Goldberg, Coulter latest to compare Dems to birthers using flawed poll

››› ››› LILY YAN

Following Chris Matthews' misrepresentation of a flawed Rasmussen poll to claim that most Democrats believed that President Bush had or might have "gotten the inside word" that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were about to happen and that therefore "both parties" are equally at fault for promoting conspiracy theories, Bernie Goldberg and Ann Coulter cited the poll to suggest Democrats are similar to birthers. However, the poll question -- "Did Bush know about the 9/11 attacks in advance?" -- was ambiguous and likely provoked "yes" answers from people who simply believed that Bush failed to heed intelligence information that could have led to the attacks being thwarted.

Goldberg, Coulter cite flawed poll to suggest Dems are similar to birthers

Goldberg: Polling "a few years ago" showed "35 percent of Democrats believe that George Bush and the neocons were behind the attacks on 9-11." On the August 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Goldberg said: "There've been a number of columns, just in the past couple of days, saying that the entire Republican Party is a lunatic party because of the nutjob birthers -- the people who think Obama was born on, you know, Saturn or some place, OK?" He later added: "What about just a few years ago, when several polls came out that showed that 35 percent -- 35 is more than 28, by the way -- 35 percent of Democrats believe that George Bush and the neocons were behind the attacks on 9-11. ... I don't remember liberal journalists writing stories about how the whole Democratic Party needs to explain this or that how the Democratic Party is a magnet for lunatics." [The O'Reilly Factor, 8/6/09]

Coulter: Poll showed "35 percent of Democrats believe Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance." In her August 5 column, Coulter purported to list numerous conspiracy theories believed by Democrats to suggest Democrats are similar to birthers and wrote: "And as has been recently noted, a 2007 Rasmussen poll showed that 35 percent of Democrats believe Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance, while 26 percent aren't sure ... Holy mackerel." [HumanEvents.com, 8/5/09]

Goldberg grossly distorted poll's conclusion

Contrary to Goldberg's suggestion, the Rasmussen poll did not ask Democrats if they "believe[d] that George Bush and the neocons were behind the attacks on 9-11." While Goldberg claimed polling "a few years ago" showed "35 percent of Democrats believe that George Bush and the neocons were behind the attacks on 9-11," the poll actually asked: "Did Bush Know About the 9/11 Attacks in Advance?" According to Rasmussen, "Thirty-five percent ... of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure." [Rasmussen Reports; 5/4/07]

Rasmussen poll was flawed, produced ambiguous results

Jonah Goldberg: "[P]oll is surely partly wrong," many Dems likely just think Bush "failed to connect the dots." Even conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg acknowledged at the time that the poll was ambiguous, writing: "[T]he poll is surely partly wrong. Many Democrats are probably merely saying that Bush is incompetent or that he failed to connect the dots or that they're just answering in a fit of pique." [Goldberg, Los Angeles Times; 5/15/07]

Bush did receive briefings warning of potential Al Qaeda attack

2001 presidential briefing: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." President Bush received a briefing on August 6, 2001, titled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US," which indicated that Osama bin Laden wanted to conduct terrorist attacks against the U.S., that members of his Al Qaeda terrorist network had lived in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and that "FBI information since that time [1998] indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." [Presidential daily briefing; 8/6/01]

Bush reportedly responded to CIA warning of attack by saying, "All right. ... You've covered your ass, now." According to investigative journalist Ron Suskind, Bush responded to a CIA briefer who warned him in August 2001 that an Al Qaeda attack was likely by saying, "All right. ... You've covered your ass, now." [Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine, 2006, Pages 1-2]

Matthews misrepresented same poll to suggest Dems are similar to birthers

On August 4, Matthews cited the poll in claiming Democrats are just as guilty of believing in conspiracy theories. As Media Matters for America documented, on August 4, Matthews misrepresented the 2007 Rasmussen poll in claiming that most Democrats believed that Bush had or might have "gotten the inside word" about 9-11 and that "the president deliberately sat back while American cities were attacked and thousands were killed." Matthews then claimed that, therefore, "both parties" are equally at fault for promoting conspiracy theories.

Transcript:

From the August 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

GOLDBERG: There've been a number of columns, just in the past couple of days, saying that the entire Republican Party is a lunatic party because of the nutjob birthers -- the people who think Obama was born on, you know, Saturn or some place, OK? Well, and one columnist, Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, points to a poll and says 28 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States. Let's set aside for a second that the poll was commissioned by the DailyKos.

O'REILLY: And Robinson didn't mention that.

GOLDBERG: All right, let's just put that aside.

O'REILLY: Robinson didn't mention the poll --

GOLDBERG: Well, he --

O'REILLY: -- right. He didn't mention that.

GOLDBERG: I -- look, in fairness, Bill, I think he did. But let's just put that aside. What about just a few years ago, when several polls came out that showed that 35 percent -- 35 is more than 28, by the way -- 35 percent of Democrats believe that George Bush and the neocons were behind the attacks on 9-11.

O'REILLY: The truthers. Yeah.

GOLDBERG: I don't remember -- yeah, the -- right. I don't remember liberal journalists writing stories about how the whole Democratic Party needs to explain this or that how the Democratic Party is a magnet --

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: -- for lunatics. Nor should they have written it. But when it's a right-wing nutjob movement, then, again --

O'REILLY: Yeah. Then, it gets the big headlines.

GOLDBERG: -- we get, like, a special scrutiny.

O'REILLY: But Robinson, I -- maybe he did point out it was at Kos, but you're absolutely right that there -- and this is very clear.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Human Events
Person
Ann Coulter, Bernard Goldberg
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
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