Despite his record of uncritically citing questionable figures, Boyles attacked Rocky for uncritically reporting Denver's homeless stats

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On his August 20 broadcast, Peter Boyles read parts of a Rocky Mountain News article reporting that Denver's "chronic homelessness has declined by 36 percent" and accused the News of "citing these studies that have absolutely no basis." Yet as Colorado Media Matters has documented, Boyles and his guests repeatedly have cited false, misleading, or dubious statistics, particularly regarding immigration.

Discussing an August 18 Rocky Mountain News article about the Denver City Council's proposal to build 200 housing units for the city's "chronically homeless," 630 KHOW-AM host Peter Boyles attacked the News for reporting that "[a]nnual surveys of the homeless population in Denver show that chronic homelessness has declined by 36 percent in the past two years." Boyles called the city's figure "some kind of smoke and mirrors" and accused the News of "citing these studies that have absolutely no basis." He later claimed, "I know enough to say if I would just, say, make up ... a report, not cite it, not tell you how, what the methodology was, nothing, and just use it, I'd get thrown out on my ear."

Later in the broadcast, after discussing the article with guest Bob Cote -- who frequently has promoted misinformation about the homeless on Boyles' show -- Boyles further criticized the News, specifically editor, publisher, and president John Temple, and editorial pages editor Vincent Carroll. Boyles asked, "If somebody from Qwest said, 'You know, our profits are up 100 million percent,' would you write that? No -- course not. You would question where it came from."

As Colorado Media Matters has documented, Boyles and his guests repeatedly have cited false, misleading, or dubious statistics, particularly about the issue of immigration, without "question[ing]" where they came from or whether they were accurate. Examples include:

  • On several broadcasts (here, here, here, here, and here), Boyles and his guests have repeated the dubious statistic that illegal immigrants kill 25 people a day. While Boyles repeatedly claimed that the statistic came from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there is no GAO study reporting that 25 Americans per day are killed by illegal immigrants. Instead, Boyles and his guests' repetition of the statistic was based on assertions by U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who "extrapolate[d]" figures from what he called a GAO study.
  • During an interview with former Republican and Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan on his September 5, 2006, broadcast, Boyles uncritically allowed Buchanan to state that "clearly the illegal aliens" were responsible for infestations of bedbugs "in 26 different states" -- despite an Ohio State University report to the contrary.
  • On September 20, 2006, during a discussion about "illegal immigration of people from around the world to the U.S. who are coming with diseases," Boyles allowed guest Dr. Patricia Doyle to falsely assert, "We once had 900 cases [of leprosy] in 40 years -- the U.S. had 900 leprosy cases. In three years, recently -- for three years -- we've had 7,000 cases." In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fewer than 200 cases of leprosy have been reported annually in the United States each year since 1995.
  • On August 14, Boyles claimed inaccurately and without substantiation that "when you look at the numbers in California -- and if it's in California now it's here tomorrow afternoon -- 25 percent of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally." In fact, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics published in June, of the 175,115 federal and state prisoners held in California at midyear 2006, 15,849 -- or 9 percent -- were noncitizens, legal and illegal. Furthermore, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's fourth quarter 2006 Jail Profile Survey Report, of the average daily county jail population of 81,612, only 9,350 -- or 11.46 percent -- were classified as "criminal/illegal aliens." Neither report specified the nationalities of incarcerated "noncitizens" or "criminal/illegal aliens."

From the August 20 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show:

BOYLES [reading]: Savings may fund homeless housing. Denver officials say the large drop in the number of chronically homeless people on the street is saving the city enough money to find housing for those people.

God, if this isn't some kind of smoke and mirrors. And they keep citing these studies that have absolutely no basis. We're gonna talk to Cote about it. The city now claims "chronic homelessness has declined by 36 percent in the past two years" without ever telling you how they do it. They also tell you these enormous numbers of people -- this is the decrease -- enormous numbers of decreasings. I don't buy any of it. So, they're gonna take the money that they, quote, saved, and they're gonna build 200 housing units for the chronically homeless. I gotta tell you, there's all kinds of good, hard-working people in this country losin' their houses right now. Anybody comin' to you? Why should your tax dollar build a, a house for a stone drunk? You tell me, and I'll be more than glad to listen.

[...]

BOYLES: Nobody even challenging this? When I read this, again -- and I'm no model-maker, epistemologically sound thinker or anything -- but I know enough to say if I would just, say, make up a, make up a, a report, not cite it, not tell you how, what the methodology was, nothing, and just use it, I'd get thrown out on my ear. And that's exactly what the Rocky Mountain News accepted, and it's exactly the crap that got put out by these people who do this in their own self-interest. It's, it's ridiculous.

COTE: Exactly.

[...]

BOYLES: Now, this piece appeared in Saturday's Rocky Mountain News. Stu Steers is the reporter. Savings might fund -- may -- "Savings may fund homeless housing." We spoke with Bob Cote from Step 13. This is a ruse. It's jive. And I say to John Temple and to Vince and everybody, look, you guys -- these people hand you their own survey and you write it as though it's gospel. This paragraph: "Annual surveys of the homeless population in Denver show chronic homelessness has declined by 36 percent in the past two years." Who does the study? The other part of it -- the 80 percent decrease [in chronic alcoholics' trips to the detox center] -- please. Now, Vince and John, you're both very, very, very smart men. If you were in graduate school and we were writing this piece and somebody handed you the epistemology with the methodology and their own answers, would you accept that as a investigative reporter? Of course not. If somebody from Qwest said, "You know, our profits are up 100 million percent," would you write that? No -- course not. You would question where it came from. But, again, it's not even a problem. "Annual surveys of the homeless populat" -- and what they're trying to do is, they're gonna build houses -- for drunk guys.

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