Hannity repeated Bennett's Freakonomics falsehood

Sean Hannity repeated radio host Bill Bennett's false claim that Bennett was simply quoting from the book Freakonomics when he made controversial comments regarding blacks, crime, and abortion.

Fox News host Sean Hannity repeated radio host and former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett's false claim regarding a controversial remark Bennett made on September 28, 2005 -- "[I]t's true that if you wanted to reduce crime ... you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down" -- saying the remark was not “his [Bennett's] theory” and that Bennett was “quot[ing] from a book.” As Media Matters for America noted, Bennett purported to explain the comment by falsely claiming that he was simply reiterating a theory made in the book Freakonomics (William Morrow, May 2005) by authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. But, neither Levitt nor the book discuss “the racial implications of abortion and crime,” as Bennett falsely stated on his September 29, 2005, radio broadcast. Hannity repeated Bennett's falsehood on the January 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a discussion about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) January 16 remarks that the U.S. House of Representatives is being run “like a plantation.”

Freakonomics advances the theory that legalized abortions have reduced overall crime rates by reducing the number of children growing up in poor, single-parent, or teenage-parent households -- and therefore those who would have been more likely to commit crimes. But, the author's theory does not address the issue of race. In fact, in a 1999 Slate.com online discussion that followed the release of a preliminary version of a 2001 paper by Levitt and John J. Donohue III, on which the argument in Freakonomics is based, Levitt specifically noted that "[n]one of our analysis [of abortion and crime] is race-based because the crime data by race is generally not deemed reliable." In a September 30, 2005, response to Bennett's remarks, Levitt reiterated: “Race is not an important part of the abortion-crime argument that John Donohue and I have made in academic papers and that Dubner and I discuss in Freakonomics.”

From the January 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Let's talk specifically about a double standard that exists in this country. [Sen.] Trent Lott [R-MS] makes comments at a 100th birthday party, throw-away comments to be funny for a man that was a hundred years old. We saw the fallout. Bill Bennett quotes from a book -- it's not even his theory; he has exculpatory statements surrounding it -- nobody pays attention to that, and they want big trouble for Bill Bennett.