CBS Cherry-Picks Its Own Illegal Immigration Poll on the “Evening News”

As the MRC’s Brent Baker reported, the broadcast network news programs focused much attention Monday on immigration issues and rallies. In an effort to demonstrate growing public sentiment in favor of giving such folks guest worker status, the “Evening News” presented data recently obtained from a CBS News poll on the subject. Unfortunately, CBS only shared the parts of the poll that seemed to support its own position on this issue while ignoring the results that didn’t (video link to follow). White House correspondent Jim Axelrod claimed: “According to a new CBS News poll, 74 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay and work if they have been here at least five years, pay a fine and back taxes, speak English and don't have a criminal record. But even when you wipe away all those conditions, more Americans still favor allowing illegals to apply for work permits than oppose the idea.”

In addition, Axelrod concluded his piece by suggesting that it was conservatives that are blocking legislation that would make these protestors happy: “And despite the latest poll numbers, don't forget that in this town there is still a strong feeling among conservatives that the only nonnegotiables in immigration reform are tighter borders and stricter law enforcement. So this would hardly be the first group to demonstrate at the Mall and ultimately be disappointed.”

Yet, Axelrod and CBS chose not to include in this report other numbers from this poll suggesting that Americans are not only opposed to illegal immigration, but also think legal immigration is too high:However, Americans prefer limits on immigration. 45% think the level of LEGAL immigration into the U.S. should be decreased although that is down six points from last October. 33% say it should be kept at the present level, while fewer than one in five say there should be more legal immigration into this country.”

I guess CBS didn’t think that was important to point out. What else did they miss? “Nearly all Americans think ILLEGAL immigration is a serious problem for the country, including 62% who say it is very serious. That marks an 11-point increase since January, when President Bush first made his immigration reform proposals, including a temporary worker program.”

Hmmm. 62 percent believe illegal immigration is a problem, up 11 points since January before these protests started. I guess CBS didn’t feel that was important either. Another tidbit CBS chose not to report: “In fact, when asked to volunteer the most important problem facing the country today 7% say immigration – the highest number ever in the CBS News Poll.” The highest number ever? And CBS didn’t feel it was important to point this out to its viewers?

One last omission by the CBS crew was in how this issue was affecting the president. Axelrod reported: “And while the president advocates the general approach most Americans approve of, he doesn't get any credit. Just 26 percent approve of the way he's handling the issue.” What he failed to mention is that this represented a five-point increase since October. I guess that wasn’t considered important as well.

What follows is a full transcript of this report along with a video link.

BOB SCHIEFFER, anchor:

If America has a Main Street, it's the Mall that stretches from the US Capitol to the Washington Monument and on to the Lincoln Memorial. Our White House correspondent Jim Axelrod is watching developments there today. Jim:

JIM AXELROD reporting:

Well, Bob, historically the Mall is where ordinary Americans come to speak with one loud voice about the issues of the day. Today it's tens of thousands of Americans, nearly all calling for immigration reform to provide the pathway to citizenship.

The idea was to come to the front door of the nation's Capitol and knock: illegal immigrants, green card holders, and citizens.

(Graphic on screen)

Knocking on (the) door

Unidentified Man #1: Today we're marching, tomorrow we vote. You have to listen to us.

AXELROD: And even though no one is home with Congress on vacation, chances are they'll get the message. All the marching and chanting has Americans on both sides of the issue digging in. Take a guess, if I said to you,`What percentage of Americans are in favor of illegal immigrants being able to get guest worker status?'

Unidentified Man #2: I think the majority of them are because Americans realize our contribution to the economy of this country.

AXELROD: According to a new CBS News poll, 74 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay and work if they have been here at least five years, pay a fine and back taxes, speak English and don't have a criminal record. But even when you wipe away all those conditions, more Americans still favor allowing illegals to apply for work permits than oppose the idea.

(Graphic on screen)

CBS News Poll

Illegal Immigration Allow to stay?

Yes 74 percent IF: In US 5 years Pay fine, back taxes Speak English, No criminal record

Illegal Immigration Apply for Work Permits?

Yes 49 percent No 43 percent

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Obviously we got to secure the border and enforce the law. But one way to do so is to make sure that people who are coming in here to work have a legal, you know, get a card, so they don't have to try to sneak across the border.

AXELROD: And while the president advocates the general approach most Americans approve of, he doesn't get any credit. Just 26 percent approve of the way he's handling the issue.

Unidentified Man #3: I think they're wrong. I think President Bush is helping us a lot.

AXELROD: And despite the latest poll numbers, don't forget that in this town there is still a strong feeling among conservatives that the only nonnegotiables in immigration reform are tighter borders and stricter law enforcement. So this would hardly be the first group to demonstrate at the Mall and ultimately be disappointed. Bob:

SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you, Jim.

Video Link

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.