O'Reilly baselessly dismissed as "not scientific" Time poll showing majority hold favorable opinion of Sen. Clinton; he previously touted an unscientific Internet poll to back up his own opinions

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly dismissed the results of a Time magazine poll reporting that 53 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, stating that the poll is "not scientific, in my opinion." O'Reilly did not explain his reasons for doubting the scientific merit of the Time survey, although he previously touted an unscientific Internet poll to claim that "50 percent" of University of Oregon students "want[] to condemn" a student newspaper that published controversial cartoon images of Jesus.

On the August 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly stated that "I don't really believe" the results of a Time magazine poll -- which found that 53 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) -- because the poll is "not scientific, in my opinion." O'Reilly did not explain his reasons for doubting the scientific merit of the Time survey, which was conducted by polling firm Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas Inc. (SRBI) from a random sample of adults nationwide, although he previously touted an unscientific Internet poll to claim that "50 percent" of University of Oregon students "want[] to condemn" a student newspaper that published controversial cartoon images of Jesus.

SRBI's website states that the Time poll "was conducted by telephone between July 13 and July 17, 2006 among a national random sample of 1,003 adults, age 18 and older throughout America. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of adult Americans."

O'Reilly provided no justification for his assertion that the Time poll was "not scientific," but stated: "[H]alf the country says, 'Yeah, well, Hillary, I like Hillary.' That's good. ... But try to get a specific answer out of the woman." He challenged listeners to "[g]o to her website ... and see what her specific solutions are to Iraq, Iran, the border, terrorism. There aren't any." He added that although "apparently 50 percent of the country is willing to say, 'I don't really care whether she has any solutions. I like her. I'm gonna vote for her,' " he was "not gonna vote for anybody that doesn't lay it on the table."

As Media Matters for America documented, O'Reilly previously touted the results of an unscientific poll on the website of a University of Oregon student-run, independent campus newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, to claim that "50 percent [sic] of the students" at the university "want[] to condemn" The Insurgent, a rival student newspaper that published controversial cartoon images of Jesus. But the poll clearly noted: "This Daily Emerald poll is not scientific and reflects the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate. The results cannot be assumed to represent the opinions of Internet users in general, nor the public as a whole."

Moreover, O'Reilly apparently misrepresented the results of the poll, conducted in response to his repeated calls for the ouster of University of Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer for allegedly permitting The Insurgent to publish the cartoons. O'Reilly apparently added the 22 percent of students (according to his account of the poll's results at the time of his program's airing) who felt The Insurgent, "can't be shut down, but the administration should condemn its actions" to the 38 percent (also according to O'Reilly) who said "O'Reilly is right. Fire Frohnmayer!" Based on this calculation, O'Reilly erroneously claimed that "50 percent" of University of Oregon students "want[] to condemn" The Insurgent, adding: "[T]he majority of students on the University of Oregon campus agree with me."

Frohnmayer has stated that he has no legal control over the content of The Insurgent. In his response to the controversy, Frohnmayer both condemned the cartoons and stated that Supreme Court precedents prohibited him from taking any disciplinary action against the students who published them.

From the August 21 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: Now Hillary Clinton's on the cover of Time magazine. And then, you know, they did some poll. I don't really believe the poll, because it's not scientific in my opinion. And, you know, half the country says, "Yeah, well, Hillary, I like Hillary." That's good. OK. But try to get a specific answer out of the woman. Try. Go to her website right now, HillaryClinton.com, and look and see what her specific solutions are to Iraq, Iran, the border, terrorism. There aren't any.

You're gonna -- and apparently 50 percent of the country is willing to say, "I don't really care whether she has any solutions. I like her. I'm gonna vote for her." Believe me, I'm not gonna vote for anybody that doesn't lay it on the table. This is what has to be done.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2006 Elections, Polling
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