Strike three: Boyles yet again distorted USA Today/Gallup poll on immigration

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

For at least the third time, radio host Peter Boyles distorted results of an April 2006
USA Today/Gallup poll to overstate respondents' concerns regarding illegal immigration. He also ignored the fact that most people questioned favored a path to citizenship for immigrants, and he repeated the often-discredited claim that Denver is a "sanctuary" city.

Claiming, "I carry this with me ... in my workbook," 630 KHOW-AM host Peter Boyles on January 23 again distorted the results of an April 2006 USA Today/Gallup poll to erroneously claim that "96 percent of American people believe that controlling the borders to halt the flow [of illegal immigration]" is the "most important domestic" issue. Boyles also ignored responses indicating a large majority of those polled favored allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and become U.S. citizens. And, despite significant evidence to the contrary, Boyles repeated the discredited claim that the city of Denver is a so-called "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants.

Responding to a caller who noted that a recent Fox News poll showed that illegal immigration was "way down the list" of concerns, Boyles stated, "Fox News is a house organ for George W. Bush" and proceeded to misrepresent the findings of the 2006 USA Today/Gallup poll for at least the third time.

From the January 23 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show:

CALLER: Good morning, Peter.

BOYLES: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. This all is so disturbing to me, and we all that listen to talk radio think that this is a big issue and a huge concern, but I saw a Fox News poll yesterday in preparation for the president's talk tonight about what concerns people most, and health care was at top of it --

BOYLES: Sure.

CALLER: -- and Iraq was next --

BOYLES: Yeah.

CALLER: -- and way down the list was illegal immigration, and only -- [unintelligible]

BOYLES: But mind you, I'm telling you something, [Caller] -- I'm telling you something. Fox News -- we talk about the Rocky and the Post being the house organs for the mayor and the governor. Fox News is a house organ for George W. Bush.

CALLER: OK, but do you think that people on a CNN poll would respond higher that they care about illegal immigration?

BOYLES: I want to know the question asked. I can -- I carry this with me, I swear to God, in my workbook. This was the Gallup poll April 7th to 9th last year. And 81 percent of Americans believe illegal immigration is, quote, out of control. Ninety-six percent --

CALLER: Good.

BOYLES: Listen to me -- 96 percent of American people believe that controlling the borders to halt the flow is something -- most important domestic --

CALLER: Good.

BOYLES: -- 60 percent think we should deny illegals access to schools and hospitals, 81 percent believe we should significantly increase the number of border patrol. So, when you only ask this question -- if I call you up and say, "Hey, [Caller] what do you think about the weather?" And you go, "Boy, the weather sucks." I say, "OK, I agree." And I put down, [Caller] thinks the most important thing is the weather. That's how you do -- that's how people can push poll you. And as long as Fox News -- they're not going to tell you that George Bush is a banana. They just, they can't do it.

As Colorado Media Matters noted on January 18 after Boyles distorted the poll's results during his broadcast a day earlier, 81 percent of the USA Today/Gallup poll respondents did, in fact, say that "illegal immigration is out of control." However, Boyles was highly misleading in citing other figures he attributed to the poll.

For example, Boyles apparently combined the first three categories of poll Question 14 to contrive his statistic that "96 percent" of Americans consider border control the "most important domestic" issue. According to the poll, part A of Question 14 asked, "How important is it to you that the government takes steps this year to deal with ... [c]ontrolling U.S. borders to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S."? In response, 43 percent answered, "[e]xtremely important," 36 percent "[v]ery important," 17 percent "[m]oderately important," 4 percent "[n]ot that important," and 1 percent had "[n]o opinion" (43 + 36 + 17 = 96). However, the poll did not ask respondents what they considered the "most important domestic" issue.

Furthermore, contrary to Boyles' characterization, the poll did not ask respondents whether "we should deny illegals access to schools and hospitals," or "significantly increase the number of border patrol." Instead, Question 20 of the poll asked a split of the total sample -- 489 out of 1,004 people -- "How effective (emphasis added) do you think" those solutions would be in reducing illegal immigration the U.S.? Boyles also failed to mention the results of poll Question 15, which found that a large majority of respondents, 63 percent, favored giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Colorado Media Matters also noted that, on September 19, 2006, Boyles distorted the results of the same USA Today/Gallup poll to criticize a column (accessed through the Nexis database) by Mike Littwin of the Rocky Mountain News, who factually cited figures from the poll in asserting that most Americans agree illegal immigrants should be allowed to become U.S. citizens.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted April 7-9, 2006, and was "based on telephone interviews with -- 1,004 -- National Adults, aged 18+." According to the poll, "For results based on the total sample of National Adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points."

Later in his January 23 broadcast, during an interview with Jerome Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry (Regnery Publishing Inc., 2004), Boyles repeated his claim that Denver is a "sanctuary" city:

CORSI: Calderón in Mexico, Mexico's our friend, we're going to erase the border, security and prosperity partnership in North America, let's all feel good with our southern neighbors. Prosperity and security --

BOYLES: Mm-hmm.

CORSI: -- and drugs. That's why drugs are a two-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar business for Mexico right now. You've got every city in the United States -- in 3,000 communities, the FBI says, where MS-13, this tattooed, drug-smuggling --

BOYLES: We're watching a mayor here who's -- doesn't think there's any such thing as a problem with illegals, doesn't think his own city, although it really is a sanctuary and the rest of it. We've had this Denver Bronco murdered here.

As Colorado Media Matters repeatedly has noted (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), numerous credible sources contradict Boyles' "sanctuary" city assertion.

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