March 15, 2010

You can always count on Bill O'Reilly to take up for the poor downtrodden white man and this is no exception. During a discussion with Geraldo Rivera about the changing racial demographics of the population of the United States and what it's going to mean for our country he throws this tidbit out there.

O'Reilly: Alright let me throw some stats at you and see how this is going to play out okay? Crime... this is an amazing stat, 28% of those incarcerated are black but... arrested, arrested I should say are black, 69% are white. So whites dominate the arrest sheets far more than their population. You always hear the cops are picking on African-Americans, but whites are arrested way higher than African-Americans.

First of all, I believe O'Reilly is reading from this table from the FBI which does not separate white Hispanics or any other race from whites. I've got to wonder how different those statistics would look if they did. And second, what he completely ignores that if you're going to have any sort of serious discussion about crime and punishment in the United States (which I don't expect from O'Reilly, believe me) you cannot just talk about arrest rates and ignore incarceration statistics.

Here's the big elephant in the room O'Reilly is ignoring during this discussion: Crime: Prison Population: Prison Population by Race (larger chart available there).


h/t Media Matters and some of their commenters for the links to the stats. And as another commenter over there pointed out, O'Reilly also does not account for how many people are pulled over for the crime of DWBNC (Driving while black in a nice car) and not actually arrested and the stats explain nothing about the severity of the charges and how they're treated later by our criminal justice system.

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