Scarborough misrepresented Iraq poll

››› ››› KURT DONALDSON

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough misleadingly described the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll, declaring four times that the poll showed that "69 percent of Americans now believe America can win the war in Iraq." But included in the 69 percent that Scarborough cited were 21 percent of respondents who believed that the United States "can win the war in Iraq" but "don't think it will win."

On the June 13 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough misleadingly described the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll, which asked whether respondents believe that the U.S. can still win the Iraq war. Scarborough declared four times that the poll showed "69 percent of Americans now believe America can win the war in Iraq," a figure he referred to as "staggering," "shocking" and one "I can't get my arms around." But included in the 69 percent Scarborough cited were 21 percent of respondents who believed that the United States "can win the war in Iraq" but "don't think it will win." In fact, the number of poll respondents who believed that the United States definitely or probably will win in Iraq was equal to the number of people who believed that the U.S. cannot or probably won't win.

The USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted June 9-11, asked: "Which comes closer to your view about the war in Iraq? You think the U.S. will definitely win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. will probably win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. can win the war in Iraq, but you don't think it will win. Or, you do not think the U.S. can win the war in Iraq?" The poll found that Americans were split, with 48 percent of respondents stating that the United States would either "definitely win" (19 percent) or "probably win" (29 percent) and 48 percent stating that the United States "can win," but probably won't (21 percent) or "cannot win," (27 percent). Four percent said they were "unsure."

As Media Matters for America has noted, Scarborough has previously misrepresented poll results. For instance, on the May 24, 2005, edition of Scarborough Country, Scarborough misrepresented a public-opinion poll to suggest public support for conservatives' efforts to eliminate Senate Democrats' ability to filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees. Additionally, during MSNBC's coverage of the vice-presidential debate on the October 6, 2004, Scarborough claimed that Americans who had indicated in an MSNBC online poll that then-Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) defeated Vice President Dick Cheney in the vice presidential debate had been "drinking vodka." Then, apparently after silently reading the results of a CBS poll that also showed that Edwards had won, Scarborough crumpled up the paper showing the results and threw it away, stating: "since it's CBS, we're not going to give you the results." He did, however, report the results of an ABC poll that showed Cheney as the victor.

From the June 13 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

SCARBOROUGH: Two 500-pound bombs, a terrorist's death, and much more lifts Bush's poll numbers. Is it a short-lived lift, though? And why do 69 percent of Americans now believe America can win the war in Iraq?

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: And a staggering -- at least, staggering to me -- a staggering 69 percent of Americans now say that we can still win the war in Iraq. What a difference a corpse makes, especially when that corpse is the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows the president's approval rating at 38 percent, still modest, but up seven points in the last month. And then there's this shocking number: 69 percent of Americans now say America can win the war in Iraq -- 69 percent! That's up almost 10 percentage points since April.

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: The number I can't, I can't get my arms around is this number now that 69 percent of Americans think we can win the war in Iraq. We've had years of bleak news, and yet today again, God, over two out of three Americans think this war is winnable. That's certainly good news for the president and bad news for Democrats, isn't it?

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Scarborough Country
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