Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Glenn Beck's baseless claims keep accumulating

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master of the false claim
On his June 30th show on Fox, Glenn Beck asserted that Phoenix, AZ is the kidnapping capital of America, "with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City." and that the federal government has "closed off an area that stretches 80 miles along the border." The first assertion is dubious at best and the second claim is false.
The kidnapping claim

According to PolitiFact, there is no data supporting the claim that Phoenix has the world's second highest incidents of kidnapping in the world. In a June 27 analysis of the claim, they concluded:
Phoenix has experienced hundreds of kidnappings over the past few years. However, we couldn't find reliable around-the-planet evidence to confirm that only Mexico City experiences more of them. In fact, experts advise that such rankings can't be made based on available information. If they could, they speculate, other cities would prove to have more kidnappings than Arizona's capital.

We found nothing confirming Phoenix as No. 2 in kidnappings worldwide.
PolitiFact reported that Daniel Johnson, "an overseas kidnapping operations consultant at ASI Global," a company that counsels companies whose employees are kidnapped, said that kidnappings are "inherently under-reported" and that "no reliable empirical data" exists on them. Johnson also stated that "the definition of 'kidnap' varies" making totals difficult to quantify.

The border claim

Beck followed up his false claim about Phoenix by claiming that "it is so dangerous that in Arizona they have closed off an area that stretches 80 miles along the border." He added, "Some might say that's called giving up sovereignty."

The fact is that five miles square portion of wildlife refuge has been closed since 2006. As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, Fox News' reporting on the closure of a portion of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge along the border has been wildly inaccurate. In a press release debunking this "inaccurate reporting," the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, "nearly 5-years ago, a very small portion of the Refuge closed to public access due to public safety concerns." The release further stated:
Recent news items further falsely stated that the closure extends from the border 80-miles to the north. This distance is far from accurate. On October 6, 2006 roughly 3500 acres, or 3% of the Refuge, was closed to public access due to human safety concerns. At that time there was a marked increase in violence along the border due to human and drug trafficking. The closed area extends north from the international border roughly ¾ of a mile. A notice of the closure, including a map has been on the Refuge website since 2006.
At this time there are no plans to reopen this southernmost 3/4-mile wide portion of the Refuge.
 The first of these two claims can be understood to be an orange truth, but the second claim that the closes off area in AZ is just a lie: worse than a white lie and not quite a whopper.
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