

The claim is not “factually unsupported.” At the announcement yesterday, Rep. Culberson pointed out that 90 percent of the messages his office received on the topic were opposed to rail on Richmond, and 97 percent of the messages from residents and businesses on Richmond itself were opposed to rail on Richmond. He produced records of the messages, as well as a chart put together by his staff. The Chronicle‘s Rad Sallee reported those numbers:

Hoisting a box of papers onto the rostrum under a sweltering tent at James Coney Island, Richmond at Shepherd, Culberson told a crowd of about 200 representing both sides of the issue that the box’s contents represent “the overwhelming will of the people.”

He said 90 percent of the mail, e-mails, faxes and other messages he received on the topic were opposed to rail on Richmond, as were 97 percent from residents and businesses on Richmond itself.

I was there and saw it for myself. They are/were “factually supported,” as the Chronicle‘s own reporting indicates — making a crystal ball unnecessary! I contacted Rep. Culberson’s office today to inquire whether anyone from the Chronicle editorial board contacted them to ask about the “97 percent” reference. Nick Swyka from Rep. Culberson’s office told me that nobody from the Chronicle editorial board inquired about the “97 percent” figure, and he pointed out that the Congressman’s staffers spent a considerable amount of time collecting and cross-referencing the messages behind the percentages.

Perhaps editorial board member Veronica Bucio, who has previously called the United States Attorney General a liar, crafted the part of today’s editorial that effectively called Rep. Culberson a liar. In any case, it is the editorial board’s statement that is factually unsupported. A quality newspaper would issue a correction. Will the Chronicle?

RELATED: Rep. Culberson feared a METRO bait and switch.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX