"I do know that it's true," said former secretary of education and drug czar William Bennett, "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. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."
Bennett, who hosts a radio show, was responding to a caller's suggestion. The caller argued that but for the loss of life through abortion, Social Security would be more solvent, with more workers contributing to the system. Bennett rejected that end-to-the-means argument, and offered the black abortion hypothetical as an equally silly end-justifies-the-means argument.
But, oh, the fit hit the shan. MSNBC struck quickly. The network ran a "tease": Bill Bennett (audio) "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." MSNBC correspondent: "Bennett's bombshell comments. The former education secretary is now feeling the heat this morning, from remarks he made on his radio show about African-Americans and abortion." MSNBC also ran a "crawler" at the bottom of the screen, providing a phone number for viewers to call and respond to the question, "Is Bennett's comment reprehensible?"
Before the commercial break, MSNBC left out a vital part of Bennett's statement, which called his abortion hypothetical "morally reprehensible." Nor did MSNBC inform the viewers of Bennett's qualifying statement, even after coming back from their break!
The White House said Bennett's remarks "were not appropriate." Fox's Juan Williams said Bennett's remark " . . . really speaks to a deeply racist mindset." CNN's Jeff Greenfield somberly called Bennett's comments "inartful." Inartful?
How does one artfully say that out of a small percentage of America's population -- 13 percent -- blacks account for 37.2 percent of all those arrested for violent crimes, 54.4 percent of all robbery arrestees, and are the known offenders in 51.3 percent of all murders? The murder rate in the city of New Orleans stands at over 7.5 times the national average, and authorities convict only one in four arrested for homicide.