Rocky deleted syndicated column's passage alleging Tancredo apparently fabricated Miami Herald "poll"

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The Rocky Mountain News published a syndicated column about U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), but it omitted a passage alleging that Tancredo had fabricated a poll during an interview on CNN and claimed the results showed overwhelming support for him after he likened Miami to a "Third World country."

On February 9, the Rocky Mountain News (accessed through the newspaper's electronic edition) published a syndicated column by Noticiero Univision television news anchor Maria Elena Salinas but deleted a paragraph alleging that U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) fabricated a Miami Herald poll purportedly showing support for his controversial remark in November that Miami is like a "Third World country." According to the deleted paragraph, the Herald told Salinas' office "there was no such poll."

In a January 16 interview on CNN's The Situation Room, Tancredo -- who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible 2008 presidential bid -- commented on his chances in Florida by saying, "[I]t's an interesting thing. 'The Miami Herald' took a poll on my statements. Seventy percent of the people that responded supported me."

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, a November 19, 2006, article posted on the right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com reported that "Tancredo pointed to Florida's largest city as an example of how the nature of America can be changed by uncontrolled immigration." The article quoted Tancredo as saying:

"Look at what has happened to Miami. It has become a Third World country ... You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country.

Tancredo's remarks -- which received coverage in the Herald, the News, The Denver Post, and on Colorado television newscasts -- generated controversy and critical responses from Republican politicians, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami.

As Salinas noted in her column, "Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tried to smooth things over by inviting Tancredo to Miami, but this time it wasn't the Colorado congressman who wanted nothing to do with what he has referred to as one of 'America's most dangerous areas,' but the service people at the restaurant where he was to deliver a speech who refused to serve him." The News, however, deleted the following paragraph from Salinas' original column:

"Trapped in his own xenophobic world, Tancredo believes his own rhetoric. He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview that in a poll conducted by The Miami Herald, 70% of the people who responded supported him. My office consulted the Herald about the alleged Tancredo poll, and they told us there was no such poll."

From the January 16 broadcast of CNN's The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER (host): If you want to be president, though, you've got to win Florida.

TANCREDO: If you want to -- it's an interesting thing. "The Miami Herald" took a poll on my statements. Seventy percent of the people that responded supported me. Most of the radio and television stations down there that have done similar polling also supported me. All of the mail that I get, it's 60 to 70 percent of Floridians who support me.

Amazing.

Salinas' column has been published, under different headlines, in The New Jersey Herald News (accessed through the Nexis database), The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (accessed through Nexis), and on the websites FresnoBee.com, Thinkprogress.org, and The Californian.com.

Blitzer's failure to challenge Tancredo on the purported poll is not the first time a media outlet has let stand a dubious claim by the congressman. As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Denver's KMGH 7News on November 28, 2006, uncritically aired Tancredo's false assertion that Miami is the "murder capital of the world."

From the column "Rep. Tancredo's Third World mentality," by Maria Elena Salinas:

Just a few weeks ago, Tancredo raised eyebrows and embarrassed fellow Republicans when he called Miami a Third World country. He said you could take the city and put it anywhere else, and you'd never know you were in the United States. That part is probably true. Miami is an ethnically diverse city with an international flair, but it hardly has the conditions of a Third World country. Among other things, it has a large Cuban-American community composed mostly of political refugees, not undocumented immigrants.

Tancredo's comments didn't go over very well with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The president's little brother, who moved back to Miami after leaving office, sent Tancredo a letter expressing his disappointment in Tancredo's "disparaging comments" regarding his hometown.

"All ethnicities in Florida contribute to our economy, enhance our communities and enrich our cultural heritage," said Bush.

He ended his letter by stating that there is a lesson to be learned by all this: "Perhaps your naive comments serve as a good reminder for everyone to lessen the anger, frustration and emotion surrounding the issue of immigration. Overheated rhetoric won't solve this issue."

Unfortunately, the only thing the letter did was fuel Tancredo's anger. The next day, he responded with even more "disparaging comments" about Miami.

Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tried to smooth things over by inviting Tancredo to Miami, but this time it wasn't the Colorado congressman who wanted nothing to do with what he has referred to as one of "America's most dangerous areas," but the service people at the restaurant where he was to deliver a speech who refused to serve him.

Trapped in his own xenophobic world, Tancredo believes his own rhetoric. He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview that in a poll conducted by The Miami Herald, 70% of the people who responded supported him. My office consulted the Herald about the alleged Tancredo poll, and they told us there was no such poll.

Tancredo now wants to run for president, making immigration the central issue of his campaign. Surely there are millions of Americans of varied ethnic backgrounds who might share his views on immigration.

As published in the News, the column skips from the paragraph about Ros-Lehtinen's invitation to the paragraph on Tancredo's presidential ambitions -- omitting the paragraph about the apparently fabricated Herald poll.

From the column "Tancredo ready to spread vile views: It seems like the only colors Tancredo is blind to are black and brown," as published February 9 in the Rocky Mountain News:

Unfortunately, the only thing the letter did was fuel Tancredo's anger. The next day, he responded with even more "disparaging comments" about Miami. Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tried to smooth things over by inviting Tancredo to Miami, but this time it wasn't the Colorado congressman who wanted nothing to do with what he has referred to as one of "America's most dangerous areas," but the service people at the restaurant where he was to deliver a speech who refused to serve him.

Tancredo now wants to run for president, making immigration the central issue of his campaign. Surely there are millions of Americans of varied ethnic backgrounds who might share his views on immigration.

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