Talk:William Bennett

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Old comments[edit]

Removed this part for reasons of comparative irrelevancy:

Bennett has delivered numerous speeches at various colleges and universities in the United States, including Harvard University and Hillsdale College.
Most likely due to his background as an educational administrator and for conservative views, he served on the search committee that selected Dr. Larry P. Arnn as President of Hillsdale College.

Populus 14:10, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)


How about putting something in that say Bennett is often asked to speak at colleges ? Smith03 14:14, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Fine with me. I just thought that making selecting a new president of Hillsdale Bennett's crowning achievement looked odd. Populus 14:28, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I'm sorry.... but I deleted the statement according to which Bennett takes "somewhat RACIST views" on affirmative action ecc. Being a conservative doesn't at all entail being racist. Even being "against" quotas and Affirmative Action doesn't necessarily coincide with racist positions.


Not to polarize, muckrake, or troll, but I believe this is worthy of mention: This week (late September 2005) Bennett was on some talk show where the conversation turned to a supposed link between the increased number of abortions in the U.S. and the decreasing crime rate. Bennett said he found no reason to believe such a link existed. Unbelievably, though, he went on to say that he believed if every African American fetus in the country were aborted, the crime rate would plummet. (He qualified this by saying that actually committing such an act would be deplorable.) I heard the tape of Bennett making this statement played on the radio this morning, as well as a tape of an MSNBC commentator condemning it, so I'm pretty certain the exchange took place, but thusfar I've been unable to locate a transcription or any other mention of it on the web. I think this is big enough that it ought to be added to the article if it can be confirmed and sourced. 4.236.78.231 13:48, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I've heard some discussion of this as well. From what I gather, a caller had said that a good pro-life argument would be that Social Security would be solvent if all those aborted had been born. Bennett said that was a bad argument because it allows naefarious arguments to be made. He then presented the hypothetical situation that he has been raked over the coals for. FWIW, he's adamantly pro-life so him making an argument that supports pro-choice is, IMO, prima facia not his opinion. BenWilson 21:30, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

To add to the comment above... all one needs is to look to the September 29 2005 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. During the daily finale known as "Your Moment of Zen," Bill Bennett's suspect comments are clearly audible. Read more at Media Matters for America


Bennett has noted that he did not intend his comments to be racist, but it is suprising that a politician could be so clumsy in making a statement that can clearly be interpreted as racism or advocating (ar at the very least, agreeing with the central premise of) eugenics. The broader discussion of the correlation, if any, between crime and the rate of abortions in the U.S. remains controversial however, and probably deserves its own article on Wikipedia. (found it under Legalized abortion and crime effect, adding internal link to the William Bennett article in the relevant section)

RudolfRadna 18:04, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Yes, having heard the comment in context, the excerpt was a gross mischaracterisation of what he was saying. He properly caveated his statement, but those who have excerpted his comments have left out those caveats. So, to link Bennett to the view that more abortions = less crime would be incorrect. There's a scholar out there who has published this view and believes it, so linking to him is more prudent. IMO, it would be abjectly partisan of us to link Bennett so. BenWilson 21:34, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

default article for Bill Bennett[edit]

Can we make Bill Bennett the default article for a period of time? I came here after reading a news story, but found the Canadian politician instead. We could put it back after a while. It might give more visibility to this article so it can be cleaned up.

151.198.54.170 13:59, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Clean up[edit]

I did a major clean up, but while I was working on it new edits were made by others. I tried to incorporate the new stuff best I could. Also, although I left it in, I'm not sure whether the controversy over the abortion discussion is about linking abortion to crime or about Bennett's apparent opinion that crime is caused by black people. Perhaps we should leave the stuff at the end out? Dyfsunctional 19:06, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

I just went back to the page an hour or so later, and the "Controversial Comments" section has become POV, sloppy, and decidedly un-encyclopedic. (I don't ever remember seeing datelines in Funk and Wagnalls.) Can we please agree to be concise and factual? And while we're at it, can we skip the "this just in" jazz? This is an encylopedia, not a news wire. Dyfsunctional 20:01, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Clean Up ll[edit]

What does this mean: " it is one of the only syndicated conservative talk shows in the morning drive time slot." ? Does it mean it is the only such or one of the few such . . .? "In fact in 1988, he called the Chicago public school system 'the worst in the nation.'" "In fact" is an expression completely out of place in an encyclopedia. I removed it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Orthotox (talkcontribs) 18:52, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Kudos[edit]

I popped in expecting to see something far worse. I think, at least as it stands at the time of this post, it's fair and evenhanded. Let's all hope it stays that way!Big Daddy 10:16, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Yes. I've been watching this article and it's definitely gotten a lot better since yesterday. Thanks everyone. 141.155.152.158 12:03, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

His intentions[edit]

Does the last sentance about abortion and crime belong? His whole point was not racist per se, because he was talking about black people trapped as a underclass. His comment that it was morally reprehensible clarified that these comments were not offered to encourage people to have abortions to kill unwanted children for the purposes of law and order. I think that also twists his meaning. He has done a lot more than make this comment perhaps more detail is needed in other parts of the article. Dominick 14:10, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

The standard response to whether it is racist includes: why does the speaker use the black race for a "hypothetical" rumination. Why not use white, or latin, or asian. A contemporary response today would be: Why a public person would even touch upon a conversation about blacks after the video horror of New Orleans. And the insensitive comments made by Barbara Bush at the Astrodome were to any public person notice that sensitivity is the order of the day, OPPS, I'm sure I'm being very POV here....Kyle Andrew Brown 02:16, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Racist intent depends on the attitude of the speaker more than the specific words. In poor areas, I am reluctant to flash money, and many poor areas are associated with large Black populations. In Miami, there were poor areas where I didnt feel uncomfortable associated with Latin areas. The difference is how I relate and fit in. I think in both cases this is more a case of xenophobia, and misrepresentation of the economic conditions in those areas. Bennett like many, think of black areas as being economically disadvantaged, and having crime problems.
The destruction of New Orleans is not a black issue, per se. What we don't see is a even smaller French Cajun population that has some of the same problems as rural black people, who lost it all and worse don't have the attention of many people outside the South. Dominick 02:39, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Kyle, btw, question marks would make your intent clearer. But in the case of Benett, one cannot infer from the choice made in a hypothetical that the speaker has malicious intent, unless it is followed or surrounded with suspect language (in this case it was not). Otherwise, one is committing the erroneous fallacy of condemning every choice made in any hypothetical: why not this one instead of another? and on and on. One might even be suspicious of an omitted choice; there's no end to the analysis one can engage if sensitivity overrides logic. To declare intent, one has to assume maliciousness on behalf of the speaker, and fair-minded people always give the benefit of the doubt unless there is good reason to do otherwise.--68.32.227.68 (talk) 22:58, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Formatting[edit]

Perhaps we can get better balance by separating bio info, achievments, criticism and trivia, tailing the article with links. I moved things about a bit. Does this work? Dominick 18:48, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Mary Beth Guinan Could there be an additional link to "crime and gender?" *Violent Crime and Gender When a social scientist uses a paradigmatic case as a premise, it should be both factual and non-controversial, as is the case with gender. The correlation with race is extremely problematic statistically, and controversial.

Balance[edit]

Not to defend Bennett's remarks, but is it really fair to devote more than half the article to the abortion quote? How about just an accurate transcription of the quote, and a few lines about the reaction? I'm at a particular loss as to why we need the blog entry from the Freakonomics author—shouldn't this be an article about Bennett's life and place in history, and not about what tangentally-involved people think about something he said on the radio? I'm thinking we should at least delete that bit, but it's been there long enough that I have to wonder what the majority opinion is. Dyfsunctional 13:38, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree, he has been around long before these comments, using a single blog source like this, and hanging his reputation on one quote makes for a unbalnced article. If we compare column inches of spathe Abortion item is was over dominant. It should be prominent, since it is a current affair, but in a few years will not be what he is best remembered for. (pardon me I added a header) Dominick 13:45, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, other than Dominick and I, there doesn't seem to be much of an opinion on this one way or the other. (I suspect that now that the media coverage has faded people have stopped visiting the page.) I think I'll give it another day or two, then streamline the section in question. Also, I'll remove the "current event" tag if that's OK. Dyfsunctional 18:30, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
Absolutely agree that, by my measurement, 56% of this article being comprised of the "Controversy" section is complete overkill. It certainly makes for the appearance of a smear, regardless of factual content. While important to keep the context of the controvery available, a link to the entirety of the radio comments and the responses should suffice. --Detriment (T-M-C) 01:15, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree that spacewise, the controversy section seems to be unbalanced, but upon closer reflection, it seems that the whole transcript might be needed to ensure the full context is available. Johntex\talk 04:02, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
How about just the pertinent quote, and a link for the context? 162.83.178.23 11:26, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I did some major surgery, incorporated all of the suggestions above. Let's see if it sticks. Also, somebody keeps changing the mediamatters link to a white supremacist blog entry. The link is there to provide an accurate trancript, not to voice a pro- or anti-Bennett sentiment. If you have an issue with it please say something in the talk page so we can know what your intentions are. Dyfsunctional 13:25, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Looked good, but it is still light on details about... guess who! I will look closer later, when I don't have a design I am paid for looking at me! Dominick 14:07, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Did he resign from the Education Secretary post in 1988 or 1989? The article has both. 162.83.178.23 12:02, 8 October 2005 (UTC)


Someone took changed the quote and added a statement that Bennett was unfairly quoted out of context. Although the link to Media Matters was still there, without the context there it reads diffent than with the context. I put back in the full conversation. Also, someone removed the response by William Morris refuting the argument that Freakonomics says that blacks = crime. Can someone put it back in?

I don't know about William Morris, but Steve Sailor refutes the argument that "black abortions cut crime" here: http://www.isteve.com/Freakonomics_Fiasco.htm

Undue Weight[edit]

Tonight was the first time I looked at this biographical article. I have to echo the out of balance observation that was first made in 2005. Undue weight is being given to the abortion misunderstanding and too little weight is being given to his success as a an author and rise in the radio ratings. Of course, editors typically are not explicit in their intent for adding text to an article, but I don't think it's leap of logic to infer that there was a gotcha for his hypothetical to a caller on September 28, 2005. Another clue: the Controversies section is about half the article text. Controversies is code, of course, for stuff editors don't like about the subject. patsw 01:38, 18 May 2007 (UTC)


The radio show statement was a mathematical reality, not a statement on morals or racism. It was illustrating the absurdity of trying to equate abortion with the crime rate, which is higher per capita among blacks vs whites in the United States. It's like saying "If we all ceased to drive cars, there would be no gas shortages." Doesn't mean we should cease to drive cars. --75.39.52.149 (talk) 16:44, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Continuing Debate[edit]

Once again, the pro- and anti-Bennett POV additions are creeping in, clogging up the article. I ask again: What's so wrong about simply sticking with the facts and stating that Bennett made a statement that some people have taken offense to? Dyfsunctional 00:38, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

  • jeez, i'm no buckley fan but it seems kind of absurd that the radio comment he made should take up more than half the article. i'd vote for lowering it down to a sentence or two.66.28.14.123 20:36, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

[Note: I moved the next two paragraphs from a section above; I think this is a separate matter. John Broughton 21:58, 17 January 2006 (UTC)]

[Note: I moved this line of discussion back to the relevant heading because I'd like it to be clear that what we are adressing here is an ongoing issue, and by making a new section every time it crops up creates the appearance that it hasn't already been addressed. Detriment 03:03, 18 January 2006 (UTC)]

No surprise, the politi-creep continues. I just removed 2 alleged "controversies", one of which being distilled from an admittedly left-wing activist site (that site being footnoted as some kind of corroboration) and the other being a diatribe about a single request for investigation from a single California representative for educational budget spending practices, 10% of which may be linked to an organization associated with Bennett. Spurrious, shaded, and entirely insubstantial.

John Broughton, please regard this site as an encyclopedic reference work, and not your personal mudslinging forum. Please read the posts above regarding this practice. Detriment 19:19, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I re-inserted the text deleted by Detriment. I don't think that the reason cited (Removed 2 "controversies" whose inclusion was obvious political shading) is compelling - controversies about political figures almost always have "political shading".
Part of the deleted text included a cite to a (Democratic) Congressman calling for an investigation. If that is not the sign of a controversy, what is?
You use a lot of interesting words: diatribe, spurrious, shaded, insubstantial, mudslinging. At no time do you state that the cited facts are incorrect. You don't do any editing changes that would eliminate what you consider to be NPOV. In essence, you want the reader to be unaware of these two issues, because YOU have decided that they are not important. John Broughton 21:47, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry if the terminology I used offends, but your contributions are very clearly POV and should not be included in this, or any other reference material. Your "Undisclosed potential conflict of interest" entry is simply an unsupported opinion by someone who authors "The Carpetbagger Report" as to what Fox News should or should not be saying when introducing their guests. This is not in any way related to Bennett's role as a participant, and these kind of speculations should go, if anywhere, to opine about Fox News. I don't believe that any editor worth their salt would consider a blog entry from the "Americans United for a Separation of Church and State" as a valid news citation.
The section regarding the congressman from California writing a letter to the GAO abount spending practices, 90% having nothing to do with Bennett whatsoever, is entirely over-reaching and shows an obvious intent to re-inflate the Controversies section. Are we to assume that every time any member of government writes a letter, that any person mentioned in that letter is to be subjected to the assumption of inpropriety? The letter doesn't even suggest impropriety on Bennett's part - it's questioning the spending practices of the Department of Education. When the GAO revisits this issue, and any kind of sanctioning or punishment is suggested against William Bennett (remember him, the subject of this article?), then we can argue that it's a public controversy. As for now, it is simply one congressman's inquiry to one accountant in D.C. regarding spending practices.
I would suggest that you check your political baggage at the Wikidoor for now, and refrain from re-inserting these paragraphs, in any order, until some discussion can be made about their merit. Let's err on the side of credibility, shall we? Detriment 03:03, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Origin of radio show name[edit]

I added a sentence to the Trivia section of the article stating that the name of the radio show is based on the line from the 1984 Reagan campaign. That Reagan used this line is well-known, and that it figured in his re-election campaign is documented at pbs.org. Given Reagan's association with the quote and Bennett's association with Reagan, I believe the statement I added to the page to be correct, but I can't find anything on Bennett's site stating that this is the origin of the show name. --DavidConrad 02:56, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

The Daily Show appearance[edit]

Somebody should write a bit about his recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 71.16.224.178 08:54, 13 June 2006

Why? What was particularly important/newsworthy? John Broughton 13:22, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

"Philosopher"[edit]

I edited Bennett's profile to change his description from "philosopher" to political pundit, as I found describing him as a philosopher somewhat presumptious. After all, we're talking about the author of "The Book of Virtues" not Hegel or Kant.AlexMondo 03:19, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

He claims to be a student of Philosophy —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.56.51.64 (talk) 14:45, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Las Vegas Domina?[edit]

Hey everybody, I just added a brief subsection on a supposed relationship Bennett may or may not have had with a dominatrix in Las Vegas. This is kind of dicey material, and I want it to be fair to Bennett and to comply with Wikipedia's policy of fairness towards biographies of living individuals. These rumors are in large part unsubstantiated, but on the other hand they're very persistent (as my article makes plain) and thus I think a section addressing them is warranted. I invite your comments, criticisms, and revisions if necessary to ensure that this section complies. If you feel it doesn't belong there, please discuss your objections here before deleting it and let's keep it civil. Dkostic 01:48, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Pardon me for deleting it immediately upon seeing it and reviewing some of the sources. I believe the matieral violates WP:BLP and while I am happy to discuss it at length, I think material that violates WP:BLP should not be left in the article while it is debated but rather left out while is being discussed. Lawyer2b 17:08, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
WP:BLP states, "Information available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all. Information found in self-published books, newspapers, or websites/blogs should never be used, unless written by the subject (see below)." The sources you gave for the material were blogs or partisan websites, hence the material cannot be used. Lawyer2b-blp 17:20, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, you might be right on that. :/ Dkostic 20:11, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Use of "Dr."[edit]

That somebody has a PhD does not mean that we refer to them as "Dr. X" for the whole article. Certainly we don't ever put "Dr." into the first line. If genuinely respected academics don't get this (and they don't), why should Bill Bennett? This is a stylistic issue, and stylistically, we don't generally use honorifics ("Dr.", "Mr.", whatever) on either first reference or in running text. john k 06:23, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Use of screenshot for illustration[edit]

I thought fair use of screenshots was limited to articles dealing with the television program or movie itself and could not be used on other pages to illustrate subjects (e.g. actors or guests). If I am correct, then the image with this article must be replaced. →Wordbuilder 20:18, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

If there is no objection, I will remove it. →Wordbuilder 17:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Con or Neocon??[edit]

Having followed Bennett's philosophies through his talk show it occurs to me that this Wiki article would be more accurate to refer to him as a "neoconservative" as opposed to a "conservative". His liberal roots in the Democratic Party (some of those liberal views linger still today) and his subsequent conversion to a Republican seem to bode well for this change. I suggest changing the first sentence of this article from:

"William John Bennett (born July 31, 1943) is an American conservative pundit, politician, and political theorist. "

To:

William John Bennett (born July 31, 1943) is an American neoconservative pundit, politician, and political theorist.

Rwl10267 (talk) 16:53, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Going once...twice...Rwl10267 (talk) 19:41, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
I would disagree. Neoconservatism is a form of conservatism and oftentimes used as an insult--I mean rarely we've seen someone say "Hey, Im a neo-con." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.190.81.197 (talk) 01:45, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Does anybody know who, if anybody, Bill supported in the Republican primaries?[edit]

↜Just me, here, now 03:58, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Gambling section[edit]

I have tried to tweak this but think it needs more work/attention. The sentence about "The Book of Virtues, in which he argued for self-discipline -- an attribute often at odds with problem gambling." needs to be reworded. The attribute is not at odds with gambling, its at odds with problem grambling. Maybe just remove the last part so as not to mention "problem" gambling. I also removed the part that he has never been accused of problem gambling since that was not sourced. The idea that his bills are paid, therefore he doesn't have a "problem" could be a sign of trouble since compulsive gambling is not about money. I am trying to be careful of BLP issues. Anyways, Tom (talk) 03:02, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Radio show abortion comment[edit]

The excerpt represents over 70% of the source, so it appears to violate fair use provisions, and is probably a copyright violation. I've moved the copyrighted material here. "The copied material should not comprise a substantial portion of the work being quoted."

CALLER: I noticed the national media... talk a lot about the loss of revenue... to fund Social Security, and I was curious, ... [whether] the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade [and] the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years could fund Social Security as we know it today...
BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?
CALLER: ...Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.
BENNETT: Maybe,...but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think [abortion] disproportionately occur[s] among single women? No?
CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.
BENNETT: ...I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this... [I]t cuts both [ways]—you know. One of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is... that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well-
CALLER: -Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either,... But I do know that it'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. 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.

Lionelt (talk) 08:57, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Palestinians are Jordanians?[edit]

This is not supported by the two given references. Perhaps he said this elsewhere? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.231.178.47 (talk) 20:57, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Abortion comment contraversy - what are the facts?[edit]

Is what Bennet said true from a purely mathematical scientific statistical viewpoint, ignoring all political or ethical considerations?? Did he cite any statistics to prove the point? --Nerd42 (talk) 23:43, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

"Conservative"[edit]

The word "conservative" is used over and over in the article. An article on Obama, for example, would not employ the word "liberal" over and over and over. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.44.149.170 (talk) 02:37, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

With sourcing, we call him conservative once.
Further uses of conservative are pretty much unavoidable in context:
  • "...critics arguing that gambling is incompatible with his promotion of staunch social conservative values." (We can't very well avoid saying what the critics said when talking about what they said.)
  • "This event was later marked as the watershed in the divergence between paleoconservatives, who backed Bradford, and neoconservatives..." (We can't not name the groups.)
  • "Bennett tends to take a conservative position on affirmative action, school vouchers, curriculum reform, and religion in education." (With sourcing, this describes his most notable positions.)
  • "...it is one of the only syndicated conservative talk shows in the morning drive time slot." (Unavoidably descriptive.)
  • "Some felt it conflicted with his public image as a leading voice for conservative morals." (He's a voice for conservative morals specifically, not morals in general.)
More to the point, Bennett calls himself "conservative", in no uncertain terms. " I'm a conservative."[1] Obama does not label himself. - SummerPhD (talk) 04:48, 18 September 2012 (UTC)