This afternoon Bill Bennett made his first appearance on CNN since joining the network as a contributor. After talking about the Supreme Court and Bennett’s meeting with President Bush, Wolf Blitzer said he had to ask about “those controversial comments you made a few months back:”
“I know you’re not a racist. And I just want our viewers to have an understanding of what you were saying,” Blitzer said.
“I want to thank CNN for looking past this canard, or through this canard and taking me on,” Bennett responded. “But I’ve had a number of controversies in my life and some of them, frankly deserved. This one was not deserved.” The full excerpt is after the jump…
BLITZER: This is your first time in THE SITUATION ROOM, since you joined us here at CNN. I have to ask you about those controversial comments you made a few months back, that some suggested were seen as racist, when you said in a hypothetical discussion that if you go ahead, you can repeat what you said.
BENNETT: I don’t think I will.
BLITZER: If you go ahead and abort all black babies, there will be a reduction in crime. It caused a huge stir. Since this is the first time you’re joining me here on CNN, I want you to explain to our viewers what you were thinking because I’ve known you were many years. I know you’re not a racist. And I just want our viewers to have an understanding of what you were saying.
BENNETT: Well this was — first, I want to thank CNN for looking past this canard, or through this canard and taking me on. But I’ve had a number of controversies in my life and some of them, frankly deserved. This one was not deserved.
I was dealing with a hypothetical, talking about lowering crime rate by aborting babies in the black community. And that this was a hypothetical. Obviously it was a matter that had been under discussion in articles and newspapers and in some discussions and books.
But I brought it up as a hypothetical to point out how noxious it was. After having brought up the hypothetical, I said of course that would be a reprehensible and impossible thing to do, direct quote.
Well some of the media that replayed it played the hypothetical, but they didn’t play my condemnation of the hypothetical. I’m a college professor, old college professor, I use hypotheticals.
And sometimes you bring up an extreme or ridiculous position in order to show how absurd it is. That was the point of it. So, it was based on a distortion. But more than that, Wolf, it was the whole thing, as it went on, was based on a distortion of my life. I appreciate what you say about me. I went to Mississippi in 1997, I taught, I taught Martin Luther King letter from a Birmingham jail.
I’ve been committed to civil rights and all anybody has to do is look at my life, my record and the work that we still do.