CNN Brings Rev. Sharpton on to Discuss Bill Bennett’s Remarks

As NewsBuster Dave Pierre reported here, the media are in a bit of a tizzy over remarks that former Education secretary Bill Bennett recently said on his radio talkshow about abortion and crime.  On CNN’s “Live Today,” commentator Daryn Kagan invited Rev. Al Sharpton to offer his views of Bennett’s comments:

SHARPTON: I think they're blatantly racist. I think that even after he had said to kill people based on who they are is morally irreprehensible -- he then came back and stated as a fact that, if you did do this, even if it was reprehensible, it would, in fact, lower the crime rate. Which clearly is he -- making blacks and crime synonymous. So I think even after he recovered, he re-emphasized the offensive point in first place. And he seems to be oblivious to what he has said out of his own mouth and then confirmed after he tried to clean it up.  

As the interview continued, Sharpton stated that Bennett doesn't understand civil rights issues because he's not a victim of civil rights violations, and that Bennett has spent his life trying to "stifle the civil rights movement."

What follows is a full transcript of Kagan’s report including the text of Bennett’s comments on the show in question as well as Sharpton’s remarks.  The video link gives an audio of Bennett’s radio comments.

Kagan: The White House today criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for an explosive comment, linking blacks and crime. Congressional Democrats and civil rights activists are demanding an apology. Bennett says the comment is being taken out of context. It happened on his radio show. Bennett was discussing a hypothesis in a recent book that crime is down because abortion is up. The issue came up during a call to his show.

Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BENNETT, FMR. EDUCATION SECY.: Lewis in Sarasota, Florida. Hello, Lewis, last call of the day.

CALLER: Hey. How are you doing?

BENNETT: Good.

CALLER: New caller to you here and new listener.

BENNETT: Great.

CALLER: I noticed the national media is -- you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I've read articles in recent months here, that, you know, the abortions that have happened since Roe V. Wade that loss revenue for the people who have been aborted during the last 30-something years, you know, could fund Social Security as we know it today, and, you know, the media never touches this at all.

BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?

CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think, does abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.

CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics. Quite a bit are, yes. BENNETT: All right. Well, I mean, I just don't know. I don't -- I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- one of the arguments, in this book, "Freakonomics" they make is that the decline in crime rate -- you know, they deal with the hypothesis that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up.

CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either. I don't think it is, either. Because first of all, I think there's just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...

BENNETT: But these far-out, these far-reaching, you know, extensive extrapolations, are, I think, tricky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Bennett stands by his remark. He said it was a hypothetical comment that has been mischaracterized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENNETT: I was putting forward a hypothetical proposition. Put that forward, examined it and then said about it that it's morally reprehensible. To recommend abortion of an entire group of people to lower your crime rate is morally reprehensible. But this is what happens when you argue that the ends can justify the means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Joining us now to talk about Bennett's remarks and the controversy they have stirred up is the Reverend Al Sharpton. He's with from New York City. Reverend, good morning.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Good morning.

KAGAN: What do you think?

SHARPTON: I think they're blatantly racist. I think that even after he had said to kill people based on who they are is morally irreprehensible -- he then came back and stated as a fact that, if you did do this, even if it was reprehensible, it would, in fact, lower the crime rate. Which clearly is he -- making blacks and crime synonymous. So I think even after he recovered, he re-emphasized the offensive point in first place. And he seems to be oblivious to what he has said out of his own mouth and then confirmed after he tried to clean it up.

KAGAN: Just to quote Bill Bennett here, later he also said -- he goes, "I am not a racist. I'll put my record up against theirs." He says, "I've been a champion of the real civil rights issue of our time, equal educational opportunity for our kids."

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, he can't determine what the real civil rights issues are when he's not a victim of violations of civil rights. I think that, again, is very arrogant. He's going to superimpose upon people in the civil rights movement what the real civil rights issue is.

Secondly, what record? I mean, clearly Mr. Bennett has spent a lifetime on the conservative side, trying to do what he could to, in my opinion, stifle the civil rights movement. He is now caught with his foot in his mouth. If that wasn't enough, he came back and stuck the other shoe in his mouth.

I think not only should he apologize, I think those that have funded him and his work, we have to take a real look at them and put pressure on them. Here's a man that blatantly thinks that crime and blacks are synonymous in this country. Is this the kind of guy we need out there?

KAGAN: I don't want to get off track here, but I just want to clarify one of your comments. Are you saying that only blacks can work for civil rights?

SHARPTON: No, I didn't say blacks. I said civil rights community. There are many people in the civil rights community that are white. But Mr. Bennett is not one of them. With the civil rights movement from the days of fighting segregation to the days of today, of fighting against racial inequality or fighting against those that would impair our civil liberties, does not find Bill Bennett as one of those in that community then or now. You don't have to be black, you have to be for what is civil right, not civil wrong.

KAGAN: OK, just wanted to clarify on that comment, there. So what would you like to see happen? Would you like to see an apology from Bill Bennett?

SHARPTON: I would not only like to see an apology from him, I'd like to see those that have supported him, those that finance him and the radio stations that carry him -- have to really look at whether or not they can afford to stand with a guy who blatantly says and confirms he believes that blacks and crimes are synonymous. Because I think some of us in the African-American community and people of goodwill of all races need to really look at whether we can support radio stations that would have that kind of guy championing a point of view, when we know how he really feels.

KAGAN: All right. Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you for your comments this morning.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

Video Link

 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.