September 30, 2005

Bill Bennett Doesn't Get It. Trying To Defend His Racist Comments On Hannity & Colmes, He Misses At Least Half The Reason People Were Offended

Bill Bennett appeared on Hannity & Colmes last night to talk about his controversial remarks about abortion and blacks made earlier in the week on his radio show. But his explanation seemed to indicate he didn't understand what the outcry is really about.

As ABC News described the incident on Bennett's radio show:

On the Wednesday edition of his radio show, "Bill Bennett's Morning in America," syndicated by Salem Radio Network, a caller raised the theory that Social Security is in danger of becoming insolvent because legalized abortion has reduced the number of tax-paying citizens. Bennett said economic arguments should never be employed in discussions of moral issues.

If it were your sole purpose to reduce crime, Bennett said, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

"That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he added.

In last night's "exclusvie interview" on Hannity & Colmes, Bennett seemed to think that the problem with his remarks was that people thought he was saying black babies should be aborted. That seemed to be the issue he wanted to clairfy, not his connection with blacks and crime. He complained to Alan Colmes about his quote being taken out of context. "When ("morally reprehensible") is included in the quote, (that) makes it perfectly clear what my position is." Without that phrase, Bennett said, it looked as though he supports such a "monstrous idea."

Bennett either ignored or overlooked how people such as Congressman John Conyers felt when he stated in a letter to the Salem Radio Network, "The fact that Mr. Bennett later acknowledged that such abortions would be "morally reprehensible," but added again that if it was done "the crime rate would go down," is equally outrageous."

Hannity also seemed to miss that point. With his most sincere face and tapping his hand on his heart (which one of our readers has said is a "tell"), Hannity's main defense of Bennett was to attack others who attacked him. "This notion as being alleged by prominent Democrats that Bill Bennett has any racist bone in his body is appalling to me."

From there, Hannity launched his usual onslaught against Robert Byrd, for being in the KKK a lifetime ago, and against Charles Rangel, for his Bull Connor remark of a few days ago. Bennett assailed Ted Kennedy for Chappaquidick, saying he should make no moral judgments against anyone. Comment: What did any of that have to do with Bennett's comments? Nothing.

In fact, Bennett seemed to affirm his statement that more blacks mean more crime."When I was drug czar, you bet we were working on the issue of black crime, Alan and Sean. Because there was a lot of crime in the black community."

Later, he pointed to his wife's record as an anti-abortionist as proof of his own racial sensitivity. "When it comes to abortion, my wife's program, Best Friends, has kept more young women from having abortions... than the entire Black Caucus. She has done more for inner city black girls than the entire Black Caucus. So I will not bow my head to any of these people. I will not give up the ground of compassion and sympathy."

Bennett claimed that the connection between abortion and lower crime rates came from the book Freakonomics. But Media Matters reports that the book "did not put forth Bennett's race-based argument." Alan Colmes tried to address Bennett's connection between race and crime but Bennett did not respond. Instead, he attacked Colmes for being "all over me" on his own radio show the night before. Bennett said, "I've had a thousand opportunities when people have said to me, 'What about that Alan Colmes? Isn't he a jerk? Is he a liberal this?' I've always said, 'He's always a gentleman, he's always nice to me.'" Comment: Gee, what a pal!

Props to Colmes for not backing down. He said, repeatedly, that he and his callers were "shocked" by Bennett's remarks.

Bennett clung to the notion that it was all a misunderstanding and he expressed no remorse for what he said. If anyone was offended, in his view, it was either because they didn't get the full context or because they were too partisan or immoral, themselves, for him to care about. But in his refusal to acknowledge or maybe even see for himself the full context of the offense, he proved that the misapprehension belonged to him.

Reported by ellen at September 30, 2005 02:45 AM

This whole thread is gonna be scary...

"..a caller raised the theory that Social Security is in danger of becoming insolvent because legalized abortion has reduced the number of tax-paying citizens."
- What? That caller believes this?

"You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."
- This man gets paid to say this? Companies advertise with this radio station? (some woman on air america makes an off colour skit about shooting the president and she's hauled over the coals...this guy... well, you know the rest)

"...his wife's record as an anti-abortionist as proof of his own racial sensitivity."
- Lost for words

Posted by: uk_dave at September 30, 2005 03:07 AM

I dread the number and the tenor of all the emails I'm going to get tomorrow.

Posted by: Ellen at September 30, 2005 03:13 AM

"From there, Hannity launched into his usual attacks on Robert Byrd"

Hi Ellen. Is this a response to Robert Byrd commenting on this issue, or was it out of the blue? I'm not too familiar with some of the players in your senate and just looked him up on Wikipedia.

Having not actually watched Hannity for some time now (to which my girlfriend is eternally grateful now that there are much less broken items around our house), i'm wondering whether Robert Byrd has become one of his finger points, or whether the senator had something to say.

After reading about his past, I would certainly be uncomfortable with his commenting on an issue such as this. I'm not condemning the man as I am living proof someone can fundamentally change their attitudes (I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness then saw the light), but I could understand someone questioning his credibility.

Posted by: Greg (Aust) at September 30, 2005 03:26 AM

"legalized abortion has reduced the number of tax-paying citizens."

uk_dave, I'm not positive but I think I read something along these lines in the New York Times recently in a review of a book that has just come out? Sorry, but I only skimmed it and my memory is totally SHOT. But the book was referring to a controversial theory on why crime in New York had been reduced dramatically over the last 20 years.

Perhaps someone knows a bit more about this?

Posted by: Greg (Aust) at September 30, 2005 03:31 AM

Greg (Aust),
I don't think I could stand to go back and re-view the DVD but IIRC, Byrd did not comment on this. He's one of Hannity's favorite straw men to dig up and throw at the Democrats for racial hypocrisy because a thousand years ago Byrd was in the KKK. He's an old man now, he was a member as a young man, and he has denounced it. But that's not good enough for Hannity. It's one of his most sickening attack-lines.

I wish one day somebody would throw it back in Hannity's face by asking him if, having sought the help of the ACLU once, when he was younger, he is really still allied with them or if he believes it is possible for someone to change.

But the problem with so many of the Democratic guests is that they try to make nice to Hannity and don't really study him. It exasperates me to no end because he is so predictable, if only someone would just do their homework.

Posted by: Ellen at September 30, 2005 03:32 AM


Tell me where Bill was incorrect...please!

1. To abort every black baby would be impossible.
2. To abort every black baby would be ridiculous.
3. To abort every black baby would be morally reprehensible thing to do.
4. To abort every black baby would and your crime rate would go down.

He was pointing out how ridiculous it was to base an argument of lost tax revenue on aborted babies. He did this by pointing out that you could do or not do other things through abortion.

It's like saying that we could reduce the rate of osteoporosis by killing off old would, but you can't do that.

The only people calling him and his comments racist are the RACIST! Please tell me you're not one of them.

Oh yes, don't forget to tell me which of his statements would be incorrect.


Posted by: Daniel at September 30, 2005 03:39 AM

You seem to be showing a bias when you say "for being in the KKK a lifetime ago". It seems that you are saying its ok, since it was so long ago. I'm a democrat and I'm appalled that Byrd represents our country. That it was so long ago does not change the fact that it happens.

If you wanted to comment on Hannity and not express a judgement on Byrd, you might have said simply "for being in the KKK in his youth". In making the statement as you did, you appear to be bending facts the way Hannity does.

Posted by: dave at September 30, 2005 03:40 AM

It isn't just that it was a long time ago. It's that Byrd has denounced that part of his life and, in my opinion, atoned for it.

Posted by: Ellen at September 30, 2005 03:43 AM

Plus, I knew I could count on you guys to keep the "race" thing going...or try to.

People coming down Bennett prove that some people are sick and closed minded.

As long as there are people like those trying to take Bennett down there will be no peace.


Posted by: Daniel at September 30, 2005 03:49 AM

You can't atone for spreading the kind of hatred he spread. But I guess you aren't black, so I'll leave it at that.

Posted by: dave at September 30, 2005 03:49 AM

This was the top story on Hannity & Colmes. I didn't pick it out of a hat to write about.

In any event, if you think I am sick and closed minded, please leave.

For some reason, the topic of racial prejudice upsets me to no end and I am in no mood to deal with people attacking me on top of it.

Posted by: Ellen at September 30, 2005 03:51 AM

OK, you can hold it against Byrd forever. But that really has nothing to do with Bennett and his remarks.

Posted by: Ellen at September 30, 2005 03:53 AM


You may be perfectly healthy, so maybe "sick" is the wrong word to use. I will not take back the other half if you think Bennetts comment was "racist." That would be closed minded.


Posted by: Daniel at September 30, 2005 03:54 AM

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