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BILL BENNETT VS. JESSE JACKSON

The morning after the story broke, a friend asked if Bill Bennett's radio comments would trigger a major outburst. No, I assured him, it was a one-day, much-about-nothing-to-do, left-wing-trouble-making story that would be exposed for what it was.

Just look at what Bennett said. Asked on his radio program if, without the massive toll of legalized abortions over the last three decades, we'd have more taxpayers to support Social Security payments, Bennett expressed distaste for those kind of extrapolations, like a current theory in the book "Freakonomics" that the abortion rate in recent decades has led to a lower crime rate.

He theorized: "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."

I was dead wrong. The Bennett "controversy" has made headlines everywhere for days. He has resigned as chairman of the board of K-12, an education company he co-founded. Even I misread the degree to which the left will go to destroy a conservative - personally.

The smear was unearthed by the liberal-Democrat group Media Matters for America, run by congenital liar David Brock, and Democrats quickly pounced on the opportunity to mangle Bennett's point. Typical of this shameless charade was DNC chairman Howard Dean, a man who can't go a day without making hateful, inflammatory remarks, said Bennett's "hateful, inflammatory remarks regarding African Americans are simply inexcusable."

It didn't seem to matter that Bennett, statistically speaking, was not inaccurate: the Bureau of Justice Statistics found in 2002 that black Americans were seven times more likely to commit homicide (per 100,000 population) than whites, and six times more likely to be murdered. Sadly, from 1976 to 2002, 94 percent of black murder victims were killed by other blacks. Nor does it matter that Bennett unequivocally couched his comments with a denunciation of forced abortions against blacks. And never mind that he's spent a lifetime championing the pro-life and civil rights causes. All that mattered to the left was opportunity.

But the liberal outrage quickly landed in the Washington Post and the New York Times, the same newspapers that can't find space to note that anti-war hero Cindy Sheehan called President Bush "the biggest terrorist in the world," and didn't cover Air America radio host Randi Rhodes comparing bus evacuations from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as comparable to the Holocaust.

What of the networks that ignore almost every liberal gaffe and stumble? CBS, which totally ignored Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic minority's second-in-command, when he compared American treatment of detainees at Guantanamo to the death camps of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, led the newscast with Bill Bennett. On NBC's "Today," Katie Couric quickly sliced up Bennett, "under fire" and "feeling the heat for saying this on the radio." Viewers then heard a clip which completely - and deliberately - excluded Bennett's next sentence that the argument was ridiculous and reprehensible.

What hypocrisy. These same journalists regularly refuse to scorn outrageous racial remarks by black leaders. In fact, they advance them. Jesse Jackson repeatedly compared the conditions of blacks in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to a slave ship. Now, it's fair to suggest the life of evacuees was hard. But it's an ugly and dishonest defamation to imply that America is a nation so callously racist that our indifference imprisoned black hurricane victims like slaves.

Yet ABC transmitted the slave-ship charge as fair comment on "Nightline" on September 2. Reporter John Donvan quoted Jackson: "It's the worst, the racist dimensions of our culture. We deserve better. This is the hull of a slave ship." Two nights later, Donvan rephrased this as a jarring, but reasonable question about race.

Two days after that on "Good Morning America," ABC's Ron Claiborne interviewed Jackson live: "You were quoted, perhaps misquoted, as saying the images coming out of New Orleans resembled the hull of a slave ship. And that is very vivid and charged language. What were you saying?" Jackson did not deny the quote.

On NBC September 3, Jackson told "Today" host Lester Holt the country need to rescue people, and lamented: "It looked like people in the hold of a slave ship." Holt simply agreed: "Right."

The contrast between Bennett's beating and Jackson's pleading illustrated the media's leftist worldview. Red-state America is still hopelessly racist, and conservatives are inherently evil. So Bennett's remarks must be sliced up and exaggerated, and even edited, to make that point. Liberals should be ashamed of themselves, except more and more, liberals have no shame.

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