On Hannity & Colmes, Manhattan Institute senior fellow John McWhorter claimed that the poverty rate of African-American minors has decreased "ever since 1996," a trend he credited to "the Republican party, who created welfare reform." In fact, according to U.S. government census data, the poverty rate among African-Americans under 18 began decreasing in 1992 and continued to do so until 2002, midway through President Bush's first term.
John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank, claimed in an appearance on the February 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes that the poverty rate of African-American minors has decreased "ever since 1996," a trend he credited to "the Republican party, who created welfare reform." In fact, according to U.S. government census data, the poverty rate among American-Americans under 18 began decreasing in 1992 and continued to do so until 2002, when the rate increased. McWhorter is also the author of Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America (Gotham, December 2005).
McWhorter made his claim about Republicans and welfare reform during a discussion with host Sean Hannity and Democratic strategist Michael Brown about February 7 comments by Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, who said: "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter [Olympic] Games look like a GOP convention." Hannity said that Gumbel's remarks "insinuate[d] that a group of people are racist," as Media Matters for America noted, while McWhorter referred to declining poverty rates among African-Americans in order to refute the notion ascribed to Gumbel that Republicans are "anti-black," calling it "an old-fashioned idea."
U.S. Census Bureau data show that the poverty rate for African-Americans under the age of 18 ranged throughout the 1980s between 42.3 and 47.6 percent. Beginning in 1992, the rate began to decline from 46.6 percent, and reached a low of 30.2 percent in 2001. The rate increased the next two years -- to 32.3 percent in 2002 and to 34.1 percent in 2003 -- then declined half a percentage point, to 33.6 percent, in 2004.
From the February 21 edition of Fox News's Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Michael Brown, let me go to you. There's nothing about being overly sensitive to or tongue-in-cheek about basically insinuating that a group of people are racist, and that's what Bryant Gumbel did here. And he is overtly playing a race card, which is despicable and ought to be condemned by people, because it's inaccurate, number one; it's not productive, number two; and it's offensive to people that are Republican that -- that, you know, when we look at a president that has appointed more people to higher positions that are African-American than any other president --
BROWN: Sean, you and I have talked about this a million times before.
HANNITY: -- it's offensive. It's offensive.
McWHORTER: And when we look at the Republican Party, who created welfare reform, which is decreasing black child poverty rates and has ever since 1996, the idea that Republicans are anti-black is also just medication. It's an old-fashioned idea. If we all vote for one party, we're powerless.