Appearing in the 2:00PM ET hour on MSNBC, New York Daily News reporter Samuel Goldsmith cited a poll featured on the paper's website, about opposition to the Ground Zero mosque: "[it] shows that 70% of New Yorkers say that they think the opposition is out of hatred and religious intolerance."
Unfortunately, Goldsmith forgot to mention that it was a completely unscientific poll that only appeared within articles on the topic and allowed people to potentially vote numerous times. The slanted poll question read: "Is opposition to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero intolerant?" The three responses offered were: "Yes, it's pure religious bigotry against Muslims; No, you can be against because it dishonors victims of Sept. 11; Maybe, but the sensitive thing to do is to move it further from the WTC site."
Goldsmith touted the Daily News poll after anchor Jeff Rossen cited a scientific poll on the issue: "A new Siena College poll suggests – and we actually have the results right here – that 63% of New Yorkers oppose this Islamic center. Only 23% support it." After promoting the unreliable online poll, Goldsmith argued: "...there's a lot of voices coming out....It's hard to really get a grasp of what the public opinion is, I think."
Here is a full transcript of the August 18 program:
JEFF ROSSEN: President Obama not backing down from his comments about the Ground Zero mosque and the Islamic center. At the end of an event in Columbus, Ohio today a reporter asked the President whether he had any regrets, speaking out on the issue.
BARACK OBAMA: The answer is no regrets.
ROSSEN: You couldn't hear that, he said the answer is no regrets. Samuel Goldsmith is with the New York Daily News. Thanks so much for joining us Samuel.
GOLDSMITH: How are you?
ROSSEN: So, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now calling for an investigation into the groups that are opposing this. What are your thoughts?
SAMUEL GOLDSMITH: Well, she's the first one to come out and say that there should be an investigation into that side of the argument. So far there have just been calls for investigations into the group behind the project.
ROSSEN: There are reports that the makers – that the developers of the mosque have turned down an offer from the New York Governor David Paterson to relocate this center and this mosque. Is there any compromise left, you think – in the cards?
GOLDSMITH: You know I'm not – I'm having a hard time finding out if that report's true. I don't think it is. They said yesterday that they were willing to meet with the Governor. Though they're also saying they're not interested in relocating.
ROSSEN: A new Siena College poll suggests – and we actually have the results right here – that 63% of New Yorkers oppose this Islamic center. Only 23% support it. It appears that doesn't matter to the President or to the Mayor as well. What are your thoughts?
GOLDSMITH: It's interesting, the poll, we have a poll on our website that also shows that 70% of New Yorkers say that they think the opposition is out of hatred and religious intolerance. So there's a lot of voices coming out. The polls show one side of it. It's hard to really get a grasp of what the public opinion is, I think.
ROSSEN: At the same time, 64% of voters say the developers have the constitutional right to build the mosque. So it's really a very interesting poll. Just as many people say they shouldn't build it there but they also agree that they have the right to.
GOLDSMITH: Which is basically what a lot of politicians have said, which is they're not commenting on the wisdom of it, but they believe they have the right. That's what the President said.
ROSSEN: Samuel Goldsmith with the New York Daily News. Thanks for joining us, sir.
GOLDSMITH: Thank you.