Generally I resist the temptation to write to correct errors that occasionally find their way into your news columns or those of a number of others around the country; usually, they are fairly minor. But on Feb. 12, The Times printed a story over the byline of your Washington bureau chief, which so badly misstated the facts that I feel I must seek to correct it in print.
The story refers, in the first paragraph, to "a proposal by Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to abolish the 20-year-old executive order that empowers the Labor Department to set minority hiring goals and timetables for federal contractors" (emphasis added). The statement is flatly untrue. I have made no such proposal, and in fact favor an approach which would simply add language to the executive order to assure that its original purpose, achieving nondiscrimination in hiring, is held paramount.
As the President noted in his remarks at the news conference mentioned in the story, it has sometimes been the case that the actual implementation of a government program ends up taking a very different turn from what was intended. in this case, a program designed to end employment discrimination became one in which goals and timetables were utilized to encourage discrimination.