Fox News figures are downplaying and criticizing the latest presidential election poll -- Fox News' own poll.
The poll, released May 16, shows President Obama with a 7-percentage point lead over Mitt Romney, including a 22-percentage point lead among women. Despite the fact that the poll was conducted by their own employer, Fox News figures almost immediately began downplaying the results and criticizing the methodology. On the May 16 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Dick Morris joked that the poll showed that Fox News had "Democratic bias" because it surveyed registered voters, a group that Morris claimed include many who "are not going to vote." Morris warned, "If you want to know how the election is going to come out, don't pay attention to that."
This morning's edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends offered similar warnings of the poll's untrustworthiness. After displaying some of the poll's findings, co-host Brian Kilmeade warned viewers that it "seems like a small poll" and was conducted among "registered voters, which a lot of the experts say you can -- you've got to factor that in."
But Kilmeade's caveat about the unreliability of polling registered voters wasn't an issue on May 16, when Fox & Friends touted two other recent surveys, a Gallup/USA Today poll and a CBS News/New York Times poll, which showed more favorable results for Romney. Kilmeade described these results as "pretty significant" and evidence that "Mitt Romney's popularity is surging." For comparison, the Fox News poll that Kilmeade called "small" was conducted with a sample of 913 registered voters, a fact that Kilmeade also noted should be "factor[ed] in" when considering the results. The CBS News poll, which did not warrant a similar warning, was conducted "among 615 adults nationwide, including 562 registered voters." The Gallup/USA Today poll was conducted among 1,012 adults without regard to their registration status.
This is not the first time a Fox News figure has misleadingly used poll results to promote right-wing policies or candidates, but it might be the first time Fox News employees have cast doubt on the reliability of their own network's polling.