CNN's Lemon Tries to Dismiss Crime Increase in Sweden After Immigration

On Monday's CNN Tonight, host Don Lemon spoke with film maker Ari Horowitz about his film that President Donald Trump recently cited about violent crime in Sweden increasing substantially after an influx of immigrants from Muslim countries. The CNN host repeatedly tried to dismiss reports of crime increases, as he attempted to pin the increase in reported rapes on legal changes in the definition of rape -- even though this change occurred in 2005 and therefore should not account for a near steady yearly increase in reported rapes between 2006 and 2016.

As the two started delving into the numbers, after Horowitz recalled an almost 50 percent increase in rape since 2006, the CNN host claimed:

If you look at the population of immigrants, there is no correlation between immigrants and a spike in crime -- which there is no huge spike in crime there. There numbers that show that. It shows that over average -- I have the numbers here from 2006 to 2015. That's on an average. There's an average that there's no spike here. If you look at 2006, 2007, all the way on. Crime goes up and down, as it does here in America and in every single country. But if you look at that as an average, there is no spike in crime.

The two then went back and forth as Horowitz responded:

HOROWITZ: That's just not true. If you look at 2006 to 2016, murder is up. From 2006 to 2015, rape is up 50 percent. How is that not a spike?

LEMON: If you look at it overall.

HOROWITZ: That is overall.

LEMON: Numbers go up every year, up and down every year. If you look at individual years -- hold on -- you could say numbers are up this year, they're down this year, they're up this year, they're down. But if you look at them over a long period of time, it's not up.

The back and forth continued:

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LEMON: I understand the numbers. Do you understand why those numbers are up, though? You have to look within the numbers because the way that they classify-

HOROWITZ: No, that isn't -- that's not true. Let's be clear. They changed the definition of rape in 2005. I'm talking about stats from 2006 to 2015 after the definition was changed. The numbers from 2006 to 2015 are up 50 percent, and they're up every single year except for 2014 to '15 where there's a slight dip.

A bit later, as Lemon was still unconvinced, Horowitz reiterated: "And we can go over these numbers back and forth, but, again, I feel bad kind of reporting the same number over and over again. What I'm telling you is the overall number -- after the changed definition -- from 2006 to 2015 is up 50 percent."

A bit later, after Lemon persisted in asserting, "But your numbers again don't show a spike in anything," Horowitz declared that he was "confused" by Lemon's response and cited the numbers again:

Tell me if you agree with this number. You have the numbers there. The rape -- just look at the sexual assault numbers. From 2006 to 2015, the numbers are up 50 percent. And, by the way, that's an even bigger number than it seems because everywhere else in Western Europe and the United States, those numbers are down significantly. So, on a relative basis, those numbers are even larger.

Even though Swedish law definition of rape has supposedly not changed since 2005, while increases in rape have continued nearly every year, Lemon again tried to claim that changes in the law account for the higher number of reported rapes:

Let me explain to you why those numbers are the way they are. The truth is that Sweden's rape stats are high, but it's because Sweden's laws define rape more broadly than other comparable countries. ... It includes other types of assault and unwanted contact. It didn't include that before.

Also, there's little stigma to reporting sex crimes, so the cultural reason the numbers are high. But, according to official statistics in Sweden crime survey, the sexual violence rate has been about the same from 2005 to 2014. And, for the most part, the story of dark-skinned foreigners targeting blonde Northern European women is not one supported by the evidence.

Horowitz again repeated himself:

HOROWITZ: You keep -- I'm confused. The numbers are the numbers.

LEMON: What's confusing you? Two plus two equals four.

HOROWITZ: 2005 -- I don't know if my mic is working -- 2005 to 2016, rape is up 50 percent. And it's up every single year, except for one.

The CNN host persisted in dismissing the crime numbers as not significant:

Okay, I don't want to be rude, though, but are your ears and are you eyes working? Because the numbers -- as we're reading from Bra -- right? -- and from the State Department don't show what you're saying. You're taking those numbers and you're manipulating them. But if you look at -- even if you look at crime here in the United States, overall, for the past decade, crime is down. There was a spike one year. 

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, February 20, CNN Tonight:

11:22 p.m. ET
DON LEMON: We looked at the stats from the U.S. Department -- State Department. Here's what we learned, all right? Crime rose about seven percent from 2012 to 2015. Much of that crime was nonviolent -- computer fraud and vandalism. In 2015, violent crime decreased slightly. There was no staggering increase. Where did you get your information? And did you look at the official numbers?

ARI HOROWITZ, FILM MAKER: Yeah, from a far more accurate source than the State Department. I don' t know why the State Department is doing numbers for Sweden. I look at the Swedish -- it's called "Bra" -- B-R-A. Which is the keeper of all stats for Sweden. So if you look at what I call heavy crime -- I'm talking about murder and I'm talking about sexual assault. Sexual assault from 2006 to 2015 is up almost 50 percent. Murder, 2012 to 2016, was up I think it was up over 80 percent. Now, so those are the real numbers.

LEMON: Well, the real numbers, they don't show up almost 80 percent, but if you look at also-

HOROWITZ: In 2012?

LEMON: Yes, here are the numbers that you have. But, anyway, when you look at that, if you look at especially when you consider the population of millions of people and there were maybe 12 more murders. Of course it's going to spike. Of course it's going to be higher, but that's not a spike in murders when you look at the population, especially when you look at the population of immigrants in the country, which is probably like one percent.

HOROWITZ: No, it's way higher than that.

LEMON: Okay, if you look at the population of immigrants, there is no correlation between immigrants and a spike in crime -- which there is no huge spike in crime there. There numbers that show that. It shows that over average -- I have the numbers here from 2006 to 2015. That's on an average. There's an average that there's no spike here. If you look at 2006, 2007, all the way on. Crime goes up and down, as it does here in America and in every single country. But if you look at that as an average, there is no spike in crime.

HOROWITZ: That's just not true. If you look at 2006 to 2016, murder is up. From 2006 to 2015, rape is up 50 percent. How is that not a spike?

LEMON: If you look at it overall.

HOROWITZ: That is overall.

LEMON: Numbers go up every year, up and down every year. If you look at individual years -- hold on -- you could say numbers are up this year, they're down this year, they're up this year, they're down. But if you look at them over a long period of time, it's not up.

HOROWITZ: So I'm telling you, rape is up from 2005-

LEMON: I understand the numbers. Do you understand why those numbers are up, though? You have to look within the numbers because the way that they classify-

HOROWITZ: No, that isn't -- that's not true. Let's be clear. They changed the definition of rape in 2005. I'm talking about stats from 2006 to 2015 after the definition was changed. The numbers from 2006 to 2015 are up 50 percent, and they're up every single year except for 2014 to '15 where there's a slight dip.

LEMON: Okay, that's how you're reading the numbers. That's not how the experts are reading the numbers.

(...)

LEMON: The Swedish ambassador is upset or is at least concerned about the President's classification -- yours as well -- they feel they're being unfairly targeted here. They say the numbers don' t match up to what you're saying, they don't deserve to be in the middle of this, and that you've blown this out of proportion because you have some sort of agenda. What do you say to them?

HOROWITZ: I think he's looking at -- he said happiness is up in my country.  And that's supposed to be some kind of barometer for rape and murder being up? And we can go over these numbers back and forth, but, again, I feel bad kind of reporting the same number over and over again. What I'm telling you is the overall number -- after the changed definition -- from 2006 to 2015 is up 50 percent.

LEMON: There is no correlation. You're making a correlation to immigrants...

HOROWITZ: That's a different question. We didn't talk about that. I disagree. I think there's an absolute correlation.

LEMON: But the evidence doesn't show that. According to the numbers from Bra, the number that I have here, and the numbers from the State Department, they don't show a correlation between immigrants and crime.

HOROWITZ: They don't talk about immigrants in any of those statistics. Nothing here mentions the word "immigrants." In fact, it's interesting. In 2001, Bra used to have a classification for the backgrounds of the people committing the crimes. Because the numbers of immigrants was so high, they stripped that from those numbers. Those numbers don't mention immigrants, so of course there aren't going to be any correlation with those numbers. But the correlation comes from other places.

LEMON: But the most recent number -- the most recent terror attack in Sweden was actually an anti-immigrant terror attack.

HOROWITZ: I didn't realize that.

LEMON: In January, three suspected neonazis were arrested after a suspected bombing of an immigrant asylum center.

HOROWITZ: That's horrific.

LEMON: So if you were looking for the roots of the crime, there's also issues when it comes to anti-immigrant crime as well. That's part of the crime stats as well.

HOROWITZ: Not rape. Rape has nothing to do with anti-immigrant.

LEMON: But stick to that. But rape -- there's no correlation between rape as well and immigrants.

HOROWITZ: I'm saying there is. Why do you say there isn't?

LEMON: Because if you look -- all you have to do is read the evidence. The evidence doesn't show ... But my question was about the anti-immigrant crime as well. That's also part of it.

HOROWITZ: Horrible, which I condemn completely. That neonazi crime is an absolute travesty. I'm not going to-

LEMON: Does your film focus on that?

HOROWITZ: My film is not about that. My film is about the social unrest that immigration is causing in Sweden. There was a terrorist attack in November that ISIS claimed credit for. Interesting enough, it was an attack, it was a Sunni attacking a Shia cultural center. It's no difference if you're attacking white people or Shia people. That's a terrorist attack, no matter how you slice it. That was just in November.

LEMON: But your numbers again don't show a spike in anything-

HOROWITZ: I'm confused.

LEMON: You are confused because you're not -- the numbers that you're reading don't show that.

HOROWITZ: Tell me if you agree with this number. You have the numbers there. The rape -- just look at the sexual assault numbers. From 2006 to 2015, the numbers are up 50 percent. And, by the way, that's an even bigger number than it seems because everywhere else in Western Europe and the United States, those numbers are down significantly. So, on a relative basis, those numbers are even larger. One more quick stat, one more quick stat. Bra also says -- you want to talk about correlation -- you didn't talk about correlation -- the people who commit rape -- I'm sorry, the people who have been raped -- in the U.S. two-thirds of people do not know their victims, right, in the U.S.? In Sweden, two-thirds of the victims of rape do not know.

LEMON: Let me explain to you why those numbers are the way they are. The truth is that Sweden's rape stats are high, but it's because Sweden's laws define rape more broadly than other comparable countries. ... It includes other types of assault and unwanted contact. It didn't include that before. Also, there's little stigma to reporting sex crimes, so the cultural reason the numbers are high. But, according to official statistics in Sweden crime survey, the sexual violence rate has been about the same from 2005 to 2014. And, for the most part, the story of dark-skinned foreigners targeting blonde Northern European women is not one supported by the evidence.

HOROWITZ: You keep -- I'm confused. The numbers are the numbers.

LEMON: What's confusing you? Two plus two equals four.

HOROWITZ: 2005 -- I don't know if my mic is working -- 2005 to 2016, rape is up 50 percent. And it's up every single year, except for one.

LEMON: Okay, I don't want to be rude, though, but are your ears and are you eyes working? Because the numbers -- as we're reading from Bra -- right? -- and from the State Department don't show what you're saying. You're taking those numbers and you're manipulating them. But if you look at -- even if you look at crime here in the United States, overall, for the past decade, crime is down. There was a spike one year. 

HOROWITZ: Crime is down, Rape is down. Murder is down. Not in Sweden.

LEMON: Over time. That's the same thing.

HOROWITZ: No, that's totally wrong!

LEMON: But it's not skyrocketing, okay? Hold on, you're classifying this as a skyrocket. It's not a skyrocket.

HOROWITZ: You think when rape is down in the United States and everywhere else and Western Europe, and that rape is up 50 percent, that's not skyrocketing?

LEMON: Because of the way they classify rapes now.

HOROWITZ: Listen to me. The definition was before-

LEMON: If you had not classified unwanted touching -- if you're at a concert and someone touches you on any part of your body, that is now in Sweden classified as rape. It was not before.

HOROWITZ: First of all. sexual assault, not rape.

LEMON: It's sexual assault in the United States, but it's not sexual assault in Sweden. It is now under the rape law.

HOROWITZ: That is not correct. You're mistaken about that. The definition of rape in the United States -- look at the definition -- 

LEMON: We know what it is in the United States. We're not talking about the United States.

HOROWITZ: Listen to me, listen to me. The definition of rape in the United States is the same essentially as the definition of rape in Sweden.

LEMON: No, not now.

HOROWITZ: Now, No, you're wrong. Yes, it is.

LEMONl It's a different classification.

HOROWITZ: It's not.

LEMON: All right, we'll go back and look at it. But thank you, I appreciate it.


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