Shannon Bream quoted without challenging criticism by Wendy Long of Sonia Sotomayor's reported statement in 1983 that "the worst victims of crimes are not general society -- i.e., white folks -- but minorities themselves." As Bream noted, Long attacked the reported statement as "extreme," but Bream did not note that statistics back up Sotomayor.
On the June 14 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, legal correspondent Shannon Bream stated that in a November 27, 1983, New York Times article [purchase required] Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "called herself liberal and said the worst victims of crime were not, quote, 'white folks but minorities' who suffered violence at the hands of minorities." Bream then uncritically quoted Wendy Long of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network asserting: "It's really quite an extreme statement, and it's a regrettable statement, but it's really consistent with this theme we see throughout her legal career of just a complete focus and almost a preoccupation with racial and ethnic politics." However, in reporting Long's attack on Sotomayor's reported statement about the relative effects of crime on minorities and the general society, Bream did not point out that crime victimization statistics in 1983 -- as well as more recently -- support Sotomayor's statement and undermine Long's criticism.
The November 1983 New York Times article Bream cited reported, " 'What I am finding, both statistically and emotionally,' [Sotomayor] continues, 'is that the worst victims of crimes are not general society -- i.e., white folks -- but minorities themselves. The violence, the sorrow are perpetrated by minorities on minorities.' " According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 1983, the "[s]erious violent victimization rate," which includes the violent crimes of homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, was at 33.1 violent crimes per 1,000 among black Americans -- twice as high as the rate among white Americans at 16.3 per 1,000 persons. In 2005, those figures were 13.6 and 6.5, respectively.
From the November 27, 1983, New York Times article:
''What I am finding, both statistically and emotionally,'' she continues, ''is that the worst victims of crimes are not general society -- i.e., white folks -- but minorities themselves. The violence, the sorrow are perpetrated by minorities on minorities.''
Some of Miss Sotomayor's initial misgivings about working as a prosecutor were resolved when she moved from misdemeanors to more serious crimes. ''I had more problems during my first year in the office with the low-grade crimes -- the shoplifting, the prostitution, the minor assault cases,'' she says. ''In large measure, in those cases you were dealing with socioeconomic crimes, crimes that could be the product of the environment and of poverty.
''Once I started doing felonies, it became less hard. No matter how liberal I am, I'm still outraged by crimes of violence. Regardless of whether I can sympathize with the causes that lead these individuals to do these crimes, the effects are outrageous.''
From the June 14 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
BREAM: Another week in Washington for President Obama's Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor. And while she has had plenty of experience as a prosecutor, there is some disagreement over just how tough she'll be on crime.
[begin video clip]
BREAM: She tripped at LaGuardia, flew to Washington, stopped off at the White House, and only then went to the hospital for X-rays. Even with a freshly fractured ankle, running the Senate gauntlet isn't likely to faze Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Former colleagues characterize her as an aggressive prosecutor during her days working in the Manhattan district attorney's office in the early 1980s. The president even noted it as one of her selling points.
OBAMA: There, Sonia learned what crime can do to a family and a community, and what it takes to fight it.
BREAM: She's won praise for hard-fought cases against child pornographers and murders, but there are hints that Sotomayor struggled with the role, even telling The New York Times in 1983 that she'd faced pressure from her peers at Yale not to take the job and had some unresolved feelings about the decision.
In that same article, she called herself liberal and said the worst victims of crime were not, quote, "white folks but minorities" who suffered violence at the hands of minorities.
LONG: It's really quite an extreme statement, and it's a regrettable statement, but it's really consistent with this theme we see throughout her legal career of just a complete focus and almost a preoccupation with racial and ethnic politics.
BREAM: Even Sotomayor supporters say it wouldn't be fair to characterize her as tough on crime, saying her appreciation for both sides of any case make her unique.
HUGH MO (prosecutor): I would not use the word that she would be tough on crime, because I think that would be simplifying what I believe her attitude towards crime would be.
BREAM: A delicate position she articulated in a speech to the Columbia Law School in 1999: Quote, "It is all too easy as a prosecutor to feel the pain and suffering of victims and to forget that defendants, despite whatever illegal act they have committed, however despicable their acts may have been, the defendants are human beings who have families and people who care for and love them."
Sotomayor said it got even tougher when she became a judge and actually had to sentence someone for the first time.
SOTOMAYOR: Well, you are in a different position when you're the one signing that judgment of conviction.
[end video clip]